After attending a meeting of Cardiff Unite Against Fascism (UAF) today it once again poses the question where next for UAF. There was only 6 people in attendance including to members two of the Socialist Party and one member of the Socialist Workers' Party, a low attendance despite recent mobilisations to both Swansea and Newport for anti-fascist demonstrations.
In the introduction we were all told that at the recent UAF Wales conference Peter Hain was elected as the Honoury President. This is the same Peter Hain who has served in the Labour cabinet as both Work and Pensions Secretary and the Secretary of State for Wales for a government which has attacked the working class continuously. This is not inconsequential because if we do not recognise the reasons why voters are turning to the BNP then we might as well not bother fighting it. It is clear that there is racism involved in the rise of the BNP, but it is not the sole reason,it is also because of the social deprivation and the betrayals of the Labour Party towards the working class. So we have a situation where many voters are turning to the BNP because of the policies of the Labour Party and the biggest anti-fascist organisation campaigning against this is headed by a former government minister, what a sick joke.
So when it came to strategies for anti-BNP campaigning at the general election I made the point that it is not enough to carry on as UAF have with simple anti-racist campaigning, the European elections and the subsequent election of 2 BNP MEP's proved that that strategy alone has failed. I put to the meeting that because of the thread that the BNP posed it was essential that anti-fascists played a much more pro-active role in positive campaigning, rather than simply saying the BNP is bad we must say something else is good. I proposed that UAF Cardiff support the Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) demo outside the Welsh Assembly on the 17th of February and particularly the YFJ demo in Barking on the 13th March. Barking is where Nick Griffin intends to stand in the General election so it is extremely important that a positive alternative is posed here.
Initially the SWP member present seemed to oppose this idea and said it wasn't important to back such a demo! He even went as far as to say that the campaign to stop the BNP in the Euro-elections was not a failure! At this point I had to interrupt to point out that the BNP did get elected so it quite clearly was a failure, one we must all learn from. Eventually seeing that the tide had turned and the majority in the room supported the strategy of a real class alternative it was agreed that Cardiff UAF would publicise both YFJ demonstrations. This has not always been the case and in the past leading figures in UAF generally from the SWP have blocked this kind of support for a class based demonstration, nevertheless this change is most certainly welcome.
But what is the future of UAF, how can it play a positive role in anti-fascism if it does not support demonstrations against cut backs and the like in the future. How can it play a positive role when it has former ministers of a Labour government involved, when it has Liberals who preside of huge pay cuts such as in Leeds or even when it has tories involved! With this kind of set up how can UAF help provide a positive alternative to the working class to stop them from turning to the BNP in the first place?