Local residents, anti-fascists, trades unionists, local councillors, football fans and others joined protests this weekend against the BNP's National Conference, which was held at The Cricketers in Wavertree on Saturday and Sunday. The protest was called on Saturday by Unite Against Fascism who are opposing the BNP's use of the public venue - the BNP are believed to have held meetings in the same location previously.
Liverpool Council leader Joe Anderson joined protesters, to support the demonstration - during the weekend there were also representatives from local trade unions such as UNISON and the RMT in attendance at the pickets of the BNP conference. Unite Against Fascism [UAF] members reported strong support for their protests from local residents, who have voiced opposition to the BNP conference being held at the Wavertree venue.
The protests took place as North West UAF are launching their regional campaign - called "Griffin Must Go!" - to remove BNP leader Nick Griffin from his seat as Member of the European Parliament for the North West Region - which includes the Merseyside area. The UAF "Griffin Must Go!" campaign is supported by a number of North West MEP's, MP's and trades unionists, including: Alison McGovern MP for Wirral South, St Helens North MP David Watts, Billy Hayes of the Communication Workers Union, North West MEP Brian Simpson, Kate Green MP, Lisa Nandy MP, Julie Hilling MP, Jonathan Reynolds MP and former cabinet minister Peter Hain MP.
A "Kick Racism Out Of Football" banner was held aloft at the demonstration. UAF say this is significant because it is currently the national fortnight of action co-ordinated by Kick It Out - an organisation which works to get rid of racism in football. UAF supporters also reported a healthy reaction from local footballers, who voiced concern about the BNP Conference taking place in a venue which adjoined a sporting facility used by local sports players and members of the public. UAF leaflets were also distributed exposing the BNP.
Around 30 people attended the demonstration on Saturday, and approximately 40 on Sunday. On Saturday UAF protestors demonstrated for five and a half hours, and picketed Nick Griffin as he was driven out in a car at the end of the conference.
Darren Ireland, Branch Secretary of the Liverpool 5 branch of the railway workers union the RMT said:
"The fascist and racist BNP, with their discredited leader Griffin and local BNP leader Mike Whitby turned up for their small national conference at The Cricketers, Wavertree, Liverpool. The BNP seek to divide the working class, they seek to attack ethnic minorities with their vile discrimination. When you read about the battle of Cable Street some 75 years ago, the working class united to defeat the fascists. These battles are still being fought in Wavertree today. We must continue to unite as a class and fight to defeat these BNP thugs once and for all. Together we will defeat them, with the local community who were also against their presence."Paul Jenkins, North West Regional Organiser for Unite Against Fascism said:
"The Unite Against Fascism protestors received an excellent response from local residents, as well as local football players using the adjoining venue. Both the residents and general public are outraged that a public and family venue has been hired out for use to the racist thugs of the fascist BNP. The UAF protest, and the support for it from local residents, shows once again that anti-racists are the majority and that the fascist BNP do not represent the people of Wavertree or anywhere else.
At the weekend we saw Nazi Nick Griffin off - now we want to see the BNP fuhrer off once and for all - North West Unite Against Fascism are launching our "Griffin Must Go!" campaign to remove the BNP Leader from his Seat as Member of the European Parliament for the North West Region, which includes Merseyside. UAF encourages people to attend the regional launch of this campaign next month in Manchester, and to get involved in the UAF campaign on Merseyside to show Griffin and the BNP that they are not welcome in Wavertree or anywhere else. Details about the campaign can be found at www.uaf.org.uk"