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Organising against racism and fascism handbook


  • pg 1
									Organising against racism and
     fascism handbook

   T              Searchlight

Section 1   Introduction                 Page 3

Section 2   Defending communities

            against racism and fascism   Page 6

Section 3   Campaign strategy            Page 10

Section 4   What are race and racism?    Page 35

Section 5   Third party campaigning

            – what the law says          Page 38

Section 6   Useful contacts              Page 40

Section 1 Introduction
This is a joint publication by the TUC and Searchlight. This resource aims to assist in the
organisation of opposition to the political far right. This should be helpful to:

        Trade unionists
        Anti-fascist campaigners
        Community groups
        Political parties

Developing an effective local campaign strategy against the far right

The TUC and Searchlight believe that one of the primary means of defeating parties of the
far right will be through determined grass-roots activity that engages with people in their
communities and workplaces. Goodwill alone will not defeat the far right. It must be
recognised that if all previous tactics had worked we would not be facing a situation where
the far right are making electoral gains.

The far right have recently won a number of seats in local elections and are attempting to
secure representation in the European Parliament. To put this in context, neither the British
Union of Fascists in the 1930s, nor the National Front in the 1970s, had anywhere near the
level of electoral success even though they had many more card carrying members than the
BNP has currently.

The far right clearly have learned from the mistakes of Britain’s fascist movement in the past.
The most important lesson for them being that whenever they organised public activity,
marches, demonstrations or public meetings, there were violent clashes with their opponents
that made them look like a party unfit for election. Before any of the current crop of far right
councillors were elected, the BNP’s Tony Lecomber made it clear why they came to reject
confrontational street politics:

“…because it hindered our political progress, and was the only thing holding our extreme
opponents together”.

He added:

“Going on the doorstep, canvassing and presenting a better image to people, empathising
with our people, talking to them about their problems and advancing popular solutions is real
politics and it is better politics. This was how we won Millwall (where the BNP’s first
councillor, Derek Beacon was elected in East London in 1993)…”

The far right are organising at a local level in a way that fascists have not traditionally done
in Britain. Even where they are thin on the ground they have had the good fortune, from their
point of view, to be organising in a climate of wider racism – partly fuelled by hostility to
asylum seekers – which is also unprecedented. The combination of new tactics and a new
political climate has proved a successful cocktail for the far right.

In the short term the task is to build strong and effective local campaigns to take the wind out
of the sails of the far right by, wherever possible, doing what we can to help to deny them
another councillor. The far right are usually elected by very small margins in low turn-outs.
This means that a tightly focused campaign can have a major and immediate impact.

Locally focused campaigns – across Britain – will have a massive collective impact,
potentially denying them dozens of seats.

Inevitably much of the focus of our work will be short term in that this will be largely governed
by a local election campaign. However, a longer term strategy is also required. Firefighting
from one by-election to another is insufficient if we are to pull the ground from beneath the

New tactics

The traditional tactic of producing a leaflet that labels the far right as fascists and handing it
out from a stall in a high street is simply not effective enough. Also, if we wait for the far right
to organise a demonstration so that we can build a mass counter-mobilisation which will
draw people into activity, then we are likely to be waiting for a very long time. Of course we
need anti-fascist leaflets and we need to mobilise, however we do have to recognise that a
different situation requires different tactics. There are also new technologies and media that
can and should be utilised to gain maximum effect.

Our campaign literature needs to show that we are local people who are concerned and
engaged with local issues. We can do this at the same time as explaining what the far right
really stand for. Our propaganda should not be merely anti-racist from a moral standpoint but
should also address people’s wider concerns. Some of the best campaigns, such as the one
in the Greenwich area of South London where Stephen Lawrence was murdered, have
organised local people on the basis of a number of social issues, racism being just one of

Only local people will be able to identify what those issues are, whether it is the closure of a
hospital or library. Local materials need to address these concerns. When we get down to
the level of individual estates there may be problems with bullying families or graffiti, which
have a racial element, but which most people on the estate will want dealt with for more
reasons than just the racism. We need to link the issue of racism to wider social problems so
that people see that the hard-core racists are part of a community’s problem and not its

Our campaigning should not contribute to something else that people often perceive as a
problem. For example, flyposting or painting anti-fascist slogans in residential areas can
cause resentment from the local community.

Generally our material will be most effective when it does not bear the imprint of an “anti-
racist committee”. Something broader such as a coalition involving local trade unionists,
community groups and other respected groups and individuals will be much more effective.
The recently formed coalition against fascism provides a useful vehicle for this approach.
This does not mean that local groups should in any way give up their identities, structures or
ways of working. The coalition merely offers a national context and expression for local

All of the main political parties need to be engaged in taking up the issues we raise so that
they are challenging the far right themselves. Materials need to be distributed door to door
over many months, not only in the run-up to an election. A series of newsletters or leaflets
with the same masthead, which sees several editions by election day, such as ‘The
Oldhamer’ is most effective.

Local anti-racist coalitions need to make sure that one of their members is responsible for
reading the papers, listening to the radio phone-ins, etc and, crucially, responding with their
own press releases, letters and calls.

In spite of the recent growth of the far right their ability to organise on the ground is still very
limited. The far right have made extensive use of mobile leafleting teams to deal with this
problem, but has yet to build a genuine base in many areas. Anti- racists are well placed to
build solid local groups and start regular leaflet distribution so that the far right finds it difficult
to get a foothold when it targets an area.

While it is relatively easy to condemn the current crop of far right parties as Nazis and thugs
etc, our local material also has to engage with the political issues that they raise. We have to
tear down the façade of lies that makes people believe that an anti-asylum seeker or anti-
Asian platform can genuinely make anybody’s lot better. The fact that this is not easy is not a
reason to give up; on the contrary, it is one reason that we need to build up knowledge and
exchange information between ourselves as to what works.

The long term

In places where the far right have made advances we need to operate a policy of
“containment”. This means working very hard to prevent the fascists gaining new councillors
and ensuring that when their councillors come up for re-election the main political parties
have got their act together to defeat them.

Where far right councillors have been elected they need to be shadowed. We need to know
how many meetings they attend, whether they hold surgeries, what they do, etc. Ultimately,
in the long term, the only thing that will finish off the far right will be the success of
mainstream political parties.

Every piece of literature used during our campaigning needs to be carefully drafted. The
messages need to be clear and unambiguous. Mixed messages in our literature will make it
less likely that people will understand what we are trying to say never mind support our

We also have to be realistic that the far right are already entrenched in some areas and are
going to be difficult to beat immediately. The far right have created a level of plausibility for
themselves in some areas by spreading untruths that people have grown to believe. For
example they have been able to create a fear of asylum seekers in places where there are
none at all and where there are no plans to house any. They also love to spread rumours
that there are racial links to specific crimes or incidents even when it is clear that there is no
link. It will take time to turn these arguments around.

The process of building local coalitions to challenge the far right is already well under way.
These coalitions are being built on the basis of genuine partnership. A partnership built on
any other grounds will fail. No one group should seek a dominant role at the expense of
others. No group genuinely striving to work against the far right should be excluded or
placed in a subordinate role. The TUC and Searchlight hope that this education resource
pack will help these coalitions to focus their work more effectively. The far right can be
beaten, and it is effective organising on all our parts that will help that to happen.

Section 2 Defending Communities and Workplaces against
Racism and Fascism
This section looks at the way people have historically organised to oppose racism and
fascism in Britain since the 1930s. We use their experience to suggest actions that may be
effective today. Some of the achievements of the past and examples of good practice in
resisting racism and fascism are valuable sources of inspiration and practical knowledge for
today’s challenges.

