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