Posts Tagged ‘BNP’

An Election Statement from Salma Yaqoob

An election message from Salma Yaqoob

Salma Yaqoob

The General Election is a matter of months away. Once again, this is an election in which only two parties are competing to form a government – Labour or the Tories.

A series of opinion polls have pointed strongly to the defeat of the Labour government. The outcome, however, is not a foregone conclusion. A recent poll suggests that the result will be finely balanced, with a hung parliament a real possibility.

Respect is neither neutral nor indifferent to the outcome of this election. We think that a Tory victory would be a disaster for working people. Yes, New Labour has betrayed the aspirations of its traditional electorate in working class communities, among Black and Asian communities, and among trades unionists. But its strongest support still comes from these communities and the vast majority of the trade union movement will support Labour at the next election. Despite the efforts of the New Labour clique that now dominates the Labour Party, it is still seen by millions of people as a party that looks after the interests of working people – albeit a disastrously right wing example of such a party.

David Cameron

A Tory victory will lead to a massive assault on public services

A Tory victory in the context of a deep economic crisis will herald a deep attack on the welfare state. The Tory obsession with cutting the national debt not only risks a deeper and more prolonged recession, but will inevitably lead to a massive assault on public services and public sector workers. It will represent a much more profound shift to the right in the political agenda. Respect therefore stands with the vast majority of the labour movement in seeking the defeat of the Tory challenge at this election.

Gordon Brown

Labour has demoralised much of its traditional support

Under Blair, and now Brown, Labour have demoralised large parts of its traditional support. Many people have broken from Labour to the left in disgust at Blair’s support for the Iraq war, and New Labour’s subservience to the bankers and privatisers. Respect was born out of the movement against the Iraq war, and we have successfully built a real base in limited parts of the country. We believed then, and believe now, that there is an urgent need for a radical left wing party that can help shift the political consensus towards an agenda of peace, anti-racism and social justice.

In 3 parliamentary seats in Birmingham and East London, Respect is fighting to win. We do not know what the outcome will be, and we are well aware of the difficulties in the way of small parties under a first past the post electoral system. But in these 3 seats we have a genuine chance of victory. We have deep roots and credible candidates. There are only a handful of seats up for grabs in the general election that could conceivably be won by parties to the left of Labour (including the challenge by Caroline Lucas for the Green Party). The most important contribution that we in Respect can make to the left as a whole in the immediate future is to do everything within our power to win these seats.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

We do not believe, however, that a radical alternative can be built by acting in way that allows the Tories – or the BNP – to be the beneficiaries of discontent with Labour or our efforts to build an alternative. In areas where we are highly unlikely to win it is important that we are not seen to be reckless over the consequences of standing in marginal seats where the likely beneficiary would be the Tories. Where we do stand, we want our supporters to know they can express their discontent with the Labour government without handing seats on a plate to the Tories.

Nick Griffin

United against the BNP

We are also in favour of the maximum possible unity against the BNP. Nick Griffin has announced he is standing in Barking and Dagenham. His election to the European parliament was an historic breakthrough for British fascism. But it would be nothing in comparison to a BNP MP. Hard choices have to be made. There is absolutely no prospect of a candidate to the left of Labour winning this seat, and any such candidate could only split the anti-BNP vote.

Abjol Miah

Abjol Miah is standing in East London

Respect will therefore not consider standing in Barking and Dagenham, and call on other left wing parties to do likewise. We are well aware of the way in which New Labour have created the conditions for the BNP to grow, and equally aware that Labour’s candidate, Margaret Hodge, is one of the least palatable New Labour MPs. Nonetheless we call for a vote for the Labour candidate as the only practical way of defeating the BNP.

Respect believes that the interests of working people are best served by working for the maximum unity against a Tory victory in the General Election, while continuing to build left wing alternatives to the Labour Party in the most tactically effective manner.

Salma Yaqoob will be appearing on BBC1’s Question Time, 10.35pm Thursday December 10.

