BNP leader Nick Griffin had vowed to use Stoke as a launching pad for a campaign against Muslims to coincide with the sentencing of Habib Khan, who was convicted earlier this year of the manslaughter of Nazi thug Keith Brown.What SW doesn't want its readers to know is "some people" refers to Stoke Socialist Party and these words are taken from the leaflet we have (so far) distributed to some 6,000 homes in Stoke-on-Trent.
Habib Khan’s sentencing has now been delayed to 29 August, prompting fears that the fascists may hold their rally on that date instead. They plan to bring in Nazis from around to country and tour estates where they have a presence.
If the BNP do mobilise in Stoke, local anti-Nazi campaigners will call a protest against them. Unite Against Fascism is also holding a day of action against the BNP in Stoke this Saturday 26 July.
Some people on the left have described Brown’s death as “tragic” and tried to present him as a victim of “knife crime”. But Brown does not deserve an ounce of sympathy from anyone.
Aside from the completely dishonest way of critiquing our leaflet, SW's objections are mistaken. First, whether it was right to describe the death of Keith Brown, the BNP activist who was killed in a dispute with his asian neighbour, 'tragic'. Well I thought it was obvious. It is tragic because a family - not all of whom are BNP members or supporters - has lost a father. It is tragic because the family next door face losing a family member to a substantial stretch inside. Only someone devoid of feeling can deny the very real human tragedy involved. But this is coming from the paper that couldn't bring itself to condemn the murder of three thousand American workers on a sunny day in September, seven years ago.
And there is the second element to SW's complaint: "some people on the left have ... tried to present him as a victim of knife crime". If you want to be pedantic about it Keith Brown was killed with a knife and Habib Khan was found guilty of manslaughter. So yes, a crime was committed and strictly speaking Brown is a victim of knife crime. But the main point - lost on SW - is the BNP have been trying to make racist hay with the knife crime panic, and have cynically used it in this case solely because a white man was stabbed by an asian Muslim. It's not us portraying Brown a victim of the wave of knife crime - it's the BNP! And yet we get the blame ...
If you open a copy of this week's SW, you'll find a report about an anti-fascist day of action last Saturday in Bentilee, one of the wards in Stoke where the BNP holds all three councillors. What the article neglects to mention is how the event was originally billed as a discussion about anti-fascist strategy, followed by leafleting. But as you'd expect from a UAF-sponsored event, the only discussion that took place was where to leaflet and how "hostiles" should be handled. But a debate did occur, albeit outside the main room and between SWP CC member and UAF joint-secretary Weyman Bennett and the four members of Stoke SP who came along. The thing was we had a major problem with the leaflet UAF had written. It was mostly about how nasty the Nazis were (they murdered 15 million people apparently, which seems to be the UAF line) and pointing out the BNP were Nazis. In other words the same fare that has gone out time and time again in Stoke these last eight years with no discernible impact on the BNP's increasing fortunes. Another of our members felt it was patronising, almost wagging its finger at local voters for returning BNP councillors.
In reply, Weyman gave the predictable stock answer. He conceded from a socialist point of view they were inadequate and the SWP would probably prefer to hand out leaflets similar in character to ours, but this would not be the best way to build a unified anti-fascist movement encompassing everyone from the far left, mainstream Labour and 'non-political' BME and religious communities. This can only be done on a lowest common denominator basis, he thought. The problem is if you build an anti-fascist movement limited to pushing a moral argument against the BNP, you have a movement that cannot evolve in a more political direction without the fear of jeopardising this unity. It means the far left hide away their ideas while expounding the hand-wringing establishment anti-fascist views of Christians and New Labour.
If the SWP want to build unity for unity's sake, they're welcome to. But it won't tackle the ideas of the BNP. Socialist Party leaflets take them up politically and use a language we think can connect with those who have abandoned Labour and turned to the BNP as a protest as well as those who support the BNP out of more xenophobic reasons. And this draws on our extensive collective experience of talking to BNP voters and supporters on stalls and the doorstep. To reiterate, the content of UAF-style anti-fascism is determined by the internal politics of popular frontist coalition-building. Socialist anti-fascism is guided by what is necessary to challenge the BNP and undercut its support.
This also appears at Socialist Unity.