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Barnsley BNP "Off Our Streets"

Front 242 | 16.05.2009 18:42 | Anti-racism | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Sheffield

100 trade unionists and anti-fascists challenged the Barnsley BNPs "right" to give out their racist and anti-working class rubbish in the town centre today, Saturday May 18th.

Organised by Barnsley Trades Council and Unite Against Fascism, the protest gathered in the centre of Barnsley to hear speeches from members of the local trades council, anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigners. And even the local Labour MP.

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.

Front 242


Hide the following 11 comments

Let's kick them off the streets

16.05.2009 19:35

All well and good, but the BNP could have actually been stopped from selling in Barnsley today. When this has occurred in the past it took only small numbers of determined people. The last time Antifa took their papers off them they didn't hold a stall for more than a month. It's good to see people opposing the BNP in Barnsley, but unfortunately it will take more than slogans to get them off our streets.


"More than slogans"

16.05.2009 20:09

Yes Antifascist, I agree that the BNP should be physically stopped from having a platform in Barnsley (and everywhere else). I think there's also a role for actions like today's which try to involve wider forces - some of whom would not be able/prepared to physically stop the BNP from selling their paper etc.
I also feel that it's important to act alongside local trade unionists and migrants and to try to cement that international alliance, especially in a place like Barnsley with its traditions of workers militancy. I seem to remember Yorkshire miners from Hatfield main pit coming down to Sheffield in the 1980's to give the British Movement a taste of the pavement.
Anyway, I wish you well in your work.

Front 242

A message to you John xx

16.05.2009 21:23

Talking of limited intelligence...
I think you'd find if you had actually gone to the march today that the vast majority of people there where the white working class who are sick of being attacked on two sides, from both the government and more worryingly from fractionating groups such as the BNP who aim to divide the working class when unity is most needed.
Also, if you don't find the following question too challenging, why would you think that socialism is similar to capitalism when capitalism is a hierarchical system centered around an uncontrolled and unpredictable economy, and socialism is union-lead, egalitarian and based around a planned economy? Or was that just some miscellaneous bullshit you wrote because you have no real argument against what people were doing today?
I would actually like a reply if you could take 5 minutes out of what can only be a thriving social calendar for some-one as charming and well-informed as yourself, as I'm actually quite interested as to how you can think two fundamentally opposed ideologies are "two sides of the same coin".
Well I suppose I've been a bit harsh, at least you had the decency not to try and defend the BNP against accusations of being Nazis, although if you are going to get all patriotic then it would probably be good to remember to that it was this country that fought a war against fascism not so long ago (alongside such foreigners as the Russians, Americans and the French).

Eagerly awaiting your reply x

Ps) Having poor grammar and spelling (which I'm hoping you did on purpose because it was so abysmal) doesn't make you working class. In fact it's pretty offensive that you think working class people shouldn't be educated...

White-Working Class


16.05.2009 21:33

Wouldn't worry about the supposed photos and videos the BNP were taking- looked as though the cameras were a bit beyond them. In fact, watching them trying to thumb the cameras with their non-opposable thumbs was probably the highlight of the march...

Wayne King

Dear John...

16.05.2009 21:59

Hey John, you really should try some of that self-loathing. I'm sure it would suit you.

I've got a brand new hoover

Self Loathing

16.05.2009 22:43

Dear John,

trying to awaken self loathing in the white working class is the only way the BNP will ever get votes. Unfortunately for the liars, thieves and Hitler Worshipping thugs of the BNP, self respect is rising. Lie, tell a big lie and never ask where the party funds are, John. You mistake the self pity of the psychiatric failures in Big Nicks Final Solution Pension Plan for normality.

The White Working Class are Proud of knowing the BNP are failures. Lets not pretend, we all know the BNP is a bunch of useful idiots whose usefulness is running out.

Hunter S Thompson


17.05.2009 09:10

In the run-up to the forthcoming Euro elections, both New Labour and the BNP hope to use racism to maximise their vote. The BNP will use the age-old tactic of scapegoating ‘immigrants’ and ‘foreigners’, and basically anyone who isn’t white, while wooing those sickened by the greed and corruption of the mainstream political parties. In particular they will hope to appeal to disaffected former Labour voters who feel abandoned and betrayed by Britain’s ruling political party. For their part, New Labour will be hoping to mobilise anti-racists into voting for them simply ‘to stop the BNP’, ignoring Labour’s own appalling record of racism, and the fact that the BNP have only been allowed to grow in the political climate they have created. They will be aided in this cruel and threadbare chicanery, by the middle-class Left, who are clueless in their analysis of fascism and simply see the BNP as an opportunity to recruit gullible new members and swell the coffers of their party funds. Typical of this ilk are the ‘Searchlight’ front ‘Hope Not Hate’, who in return for massive funding from New Labour and its political satellites are attempting to lead another generation of anti-racists down the blind alley of electoralism.