Cable Street – communities fight back

The battle of Cable Street is probably the most famous example of active community
resistance to fascism in Britain. On Sunday 4 October 1936, the British Union of Fascists
(BUF) led by Oswald Mosley planned to march and hold rallies in several areas of east
London. At the time the east end of London had a large Jewish population. Some Labour
leaders advised their members to stay away from the march after their attempts to get it
prohibited or diverted had failed. However, many felt the need to prevent the march by force.
The motto “They shall not pass” was adopted. When Mosley arrived at the Royal Mint in the
early afternoon there were already 3,000 fascists assembled. However, much larger crowds
of anti-fascists occupied the route of the march and barricades were erected in Cable Street.
The foot and mounted police repeatedly charged the anti-fascists in an unsuccessful attempt
to clear a passge for the BUF. The police ordered Mosley to call off the march and the
fascists gradually dispersed. Rioting broke out and police arrested 83 demonstrators.

The Jewish community’s response to the Mosley threat was wider and more organised than
is often acknowledged. The Board of Deputies of British Jews settled for verbal protests to
the government and advised Jews to stay off the streets and barricade their homes and
shops. However, the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) were the
first people on the streets on the day of the battle, only to be brutally beaten by a large
squad of police officers who tore down their banners.

The 43 Group – information gathering

After the Second World War the mainly Jewish 43 Group was one of the most successful
community-based organisations. It was active mainly in London, Manchester, Leeds and

The organisation sprang up spontaneously after returning servicemen and their families
witnessed massive police protection for Mosley’s thugs, who were terrorising Jewish areas,
marching, making openly anti-Jewish and racist speeches and calling for Mosley’s return to
British political life. Several servicemen were arrested, convicted and sent to prison after
opposing the Mosleyites in place like Ridley Road market in Hackney, east London.

The 43 Group developed into a highly organised and successful organisation with its own
offices and newspaper, On Guard. The 43 Group infiltrated its agents into fascist groups,
enabling the group to thwart the fascists’ plans by making them public.

Although the group was around 85% Jewish, including ex-service personnel, it was open to
all and enjoyed a huge network of popular support from people of all shades of political
opinion. The Jewish Board of Deputies ran joint intelligence gathering operations with the 43

National anti-racist and anti-fascist movements

The 1970s produced two major mass movements against the racists and fascists. One was
Rock Against Racism, the other was the Anti Nazi League (ANL). Both were established with
very broad and geographically widespread support.

Rock Against Racism put on big anti-fascist music festivals in the heart of the areas in which
the National Front and British Movement were active. More than 80,000 people attended one
of the festivals in Victoria Park, east London. They were extremely impressive, in particular
to the young people at whom they were targeted. These were the same young people whom
the fascists were trying to recruit through their activities at school gates and football

The founders of Rock Against Racism and the ANL were a coalition of people from widely
differing political backgrounds. In the early 1980s the leadership of the ANL wound down the
organisation as they though it had served its purpose as there was, in their view, no ongoing
fascist threat.

Whatever may be the views on the political control of the ANL the truth is that it did inspire
and create a movement well beyond the “usual suspects”. Activists from the heyday of the
ANL are still to be found in many of the local community-based groups, actively campaigning
against racism. In the mid 1980s some of them joined with other anti-racists and anti-fascists
to create Anti Fascist Action (AFA) which still has active groups around the country.

The decision to recreate the ANL in 1991 caused a great deal of political infighting in the
anti-racist and anti-fascist movement. The formation of the ANL was followed by the setting
up of the Anti Racist Alliance (ARA), with its concept of black leadership, and Youth Against
Racism in Europe (YRE).

Despite the differences between the groups, they managed to get tens of thousands of
mainly young people and large numbers of black people involved in national marches,
festivals and rallies, and alerted a wide section of the population to the dangers of racism
and fascism.

Southall – self defence is no offence

Sometimes a single event can alter the course of a community’s history. An attempt by
fascists to hold a concert in Southall, west London, a largely Asian area, in July 1981 is such
an example. John Tyndall was just about to reform the British National Party, and the British
Movement was recruiting large numbers of skinheads. Various fascists unified under a
nationalist banner and planned a white invasion of Southall. For a couple of weeks
preceding the concert groups of skinheads attacked Asians at random in the surrounding

On the night of the concert coach loads of fascists arrived and began assaulting elderly
Asians and damaging Asian owned shops. The victims called on their sons to help them.
The response of the older generation was weak because they had a strong belief in abiding
by the law and leaving matters to the police. However, their children, who were born or had
grown up in Britain, had a different outlook and took to the streets. The police, instead of
closing down the concert, made an ill-judged attempt to protect it.

The evening ended with the pub in flames and dozens of injuries on both sides. The fascists,
however, were eventually driven out. Within days a young Asian community-based
organisation had been formed, from which developed an Asian women’s organisation. The
very nature of the community’s attitude towards defending itself had changed.

Racist activity in the workplace

By the late 1960’s most British Nazis had realised they could win some support by adopting
an ultra-patriotic and racist programme. This was the main reasoning behind the formation of
the National Front in 1967. Though the Immigration Control Association (ICA) was originally
set up by dissident Conservatives it quickly saw an influx of NF members eager to exploit the
support that the ICA was achieving in many workplaces. The most notorious was Smithfield
meat market, where the porters were organised in a trade union. One prominent union
member at Smithfield was Danny Harmston, a long-time fascist and former bodyguard to the
fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley. Under Harmston’s leadership the meat porters formed the
core of many ICA marches. Ironically in 1936 the meat porters were in the forefront of the
huge anti-fascist protests against Mosley at Cable Street in east London.

By the mid 1970’s the NF had established cells in the prison service. They were particularly
strong at Strangeways, Dartmoor, Wandsworth and Pentonville prisons. In the Royal Mail
the north London sorting offices at Mount Pleasant and Upper Street, Islington were well
known for their strength of support for the NF. Ninety six NF activists were organised in cells
inside sorting offices in London and the Home Counties. On the railways the NF was able to
set up its own Railwaymen’s Association. These activities were co-ordinated by the NF’s
Trade Union Association.

This period saw the slow demise of the ICA and its replacement by the Trade Union Anti
Immigration Movement (TRUAIM). NF members, helped by TRUAIM, were elected to official
trade union positions, such as on Luton trades council and the shop stewards’ committee at
Rover in Solihull. William Roberts, an open NF member, was re-elected as an AUEW
convenor in Bolton.

This success in unions was one of the reasons for the split in the NF in 1976 and the launch
of the National Party (NP). The NP took a big chunk of the NF’s most capable and dedicated
members as well as a lot of their supporters within the unions. At first the NP met with a level
of success, particularly in the declining mill towns in the Northwest of England, and even got
two local councillors elected in Blackburn, Lancashire. It also won support in the old racist
hotbeds of east London. Fortunately for the labour movement internal problems led to the
NP’s rapid collapse.

Trade unions’ response and black militancy

Many trade union leaders realised that NF represented the tip of a groundswell of openly
expressed racist sentiment. It was a series of strikes by black workers that contributed to
increased trade union activity on this front. Mansfield Hosiery in 1972 and Imperial
Typewriters in Leicester in 1974 were times when black workers went on strike against
racists and fascists who either owned the company or who dominated the local unions.

The impact of these strikes went far beyond the original workplaces. The strikers were not
left alone on the picket lines; their communities came out and supported them. None of the
strikes ended in resounding victories for the workers. Rather they ended in partial victories
and compromises. One victory, however, was a change in attitude and the realisation that
the racists and fascists could be challenged in the workplace. These strikes dealt a massive
blow to the NF’s influence in unions. At Imperial Typewriters the NF was strong within the
skilled white workforce and had the support of a number of shop stewards. They set up a
white workers’ committee to support the scabs during the dispute. The strike received
widespread publicity, as did the behaviour and attitude of the NF inside and outside the

The 1980s and the National Front Trade Union Association

Through the late 1970s and early 1980s the NF’s workplace presence declined as members
left the NF or were made redundant. It was in 1984 that an attempt was made to revitalise its
workplace presence by setting up the NF Trade Union Association (NFTUA). By then the NF
had passed its peak and was down to around a thousand members. Only a few dozen of
them signed up for the NFTUA, every one of them in a different workplace. The NFTUA was
effectively finished when its membership list was published in Searchlight. Since then the
presence of Nazis in the workplace has mainly consisted of individual members.

