THE ANTI-FASCIST magazine Searchlight is organising a conference to take place on Saturday 16th November at the Bishopsgate Institute near Liverpool Street Station in East London.
Searchlight editor Gerry Gable last week spoke to the New Worker about the aims of the conference.
“Throughout its 50 years Searchlight has fought the fascist and racist enemies of the people, community and democracy. Their organisations and precise nature have changed over that period.
“In the 1960s it was openly Nazi groups such as the National Socialist Movement; then came the rise and fall of the National Front, followed by the growth of the British National Party, the first British fascist party to achieve some electoral success.
“Today the BNP has declined, perhaps terminally, and no other far-right party has managed to take over its mantle though several are still vying for supremacy and forming and re-forming alliances.
“The fractured English Defence League and similar violent street activist groups have little ideology other than a shared hatred and fear of Muslims.
“More significantly we have seen the rise of the UK Independence Party which has drawn much of the electoral support that might have gone to parties such as the BNP, and the growth of a number of right-wing discussion groups that meet in private to develop far-right ideology for the 21st century and build links across the far right and ultra-Tory right.
“Although the number of people involved is small, it is growing, and their danger lies in the wide influence that groups such as the Traditional Britain Group and Iona London Forum wield.
“The major theme of our conference is to increase and enhance the mobilisation of the trade union movement against fascism. As we have travelled around the country, we have found frightening ignorance about the rise of sophisticated enemy organisations.
“Some can see no further than the BNP, which these days is the least dangerous of Britain’s burgeoning hardline Nazi and other hate organisations.
“Trade Union Friends of Searchlight has no criticism of the level of practical and financial support that trade unions give to combating racial and other forms of discrimination, but it is clear from speaking to trade union activists that there is a dearth of education about far-right extremism provided for their officers and members.
“UKIP is viewed by some people as merely xenophobic and a bit racist. This view is formed out of ignorance about its organisation, senior activists and especially its links with the far right through the various private ideological formation groups.
“Only by being inside these groups, as we are, is it possible to form an opinion that is supported by facts rather than speculation. Alarm bells should be sounding with the appointment, as UKIP’s campaign manager for next year’s elections, of Neil Hamilton, the dishonoured former right-wing Conservative MP and admirer of Italian fascism.
On 6th October the National Front held its annual general meeting in London. On 12th October, while over 5,000 people marched against fascism in Liverpool, in Preston, the annual John Tyndall memorial gathering took place in an Ulster loyalist pub with around 100 members of seven or eight far-right groups took part. Also present was Stephen Goodson, who until last year was a director of the South African Federal Reserve Bank. At the same time an estimated 750 EDL supporters were marching in Bradford.
“But the main attraction for the more intellectual fascists and Nazis on 12th October was a London meeting facilitated by the Traditional Britain Group titled ‘The end of the present world: the post-American century and beyond’, at which the speakers included two of the world’s leading fascist ideologues, Alain de Benoist from France and Alexandr Dugin from Russia. The audience was joined people from Germany, Austria, Italy, Finland and Poland.
“Since then there has been a series of meetings and conferences in London involving anti-Semites, Nazis and race-haters from many countries hosted by groups such as the Bloomsbury Forum, the Traditional Britain Group, the Iona group and others.
“At our conference we want to work at preserving and defending what we all share, such as the No Platform policy and mass opposition to fascists and racists on the streets – the latter policy now supported by the TUC – and see how we can progress towards educating all the people we work with and more widely.
“After the conference we hope you will all make your way to the Searchlight benefit evening less than ten minutes’ walk away at 6.30pm at The Slug and Lettuce, 25 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8AA. We have a fabulous line-up of musicians and other entertainers including the international performer Tayo Aluko and a socialist magician.”
The conference is free but those wishing to attend should register in advance.