Over 600 attend UAF national conference
Thanks to everyone who came to Unite Against Fascism national conference. It was a great success with over 600 attendees gathering to discuss how to take forward the campaign against the British National Party at the local and general elections this year.
Workshop sessions covered topics such as stopping the English Defence League, tackling racism and Islamophobia, and building anti-fascist campaigns in the workplace. The Love Music Hate Racism session unveiled plans for a series of anti-racist music festivals to take place across the country later this year.
Speakers at the conference included Margaret Hodge MP, Ken Livingstone, Dawn Butler MP, as well as Sabby Dhalu and Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism. They stressed the importance of campaigning against the BNP in Barking, Stoke and other areas targeted by the fascists, while also mobilising to stop the threat of the English Defence League and other racist hooligan groups.
Margaret Hodge is MP for Barking, where BNP leader Nick Griffin is running for parliament. She told the conference: "The BNP is a vicious and evil party. They are bringing fear into the borough. The battle is on in Barking & Dagenham – but this is also a once in a lifetime opportunity to take them on and show that there is no place for the BNP in this country."
Ken Livingstone said: "We need to recognise there has been a surge in racism as result of the BNP electoral breakthrough last June. The EDL demonstration in Stoke last month was a fascist riot. We cannot let mainstream parties pander to prejudice and use dogwhistle politics. Don't give an inch to Islamophobia or racism."
Weyman Bennett said: "We face a fight on two fronts – against the Nazi BNP at the ballot box and against the EDL's racist thugs on our streets. We need to get everyone who opposes the racists and fascists to come to Bolton on 20 March to stop the EDL, and to Barking and Stoke in coming weeks to stop the BNP at the elections."
notes on Fighting Racism and Fascism in the Media workshop:
Unfortunately both speakers, Michael Rosen and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown were unable to attend. Chair, David crouch of the Financial Times and NUJ member became the speaker.
the session was aimed at people working in the media.
Issues: Historical racist press; loss of workers power in the Thatcher years; failure of media to be critical of BNP; especially the BBC whose bosses claim they should simply report and not comment in the interests of impartiality; strict editorial control and workers being told what they must write or include/exclude.
conclusion: workers to unite and refuse to report biased articles. encourage fellow workers to do the same as they may gain confidence if supported.
A new group has formed called Expose. They will be leafletting White City stadium tube (opposite entrance to BBC) on Wednesday and volunteers were gathered for that. There will be an official launch on Tueday 23rd February 7.00 pm at the Amnesty Centre in London. A facebook group has been created:
Report on workshop on "Bringing Anti-Fascism into the workplace"
This had speakers from the NAS/UWT, NUT, Unite, and the TUC training organisation.
The NASUWT speaker talked about what they have done to proscribe BNP membersfrom working for the NAS, and developing a campaign to ban teachers from being members of the BNP. The NUT spoke about how the new Political fund is being used to fund campaigning against the BNP in Barking and other key places. A key idea from several speakers and the audience was that we need well organised workplaces, which fight for better pay and conditions, but which will also keep fascists out of the workplace. It will then be easier to argue for support for other anti fascist activities.
Penny Foskett NUT