The present day

The British National Party (BNP) are now making a concerted attempt to infiltrate the trade
union movement. As well as trying to influence workplace attitudes these BNP members
have sought to confront trade unions on an individual basis by getting expelled from
membership and then taking unions to tribunals for breach of the law and their own rules.

Unions are currently in the process of tightening their own rules to make their anti-racism
and anti-fascism clear as objects of the union. The government is also in the process of
tightening the law to enable unions to exclude or expel fascists from membership.

Section 3: Campaign Strategy
A 13 Point Plan


Preventing the far right from winning an election requires hard work. It was never enough to
simply leaflet an area a week before polling day and think that the job is done. It is even less
the case now. The work must be started early and it must be well organised.

This section offers campaigning suggestions. It is a rough blueprint for what we belief is a
good campaign. How much of this can be adopted by local groups depends very much on
local circumstances, priorities and resources. It must also be stressed that your campaign
can only be decided at a local level. No national body can dictate a local campaign.

In many of the sections we have included examples of good practice. This is not an
exclusive list but merely a guide to where we have information about good campaigns and
tactics. We have also included contact details for the group involved. It is likely that any
problem you face has already been experienced elsewhere. Get in contact with other groups
and find out what did and didn’t work.

The 13-point campaign strategy

     1.    Start early
     2.    Have a plan and stick to it
     3.    Identifying and profiling a target ward
     4.    Voter ID – Identifying the anti-far right voter
     5.    Researching the right
     6.    Writing a leaflet
     7.    Media strategy
     8.    Engaging the voters
     9.    Responding to the far right
     10.   Winning the cultural battle
     11.   The election campaign – turning out the anti- far right vote
     12.   Polling day
     13.   After the elections

1. Start early

Making an early start to your campaigning activity will be crucial in determining whether you
succeed or fail. Starting your campaign straight away has some very important advantages:

     •   You can contact and speak to more voters more often if you have longer to work at it.

     •   You are in a better position to capture and understand the issues that are affecting
         people’s daily lives if you are in the community speaking with people on a regular

     •   You can overcome claims that you are outsiders with no real interest in a local
         community if you have been active in an area for a long time.

     •   You will find it easier to convince people that you do care about their interests rather
         than reinforce people’s perceptions that you are just after their vote.

2. Have a plan and stick to it

Understanding what you are trying to achieve is half way to getting it done. Delivering 5,000
leaflets when you have no clear idea of what you are trying to do can not only be soul
destroying but also a waste of time and resources. Spending just a short period thinking
about where it is you want to get, and how you plan to get there, can make a world of
difference. It might help to consider the words that we hear at meetings all of the time. Do
you know what they mean? Do you think the local electorate know what they mean? Is there
a better way of saying what you actually mean?


This is the overall result you are trying to achieve. It might be to stop the BNP from winning a
seat. It might be to limit the far right successes to as few areas as possible. Maybe the
objective is to reduce the far right vote to such a low level so as to prevent them building a
power base for future elections. Each of these objectives means a slightly different


How are you going to get from where you are now to where you want to be?

Answer this question successfully and you have your strategy. You will need to address the
following points when you consider your strategy:

     •   In order to achieve your overall objective, in which wards are you going to target
         your efforts? (see next point on targeting)

     •   How can you make the maximum difference to the result in these wards?

     •   Are you targeting enough voters to make the maximum difference to the result?

     •   What messages will be most effective in influencing the behaviour of these voters
         come polling day?

     •   How can you deliver these messages most effectively? (For example, is it better use
         of your time and resources to target 1,000 voters with a highly personal visit rather
         than 5,000 voters with a leaflet?)

     •   What resources (including people) do you need to deliver your strategy?

     •   What can you do to make sure you have enough resources to deliver your strategy.


This is the detailed work that follows the strategy. What are individual members of your
campaign team responsible for? Where do people meet and at what time? How will they
know? What training do they need?

Thinking about even the simplest campaign in these terms will make it clear what your real
objectives are, and it will make it much easier for you to judge whether the techniques you
use are successful.

3. Identifying and profiling a target ward

Targeting is a key aspect of any campaign. The more we engage and communicate with a
voter, the more likely we are to influence their voting behaviour on polling day. No party in
the country has the luxury of enough resources or people to be able to run an effective
campaign that concentrates on all voters in a constituency or local authority area. To make a
difference to any election result we need to make a decision at the outset as to which voters
we will focus our campaign activity on.

Targeting Wards

The first thing you need to do is decide which wards to prioritise. To do this you need to give
some thought to which wards the far right are going to target and then which of these you
think are most vulnerable. Sometimes this will be obvious, such as when the far right is only
standing one candidate or where it has stood before and achieved a high vote. On other
occasions it will be less clear, for example where the far right is standing several candidates.
Considering the following points will help you to decide which wards are your targets and
which are not:

       Past support/votes for the far right.

       Past and present far right activity.

       Margin of victory for main party in the area. (A possible 30% vote for the far right in a
       ward where a main party receives 64% is less worry than the far right getting 30% in
       a three-way contest.)

       Quality of far right candidate if known. (The far right organiser is likely to stand
       personally in the ward where they think they will do best.)

       Local and national issues that could greatly influence potential support for the far

       Your resources.

Once you have targeted your key ward(s), find out as much as you can about the area(s).
This will help you identify issues that affect local people, supply you with background facts
that you can use in your campaign and provide useful contacts who can support your
campaign, e.g. well-respected community activists, religious leaders, good trade union
activists and businesses.

Finding the movers and shakers

It is not only statistics that are useful. Ward profiling means finding people who could be
useful to you during the campaign. These may be people who can keep you informed about
events in the local area or people you can use to build your campaign.

The best people to find are the movers and shakers in the ward. These are people respected
in the local community who will probably not be identified with party politics. This might be
the local religious leader or secretary of the residents’ group. It may also be the community
nurse or local primary school teacher. Basically, these are people who would be listened to if
they spoke out against the far right.

Ward co-ordinators

One way to divide up the work among your group is to appoint ward co-ordinators. A ward
co-ordinator will be responsible for researching a target ward. In the process they will
become very knowledgeable about a small geographical area and, if the profiling has been
done properly, have a lot of local links.

Appointing ward co-ordinators could also give the added benefit of establishing local
leafleting groups. Every anti-far right group has difficulty in covering the whole of the target
area but as part of the ward profiling process the co-ordinator will find local people who can
distribute small bundles of leaflets or letters in their immediate locality.

For more information on targeting and profiling a ward, contact Paul Meszaros at the
Bradford Anti-Fascist Committee c/o 17-21 Chapel Street, Bradford, BD1 5DT or email

Ward profiling

Answer the following questions for each target ward and you will be some way towards
completing your ward profile.

1. Have you got an up to date map for your ward?

Don’t forget many councils are changing their ward boundaries so make sure the maps
relate to the appropriate election. If the town hall cant supply you with maps then contact one
of the main political parties. You should also be able to print maps from
www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk (select Live/GIS maps).

2. Do the people within the ward identify with the ward name or do they identify with
another name or locality?

Often residents in parts of the ward identify with another area. You need to understand this if
your leaflets are going to have maximum effect.