Salma Yaqoob: Tackling the ‘cancer’ of BNP fascism

Nick Griffin: the leader of the BNP has admitted defeat after failing to find enough far-Right allies to form a new bloc in the European Parliament

Nick Griffin: the leader of the BNP has admitted defeat after failing to find enough far-Right allies to form a new bloc in the European Parliament

The election of two BNP MEPs has removed the cover on a political sewer that should have been sealed for all time. Nick Griffin, a man with a history of anti-Semitism and holocaust denial, now calls for “chemotherapy” against the Islamic “cancer” in Europe (1). The echoes of the past are deliberate. The choice of words is chilling.

Griffin’s election has given the BNP unprecedented access to the media, and he is using it to promote the most vicious racism. His genocidal rantings towards Muslims followed his call (2) for the sinking of ships carrying migrants from Africa to Europe – in other words the premeditated murder of men, women and children on a desperate voyage to escape poverty and oppression.

We should remind ourselves that almost 1 million people voted for the BNP in the European Elections. If there is a cancer in Europe, then it is the cancer of racism. Yet the response from the political establishment to Griffin’s remarks has, so far, been less than overwhelming.

Defensiveness and political compromise has marked the response of mainstream parties to the rise of the BNP. It should be clear enough by now. This is not a temporary blip before we return to business as usual. Ignoring the BNP or playing down their successes will not make them go away. It is time for the anti-fascist movement to go on the offensive.

Griffin’s Nazi-style outbursts cannot be dismissed as an irrelevant excess by a marginal figure. He knows what he is doing. He wants to make legitimate what was once illegitimate. He aims to shift the centre of gravity of political debate sharply to the right. He knows that his more extreme rhetoric is in tune with his party’s membership, and large swathes of his voters. But he also knows that every time mainstream politicians bend to his agenda in an attempt to occupy ground he is staking out, that the racist argument is strengthened.

It is a pattern we have seen all too frequently in recent years. Faced with a rise in racism, politicians seek to ride both horses at once: deploring racism while conceding ever more political ground to the far right.

Isn’t this exactly what Gordon Brown was doing when he called for “local homes for local people”? (3). Concerns about housing are undoubtedly genuine. There are too few affordable homes. But that is because successive governments have relied on the market to provide what it patently cannot do. What should be done is to tackle this policy failure, which would provide affordable homes for all those in need. Furthermore, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has revealed that 9 out of 10 social housing residents were born in Britain, giving a lie to the BNP myths bout “local people” losing out to immigrants and asylum seekers (4). Instead of focusing on these realities, voters are told that their prejudices are justified and that the government will do what the BNP cannot. It is a tactic that is both cynical and ineffective.

Let us be clear. The response to Griffins call to “sink the boats” cannot be one of pledging to do everything possible to keep out immigrants short of launching missiles at defenceless people. His call for “chemotherapy” against Muslims must be met with robust challenge, and not by conceding that fears of Islam in Europe are justified. The alternative is to accept that ever more extreme and dangerous fascist rhetoric will define the nature of political debate in our society.

Those who promote fear and hatred of African immigrants knocking at our door, or of the Muslims already within the gates of Europe, have to be openly and directly confronted. Their arguments have to be dealt with head on.

It is not legitimate to blame migrants or refugees for the recession. They were not the ones who became rich beyond anyone’s dreams while gambling away our economy. It is not legitimate to blame immigrants for rising unemployment. They did not close our factories and devastate our manufacturing base. It is not legitimate to blame ‘outsiders’ for the housing crisis (5). They are not the ones who passed legislation that strangled the ability of local councils to build new housing on the scale we need.

And it is not legitimate to scapegoat Muslims, who represent just 3% of the population, for any supposed threat to British identity. The recent Gallup poll on Muslim integration (6) revealed that while only half the UK population very strongly identifies with being British, 77% of Muslims did so. And only 17% of British Muslims wanted to live in an area consisting mostly of people of the same religious and ethnic background as themselves, compared to 33% of the population as a whole.

