We at NWN heard that only 170 anti's bothered to show. This proves their numbers are dwindling, and when their numbers outrank the minorities they pretend to defend, we know their death is imminent.
Author: Pete Radcliff
Many hundreds of socialists and trade-unionists rallied in Codnor, Derbyshire, on 16 August, to show opposition to the fascist British National Party's "summer festival" being held on a farm near the village.
First, thanks to all comrades who came, especially those who came after recent hectic activity with Climate Camp and the Tube cleaners' solidarity action. We staged a significant demonstration to show that the BNP are not welcome in the area, that they will not go unchallenged; and it was not just an affair of outsiders parading through the streets of Codnor for a couple of hours. The activity to build the demonstration has also helped to build a local anti-BNP network.
As I reported in my speech at the closing rally, we know local residents, living near the farm, who have been subjected to serious harassment by the BNP. Our demonstration showed those residents that they are not alone.
As we had said on the website http://nobnpfestival.wordpress.com before the day, what with the use of the Public Order Act to severely limit our demonstration, it wasn’t what we ideally wanted. Also, lots of people were looking for transport being arranged to Codnor, and there was comparatively little we could point to other than what AWL members across the country had pushed for and managed to get arranged.
Hopefully the agitation for our protest may have galvanised some more activists, and provided a spur to establish active campaigns elsewhere like ours in Notts.
I thought our Notts-organised rally, held pretty continuously from 9:15 was good. A lot of local people are now involved, spoke at our open mike session, came behind the Amber Valley Stop the BNP banner that had been made.
Unite Against Fascism had been reluctant to support the demonstration at all, and when they came ot "support", they seem more concerned to pursue petty competition with, and try to elbow out, the local campaign, than actually to mobilise against the BNP.
They advertised a different assembly time - 11:00 rather than 9:00 - and when their coaches first turned up, kept their people for a while away from the rally already underway organised by Notts Stop The BNP.
In the middle of that rally - in the middle of a speech - they then marched their people away from the rally, without word or warning. Notts Stop The BNP were obliged to try to pull together the rest of the rally and follow the march, on pain of seeing the anti-fascists completely divided and many people confused.
On the march, the UAF indulged in a lot of hysterical and dishonest sloganising. They chanted, for example: "Nazi scum off our streets", often annoying and provoking local youths who may have no relationship at all with the BNP. Some people shouted back at the UAF visitors for the day: "these are our streets, not yours". Fair point, perhaps. And the BNP weren’t even on the streets, they were in a field!
At one point the local Amber Valley anti-BNP campaigners found themselves, and wanted to be, at the head of the march. They thought it would stress the fact that it wasn’t just geographic and political "outsiders". But they were incredibly brusquely and rudely pushed aside by the SWP.
The march went up to a road junction where the police stopped it, half a mile from the BNP site, and we probably didn't have the forces to push through. The UAF then negotiated with the police, without reference to the local campaigners, licence for a "delegation" of 30 people to walk down through the police line towards the BNP site.
We had SWP national secretary Martin Smith standing on the police side of the line, smirking, while marchers pushed and shoved in a vain attempt to break that line.
UAF insisted on its own rally after the march. The local Amber Valley activists didn’t like the speeches, apart from the speech which the UAF had to allow me to make.
Almost all the rally speeches were dollops of triumphalism, smug and inappropriate self-congratulation, and complacency. Mine was the only one to acknowledge that we had not been successful at what we really wanted to do, that the anti-fascist movement is not in a good state; to condemn the use of the Public Order Act. It was the only one to say that we needed greater numbers if the BNP attempt the same thing next year, and that we need a genuine local and national campaign.
Please note that we are calling a follow-on conference on Saturday 27 September at Queens Walk Community Centre, Nottingham. Please try and get people to come and come yourselves if possible.