3. Have you got a demographic breakdown of the ward?

This should include information on population, number of voters, age and ethnicity
breakdown, unemployment rates, indices of deprivation (this is a national league table of
wards showing how deprived they are) and localised areas of deprivation “hot spots”. A
useful website to find out this information can be found at

4. Have you got election results for the last few years?

Even where the boundaries have changed you can learn a lot from knowing the traditional
voting history of an area. If you can’t get this from the council then ask one of the political

5. Have you got a copy of the marked register from the last election?

This will give you a list of everyone who voted in the last local election. You can be sure that
these people will make up the vast majority of voters at the next local elections. You can
obtain this from the council for a fee (at the time of writing £25). However, the council is only
legally obliged to keep this for six months so you need to act quickly.

6. List the ward level political parties.

You will need their contact details and a link person that you can liaise with. Also write down
the contact details for the existing local councillors.

7. Are there any contentious issues that are currently annoying local residents or are
in the pipeline?

Understanding local concerns and being prepared for any up and coming issues is vital for
you to relate to local voters. This is especially important on any issues that the far right might
seize on. This is especially anything to do with asylum seekers, young offenders and council

8. List the main workplaces/employers in or near the ward.

You will need to get contact details and, if possible a link person. Remember a far right
victory in any election is not something most employers would welcome.

9. List the trade union branches that cover the workplaces in or near the ward.

You will need to get contact details for these branches. They should already be part of your
thinking and preferably part of your organising team.

10. Do you have anyone attending neighbourhood forums in your target ward? Can
you get hold of minutes of past meetings?

Neighbourhood meetings are local authority run consultation/discussion meetings. These will
help highlight key local issues. Try getting them from the local councillors if none of your
group can attend.

11. Have you got a list of local action groups and contact details?

Perhaps there is a group set up to protest against new road or a council planning decisions?
There might be a group who are trying to save the local post office? Knowing the answer to
these questions will help to keep you abreast of campaigning developments and
opportunities in the ward and give you links into the local community.

12. Have you got a list of local tenants’/residents’ groups?

You will need to have the contact details for these groups and a link person who you can
keep in regular touch with. If you don’t have anyone living in the ward, contact the local
councillor or the Council for Voluntary Services. The local council might also have a list.

13. Can you name any local trade union contacts who live in the ward?

Try contacting the local trades council and/or local trade unions to see if they can supply
names of people. Local political parties may also be able to help identify trade union

14. Have you got a list of local community centres in the ward?

You will also need to have the contact details for any of the groups that may be using the
community centre. Remember it is likely that more than one group will be using the facilities
of a community centre.

15. Do you have a list of local sports clubs in the ward?

Some might be involved in existing anti-racist campaigns. Others may be reliant on
government or EU funding, which far right activity, might effect.

16. Do you know any community development workers in the ward?

A good contact will be very useful in providing information on the area, dispelling myths and
as a respected figure in the community. The local council or the Community Youth Workers’
Union may be a good contact point. (The website for the CYWU is www.cywu.org.uk.)

17. Do you have any contacts on the local paper?

If you don’t, get one quickly. A friendly journalist will cover your activities sympathetically and
give you advance warning of stories from the far right. Try contacting the local National
Union of Journalists chapel or speak to friendly councillors who might offer you an
introduction. The NUJ head office may be able to help (their website is www.nuj.org.uk).

18. Do you keep an archive of local stories?

You might not need an article now but they might become invaluable in the future. You might
need to dispel a story from the far right or use a past court case to discredit their candidates.
Either way it is better to keep material together now rather than spending hours in the local
library or on the internet looking for the article.

19. Do you have a collection of positive stories from the area?

Running a positive campaign is much better than relying on a negative anti-fascist message.
You should be on the particular lookout for stories showing people coming together or
groups and activities that might be under threat from the far right.

20. Have you got a list of council, government, EU or Neighbourhood Renewal funding
that has gone into the target area?

The far right often claim that predominantly Asian areas receive the bulk of the funding at the
expense of white communities. You can only challenge this by having the figures at your
fingertips. Its no good scratching around for figures on important campaign issues with only
a week of the election campaign to run. Anticipate the charge that the far right is likely to
make and have a response ready.

4. Voter ID – Identifying the anti-fascist voter

We all agree that we need to be more sophisticated and targeted in our campaigning.
“Different leaflets for different groups of voters” and “turning out the ant-fascist vote” might
be great ideas but they are only achievable if we can properly identify groups of voters to

There are obvious and very visible target groups in a ward – such as pensioners and
members of ethnic minority groups. –for these it is a case of simply seeking them out.
However, a more successful campaign is one where a ward – such as pensioners and
members of ethnic minority groups. –for these it is a case of simply seeking them out.
However, a more successful campaign is one where you break the electorate down by their
voting intentions and the strength of their support for their chosen party. Done successfully
this will identify the hard and soft far right vote. It will also tell you the same for the main
political parties.

Once you have done this you can deliver different leaflets to your different groups depending
on your campaign plan i.e. what you are trying to achieve.

The best way to divide up the electorate is through voter identification. This can be done by
either door-to-door or telephone canvassing. Both have their advantages and

Door-to-door canvassing

Nothing beats the personal contact of meeting people face to face. However, this is time
consuming and some voters resent opening their doors to strangers or being interrupted
during their favourite television programme.

Telephone canvassing

This is a faster system where each person can average around 20 contacts an hour.
However many people are ex-directory or only have mobile phones.

Given the constraints on time and resources, telephone canvassing is the more effective
way of reaching voters in your target ward. If you have the time, inclination and the people
you can fill in the gaps by door-to-door canvassing.

Recording the information

It is important that the information is recorded on an easily accessible and searchable
system. The information must also be secure and backed-up in case of technical difficulties.

Searchlight are designing a database to help this process. Information will be circulated
when it is available.

5. Researching the Right

Information is power. The more you know about the local far right the more likely your
campaign against them will be effective.

1. Why you should conduct proper research

Proper research on the far right will give you:

     •   Advance knowledge of far right targets, tactics and campaign themes. This will
         enable you to target your resources more effectively and pre-empt their activities.

     •   Background information on far right candidates and activists.

     •   A running commentary on the far right’s election effort. This will give you an
         indication of how well they are doing, where their support is strong and weak, and
         their campaign timetable. Again this will allow you to focus your group’s resources
         and perhaps even inform the political parties.

2. Appoint a research officer

Like all aspects of your campaign you should appoint someone who will conduct or oversee
this research. This does not preclude other people from getting involved but it is important
that one person takes overall responsibility to co-ordinate this work.

This person needs to be well organised and discreet. They must be able to have information
and not feel the urge to tell everyone about it. Conversely the group needs to be aware that
a research officer cannot share everything with everyone else.

It is important that this person is affable because much of the information they are likely to
receive will come from open sources. The friendlier the person, the more people are likely to
give them information.

3. Collecting information

There are several ways that you can collect information but they can be divided into open
and closed sources. Open sources are generally the information you can collect from other
people. Closed sources are generally the information you find out yourself.

Open sources include:

     •   Journalists

     •   Local Race Equality Council

     •   Football supporter’ groups

     •   Community and youth workers

     •   Student unions

     •   Political parties

Closed sources include:

     •   Newspapers

     •   Websites

     •   Far right leaflets

     •   Photography

     •   Dustbins

     •   Frequenting venues

     •   Storing information

     •   Forward planning

     •   Election periods (i.e. copies of nomination forms, past results.

Case Study – Oldham 2002

After the riots of June 2001 Searchlight decided to target Oldham. At the time they believed
that if the BNP was going to break through anywhere it would be there.

Over the following few months Searchlight found three sources within Oldham BNP. They
quietly photographed their meetings and built up profiles on their key activists. Knowing that
so many of those attending Oldham BNP meetings were also football hooligans, Searchlight
made a point of targeting the local football gang, the Fine Young Casuals (FYC).