This is the positive side of our multicultural society. Being ‘different’ is not a sign of alienation from society as a whole. Yet while Muslims increasingly identify with Britain and value its mix of people and faiths, more and more people conclude that Muslims are a breed apart. There is a gulf between the reality of our lives and the perception that is created by a constant stream of horror stories.

Today, it is anti-Muslim racism that is at the cutting edge of the fascist strategy. It is effective because it feeds on the suspicion and prejudice that is the theme of so much mainstream discussion of our lives as British Muslims.

Its consequences are real. Already, there are signs that attacks on mosques and individual Muslims may be rising (7). The police are warning of the danger of far-right terrorism (8). And, earlier this month we saw an openly racist provocation in Birmingham city centre, under the guise of a protest against “Islamic extremism” – a label that the organiser made clear applied to all Muslims (9).

We, as British Muslims, have a direct and immediate interest in defeating this fascist threat. The anti-fascist movement must reach out to Muslim communities who are at the sharp end of BNP attacks. But the rise in racism is not only a threat to Muslims. The BNP may be playing down their anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism in order to drive a wedge between Muslims and the rest of society. But to the BNP we are all “racial foreigners”, (10) our very existence as British people denied.

We have to not only unite all those targeted by the BNP, with every possible ally who rejects racism and fascism. We have to also positively assert our multicultural and pluralist society. It is a message of hope that is in tune in an increasingly interconnected world. It is a source of strength and vibrancy. We are one society and many cultures. And we will only remain so if we are prepared to stand up and be counted.

Salma Yaqoob is councillor for Birmingham Sparkbrook, Leader of the Respect party and chair of the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition.

‘Gordon Brown’s BNP-favoured immigrant claim is a myth’, says Salma Yaqoob

By Salma Yaqoob

Gordon Brown's immigrant claim is a myth

Gordon Brown's immigrant claim is a myth

Gordon Brown’s pledge to provide “local homes for local people” is based on a myth. And it is the same myth spread by the BNP for years. The BNP claim that “local people” are losing out to immigrants and asylum seekers. This is not true.

The Prime Minister is trying to win back voters from the BNP by telling them that their prejudices are justified. Every time this has been tried it only strengthens their arguments and gives them credibility. We have to challenge their lies with facts, and not back down in the face of racism.

Research has now shown that 90% of people in social housing were born in Britain. New arrivals represented less than 3% of the total. The big majority of new arrivals to the country end up in expensive and poor quality private rented accommodation. They are not the cause of the housing shortage.

The real source of the problem is the desperate shortage of affordable homes. Over four and a half million people are in need of social housing in the UK, including 35,000 in Birmingham alone. Gordon Brown’s new policy will not give homes to the millions who are waiting, and will only cause further resentment and division.

When the Tories were last in power they destroyed the ability of councils to build new homes. The best homes were sold off under the Right to Buy and were not replaced. When Labour was elected it had the chance to reverse this and failed to do so.  It stopped local councils from borrowing the money needed to provide affordable homes, and it starved them of cash for repairs and improvements as part of their policy of selling off council estates.

This housing crisis has not been caused by immigration. It has been caused by Tory and Labour politicians who have dismally failed to invest in affordable housing over decades.

Gordon Brown has now announced a new house-building programme. But it is too little and too late. His plans include proposals for an extra 3,000 council houses. With only 375 council homes built in England last year, and millions of people queuing for them, it is a drop in the ocean. We need an urgent programme of building on a massive scale, something that the government has failed to deliver.

Many people are angry about the failure of both Tory and Labour governments to solve the housing crisis. Many more people despair at ever finding a home they can afford. The BNP is exploiting this anger and despair.

The housing crisis will not be solved by blaming immigrants. It will only be solved if our politicians invest in producing the homes that we need.”

‘Queue jumping immigrants’ are a myth, says studyThe Independent

Stop the Racist Nazi BNP – Birmingham Protest tonight

UAF and other anti-BNP protesters in Manchester last night

UAF and other anti-BNP protesters in Manchester last night

 

‘Stop the Nazi BNP’ protest in Birmingham TONIGHT5pm

No to fascists representing us in Europe!
 
