Unite to stop the BNP
The elections on 3 May confirmed the fascist and homophobic British National Party’s growth since 2000. The BNP polled 292,911 votes in the English and Scottish local elections, the highest local election vote for fascism in British history. It missed being elected to the North Wales seat on the Welsh Assembly by just 0.6 per cent of the electorate. It stood an unprecedented 744 candidates in the English council elections, double that of last year. It expanded its geographical reach, consolidated its hold on seats and polled a ten-fold increase in votes in the Scottish Parliamentary and Wales Assembly elections. It won 10 council seats in these elections and lost 9; and whilst its average share of the vote fell from 18 per cent last year to 13.6 per cent, around one in eight voters voted BNP. If the BNP’s trajectory continues unchecked, it threatens to take a seat on the London Assembly next year, which it came within 0.1 per cent of the electorate in 2004. Such a breakthrough would give it a significant platform. LAGCAR believes that all those who oppose homophobia, racism and fascism can play an invaluable role in stopping the BNP making the gains it craves.
The BNP is a fascist organisation that is growing electorally by whipping up racism and homophobia. In the areas that it targets, racist attacks increase. In Barking and Dagenham it now has 12 councillors, and is the official opposition on the council. Racist attacks have increased by 30 per cent in the area, while elsewhere in London racist attacks have fallen to record lows. Its campaigning promotes a local racist myth that African migrants disproportionately benefit from access to housing grants.
The BNP is a fascist party which admires Hitler, whose murderous policies saw the annihilation of millions of Jews, Roma, lesbians and gay men and others. The London nail bomber David Copeland, who targeted London’s African Caribbean, Asian and lesbian and gay communities, illustrates where the BNP's hate-politics lead. His aim was to spark a race war and increase support for the BNP.
Whilst the cutting edge of the BNP advance is racism — against multiculturalism, immigration, asylum seekers and the Muslim community — the BNP also targets the lesbian and gay community. It drove a gay pub landlord out of business in Burnley where it made significant council gains, and attacks same-sex civil partnerships. It describes books which depict lesbian and gay relationships in schools as 'brainwashing'.
The embedding of fascist parties in mainstream politics across Europe is a warning to us all. Fascist MEP Alessandro Mussolini stated on Italian television it is better to be a fascist than a 'faggot'.
In Eastern Europe, the electoral rise of parties openly espousing policies of intolerance and hatred are being accompanied by a rising tide of racist and homophobic attacks. Poland’s Education Minster has announced new measures to forbid ‘homosexual propaganda’ in schools.
Pride events have been banned or attacked in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Moldova and Romania. London Mayor Ken Livingstone has stated his condemnation of these attacks and asserting ‘the basic human and civil right of LGBT people to peacefully demonstrate.’
LAGCAR works with Unite Against Fascism, a broad alliance of trade unionists, Jewish, Muslim and black communities together with all those who oppose the BNP, to challenge the racist and homophobic lies on which the BNP grows, and to turn out the vote of the majority of people who oppose fascism.
This strategy has defeated the BNP in areas such as Oldham and played a significant role in restraining the BNP’s growth this year. LAGCAR and UAF worked with the nus lgbt campaign to produce specific materials highlighting the homophobia of the BNP and calling on the lesbian and gay communities to use its vote.
With the BNP targetting the London assembly next May and future elections in the European parliament, we call upon lesbian and gay communities, and all those who oppose the BNP, to register to vote and use their votes to defeat it.