Peter Marshall | 15.03.2010 21:45 | Anti-racism
Youth Figth For Jobs banner
On the march
In the centre of Barking
Young Voters need real change
Rally at Barking Town Hall
They see it as a situation that has led to the growth of far right parties, particularly the BNP to blame the problems on immigration; as the YFFJ web site says: "the BNP, instead of campaigning for jobs and services, spread division and the idea that it is Muslim, Asian, black people and others that are to blame. An unemployed white youth from Barking has far more in common with an unemployed youth from a Bangladeshi family in Tower Hamlets than with the likes of Adam Applegarth, the former boss of Northern Rock, who is still raking in the millions."
The march was held in Barking which is now seen as the "Front Line" against the BNP, where its leader Nick Griffin is standing in the forthcoming General election, against Margaret Hodge, Minister for Culture and Tourism. While previously a minister in the Department of Work and Pensions she was often quoted as justifying increased tuitution fees for students on the grounds of a largely imaginary "graduate premium" of increased earnings over their working lifetime.
When MG Rover closed down she said the redundant skilled car workers would be able to get jobs at a new local Tesco supermarket, and in 2006 she told a newspaper that 8 out of 10 working class voters in her constituency would be tempted to vote BNP at the forthcoming local elections as "no one else is listening to them" over unemployment, house prices and housing of asylum seekers in the area. The BNP won 11 seats, making them the second largest party on the council, and many local activists blamed Hodge for the publicity she had given them. More recently she has argued that British residents should be given priority in the allocation of council houses.
It brought back some memories to hear the chant "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Out, Out, Out!" brought back into use for another Margaret, but this was only one of a whole page of chants distributed to marchers and in use as they made their way through the outskirts of Barking to the town centre, including "When the BNP tell racist lies, We fight back and organise" and many old favourites. But an attempt at French, "Tous ensemble, tous ensemble" failed to elicit the desired response "Grève!" and the march had to return to English with "Strike, Strike, Strike!"
As the march went through the often busy streets, many stopped to watch with drivers sounding their horns in approval. One or two people looked out rather less kindly from some city centre pubs, and one man who came out of the door of one and shouted abuse was quickly pushed back inside by one of his friends.
The march was supported by a number of local groups and trade union branches, and at the rally at the end outside Barking Town hall there were a number of speeches stressing the need to get involved in the fight for jobs and against racism.
This article was written for Demotix, where it appears with more pictures:
A similar piece will appear on My London Diary in a day or two with more pictures still.