For decades the middle-class Left have told us ‘Vote Labour Without Illusions’ – or some other trite slogan. Under Thatcher, they told us we had to vote Labour ‘To get Maggie out’. What did that get us? If anything it got us a government that was even further to the Right. Since 1997 New Labour have continued to shit on the poor and institute a vicious Police State. They have completely alienated working-class people, pushed the political agenda immeasurably to the Right, and fostered the rise of the fascist British National Party. Ordinary people are understandably VERY pissed-off with politicians.

The BNP are hoping to capitalise on the current ecconomic crisis by scapegoating immigrants and asylum-seekers, and to capitalise on anger against Westminster by mobilising a so-called ‘protest vote’ – ie a vote for the fascist BNP. Meanwhile, the drips of ‘Unite Against Fascism’, ‘Hope Not Hate, the ‘Socialist Workers Party’, and all the other middle-class idiots who told us to vote New Labour in the past, are telling us not to ‘waste’ our votes! They know that working-class communities are not going to vote Tory, do they really think that a vote for New Labour is a vote AGAINST fascism?! This is the party that has been bombing the shit out of Iraq and Afghanistan for years now, and locking up and deporting refugees en masse.

It is this sort of patronising, condescending stupidity that has led to the rise of the BNP in the first place. It is an insult to the intelligence of ordinary people. Antifa are not calling on people to vote Labour or ‘Respect’ to stop the BNP, we are calling on people to boycott the whole election charade, and to get out onto the streets and combat the rise of the BNP in the only way that matters – by Direct Action.

We can understand the contempt people rightly have for the mainstream political parties. We can understand why white working-class communities feel abandoned and alienated. But a vote for the BNP is NOT a so-called ‘protest vote’, it is a vote for FASCISM.

Don’t believe ANY of their lies.Don’t play the politicians’ games.Don’t vote – Organize


‘Nobody will claim expenses’ ‘Nobody will solve your problems’ ‘Nobody Cares’……….’VOTE NOBODY’………these were the slogans we campaigned on in a local election in Sheffield years ago. Could this now be rolled out as a national anarchist campaign at the next general election? Certainly we need to do something to wrest the severely pissed off vote awayfrom BNP/UKIP.

Not voting as a measure of poltical awareness is worthless – the same people who cant be arsed to vote wouldn’t save you from drowning either. A more positive reaction is needed. Vote Nobody needs to be pro-active – write Nobody on your ballot paper – spolit votes are counted and declared – NOBODY WINS. Better still set up rival polling stations on the day locally where people can deposit their polling cards in a positive – and measurable – vote for Nobody. In the eve nt of a NOBODY victory – more polling cards for nobody than the ‘winning’ candidate – declare the area an autonomous MP free zone and establish the mechanisms of DUAL POWER.

We need a coherent anarchist response at the next election to combat both the BNP and the ‘Vote Labour to keep the BNP out’ bollocks we’re going to be getting after June 4th. NOBODY OFFERS A WAY FORWARD……in the absence of anything better.


In a wwek where a window is smashed, a garden is vandalised and vengeance is demanded as taxpayers turn on their Westminster representatives over expenses scandal

“We can see ordinary people going round with shotguns and shooting them all,” said a pensioner in this industrious Berkshire town. She was so enraged by MPs’ expenses, she said, that she was tempted to shoot the Speaker herself.

The days when Dick Turpin reputedly rested up in a pub where this new town now sprawls have long gone. But voters outside Westminster are increasingly convinced that their representatives have got away with daylight robbery.

As Keith Rogers put it in Sleaford, where Conservative MP Douglas Hogg belatedly agreed to pay back £2,200 spent cleaning his moat: “This is not politics. It’s theft. MPs’ allowances are more than most people’s wages in Lincolnshire.”

When MPs returned to their weekly surgeries and other duties in their constituencies yesterday, they encountered a landscape transformed by revelations about their expenses. The cynicism of many voters towards Westminster had been replaced by something much more engaged, but also far more enraged.

Margaret Beckett, heckled and booed on BBC1’s Question Time on Thursday, is not the only MP to have witnessed the change in mood at first hand. In Bromsgrove, a window in Tory MP Julie Kirkbride’s constituency office was smashed with a brick. In Rutland, where fellow Tory Alan Duncan agreed to pay back nearly £5,000 of gardening expenses for tending the small plot around his constituency home, a 3ft pound sign was carved into his lawn and filled with campanula and violas.

Duncan initially reported the incident to the police but quickly changed tack, preferring to pass it off as a joke. “At first I thought: ‘Oh no, this is getting nasty.’ But actually they’ve been quite funny. These are serious times but at least in the middle of it all we can have a bit of a laugh at this one.”

But Heydon Prowse, editor of the politics and culture magazine Don’t Panic, which was behind the stunt, wasn’t laughing. “We were outraged in general by all the expenses claims coming out. Alan Duncan was a nice easy target. The flowers are a nice Tory blue. We thought about it.”

