Over 50 anti-BNP campaigners from Hackney turned out in support for Hope not Hate on Saturday, travelling to Barking and Dagenham to distribute newspapers warning voters of the threat of the party’s racist beliefs.
The community group Hackney Unites mobilised volunteers to participate in the Day of Action co-ordinated by Hope not Hate throughout the country, in areas targeted by the BNP ahead of the general and council elections on May 6th.
John Page from Hackney Unites said ‘The effect of the BNP and their politics of hatred controlling a multi-million pound budget of a London borough would be poisonous. If we do not stop them in Barking and Dagenham, then we can be sure they will begin to set their sights on creating racial and religious tension here in Hackney’
The worry that BNP power gained in any London borough could spread to Hackney, was echoed by many of those who came to make a stand.
Abby Brown, a writer and Hannah Walker, a social worker, said that the BNP threat is significant to everyone, not just places where candidates are standing.
Carys Afoko, a publicist, feels strongly that the BNP is a problem but says ‘Hackney is an amazing place with a solidarity and strong community action against racism and facism. Our success story here [of campaigning against the BNP] is an example to other boroughs’.
The day was a resounding success. The sunny weather saw over 500 people from all over London manage to distribute 91,000 campaign newspapers in Barking and Dagenham. The large turnout meant newspapers had been distributed to all areas by lunchtime, and that papers were also distributed to extra areas in neighbouring Havering. All the campaigners celebrated the day’s achievements at Hope not Hate’s headquarters and were treated to lunch and a performance from Barking local, Billy Bragg.
Hackney campaigner Denis Lenihan, a trade union worker, said the day was successful in joining all parts of London together and for everyone to see the wider support anti-racism and anti-facism campaigning has.
The BNP are trying to gain control of Barking and Dagenham’s £200 million budget in council elections. The BNP candidate for MP and party leader Nick Griffin is looking to win their first seat in parliament in the borough.
Hope not Hate campaigns against the BNP, with the support of community groups, trade unions, celebrities and the Daily Mirror, campaigning at a localised level to warn people of the racist beliefs of the party.
Written by Lynsey Barber