By Pete Radcliff
We do not know the 3 May local election results at the time of going to press. But the BNP will probably have had a substantial number of council election successes.
A fuller post-election analysis of the BNP results can be found here
The BNP are primarily exploiting the political vacuum to draw in the middle class and self-employed living in rural areas and on the outskirts of cities. They hope to gain respectability that way, gain access to the media and the political platforms that councils will give them. These Daily Mail and Telegraph readers with their traditional hostilities to the labour movement and primitive nationalism are easy prey, with a Tory Party still unsure of which way it wants to look.
But more worrying is that the areas in which the BNP are building, and likely to do well, include poor working-class areas. The warning signs are clear.
When a Labour government ignores the needs of working class people on jobs and housing; when it denies them representation; when trade unions, the only national organisations which have either an explicit or implicit role in fighting for such representation, do little or nothing: when all this happens, then at the fringes of the labour movement, among the non-unionised, often poorly-paid and politically uneducated, the fascists will exploit despair.
Instead of organising them as workers, the BNP seek to organise them as aggressive nationalists. Instead of organising them to link with other workers of all and every ethnic background and fighting against their common exploitation, they try and set them at the throats of workers who come from elsewhere in the globe, whether it be Africa, Asia or eastern Europe.
No-one should presume that fascism is round the corner. What we may see is the creation of a well-financed organisation working for the rich, able to consistently propagate unbridled racism, prepared to directly promote racist violence as it suits them to divide the working-class movement. This may happen in the next few years, unless the labour movement and its organisations act now.
This should be a wake-up call on trade unions and to its leaders.
• Stop apologising and defending the government and start organising against it.
• Fight to improve the minimum wage and against the privatisation of our council services and or health and education services.
• Fight for jobs and housing.
• Start seriously to fight against public sector pay restraint; organise unorganised workers as well as the unemployed.
• Don’t allow poor English whites to be set against poor East European or other immigrant worker in a battle over who will accept the lower wage. Unite them against their bosses and the laws that make their exploitation easier.
• These are the ABCs of trade union and working class mobilisation but they seem forgotten by most of our leaders. They have also been forgotten by much of the SWP-influenced left who are prepared to junk basic socialist principles and instead promote organising people politically as “Muslims” or as “anti-imperialists”, regardless of how that is defined.
All trade unions at every level need to consider what they will do in the wake of these election results. They should link up with other working class organisations to consider how the successes of the BNP in this election can be counter-acted over the next years to make sure that 2007 is the end of the BNP’s growth rather than a new starting point.<