by Daphne Liddle
THE NEO-Nazi British Nationalist Party last week were well beaten in local council by-elections in the Becontree ward of Barking and Dagenham in east London and in the Beaumont Leys ward of Leicester.
The BNP in Becontree tried to benefit from stirring up Islamophobia in the wake of the London bombings, using an official election leaflet showing the bombed bus and an illegal hate sticker that used the council’s logo.
But the voters were not taken in and voted overwhelmingly against the BNP.
The BNP were very short-handed with very few activists willing to turn out. They ran a campaign that seemed intent on confrontation and a gang of them threatened Councillor Jeff Porter and his wife with violence.
Jeff works as a train driver on the London Underground and was driving one of the trains involved in the bombings on the 7th of July. Despite his cab being damaged he managed to lead his passengers to safety and this was covered in the national and international press.
So the BNP threats to him rebounded in the local campaign, making the fascists more unpopular than ever.
Local anti-fascists in the community group Barking and Dagenham Together had leafleted every home in the ward twice over.
On election day the BNP acted aggressively and broke the law by distributing leaflets within the precincts of polling stations.
Labour candidate Alok Agrawal polled 1,171 votes – 59.8 per cent of the total while the BNP candidate won only 378. The Conservative won 283 and UKIP 125.
Angered by their defeat, the BNP became vicious and a female member punched Councillor Val Rush, the Labour election agent and a grandmother.
Several witnesses saw the assault and it was caught on CCTV and charges are expected to follow.
In the Beaumont Leys ward of Leicester Labour candidate Violet Dempster polled 962 votes, the Conservatives 342, the Liberal Democrats 295 and the BNP just 161.
Meanwhile there has been a serious rise in hate attacks on Muslims throughout Britain since the London bombings.
In the worst case, a week ago a Muslim man was beaten to death by racists in Nottingham.
Dev Barrah of the Greenwich Council for racial Equality told the New Worker of a steep rise in attacks, perpetrated by a very small number of racists.
In one instance a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of a Sikh temple in Belvedere in the London Borough of Bexley, though it failed to ignite. And a Buddhist centre in Deptford has been covered in anti-Islamic graffiti.
The National Front was allowed to conduct an anti-Islamic march in Westminster last Saturday. Anti-fascists are not so surprised at the National Front wanting to perform this thinly veiled incitement to race violence. But we are surprised at the police and the Mayor of London allowing this outrage.