The original meaning of Bracknell was “bracken-covered hiding place”, but as MacKay and his peers found, a week of revelations left them uncomfortably exposed to the anger of their constituents. Effusive apologies and promises to pay back their most outrageous expenses claims have failed to pacify the public. Voters brought up the example of the communities secretary, Hazel Blears, writing a cheque on television and laughed bitterly at what they perceived as an empty self-serving gesture.

“They know they’ve done something wrong because they are giving it back,” said Chris O’Riordan, a businessman, in Bracknell. “If I said: ‘I’ve just nicked a bottle of shampoo from Boots but I’ll give it back, am I all right?’ I’d be arrested.”

MacKay, who stepped down as David Cameron’s parliamentary aide after it was revealed that he and his wife, Kirkbride, used parliamentary allowances to claim for both their homes, performed constituency duties in public in the centre of Bracknell yesterday. He promised to call back any disaffected voters who had complained about his two homes funded by the taxpayer and claimed the majority of emails and calls had been supportive. In the centre of Bracknell, however, even his most loyal voters expressed contempt.

“If I got caught doing that, I would lose my business. It is fraud,” said O’Riordan, who said he had just been fined £1,500 by the Inland Revenue because he was late submitting his tax details. MPs, he said, had got away with far worse: “They should lose their jobs. They are trying to do a bit of damage limitation and it isn’t working.”

While the rightwing pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance is threatening to launch private prosecutions against some MPs, many ordinary voters feel the long arm of the law has proved remarkably short and weak when it comes to prosecuting MPs. Scotland Yard has yet to confirm whether it is investigating any of the complaints it has received against individual MPs.

In Lincolnshire, community support officers stood guard outside the locked gate of the constituency home belonging to Elliot Morley, the Labour MP caught claiming £16,000 for his home for 21 months after he had paid off his mortgage. While the Labour whip has been withdrawn from Morley, his constituents demanded his resignation and prosecution.

“When I paid my mortgage off, I bought a bottle of champagne and a gold bracelet,” said Pam Sargent, a retired teacher. “How on earth can he say he did not know he’d paid his off? I hope he goes down and I hope he goes down with a big, big bang.”

Former prison officer John Douglas said: “I shut the door on people for far less fraud than these people have committed. They’re a disgrace. They should all stand down, the lot of them. If he [Morley] had any honour at all, he’d resign.”

An aggravating factor for many people is how the expenses scandal has exposed the gulf between the Westminster elite and the rest of the country, and the growing level of inequality in Britain. “It’s one law for them and another for us,” said George Hobson, out shopping in Bracknell with his granddaughter, Olivia. “What I have to live on for a month is what they can claim on expenses for food (£400).” He said he would not vote for MacKay again.

Sandra Smith, 67, gets by on a state pension of £99.30p each week and a private pension of barely £20. From this, she must pay £45 in rent every week for the council house she shares with her father. “MPs haven’t a clue what we have to go through. They are not in touch with the real world. I’m absolutely incensed. They send pensioners to jail for not paying their council tax. “

Several voters mentioned not just the huge sums of money that MPs can claim on expenses but the high wages earned by members of the media who are charged with interrogating them, reinforcing a sense of a country divided between a metropolitan expense-fiddling elite and the honest, hard-working voters of middle Britain.

When Fred Binding, 90, watched the interview in which BBC News presenter Carrie Gracie admitted she earned £92,000, he “nearly fell through the floor”, he said.

For Binding, and many older voters in particular, the expenses scandal has highlighted a materialistic side to society that is completely alien to them. “It’s become a different world altogether,” he said. “The only thing that matters is ‘me’. People are pushing others out of the way. MPs have gone with the flow – they have thought: this is what people do and we will join in.”


and your proposal is...?

17.05.2009 10:58

Hi Vote Nobody

Don't have a problem with your analysis - elected politicians are largely scum; Labour creates the conditions for fascist parties; the Left don't seem to have much of a clue and lots of politicuans have been found to be stealing money. Fine, nice cut and paste an' all (though you should attribute your article) but what are you proposing except not voting?

Anything positive to contribute? Tactics for dealing with fascist infestations in ex-industrial towns? Defence against fascist violence? How to organise direct action? Building organisations of workers? Relationship to existing trade unions? Anything? Anything at all?

Mr D Action

BNP Salford given a scare yesterday too...

17.05.2009 11:55

word is they sacked off their canvassing & leafleting, got in their truth truck & got off, after ringing the police of course.

NW Antifascists

why is the working class so important?

17.05.2009 23:48

they arn't the bloody only people in the world


Re: mick

18.05.2009 13:57

The working class - as in, those people who are required to sell their labour in order to survive (also known as the vast majority of the population of the world) - is important for the simple reason that it is the group which keeps society running, operates the hospitals, factories, schools, etc. As such, the organised working class is the group with the power to end capitalism, as capitalism requires its consent and participation in order to survive. Movements such as fascism divide the working class against itself.

It is a tactical issue, nothing more.


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