Saturday, 2 December 2006

Demonstration scuppers BNP 'conference'

Taking on the BNP in Blackpool last Saturday (Pic: Steve Wilcock)
The Nazi British National Party’s plans to hold a meeting in Blackpool were ruined by an anti-fascist protest

Some 250 protesters gathered in Blackpool last Saturday for a lively and successful demonstration against an “annual conference” held in the town by the fascist British National Party (BNP).

The protest against the BNP drew in anti-racist activists, students and trade unionists from across the north west of England. It was called by Unite Against Fascism and Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre TUC.

Demonstrators met up outside Blackpool’s Winter Gardens before marching through the town centre, distributing leaflets on the way, to a rally some two miles out of town outside the New Kimberley Hotel, the venue for the Nazi gathering.

“The BNP is trying to give itself an air of respectability, but we believe that is a very thin veneer,” said Brian Gregory, secretary of Blackpool TUC.

“We’ve got the message across that we don’t want them in Blackpool.”

Stephen Mullen, president of Blackpool and the Fylde College student union, said, “We’re concerned for the safety of our students, many of whom are international students, or black or ethnic minority students.”

Other speakers included Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of Unite, Alec McFadden from North West TUC, Pete Marsden of Blackpool Unison and Ruqayyah Collector, black students’ officer for the National Union of Students.

The size of the anti-­fascist demonstration outside the hotel easily outnumbered those inside.

The BNP had been boasting about bringing 600 fascists to the event, but journalists covering it put the real numbers at around 50.

Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, later admitted in a radio interview that the Unite Against Fascism protest had deterred his supporters from attending the conference.

Local trade unionists are now calling for a boycott of the New Kimberley Hotel, whose management declined requests not to host the fascist gathering.

Despite threats from local football hooligan gangs and scare stories in the press, the Unite demonstration passed off peacefully with no arrests.

The protest was popular with local people, with one local restaurant owner making an impromptu offer of free refreshments for all those demonstrating against the fascists.

Source: Socialist Worker Online
2 December 2006

Sunday, 26 November 2006

BNP conference comes to Blackpool

The British National Party is holding a two-day conference at a hotel in the Lancashire resort of Blackpool.

About 600 BNP members are expected to attend the event, at the New Kimberley Hotel on the New South Promenade.

Blackpool Council leader Roy Fisher has said the group are not welcome in the town, which is used to hosting party conferences.

BNP organiser Roy Goodwin said the party was just as entitled to hold a conference there as anyone else.

He denied the party chose Blackpool as a destination because of the strong support for the group in the region.

"It wasn't to do with the support, it was to do with the location," he said.

"People are able to come here from the North, and the South.

"Blackpool Council's not very happy about that, but we're entitled to hold a conference wherever we like, it's as simple as that."

Unite Against Fascism, a party set up to challenge the BNP, has organised a rally in Blackpool on Saturday.

Ketlan Ossowski, from the party, said: "We'll go on a mass leaflet of Blackpool town centre, and we will hold a demonstration outside."

The BNP has more than 40 council seats and is the second-biggest group on Barking and Dagenham Council in east London.

BBC News
Sunday, 26 November 2006

Saturday, 25 November 2006

BNP tries to polish image at Blackpool

· Bullish activists head for mainstream venue
· Rendezvous kept secret as protesters gather

Among the usual scrum of stag parties and day-trippers bracing themselves against the elements on Blackpool seafront today will be a group of largely unwanted guests. The town, which is used to staging big events for the major political parties, is preparing for the arrival of hundreds of the country's leading far right activists for a British National party conference.

BNP organisers, buoyed by the recent acquittal of leader Nick Griffin on race hate charges and the increasingly divisive debate surrounding the UK's Muslim communities, claim that more than 600 BNP members will attend the two-day event, which will include a training day and discussions on "a range of policies designed to drive the organisation forward".

However, there are rumblings of discontent within the party, with familiar rumours that some senior figures, unhappy with Mr Griffin's leadership, will form a breakaway group before the end of the weekend. Whatever the state of internal relations within the BNP, local councillors and MPs have already condemned this weekend's conference, claiming it is part of a cynical attempt by the party to portray itself as a mainstream political organisation.

