Love Music Hate Racism, Barrow April 16
I should have put this in advance but didn't. Anyway it is still worth pushing given recent news (see below). Anyway, Barrow-in-Furness - where the far right British National Party (BNP) have been trying to make inroads in recent years but as yet meeting with no success - held their own Love Music Hate Racism gig yesterday. Love Music Hate Racism is in many ways the child of the famous Rock against Racism of the late 1970s. As well as bands (obviously) there were speakers including Henry Guterman who was a refugee and lost family members in Nazi Germany. People like Guterman speaking at such events really hits the message home. In addition to antisemitism he also spoke out against the Islamophobia, homophobia, and general racism associated with the BNP. There was also a genuinely good film on the history of racial tensions in C20/21 Britain and the Rock against Racism/Love Music Hate Racism tradition.
The Rock against Racism was a reaction to the fascist National Front and admirers of the right wing hardcore anti-immigration Tory Enoch Powell in the 1960s and 1970s, both of which brought together a frightening number of white youths. I remeber only too well the remnants of that lot in the 1980s. This threat has not gone away and the BNP is a kind of 'NF in suits' movement which has made some impact at local council elections. Some people have argued that this is due to a nice knew image. I'm not so sure. The British press has been hysterical in its treatment of asylum seekers and more often than not support from govt ministers (and they really can't win the battle of going far enough for the British press). The treatment of Muslims and Islam in the press has also led to some serious distortions of and just plain lies about that religion. These people are creating a social context in which the BNP can appear to be a valid alternative.
The BNP have made claims for being moderate and things like that. Some people have claimed they put leaflets forward denying the Holocaust (I haven't seen them but it wouldn't surprise me). The leader Nick Griffin has also been caught on camera saying all sorts of lies about the history of Islam, many of which I have heard repeated in the 'mainstream' and by a whole host of 'moderates'. The BNP regularly invent stories about the asylum seekers getting loads more state money than those among the white working classes.
The popularity of fashionable Islamophobia in the context of July 7 and the Danisg cartoons alone might suggest the potential for BNP support to grow and grow. But in the past couple of days there have been some reports which, if anywhere near accurate, is seriously worrying. Firstly Margaret Hodge claimed that white working class disillusionment hasled to 8 out of 10 white families in her Barking constituency being potential BNP voters in forthcoming council elections. Secondly a report just out has suggested that 25% of voters would consider voting BNP. On this see e.g. here and here.
Clearly there is a deep seated problem with poor white working classes who are for good reason disillusioned. But historically there has also been much anti-Nazism arising from the working classes through things like Rock against Racism and anti-Nazi bands over the years. The one thing that Love Music Hate Racism can do is to gather support from among from the working classes not only to oppose racism but aim anger at those who really deserve it.