Barking’s MP Margaret Hodge has acknowledged the contribution of campaign group Unite Against Fascism in the resounding election defeat of Nazi BNP leader Nick Griffin and his party’s council candidates.
Hodge said: “Unite Against Fascism was part of the winning strategy in Barking which focused on those areas where the BNP were strongest. Our emphatic victory on 6 May in the local and general elections is a reflection of the support we received from Unite Against Fascism who made a vital contribution to the campaign to drive the BNP out of Barking.”
She added: “UAF put in months of work that began before the elections. They knocked on thousands of doors and distributed many more leaflets. This helped to mobilise to beat the BNP and increase voter turnout which made such a difference in reducing the BNP’s vote.”
Hodge’s comments are cited in a post-election briefing on the UAF campaign.
Longstanding antifascist campaigner Peter Hain MP also praised the UAF campaign, saying: “The BNP’s Achilles heel is that they live in the Nazi hinterland. Labelling them as Nazis was a central factor in defeating the BNP. It’s great to see UAF organising like the Anti Nazi League.”
Sabby Dhalu, joint secretary of UAF, added: “The BNP has experienced its first defeat since electoral rise from the 2001 general election. It has lost 27 councillors – including 12 in Barking and Dagenham , held only 2 council seats and gained none.
“A big factor in the BNP’s defeat was the rise in voter turnout because the local elections coincided with the general election so the BNP’s vote was squeezed. However UAF’s role was crucial because the BNP suffered a setback in the its key target areas of Barking, Stoke and Dudley where the BNP’s vote was reduced from 2005 and UAF prioritised campaigning in these areas.”
Drubbing at the ballot box
In his introduction to the document, UAF joint secretary Weyman Bennett said: “The best news of the election was the drubbing the Nazi BNP received at the ballot box. First came the shattering defeat of Nick Griffin in Barking and Dagenham constituency in East London. In the BNP’s number one target seat and one which they thought they could win, Griffin came third with 6,620 votes (14.6% of the vote). Labour’s Margaret Hodge won with 24,628 votes (54.3% of the vote). Then came the glorious news that the BNP had lost every single seat it held on Barking council.
“This massive set back for the BNP was repeated around the country. It lost the large majority of the 31 council seats they were defending at these elections. They retained a seat in Pendle, but they lost the other 8 seats they stood for in the area. In Stoke, where Griffin bragged the BNP would take control of the council the BNP lost every seat including their three councillors up for re-election. They now have just four councillors on Stoke council. In Burnley the BNP lost all ten seats they were standing in, including the one seat up for re-election. Again in Barnsley they failed to win any seats, and in Sandwell the BNP lost two sitting councillors.
“Over the last two months hundreds of Unite Against Fascism activists campaigned, leafleted and canvassed in Barking. Across the country millions UAF leaflets were distributed, in Barnsley over 8,000 people attended the Love Music Hate Racism carnival and our anti BNP advan toured the country.”
But Bennett also sounded a warning note, saying: “We must not be complacent. The BNP still got a worrying 563,743 votes across the country — and the combined vote of the BNP and UKIP was 1.6 million. The BNP are not going to disappear. The election setback for the BNP has seen tensions rise inside the organisation: there are a number of key members of the BNP calling for the head of Nick Griffin. There is also a strong possibility that sections of the BNP will be further drawn towards the racist street thugs of the English Defence League.”