The National Union of Students, which holds its annual conference in Blackpool, has warned that it may boycott the town in the future if the conference goes ahead. Gemma Tumelty, NUS president, said: "They are a fascist organisation that threaten the diversity of multiculturalism of this country ... [we will] have to seriously consider whether continuing to use Blackpool for our annual conference would be in the best interests of our members in the future."

Opponents of the far right see the conference as a another sign that the BNP is gaining momentum. They say the party has been energised in the last six months by the increasingly hostile national debate surrounding immigration, multiculturalism and the role of Britain's Muslim communities.

In recent weeks hundreds of BNP members have descended on Dagenham in east London, where the party won 12 of the 13 seats they contested in May's council elections, to take part in one of the biggest leafleting campaigns in the party's history. A briefing document sent to Labour politicians earlier this month warned MPs that the far right organisation was building towards further electoral success in east London, which could see it claim its first MP at the next general election.

Jon Cruddas, MP for for Barking and Dagenham, said: "They certainly feel they are on course for very big gains in the London elections, the council elections and even for their first parliamentary MP." Mr Cruddas, who is standing for the deputy leadership of the Labour party, added that recent attacks on the Muslim community by mainstream politicians, including the debate about whether women should wear the veil, had played into the BNP's hands: "I have been involved in monitoring and fighting the BNP for years and I have never seen them as energised and optimistic as they are now."

The BNP won 32 new council seats in May's local elections, bringing its total to 49. In Barking and Dagenham it polled 41% of the vote in the wards it contested, compared with a Labour vote of 34%. The venue for this weekend's Blackpool conference is being closely guarded, with BNP members meeting at a rendezvous point before being redirected to the conference site. Anti-fascist campaigners and opposition politicians are planning a counter-demonstration in the town centre today and say the BNP has exaggerated the scale of the event. Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, said: "It remains to be seen just how big this gathering - I will not glorify it with the term conference - is going to be. They have hyped this sort of thing in the past and it has not necessarily come to pass."

But others say it is dangerous to underestimate the threat posed by the BNP, warning that the UK could find itself in a similar position to other European countries where strong far right parties are a political reality.

Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, said: "Three years ago it was enough to say this is an extremist party, with links to Nazism, and remind people that we fought exactly this in the second world war. But that has changed. Whether we like it or not they have entered the political mainstream, they are in the council chamber and on the doorstep." He said politicians had to engage with people's concerns, as well as exposing the true nature of the BNP. "If we have lost our credibility in white working class areas to lead communities we have got to redouble our energies and re-engage with the concerns and issues that people care about."

Four key figures

Nick Griffin Joined BNP in 1995 and became leader four years later. Was acquitted on race hate charges at Leeds crown court earlier this month. In 1998 he was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Mark Collett The party's former youth leader and Griffin acolyte was also found not guilty at Leeds crown court. He had been secretly filmed calling asylum seekers "cockroaches" and urging cheering supporters to "show ethnics the door in 2004". He had previously been filmed praising Hitler and blaming the Jewish people for the Holocaust.

Simon Darby Deputy leader, most likely successor to Griffin. Former member of the National Democrats which split from the National Front in the 1980s.

Kevin Scott North-east regional organiser and founder of Civil Liberty, a fundraising organisation set up to help "UK nationalists". Convicted for assault in 1987 and for using threatening words and behaviour in 1993.

BNP milestones


Griffin stands in Oldham in the general election following unrest in the area. He polls 16% of the vote


In nearby Burnley the party makes its first big electoral breakthrough, gaining three councillors in local elections


By May 2004 the BNP has 23 councillors, many of them in Yorkshire and the north-west


The party wins 32 council seats, bringing its total to 49. It averaged 19.2% in the 363 wards it contested

The Guardian
Saturday 25 November 2006

Thursday, 19 October 2006

BNP Blackpool Letter

Dear Roy Fisher ,

I am writing to express my outrage at the recent news that the British National Party (BNP) will be hosting their Conference in Blackpool during the weekend of November 25/26th.

You will be aware that the National Union of Students (NUS) hosts its Annual Conference in Blackpool and has done for many decades., Aside from anything else the revenue NUS consistently brings to Blackpool should be valued by the town and the council.

I am extremely proud of the diversity within NUS’ membership . All minorities are represented whether they be black students, lesbian, gay bisexual, trans students, women students and disabled students Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Sikh. All take an active part in our democracy and through NUS lead the fight against racism, fascism, homophobia, sexism, disablism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on our campuses and in our local communities.