Date: Tuesday 9th June, 2009
Time: 5pm – 7pm
Location: High Street (Meet outside Zavvi/Waterstones), Bullring, Birmingham.

Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=104673371440
 
Organised by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) and others. 

All welcome, please attend.

Salma Yaqoob: BNP victory shows the need for broad left to work together

The BNP have gained two seats in the European parliament

The BNP have gained two seats in the European parliament

Statement on the euro-election results by Councillor Salma Yaqoob, Respect party Leader:

“The historic scale of Labour’s defeat at the ballot box is evidence of the deep betrayal felt by those who once voted Labour in the hope of a fairer society. The depth of disillusionment with the mainstream parties is underlined by the shocking breakthrough made by the BNP.

“Labour is wholly to blame for its own crisis and has to take a large share of the responsibility for creating the conditions in which the far right is growing.

Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes in deprived white working class communities

"Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes..."

“Labour loosened the rules that gave licence to greedy bankers to gamble away our jobs and homes. Labour failed to protect our public services from wasteful and costly privatisation. Labour has overseen growing inequality and a chronic shortage of affordable housing. And Labour failed to tackle the scandal of MP’s expenses.

“Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes in deprived white working class communities. Labour’s determination not to be outflanked by the Tories on questions of race and immigration has created fertile ground for racist arguments to win support. Too many BNP arguments have been legitimised by a political consensus that treats asylum seekers and immigrants as a criminal threat. The BNP has fed on the growth in Islamophobia, egged on by a barrage of racist coverage in national newspapers. Political ground was conceded to the BNP, and they have occupied it to devastating effect.

“Labour has betrayed the hopes of millions of people who believe in a fairer and more equal society and those who believe in an ethical foreign policy based on peace and justice. These election results are a warning of the potential scale of the drift to the right.

British National Party leader Nick Griffin

British National Party leader Nick Griffin

“This right wing threat cannot be confronted by conceding the argument in advance. There is every practical and political reason for tackling the recession by extending state intervention, piling investment into a massive programme of house building, taxing the richest to support the big majority of the population through this recession. But a recent survey showed that more than half the working population have seen a cut in pay, reductions in hours or a loss of employment benefits since the recession began. While bankers and shareholders have been bailed out, millions of workers are paying for the economic crisis through lower pay, longer hours or unemployment. The Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP are all competing with each other on who will push through the most ruthless cuts to public spending.

“Giving ground to a right wing consensus will not undercut the growth of right wing parties. It will only encourage them. It is now critical that the broadest swathes of the left and progressive opinion in this country work together to lever the political agenda in the opposite direction.
We need an alternative to failed free market dogma.

“We need an alternative to an electoral system that disenfranchises the millions of people who don’t vote for the winning party and consigns whole geographical areas to be taken for granted. And we need a reassertion of a politics embedded in principles of peace, social justice, equality and anti-racism.

“The broad left must work together, irrespective of party affiliation, to maximise the impact of the progressive vote at the next General Election.

“I am proud of the contributions that Respect members made by supporting Green candidates in the West Midlands and North West. In the North West, with BNP leader Nick Griffin on the brink of a breakthrough, the choice was surely clear. For those who would not give their vote to Labour, the Green candidate – Peter Cranie – was more than a credible alternative. A left-wing Green candidate, with a principled record of opposition to racism, deserved our support.

Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election

Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election

“The results are in, and Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election. Yet almost 50,000 votes were cast for the Socialist Labour Party and No2EU. Together they amounted to just 3% of the vote – nowhere near enough to make a positive impact. The plain fact is that had even a minority of that left wing vote gone to the Greens we would not be waking up to the fact that the North West is sending a fascist to the European parliament.

“If nothing else, these results should spark a renewed and more energetic discussion about bringing the broad left together around a common agenda for progressive change. I will be speaking at the very timely Compass conference next weekend, and I look forward to discussing these and other issues with Labour and Green supporters.

