May 06, 2007

Anti-fascists warn of BNP rise as record votes see near miss on Wales Assembly

Ken Livingstone, trade union representatives and anti-fascist activists highlight increases for fascism on the back of racism

Anti-fascist campaigners have warned that the BNP's near miss on the Wales Assembly on May 3rd shows that they will target future elections in Wales, the London Assembly and the European elections, attempting to breakthrough into mainstream politics. Campaigners highlighted that gains for the BNP are not inevitable and their electoral assault can be halted by the majority of voters taking part in elections.

In the North Wales regional list seat it polled 9986 votes, (5.1%) leaving it within 2,580 votes of gaining a seat on the Welsh Assembly. In 2003 Wales Assembly elections the BNP polled 3,210 when it stood in one of the five regions. The BNP stood an unprecedented number of seats in Wales, fielding four candidates in all 5 regional list seats polling a record 42,197 votes. It was given access to £410,000 worth of electoral communication including a televised party political broadcast and distribution of leaflets to every household in Wales.

The North Wales region included one of its highest votes in Wrexham where, in June 2003, local residents on the Caia estate rioted against dispersed asylum seekers culminating in racist attacks which resulted in dozens of criminal convictions. The BNP exploited this in their election campaign, claiming that the convicted perpetrators of racist violence were victims of attacks by Iraqi asylum seekers, and the police. Their party political broadcast attempted to perpetuate this lie and it was forced to change it before being broadcast on the BBC. The BNP also attacked Eastern European migrant workers and multiculturalism and threatened to remove migrant workers from the National Health Service in its manifesto.

Ken Livingstone, Chair of Unite Against Fascism said:
The Welsh Assembly election results confirm that the fascist BNP is continuing to grow on the back of vicious racist campaigns. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that their lies are challenged head on, that the discourse in the media and mainstream politics highlights the value of the communities they target. The task now for all those who value democracy and abhor violence is to stop this criminal, fascist organisation as it attempts to make further gains in the Welsh local council elections and the London Assembly next May.

Amarjite Singh, TUC Wales Race Equality Committee (personal capacity) said:
Any increase in the presence of fascists represents a threat to us all. The BNP is racist, anti-semitic, homophobic and islamophobic organisation. The trade union movement is a true reflection of the people of Wales; it welcomes diversity, migrant workers and all those who believe in democracy. The trade unions in Wales will continue to prioritise defeating fascism over the forthcoming year.

Weyman Bennett Joint National Secretary of Unite Against Fascism said:
The Welsh elections are of deep concern. The BNP used crude racism in order to marshal votes. The BNP has rightly been described as a Nazi organisation. Success for the BNP would mean they promote religious and racist divisions. UAF worked with anti-fascist activists, trade unionists, celebrities and community groups across the region to raise awareness of the danger they pose and to turnout the anti-fascist vote. Every person who voted against the BNP in Wales in this election helped stop the fascists making the breakthrough that they crave. The BNP can be stopped - we must ensure all those who are alarmed by these results turnout to vote next year.

Denis Fernando Joint National Secretary of Unite Against Fascism said:
The BNP is emboldened enough to now call itself 'the real party of nationalism in Wales '. The reality is that it is a fascist group that wants an all white Britain which is only possible by violence and shutting down democracy. When the BNP target an area, hate-crimes increase. In Barking where the BNP now have 12 councillors, racist attacks rose as the BNP targeted the area in the run up to its election. This is a blot on the landscape of London where multiculturalism is celebrated and racist attacks have fallen to record lows. A breakthrough for the BNP is not inevitable: it can be stopped if the majority of people who value democracy and reject fascism use their vote. UAF pledges to work with communities in key areas including London and Wales in the next 12 months to ensure that this electoral rise is challenged.


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