Over 70 people attended the North West UAF Regional Conference in Liverpool on Sunday 2nd December, which was supported by North West TUC, Unite the union, CWU, UCU NW Region and Lancashire NUT.
The conference pushed forward the campaign (launched last year with the support of NW TUC) to kick the Nazi BNP leader out of his North West MEP Seat at the 2014 European Elections. The campaign is also supported by RMT North West & Wales. Griffin will only need around 8% of the vote to hold onto his seat. Many speakers talked about the potential of the fascists to exploit the growing economic crisis.
The Conference was opened by Paul Brant (Deputy Mayor of Liverpool) who joined Glyn Ford (former MEP & UAF European Officer) and others in a session on ‘Stopping the far right in Britain & Europe’.
Workshops followed, one featuring veteran anti-fascist & 43 Group founder Morris Beckman – delegates took inspiration from Morris’s session, talking about how we need to learn lessons today about unity and on the need to oppose the fascists when they take to the streets.
The other workshop featured ex-Liverpool FC player Howard Gayle of Show Racism the Red Card, and Louise Baldock, Liverpool City Councillor, on ‘Tackling racism in football’. Howard said that “The stereotype now with Asian players is very, very similar to the racism against black players in the Seventies,” and that “if they banned migration, there would still be the same problems we have.”
The second plenary was entitled ‘First they came..’ after the famous Pastor Niemoeller quote about victims of the Nazis. The session looked at different targets of racism, and speakers included Carol Duggan, aunt of Mark Duggan who was shot and killed by police in Tottenham last year, Jonny Weinberg of the Muslim-Jewish Form and the Inter-Faith Network For Manchester, and a speaker from Cairde Na hEireann. The last speaker talked about the fascists’ recent attempts to attack the Irish community in Liverpool, and about the need to take a principled stand against anti-Irish racism.
The final session showed the breadth and strength of support for UAF’s ‘Nick Griffin Must Go’ campaign – speakers included Billy Hayes (General Secretary of the CWU), Steve Rotheram MP for Walton, Avis Gilmore (North West TUC and Regional Secretary of the NUT), Manchester City Councillor Afzal Khan, Daren Ireland (RMT North West & Wales), Pura Ariza (Regional Secretary, UCU), Dave Kitchen (NASUWT) and Dave Owens (PCS NW Committee), Paul Jenkins (NW UAF), and Weyman Bennett (Joint National Secretary, UAF). The session was chaired by high-profile Labour Party member and Trade Unionist Theresa Griffin (no relation!). Theresa stood against Nazi Nick in the North West European elections in 2009.
Arlene McCarthy MEP for the North West sent a message of support to the Conference:
“Nick Griffin must go not only because of the racist and divisive views of his Party but because he isn’t doing the job he was elected to do…His interventions at home and in the European Parliament are about spreading his homophobic and racist views rather than representing the interests of those who elected him.
This is what we have come to expect from Nick Griffin. No constructive engagement or representing the interests of our region, no solutions to the current economic crisis, no action on jobs for our constituents – instead a single issue agenda to spread homophobia and racism. Griffin must go.”
Delegates attended from across the North West, and included delegations from trades unions, members of different political parties, and people of no political affiliation – all united in a determination to remove Nazi Nick.
The conference encouraged people to hold ‘Nick Griffin Must Go’ Days of Action. The Statement supporting the campaign is supported by a number of MPs, MEPs, Councillors, trades unionists, faith groups and others. To get involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org