Six months before the election Searchlight discovered that a prominent BNP activist in
Oldham had a serious criminal past. He had indicated as much to others in the BNP without
specifying exactly what it was. Searchlight quietly asked around, searched through
newspaper archives and finally found that this character had a five-year sentence for gang
rape. It was later discovered that he also had two convictions for armed robbery.

Searchlight held onto the information until the election campaign was well under way. It was
then released in the Sunday Mirror and followed up, that very same morning, with a specially
produced leaflet that was distributed in a BNP stronghold.

The 2002 Oldham campaign was a success in every department. However, it is unlikely that
Searchlight could have contributed towards holding the BNP at bay without the information
on the local party.

6. Writing a leaflet

Before you begin to write a leaflet stop and think. Ask yourself the following questions:

     1. Who is the leaflet aimed at?

     2. What single message are you trying to get across to the readers?

     3. How does this leaflet fit in with your overall campaign?

As you write the leaflet and certainly once you have finished look at your answers to the
three questions again and check if you think the leaflet will do the job.

Don’t be afraid of friendly criticism or having to rework the leaflet. Remember that you are
tightening up the leaflet with each alteration that you make.

Here are eight tips to remember when you are writing a leaflet.

1. Your leaflet must be aimed at a specific audience

Your leaflet will only be effective if you think about who you are aiming it at and what you are
trying to achieve. Only then can you think about the contents.

If you are trying to persuade people not to vote for the far right you must think about why
people would consider voting for them in the first place. You will need to address these
issues in your leaflet.

If you are trying to encourage a bigger turnout in order to reduce the impact of a large vote
for the far right then you need to consider why people are not voting. For example, if you
think that people believe that local government is not important you should stress the impact
of a victory for the far right. If you feel that voters think that their party is going to win anyway
then you need to stress the dangers of complacency.

Top tip

Remember that people will not be convinced by your message unless you give them proof
and evidence to support it. The election success of Jean-Marie Le Pen in France recently
was a useful tool that was used to get out the anti-far right vote in the UK. You should
however try to localise the threat as much as possible. What could be at risk if the far right
won? Could it be a local community centre, a local festival or jobs? Think about things that
people would not like to lose in their locality.

People are sceptical about claims made in leaflets. However, they find it harder to be
sceptical about specific examples.

2. Keep your message as local as possible

The more local you are the more powerful your message.

Sending out a leaflet to a ward, or even better to an estate or block of flats, can be very
effective. If the far right are standing multiple candidates the chances are that they are
contesting a mixture of traditional Labour areas and more affluent Conservative wards. Your

message will need to be different in each of these areas and it can sometimes reduce the
effectiveness of your campaign material if you rely on town/city or even regional material.
3. Be concise and clear

Don’t try to talk about too many issues in one leaflet or letter. Raising many issues on a
single leaflet will only confuse readers and mean your central message gets lost. Use the
language of the Mirror not the Guardian, i.e. plain English. Don’t allow your argument to get
drowned in details and facts and figures as this will dilute the power of your message.

Top Tip

Try to make time to show your draft leaflet to some local voters who are not politically active
but may nevertheless be friendly and discreet.

Ask them if they understand the message you are trying to communicate and any
suggestions for improving it.

4. Capture the voter’s attention

Research shows that most people take a few seconds to look at a leaflet or letter before they
decide whether or not to go on reading. In the majority of cases it ends up in the bin. You
need to present your literature in a way that captivates peoples in an instant. Use snappy
and appealing headlines that provoke curiosity. Pictures are the most captivating feature of
any leaflet, but make sure that they are interesting and tell the story. Your leaflet is more
likely to end up in the bin if your pictures are nothing more than a head and shoulders shot of
the far right candidate.

Leaflets that contain too many words are a turn off and you should look to get your message
across at the very start of the leaflet. Don’t hide it way down the text.

5. Create a brand identity

A regular newsletter is much more effective than a series of one-off leaflets. People get
leaflets through their door all the time but an eye-catching newsletter will help people
remember your material. Think about the title and even design a logo or image that local
people can identify with.

A newsletter also has the benefit of proving continuity. You can defend yourself against the
charges that you are only interested in voters during election times by a regular, numbered

6. Let your voters do the talking

Use people from the local community to endorse what you are doing. Voters will be far more
convinced by pictures and short statements by genuine local people than by a statement
from a politician.

7. Be prepared to listen

Demonstrate that you are prepared to listen to local concerns and are not there just to
preach. You might think about using a questionnaire, survey or phone poll to learn about the
key issues affecting local people (a useful way to engage with voters all the same) or
encourage people to write in to your group.

8. It’s close round here

When producing material designed to get out the anti-fascist vote, remind people how close
the election is. Illustrate previous votes for the far right if applicable and suggest that “it could
come down to just a few votes”. Obviously there is a danger that if this is not targeted at the
anti-fascist vote then it could encourage fascist voters to turn out. This reaffirms the
importance of targeting voters.

9. Stick to your message and be repetitive

Don’t be afraid to repeat your message over and over again. If you are getting fed up
hearing it, the chances are that the voters are just starting to listen to what you are saying. If
you try to talk about too many issues during the campaign, voters will miss the point. While
you shouldn’t ignore other issues, focusing most of your literature on one or two particular
issues throughout the campaign means that voters are likely to understand what your
message is.

7. Media strategy

Developing an effective communication strategy is a vital component of any campaign. A
good story in the local paper is worth thousands of leaflets. This is especially important in
large cities where you cannot possibly hope to cover everywhere with leaflets.

The media can also be used to instantly rebut BNP lies and prevent myths becoming
established facts.

To develop a successful communications strategy you should consider the following:

Appoint a press officer

Appoint a member of your group who will be responsible for dealing with the media. While
other people might have to fill in from time to time, the more one person can establish a
relationship with a journalist the more productive that relationship will be. Make sure the local
press know who that person is and how they can get hold of them.

The press officer should develop a relationship with the editor or leading journalist on a local
paper far in advance of the election. Offer the paper exclusives and assistance during the
campaign. A good relationship with a local journalist might mean that they will alert you to a
planned story or activity by the far right.

Cultivating a friendship with the local journalist or editor might also mean that you can
influence the way the paper will treat and report the far right.

Set the media agenda

Always encourage your contact journalist to run a story covering any activity by your group.
Send out a press release before any activity and invite the journalist along to any event you
feel confident that you can control. (However, judge these events beforehand. The last thing
you want is a journalist present if you gets lots of negative reaction on the doorstep or if the
event you organise is poorly attended.)

Involving journalists in your activities not only gets your group mentioned but more
importantly allows you to push your key campaign message across. If you think criminality is
the weakness of the far right then anything you do that highlights this should be pushed in
the press.

If there is an existing far right councillor and she or he has failed to do anything since being
elected then you should prioritise stories exposing that fact.

Be prepared to do the journalists’ work for them

Local journalists will love you if you can produce the components of a story for them. That
may mean supplying a photo or background on a far right candidate. It might mean lining up
a community representative or “ordinary” person to give them a quote. It might also mean
taking them around an area to meet ordinary people.

This may seem time-consuming and annoying (after all, journalists get paid for writing
articles) and yes it is. But the sad truth is that you are more likely to get your story in the
paper if you spoon-feed the journalist.

Make friends not enemies of the local press

It is stating the obvious that the better your relationship is with a journalist or editor the better
your chance of getting stories in the paper. However, there will be times when the paper
drives you mad. They might give extensive coverage to the far right or accept a fascist claim
without checking the facts. How you respond depends largely on what you think is the
motivation for the paper’s actions.

Whatever the reason, respond appropriately and in a measured way. Whatever the
shortcomings of the local paper you will want to use them as and when you can. This means
biting your lip over short-term stories in the interests of your long-term agenda.

