The Socialist Unity Network
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For a Democratic Conference to Unite the Anti-Fascist Movement

David Landau, Jewish Socialists’ Group

 


 

 

It is clear that whilst the British National Party (BNP) failed to make a decisive breakthrough in the various elections on the 10 June, they remain a major danger – a danger possibly masked by the success of UKIP. 

 

In the London Assembly List the BNP got 4.7% of the vote, only 0.3% from the 5% necessary to get a seat on the London Assembly.  This was despite the fact that UKIP had won two seats.  There is no doubt that without the involvement of UKIP the BNP would have won one if not two seats in the London Assembly.  Whilst they failed to make further gains in Burnley, Blackburn and Calderdale and failed to breakthrough in Oldham they won 4 seats in Bradford and came second in many seats in Oldham.  Whilst they lost seats in Sandwell and Dudley, they increased their vote in many Birmingham wards coming second in some.  Whilst loosing their seat in Thurrock they won three seats in Epping and came second in a couple of wards in Basildon.  THEY HAVE NOT GONE AWAY!  NEITHER CAN WE!

 

We would add that the success of UKIP itself is of major concern to the anti-fascist movement.  Whilst we would not characterize UKIP as a fascist party, opposition to immigration is its second major focus; it is profoundly xenophobic and has thrust forward as its figurehead Robert Kilroy-Silk just at the moment that he has gained notoriety as for his Islamaphobic racist outbursts.

 

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) was formed because of the serious gains that the BNP had made in May 2003 and the threat of a further breakthrough on 10 June concentrated the minds of the anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations and they recognised the urgent need for united action.  We recognise this as a step forward for the movement.  However, the speed in which it was put together as a steering committee made up of people from this and that body has led to an inherently undemocratic and unaccountable structure, which may have been justified by those circumstances but must now give way to an organisation that is owned by the anti-fascist movement as a whole.

 

One of the problems that emerged during the short history of the UAF has been an uneasy relationship and sometimes downright conflict between local anti-fascist organisations and the UAF as a national body.  We believe that this is largely a consequence of the lack of democratic ownership described above.  We think that it is also due to a misconceived attempt to imitate the methods of the Stop the War Coalition.  Whilst the success of the Stop the War Coalition in mobilising large numbers has lessons to teach all movements it is vital to recognise very significant differences.  The enemy that anti-racists and anti-fascists fight is organising in our midst – on our streets, in our estates, our schools, our town halls and so forth.  It uses the methods of community politics.  It must follow therefore that tactics, material, emphasis and methods ought to vary from region to region, from town to town, and in some cases, from ward to ward. 

 

Having said that, we recognise the tremendous advantages of having a national movement that, as much as possible, works from a common strategy.  But this can only happen successfully if all the forces are involved in formulating that strategy, bringing the wealth of their experiences to the table.

 

We therefore propose that Unite Against Fascism organises a conference as soon as practically possible – say in the autumn - mindful that a General Election is likely in the next 12 months.  We would argue strongly that this conference be open to representatives of organisations not currently affiliated to UAF so that a movement emerges that everyone can sign up to.

 

 

 

 

July 2004

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