The BNP lost its only council seat in London on 23 June when a 51% vote for the fascists turned in to a 51% vote for Labour. The BNP always were in for a hiding to nothing in Goresbrook after their councillor simply gave up after a few months of doing very little at Barking and Dagenham council. However what really put the final nail into their coffin was the strong community campaign which has developed to oppose them in Goresbrook.
Anti-fascist magazine Searchlight and Dagenham Labour Party have organised a very effective campaign against the fascists in Barking and Dagenham. This is in contrast to the SWP who have confined themselves to “parachuting in” for a couple of leaflet drops under the guise of Unite Against Fascism.
The good thing about the Searchlight campaign is that it is very much rooted in the local community and highlights not only the fact that the BNP are a disgusting bunch of neo-Nazis but also how little they have done to help people in the area that they are supposed to represent.
The campaign has also benefited from the high profile support of former Barking local, singer Billy Bragg.
Unfortunately there is another challenge on the horizon. The BNP are standing in a by-election in the nearby Goresbrook ward on 14 July. This highlights the fact that the growth of the far right in the east London/south Essex area is a long term problem requiring deeper political solutions. There is a major growth in the support for nationalistic politics in the region. This doesn’t just encompass the BNP, it also includes groups such as UKIP and the Third Way, as well as right wing Tories such as Romford MP Andrew Rosindell. And that is where the politics of Searchlight fall down.
They have no strategy to revive a class-based opposition to a rampant right wing in the area. Unfortunately, the left in the local area is also more or less non-existent.
Although there is little hope that the rot will stop any time soon, concerned socialist activists must do the best we can.
• Mass leafleting against the BNP: Saturday 9th July, 10.30am till late afternoon, Labour Hall, Green Lane, Dagenham.