Use celebrities and the movers and shakers

Try to ensure that at least once during your campaign your group has involvement from a
celebrity or well-respected person. You should make sure that the media are there to cover

Have local people and celebrities on hand to be interviewed by the press when covering
anti-fascist stories. Always try to have some witnesses for your message who the paper can
quote rather than just relying on political activists. A local paper is much more likely to run a
story if they have a quote from a local celebrity or vicar than one from a political hack.

Writing a press release

If you don’t have a reliable media contact or you want to reach a wider audience then send
out a press release. A press release will either give journalists your views on a topic or act
as a spark for a longer story.

When you write a press release you should consider the following:

     •   Have headed paper. It not only looks more professional but at a glance a journalist
         will know who it is from.

     •   Your headline should stand out clearly in much larger print from the rest of the press
         release. It should also encapsulate the point of your press release in a few short

     •   Use clear language and be as concise as possible. Your press release should not be
         more than one side of paper. If the journalist wants more they will contact you.

     •   Always include a quote from a named person in your group. This quote should
         encapsulate your message. Don’t worry if you repeat information contained
         elsewhere on the page.

     •   Ideally you should contain a quote from a relevant body or community or residents
         group. This will not only back up your argument but add credibility to it.

     •   Offer to provide photographs if you can.

     •   Always finish the press release with the group’s contact number.

Letter writing circles

Letters’ pages must become a major battleground in our fight against the far right. People
read letters and the far right certainly use them to spread rumours and push a specific

The best way to use the letters’ page effectively is to establish a letter-writing circle.
Encourage a few people in your group, or surrounding network, who might like to take on
this job. Again, you should have one person to oversee the group.

Positive and negative letters

There are two forms of letters people can write:

     •   Positive letters can highlight an activity of your group or something positive that is
         happening in your area.

     •   Negative letters will normally respond to a letter from the far right, one of their
         activities or something written in the newspaper.

Be prepared to use both sorts of letters.

Overt and covert letter writing

There are also two ways in which you can write letters:

     •   Overt letters are those from your group or where your political identity is openly

     •   Covert letters are more subtle and will appear to have been written by an ordinary
         member of the public.

While you should be prepared to use both types of letters the covert form is often
overlooked. Yet this type of letter often has a greater impact. Generally readers are more
likely to be swayed by a letter from an “ordinary person”, written in a short and concise
manner, than one from an identified political hack. Covert letters also help to create the
impression of a groundswell of opinion towards a given view.

Case Study – Wigan

In February 2003 Wigan and Leigh United Against Racism was formed.

The inaugural meeting set up working groups and gave them the task of writing an action
plan for each facet of the campaign. Two press officers were appointed who would have
specific responsibilities relating to the local media.

The group decided that taking on the BNP in the local press would be a major focus of the
campaign strategy and that the most effective way of achieving this was to have clear aims,
which are outlined below:

     •   To point out the contradictions, hypocrisies, factual inaccuracies and distortions that
         the BNP use and confront them on an ideological level without getting into a dialogue
         on issues that they try to peddle as their own.

     •   To arm those who oppose the BNP with information and argument that gives them
         confidence to “fight their corner” in the everyday situations that many of us find
         ourselves in.

     •   To let the BNP know that they have opposition in the local community and that
         sustained resistance exists.

In order to achieve this a core group of people were identified who were willing to write or put
their name to responsive letters. The press officer scans all the local papers and organises
one or more responses.

As a result the letters page was used to air a range of subjects that the BNP talk about very
little these days. These included their views on repatriation, women and people with
disabilities. This has been crucial in helping the public understand what the BNP really stand

Anecdotal evidence suggests that this work has had an impact. Fewer people see the BNP
as merely “voicing an opposition to asylum”. Many people have expressed an interest in an
appreciation of what is being done, while others have themselves taken up the pen.

The wider picture saw Wigan BNP stand fewer candidates than anticipated in the 2003 local
elections and they did not significantly increase their vote where they did stand. Enough
evidence therefore to emphasise the significance of a strong anti-fascist campaign in which
letter writing certainly played its part.

8. Engaging the voters

Once you have decided on your message and what specific local issues you will prioritise
you need to consider how you will deliver it and to whom.

Voter ID will tell you who you should target but you will also need to think of how you will
reach your audience. Leaflets are one way to reach people but there is a vast array of other
tools at your disposal, some of which are far more effective.

Talking to local people

Nothing can beat engaging directly with people. Talking to locals is a far more effective way
of convincing people of your views then putting out a leaflet.

It is of course unrealistic to think that you can knock on every door in your target ward. This
means that you will need to identify groups of local people who you can address. Union
branches, tenants meetings or faith groups are all possibilities.

If you do get invited to talk to a local group you must go prepared. You should encourage
debate and even elicit opposing views because it is only through debating the issues that
you can hope to win people over. However make sure that you have done your homework
as you cannot afford to be seen to lose a debate. Rehearse the arguments you might face
and prepare answers.

You might want to consider producing a simple factsheet on the issue you think most worries
local people. In most cases this will be about asylum but there might be other local issues.

Attending local community groups (and winning the argument) will have enormous benefits
for your campaign.

     •   You establish yourselves and earn respect for debating difficult issues.

     •   The local group will become your eyes and ears. They can alert you to BNP activity
         or other issues to which you need to respond.

     •   Through building links with community groups you can add names to your anti-fascist
         database. The group might even be willing to help distribute your material so giving
         your message credibility and freeing up your activists for other work.

     •   You might be able to use the community group or individuals within it, to back your
         campaign publicly which again will add to your credibility.

Direct mail

Direct mail letters are more personal and likely to be read by voters than a leaflet. They are
an excellent way of getting your message across. If possible, you should personalise your
letters. Make sure that your letter is short and that it highlights your main message at the top
of the page. As with all other forms of communication, direct mail letters are powerful if they
concentrate on very local issues that make a difference to people’s daily lives. Targeting a
direct mail letter at a few streets or a single estate can be highly effective. Hand writing the
envelopes of direct mail letters means that they are more likely to be read and appreciated
by the recipient.


Surveys help you to stay in touch and capture the issues that effect voters’ daily lives. They
also send out an important message that you are listening to the local community. Although
you may have identified the local issues that people are concerned about in your target
wards, a well-worded survey can add legitimacy to your campaign message. For example,
following a bad racist attack, produce a straightforward survey on racist violence rather than
simply a petition. This can then be used in your next leaflet to support the view that you are
speaking for the majority of local people.

Case Study – Bradford

When the BNP stood in the Eccleshill ward of Bradford in 2002 they believed that the bulk of
their support would come from the Ravenscliffe estate. A run down, largely forgotten area,
Ravenscliffe has continually missed out on regeneration money because it is only a part of a
more affluent ward.

The Bradford Anti-Fascist Committee soon decided that distributing leaflets attacking the
BNP was not enough. They decided to hold an anti-racist fun day on the estate in the middle
of the election campaign.

Contact was made with local community workers and activists and support was obtained
from the Rangers Rugby Club, whose club became the central focus for the day. Support
was sought from local and regional trade unions, including the T&G, who donated their
campaign bus for the day. Local DJs provided music and there was face painting and other
events for children.

Over 200 local people attended the event and everyone agreed it was a great success. The
BNP tried to wind up local youths to attack the event but even they had to cancel their plans
after seeing so many local people there.

Importantly it gave the Bradford group an opportunity to connect with local people, listen to
their views and spread an anti-racist message in a positive manner. The impact of this was
evident on polling day, when the BNP obtained a smaller share of the vote in Ravenscliffe
than in other areas of the ward where they did considerably less campaigning.

9. Responding to the BNP

It is important to try and fight any campaign on your terms. You want to decide the issues on
which you think you can win, which will hurt the far right most in a manner of your choosing.
However, that is not always possible and there will be times when you will need to respond
to the far right. They might have issued a leaflet, launched a petition or written a series of
letters to the local paper.

