The formation of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) heralds a new movement that can push the fascists into the background.
Some 2,000 people attented the launch at the Astoria in London and this was followed up by a sellout event in which exciting new bands like The Libertines joined veteran anti-racists The Buzzcocks and The Clash's Mick Jones.
There is much to do in the coming months to create a movement on the ground that can halt the BNP and the opportunity to build UAF at grassroots level is clearly there. The BNP is already feeling the heat - complaining that UAF is 'unfairly' branding it a Nazi outfit! This is yielding results. Ex-BNP Burnley councillor Maureen Stowe said that the BNP needed to be exposed for what it is and stopped in its tracks. She is supporting Unite by speaking out at rallies. She says she was conned, and that the Nazis have nothing to offer working class people.
Binding the UAF coalition together are the trade unions. The TUC has called national mobilising committees in Birmingham and London to help organise mass leafleting on the days of action at the beginning of April. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber has called on every trade unionist to join the leafleting. Socialists have an important role to play in making sure this initiative succeeds. It's not only the top leadership that takes anti-fascism seriously.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes is the UAF treasurer, and noticeable at the Astoria launch were delegations of trade unionists, not only from Greater London but from across the country. Hayes, to cheers, pledged full backing for every postal worker who refuses to deliver Nazi election material. The support of virtually all the major unions and the TUC, along with faith groups and anti-racist organisations, creates the opportunity for activists everywhere to mobilise real forces against the BNP.
The urgent task now is to build a UAF at the grassroots to reflect the breadth at the top of the coalition. Regional UAF rallies are now being planned and built for across Britain. Given the stunning success of the launch rally, the message round the country must be aim high and you can mobilise significant numbers. They will be needed if anti-fascists are to dent the Nazi vote in the June elections.
For more details telephone 020 7833 4916 or go to the website www.uaf.org.uk to join Unite Against Fascism