21 May 2008
THE FAR right British National Party (BNP) tried to stake a claim to Glasgow's streets on 17 May. Four BNP members stood in Glasgow's Buchanan Street, an area regularly frequented by various left and campaign groups.
Their efforts to sell their racist material on a busy Saturday morning initially met sufficient opposition to make them move. But instead of abandoning their sale, they merely repositioned themselves further along the street.
Not being content with the BNP's continued presence, CWI members, alongside other anti-racists, prevented the sale from continuing. A large crowd of shoppers and other left groups began to gather, creating a ring around the BNP. Having been informed of the reason for the protest, members of the public actively joined in.
At this point Strathclyde Police intervened and, following a brief discussion with the BNP, placed a protective ring between the protesters and the fascists enabling them to hold aloft their newspaper unhindered. Protesters complained, believing the police were providing protection for the BNP.
Protests continued for another 15 minutes, then the police created a safe passage to escort them into a police van to be driven away. Although the police's action brought jeers from the crowd, loud cheers rang out when the fascists vacated the scene.
Once the BNP were spirited away, we proposed a mobilisation next Saturday to ensure they get the message that they are not welcome on Glasgow's streets.
They chose that particular time and venue for activity knowing full well that socialists would be present. Their recent victory in Greater London Assembly elections may have given them confidence to raise their heads again. The labour movement needs to meet this challenge head on, including putting a full political alternative to the BNP and all the establishment parties.