In recent elections the far right have gained support after issuing wild and unsubstantiated
claims. In Birmingham they claimed that a local church was going to be converted to a
mosque. In Oldham they claimed that the council was going to fund a local mosque. In
Newcastle the far right claimed that 16,000 asylum seekers were about to be transferred
from Brent. In the Thurrock by-election, the far right claimed that Hackney Council were
about to dump their entire asylum seeker population in the town.

Before you respond you should consider the following:

1. Sit down and take the far right leaflet/letter apart. What are they trying to say? List out the
specific claims they are making.

2. One by one, find out whether these claims are true. If the far right have told lies or
exaggerated then list down the real facts alongside the far right version.

3. Try to find local people/groups/a council spokesperson to back up the real version. Try to
get these people to show indignation about the claims being made by the far right. Don’t
forget, your word is not good enough as it simply becomes claim and counter-claim between
political rivals. You have to get other people, people the electorate will respect, to denounce
the far right on your behalf.

4. Once you have your list of inaccuracies work out your best strategy. Highlight the biggest
inaccuracy from your point of view. To decide, think which lie will most upset people or elicit
the most angry response from the local health service/council/community group etc.

5. Don’t forget, as long as you have one or two strong examples you can make much of the
smaller exaggerations. It is all part of a strategy to undermine the far right and show a
deceitful pattern of behaviour.

6. Encourage a local journalist to expose the lies and exaggeration. However, make sure
that you have all the facts together and people prepared to speak out against the claims
made by the far right. This is an ideal opportunity to use your “movers and shakers” to
denounce the far right.

Top tip

A pattern of behaviour

It’s the pattern of behaviour just as much as the actual lie that is important for you to convey
to the voters. A claim, especially one with statistics, can be argued about. The impression
that the far right make up lie after lie is an important task. We want to be in the position that
voters simply don’t trust anything the far right say.

Case Study – Calderdale

The BNP produced a series of leaflets for the Mixenden by-election in October 2003. They
made a series of claims in these leaflets which, one by one the local anti-fascist group,
Communities Against Racism (CAR), took apart.

Claim 1

Local pensioners were having their operations cancelled because of pressure put on the
health service by asylum seekers.


CAR contacted the local Primary Care Trust and asked them whether Halifax people were
having their operations cancelled. They described the claims as “propaganda”.

Claim 2

Local pensioners were being thrown off doctors’ waiting lists because of asylum seekers.


CAR contacted every doctor’s surgery in the ward and asked them if they had struck off local
pensioners to make way for asylum seekers. They not only said no but were furious at the
BNP claims.

Claim 3

Local care homes for the elderly were being closed only to be reopened as asylum hostels.


CAR contacted all the local care homes and all categorically denied any plans to close
down. Again, people reacted with anger at the BNP claims.

Claim 4

Local people were being made to wait longer for housing association property because of
the pressure to house asylum seekers.


Penine Housing said that there were no delays due to asylum seekers.

Claim 5

Halifax post office had a specific counter dedicated for asylum seekers on a Monday.


CAR went down to the post office on a Monday morning to find that no such counter existed.
They took a photograph to prove it.

10. Winning the cultural battle

The far right has not created racism. It might whip it up or try to exploit it but racism would
exist in society with or without the far right. The same goes for the hysteria over asylum
seekers. The far right use it for their own political advantage but much of the hysteria is
created by the national press.

That is why fighting on a cultural level should be an essential part of campaigning against
the far right. Challenging and undercutting the reasons that give rise to support for the far
right is a major tool in our armoury.

It might also be possible to secure more funding for general anti-racist events. Council-run
social cohesion budgets, regional development boards, the national lottery and a number of
charities can all fund basic anti-racist activities.

Ideas for positive cultural events include:

     •   Hold a gig.

     •   Link up with your local football or rugby club.

     •   Hold a multiracial fun day in a local park or estate.

     •   Produce a joint inter-faith leaflet.

     •   Encourage local community centres to open their doors to people from other religious
         or ethnic communities.

     •   Hold an exhibition about racism or the plight of asylum seekers.

There are other things you can do to challenge racism in your area. For example you could
produce leaflets or information sheets explaining the true plight of asylum seekers or
material to counter Islamophobia.

Don’t forget to make sure you maximise any media reporting of these events, especially the
positive events. Issue a press release about the event a long time before the day and offer
the journalist some exclusive access, interviews or photographs.

Good news stories are especially important because they offer local people hope and a
positive way forward. Running solely on negative stories is to be avoided as much as

Case Study – Wigan

Wigan & Leigh United Against Racism was officially launched on Saturday 12 April 2003 at
Wigan Athletic Football Club on the pitch before a home league game.

This was a successful and high-profile event, with many advantages for both the club and
the campaign.

The campaign and home-made banners were high visible. Celebrities and school children
were particularly encouraged to get involved. Some glamour was achieved by the

association of a popular team and the campaign ended up with 2,000 copies of a special
anti-racist team souvenir.

The club found commercial sponsorship to supply free coach transport from all over the
borough, picking up wherever schools requested it, and a special centre page insert in the
matchday programme which featured a message of support from the club captain, an
introductory article from the group and photos of anti-racist curriculum work in six local
primary schools. Sponsors also paid for 2,000 extra copies. The club laid on free
entertainment for the children before the game, and arranged official photographs for the
programme on the next home match day as well as press photographers for the occasion.

The following article was published in the Cockney Latic fanzine:

Wigan & Leigh United Against Racism

Prior to the launch at the Wigan Athletic v Brentford game pupils from schools within the
Wigan metropolitan area will be working on anti-racism projects at their schools and then
coming on coaches with their friends and parents to celebrate the official launch of Wigan
and Leigh United Against Racism.

It is hoped that there will be a photo opportunity on the pitch. The match programme will be a
special issue with an anti-racist message on the centre pages and it is hoped the team
photos will be given out outside the turnstiles with an anti-racism message.

Wigan and Leigh United Against Racism is an apolitical organisation representing all the
borough and draws its support from all mainstream political parties, the trade unions,
Christian organisations, lay people and anti-racist organisations. It is hoped that this will be
the start of a strong anti-racist campaign within the borough.

The event also achieved plenty of positive press coverage.

Case Study – Oldham

This is how the anti-racist newsletter, The Oldhamer, wrote up one event it organised.

Oldham celebrates diversity

Breaking down barriers and misconceptions was the central message coming from Oldham’s
Diversity Week. A series of events held across the town last month showed that a positive
way forward is possible.

“The events have shown that, despite all the past troubles in Oldham, people from all the
communities in the town are keen to learn more about each other’s cultures, “said Muzahid
Khan, the week’s organiser.

The culmination of the week saw the Oldham West Indian Association play host to an open
day. Over 120 people packed in to enjoy traditional dance and food.

Mike Luft, secretary of Oldham United Against Racism, said: “The event went really well.
There were just so many people coming and going throughout the day.”

The event attempted to challenge some of the common myths about asylum seekers.

“Some people think asylum seekers have it easy,” added Luft, “but that is simply not the
case. At best they have to live on £37 a week and new legislation has left many without food
or shelter.”

The organisers were particularly pleased to see the number of young people attending the
week’s events. “My kids have had a great time,” said one mother. “Learning about other
cultures and traditions can only be good for them. It has also been great fun.”

Section 4. What are race and racism?
Race is a concept determined by complex social, historical, economic and political factors
rather than a static biological concept. The construction of race varies according to different
geographical and social factors. The meaning of race is a matter of social interpretation not a
fact of biology or genetics.

In essence racism is the word used to describe a complex set of attitudes and actions, which
discriminate against people on the basis of their skin colour, country of origin or nationality.
This discrimination can be conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional, but it is
undoubtedly present in many different areas of social interaction.