An immediate concern is the safety of our students located in the area, many of whom are international students and black and ethnic minority students. As is well documented and as I am sure you are well aware, whenever the BNP are active in an area - either during elections, conferences or other events - the number of racist attacks increase.

The British National Party stand for all that we fight against, they are a fascist organisation that threaten the diversity and multiculturalism of this country that my movement is so proud of. They prey on the insecurities and concerns of ordinary people, spinning their lies and propaganda to their own political gain. They have no regard to the unity of the community or the safety of individuals in which they seek to gain power.

We are disappointed to say the least that any Hotelier in Blackpool would accept their custom, and should this conference go ahead we would certainly never use their facilities in the future. We would also have to seriously consider whether continuing to use Blackpool for our Annual Conference, would be in the best interests of our members in the future.

I would like to know what, if anything, the council has done to prevent this conference from taking place and if it is seeking to offset some of the damage it will cause, by putting extra funds into anti racism or diversity projects for the local community.


Gemma Tumelty

NUS National President

On behalf of the National Executive Committee of NUS

CC: Joan Humble MP

Gordon Marsden MP

Unite Against Fascism

Blackpool Gazette


Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Group may be formed to counter BNP

AN anti-racist umbrella organisation may set up a branch in Fleetwood to combat the town's new British National Party group.
The Lancaster branch of Unite Against Fascism says it is concerned about developments in Fleetwood.
Member Ketlan Ossowski saw a report in the Weekly News and believes efforts should be made to counter the BNP here.
The Fleetwood branch of the BNP held its first official meeting in the town last week, a private meeting that involved 28 people.
Mr Ossoswski said: "Lancaster UAF is an extremely active group that works alongside a similar group based in Barrow to combat the growth of the British National Party.
"I'm assuming that there is no active anti-fascist organisation in Fleetwood at this time. From our experiences in other areas -
principally Blackpool - we have learned that unless such groups are opposed rigorously and continually they will grow fast and strong.
"That is what has happened in Blackpool and presumably why Fleetwood now has a branch.
"The British National Party has won many seats but it councillors do nothing for their constituents and stir up a lot of unrest in communities."
Mr Ossowski has made contact with Fleetwood Labour Councillor Keith Riley and raised his concerns.
Coun Riley said he is to meet with other Labour councillors to discuss the local BNP branch, although he said it was unlikely he would be involved in setting up a local UAF group.
Coun Riley, who recently voiced views that Fleetwood people were too sensible and tolerant to vote BNP, conceded that there were times when those opposed to extremist groups needed to be more pro-active.
He told the Weekly News: "People do get fed up of governments after a while and protest votes seem attractive. But there are some very sinister sides to the BNP."

Fleetwood Weekly News
14 June 2006

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

BNP meeting is defended

A FLEETWOOD pub landlord has defended the decision to host a British National Party meeting.
THE BNP staged an event at the Victoria pub on Dock Street last night, and further meetings may be held there in future.
Landlord Eric Pollitt said sympathisers of the controversial party were simply fed up with the main political parties and wanted to mount a protest.
Mr Pollitt, 63, said: "I have been a Conservative all my life and was involved with my local party in Cleveleys.
"But I have become disillusioned at the way this country has been run, first with John Mayor and certainly with New Labour.
"I am not a member of the BNP and have not actually organised this meeting, but I would not rule out voting BNP as a protest vote."
Mr Politt stressed he would be monitoring the meeting to ensure that no racist comments were made.
Last week Fleetwood Labour councillor Keith Riley said he was confident that Fleetwood folk were too sensible to support the BNP and that any vote for the party would be a waste.
But Weekly News reader Jeff Neave hit back: "Councillor Riley should wake up and get in the real world. Fleetwood people are starting to resent the Labour party and have had enough. I would listen to what the BNP have to say."

Fleetwood Weekly News
7 June 2006

Friday, 26 May 2006

Fleetwood urged to shun BNP

FLEETWOOD residents have been urged to shun the British National Party as the far right organisation arrived in town.
A new local group has been set up and held its first meeting in the town this week. See next week's Fleetwood Weekly News for full story.

Fleetwood Weekly News
26 May 2006