“I do not believe that the British public have become hostile to basic progressive policies on the responsibility of the state in providing decent housing, protecting jobs, and regulating the economy. But the retreat of Labour from even a modest social democratic alternative has led to a lack of connection in the public mind between the effects of the recession and the neo-liberal policies responsible for it.

“The manner in which Labour has vacated the traditional ground of the left has served to weaken any convincing notion of a political alternative to neo-liberalism. This has created a dangerous vacuum which is in danger of being filled by hate fuelled simplicities of the far right. The challenge for the left is to renew itself and reassert some basic socialist critiques and solutions into mainstream political debate.

“Respect will be doing everything we can to contribute to the renewal of a progressive and left wing politics. But we need to broaden our challenge to the failed parties. There will be many who want to see the values of peace, civil liberties and social justice represented at the ballot box, and in a fairly elected parliament. I encourage them to put themselves forward for consideration as candidates at the next General Election.

“We need each other and this country badly needs a political alternative of the left.

It is not beyond our ability to create this alternative. There are lessons we can draw from the anti-war movement. In a hostile climate and against formidable obstacles, a clear message, delivered with determination and organisational verve, was able to influence, shape and organise public opposition to war. We need a similar ambition to ideologically and practically build resistance to neo-liberalism and racism.”

To join Respect (membership costs £10/£5 per year), please visit: http://www.therespectparty.net/joindonate.php?page=join

To make a donation to our General Election fighting fund, please visit: http://www.therespectparty.net/joindonate.php?page=donate  

If you think you would be a suitable candidate to stand for Respect in a Westminster or local council election please contact Respect.

Salma Yaqoob says “Go Green” for the European Elections

Salma Yaqoob is backing Green Party MEP caniddate Felicity Norman

Salma Yaqoob is backing Green Party MEP caniddate Felicity Norman

Prominent Birmingham Councillor and Leader of the RESPECT Party, Salma Yaqoob is calling for progressive West Midlands voters to go Green and vote for Felicity Norman at the European Elections on 4th June.

Salma Yaqoob, who is a Sparkbrook Councillor and Westminster Candidate for Birmingham Hall Green constituency is endorsing Felicity for her commitment to fight the BNP at the European election and for the Greens’ progressive policies on job creation in new industries.

Councillor Yaqoob said:

“With the country facing the deepest recession in generations, Labour and the Tories offer us nothing but rising unemployment and cuts in services. Those of us who want a new politics based on social justice need to work together. The candidate closest to my own views on the environment, anti-racism and foreign affairs is Felicity Norman and I hope my supporters will back her on 4 June.”

At the last European election, the Greens secured 5.2% of the vote in the region. Respect got 2.4% of the votes. When combined, the 7.6% vote share is just greater than the BNP’s 7.5%. Only around 10% of the vote is needed to gain a seat at the European election next month and with the Greens, RESPECT and the BNP all having grown in the past five years, it is a tight race to the finish line on 4th June.

The Green Party is running its strongest ever campaign to elect a Euro-MP in the region to join the two other UK Green Party MEPs already elected.

Salma Yaqoob commented:

“The racist British National Party is hoping to make a breakthrough in these elections. Under the system of proportional representation it is essential that everyone who opposes the BNP uses their vote. The higher the turnout, the lower the chance of the BNP being elected. Whatever you do please use your vote against the BNP. But if you care about peace, justice, equality, anti-racism and the environment, vote Green in the European elections”.

Felicity Norman, the top Green Party Euro-MP candidate said:

“A Green vote at these elections says yes to positive politics and no to racism and it says yes to investing in jobs-rich industries to tackle recession and climate change.

“The Green Party is running a serious campaign to fight the BNP. In this proportional voting system, it’s normally a small party that takes the final seat, which could mean the BNP or the Greens. We know that if a Green is elected, there is no room for the BNP. The battle for fourth place at the European election is more important than ever and with Salma’s endorsement, our combined support ensures we’re in the game”.

Salma’s endorsement of Felicity is the second boost for the Greens in a week after news that Green Party candidate numbers for the County Council elections this year are treble the figure of the last County elections in 2005.