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Meeting report: Sheffield Campaign Against Racism and Fascism

Dan Olner | 10.09.2003 16:10 | Anti-racism | Sheffield

We're working towards reversing the BNP’s gains in Sheffield in next year’s local and European elections.

Report: Meeting of Sheffield Campaign against Racism and Fascism (SCARF)

Wednesday 9th September at SADDACA

This meeting aimed to start working towards reversing the BNP’s gains in Sheffield in next year’s local and European elections.

For those who don’t know, the BNP stood two councillors for the first time in Sheffield, this May just gone, in Brightside and Handsworth. They got 500 and 400 votes respectively, coming second in Brightside.

They have also been handing out leaflets for the ‘Young BNP’ at some schools in Sheffield. (The BNPs own website, in fact, lists which schools have BNP members, and one Sheffield school is listed.) These leaflets offered prizes for 5-9, 10-13 and 14-18 year olds for the best ‘anti-white racism’ poster.

Countrywide, the BNP now has 18 councillors. In Burnley, the BNP is now the main opposition to the Labour Party. BNP leader Nick Griffin said at the time that the result put the BNP 'within reach of controlling our first council within a couple of years'.

The aim of SCARF is to stop the BNP before they get established in Sheffield.

Paul, a campaigner from Bradford, shared his thoughts on the work he and others have been doing there. Two things were clear from what he said:

Mainstream parties are so far failing to deal with the problem. In many wards around the country they are even failing to stand candidates. The BNP have been successful because they’ve been doing ‘doorstep politics’ where other parties have not.

If SCARF is to succeed, then, it needs to be doing the same, countering the BNP directly. Paul also argued that links with local politicians – however unpalatable to some – is going to be one of the best ways of fighting the BNP. If it can be brought home to the right councillors that their seats may be in jeopardy, they will hopefully realise that a lot more work will be needed before next year’s elections in June.

Two other things, just for background: Nick Griffin has openly said his ideal is an all-white Britain. "We know we are not going to get that. We want to get as near as we can to it by consent." The party would offer cash to members of ethnic minorities to move to their "lands of origin". While Nick Griffin is desperately trying to make the BNP appear election-worthy and respectable, those who have been fighting them know that this respectability is just a veneer. We do NOT want to be complacent, and then find out their true nature when they start gaining a real voice on councils around the country.

Secondly: the BNP also recently won a by-election seat in the home counties suburb of Broxbourne in Hertfordshire. Many people in Broxbourne believe they have seen asylum seekers; there are stories about a local hotel full of asylum seekers who have moved there from hostels in Glasgow and brought their families. One woman interviewed by the Guardian said she saw asylum seekers cashing their benefits cheques in the local post office.

But Broxbourne has NO asylum seekers. Nil. Zero. The BNP have whipped up a fear in Broxbourne voters based on phantoms. Could this have anything to do with the average daily content of tabloids like the Sun, Express and Daily Mail, or Labour and the Tories fighting over who can be toughest on immigration?

One Tory councillor in Broxbourne said, “the fact is people voted for the BNP because they reflect what they believe.” What they believe is wrong – but unless someone makes sure the truth gets out there, what’s to stop the BNP cashing in next June in Sheffield too?

If you want to help SCARF, the next meeting is in The Rutland Arms on 7th October. I’ll put the time up here nearer then.

Before that meeting there’s work going on to find out what’s what in Brightside and Handsworth, so if you can help, phone 07931 470 251.

Dan Olner
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