Common themes were:
1. The BNP are not just a racist party, they are a fascist party.
Their main candidate in Yorkshire for the European Elections, Andrew Brons, began his political career in something called the National Socialist Movement and was a leader in the openly fascist National Front in the 1970's. The record of BNP Fuhrer Nick Griffin as a denier of the Holocaust is not in doubt. Marlene Guest a BNP election candidate in Rotherham explained that the Holocaust brought "advances in plastic surgery and dentistry". As a speaker from the Public and Commercial Services union explained "the BNP's idea of political campaigning in Barnsley has been to water down some human shit and squirt it through the letterboxes of Indian restaurants".
2. The BNP are an anti-working class party
Local Labour MP Mick Clapham had to begin his speech by telling us that he hadn't fiddled his expenses. With the big parties all tarred with corruption, public money going to basket-case bankers and unemployment rising, the BNP is desperate to present itself as the party of "the ordinary person" "the worker" (as long as you can tick all the right boxes to qualify you as a "British" worker). They even try to portray themselves as friends of mining and ex-mining communities like Barnsley's. But some of us have memories: local union speakers recalled how the BNP had tried to take the National Union of Mineworkers to court for not holding a ballot during the strike. They gave money to the scab "Union of Democratic Miners". BNP leader at the time John Tyndall (now tragically deceased) actually called for the army to used against picketing Yorkshire miners.
Speakers recalled how, during the miners strike 25 years ago, it was the black South African miners union which had sent half its entire funds - £2000 - to support the miners' strike here.
3. The BNP have got a bloody cheek showing their faces in Barnsley town centre and abusing black people in public.
So 100 of us - black and white, men and women, young and old - marched through the centre of Barnsley, carrying trade union banners and chanting "BNP Off Our Streets". An elderly woman put her shopping down to applaud the march and let us know how good it felt to see people stand up to the BNP bullies. "About time" I heard someone else shout. I heard one instance of racist abuse from a passer-by but her friend calmed her down and urged her back inside the cafe they'd been in. We reached the spot where the BNP have been holding a stall in the centre of Barnsley. Protected by the police and with their union jack flags flying, they tried to appear unruffled and respectable. It was an image which was impossible for them to maintain as 100's of people heard us shout "Nazi Scum - Off Our Streets"and "The Workers United Will Never Be Defeated". A couple of their heavies - cropped hair and thick necks - tried to intimidate the anti-fascist protestors by filming them (no doubt for their Redwatch website which incites violence against anti-fascists). It was great to see some shoppers join in the chanting with us and I felt welcomed by everyone I met in Barnsley today.