THE NEO-Nazi British National Party last Thursday lost its only London council seat in the Goresbrook ward of the London Borough of Dagenham & Barking after their councillor, Daniel Kelley, resigned, leading to a by-election.
He resigned because he had found himself totally out of his depth at council meetings; unable to understand what was going on and unable to participate, he had stopped attending.
“There’s meetings that go right over my head,” he said, “and there’s little point in me being there. I’m wasting my time.”
Labour Party candidate Warren Northover won the seat after a campaign in which the Liberal Democrats and Greens stood down in order not to split the anti-fascist vote.
Northover won 1,227 votes while the BNP got 791. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) took 216 votes while the Tories came fourth with 167. There was a 33 per cent turn out.
In the run-up to the election the local community organisation Barking and Dagenham Together distributed thousands of leaflets against the BNP candidate, Laurence Rustem.
The leaflet exposed the BNP alarmist lies about an alleged “Africans for Essex” programme and quoted local war hero George Heighinton DFC, who wrote: “I was in Germany in 1935, the year of the famous Nuremburg laws. I saw Nazi rallies in Munich and Nuremburg; I soon realised Germany was in the grip of an unspeakable evil.
“What I had seen in Hitler’s Germany spurred me to volunteer as soon as I was old enough to fight. I served in 111 Squadron RAF flying Spitfires.
“I feel a chill when I see the BNP stand here. The phraseology might be different, but the message is the same one I heard in Hitler’s Germany. Thousands of my generation won’t forget their sacrifice.”
The musician Billy Bragg staged an impromptu concert for the anti-fascist leaflet distributors on Saturday 17th June at the Dagenham Labour Club, playing numbers from Woody Guthrie and other left-wing and union songs.
He reminded his audience that Woody Guthrie had spent his life giving similar performances throughout the United States, not to formal concerts but to groups of workers and political activists in “draughty halls” and meeting places, while they were engaged in campaigning. And he remembered that Guthrie had written: “This machine kills fascists” on his guitar.
The anti-fascist distributors were from many different political parties: Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, Respect and New Communist Party as well as from trade unions GMB, TGWU, Unison and many others.
“Political parties come and go but unions remain the same. They look after their members and they look after their communities,” said Bragg. And he pointed out that this struggle was personal for him. He was a Dagenham boy – born and bred – and he took the BNP incursion into his home territory as a personal affront.
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