Roots of racism

Racism developed as an ideology during the 18th and 19th centuries with the advancement of
biological theories of race and the practice of imperialism.

Biological theories of race

This is the idea that ethnic and racial groups can be defined on the basis of claims about
biological nature and notions of white superiority. White racists believe that white people are
better than all other ethnic groups because of an inherent biological or intellectual
superiority. These ideas derive from the work of the 19th century race theorists, such as
Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chaimberlain. De Gobineau
believed that there was a hierarchy of races with white people the most important followed
by “yellows” and “blacks”. He popularised the concept of the so-called “Aryan race”. His fear
of racial degeneration and belief in racial purity of the Aryan race were later adopted by
Hitler and the Nazis.

Another strand of influential racist 19th century thought was the concept of social Darwinism.
This theory took Charles Darwin’s idea of the survival of the fittest and applied it to society.
Racist theorists, such as Chaimberlain, argued that the white “folk-nation” (which was
thought to be Germany, in particular) was genetically superior to other nations and so would
triumph over all other peoples. This linking of nationalism and racism with concepts of blood
and soil was to become one of the central beliefs of nazi groups.

Imperialism and slavery

The pseudo-intellectual racial theories of the 19th century were often used to justify the
practices of imperialism and slavery. Since the 16th century, black people have been
ruthlessly exploited and their countries plundered of resources to increase the wealth of the
predominantly white European countries and the United States of America. The imperialists
were motivated by economic considerations but the racist belief that black people were sub-
human or an inferior race was used as a justification for the brutal exploitation of the native

The practice of slavery led to the deaths of at least 30 million people during transit in terrible
conditions on the slave ships. Many British businesses and towns, such as Bristol, Liverpool
and London, prospered because of heir involvement in the slave trade.

Racism today

Racism today affects thousands of people in Britain and takes many different forms. Below
are some of the main areas in which members of ethnic minority groups suffer from

Institutional racism

This term is used to describe the way in which ethnic minorities in Britain suffer from racism.
It refers both to racism within institutions e.g. the police, judiciary, business, etc) and the way
racism operates within the wider social and economic infrastructures that have power and
influence over people’s lives.


Perhaps more than any other social issue, it is the question of immigration that has been
used to provoke strong racist sentiments. Racism is fostered by a number of popular
misconceptions and distortions, which are reiterated by the press and some mainstream
politicians. This has led to a situation where the terms “immigrant” and “immigration” in
popular usage are automatically assumed to refer to black people and ignore white
immigration. In reality nearly two-thirds of immigrants are white and more people have left
Britain in the past 20 years than have come here as immigrants. The largest immigrant
group in Britain is the Irish.

Hostility towards immigrants has a long history in Britain. For example, Jews fleeing anti-
semitism in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century were subject to abuse in
Britain. The same racist fears that were directed against them have since been applied to
successive groups of immigrants, namely “they are stealing our jobs, dirty, smell, criminal,
sexually promiscuous”. This gutter racism is encouraged by politicians and sections of the
popular press, who stoke up unjustified fears about the number of supposed illegal
immigrants coming to Britain.

Racist politicians and fascist groups play the numbers game despite the fact that Britain has
had extremely restrictive immigration laws since 1962. These laws have been specifically
designed to exclude black people and their families from this country.

The 1992 Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act reinforced this policy. With similar legislation
across the European Union, is has helped to create a “Fortress Europe”, which has severely
restricted entry rights for economic migrants from poorer developing countries in Africa,
eastern Europe and Asia. Such legislation has eroded basic human rights such as the right
to appeal against refusal of entry. These constraints on entry are in marked contrast to the
EU ideal of free movement of labour within the EU.

Racial harassment and attacks

These are racially motivated acts of violence or abuse, physical or verbal, and include
attacks on property as well as on people. Racial harassment includes racist comments,
jokes and graffiti. Racial attacks cover psychological damage, criminal damage, violence,
arson and murder.

Persistent racial harassment, at home or at work, is often seen as low-level, consisting of
repeated racist comments and petty vandalism. It is often carried out by racist neighbours or
workmates over long periods. This type of harassment is often extremely frustrating and
distressing and can make life a misery for the victims.

Asylum: Myths and Facts

Myth 1

Asylum seekers are draining NHS resources


Like other residents and visitors to the UK, asylum seekers are currently entitled to NHS
services. In no way, however, do they drain resources to the detriment of UK citizens. In fact
immigrants are the backbone of the NHS. According to the Greater London Authority, 23% of
doctors and 47% of nurses working within the NHS were born outside the UK.

Myth 2

Refugees are a burden to taxpayers.


Asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants have made an enormous contribution to the
economic and cultural life of the UK. Refugees bring with them a wealth of skills and
experience. Even the Home Office has recognised this and made a commitment, through its
Integration Unit, to put such skills to good use.

Migrants, including refugees, are far from being a burden on UK taxpayers. On the contrary,
in 1999-2000, they made a net fiscal contribution of approximately £2.5 billion, worth 1p on
income tax. Research carried out by Personnel Today in November 2001 found that nine out
of ten employers want to take on refugees to meet skills shortages, but do not due to
ignorance of the law and confusing Home Office paperwork.

Asylum seekers are demonised for draining the state when they are discouraged from being
independent because they are legally prevented from working.

Myth 3

Britain is the top destination for asylum seekers.


Even within the EU, the UK ranked 10th in 2001 in number of asylum applications compared
to the country’s population. The world’s poorest countries both produce and bear
responsibility for most refugees. During 1992-2001, 86% of the world’s estimated 12 million
refugees originated in developing countries, while such countries provided asylum to 72%. In
comparison with countries like Canada, the UK is no “soft touch”. In 2001, Canada granted
protection to 97% of Afghan asylum applicants, while the UK granted only 19%. Somali
applicants had a 92% success rate in Canada while in the UK it was only 34%.

An analysis by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees showed that the major
reason for lodging applications in a particular country is the presence of an established
community there. In January to June 2000, of all application in Europe, 96% of people from
Mali sought asylum in France, 60% of Albanians applied in Belgium, 48% of Nigerians
applied in Ireland and 45% of Sri Lankans applied in the UK.

Section 5 Third Party Campaigning – What the Law Says
A third party is a person or organisation which campaigns on behalf of one or more
registered political parties or a particular category of candidates ( for example those who
advocate a particular policy or opinion).

Controls on the intervention of non-party organisations and individuals in the UK were
introduced for the first time by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA)
2000. These took effect from February 2001. They back up the limits on campaign
expenditure by political parties also introduced by PPERA.

PPERA restricts the amount that a third party can spend on campaigning for the electoral
success of registered parties or candidates. Being registered as a third party with the
Electoral Commission increases a third party’s spending limits.

Spending in support of, or to disparage, an individual candidate is not covered by those
provisions and continues to be subject to the controls set out in the representation of the
People Act 1983.

At any election, other than a by-election, any of the following can register with the
Commission as ‘recognised third parties’ which permits a third party to spend more than
£10,000 in England and £5,000 in each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland:

     •   an individual resident in the UK or registered in an electoral register;

     •   a company;

     •   a trade union;

     •   a building society;

     •   a limited liability partnership;

     •   a friendly, industrial or provident society;

     •   an unincorporated association.

PPERA introduced regulations restricting the amount of ‘controlled expenditure’ that can be
incurred by a third party. Controlled expenditure incurred in connection with the production of
election material that is made available to the public.

Election material is material that can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote
electoral success for a party or group of candidates (including by disparaging a different
party or group of candidates). It is irrelevant whether the material expressly mentions the
names of the party or candidate.

Once registered with the Electoral Commission third parties are subject to the regulations
governing donations to political organisations set out in PPERA. Donations that are made in
support of a third party’s activities in campaigning on behalf of a party or group of candidates
may only be accepted if they are from a permissible source, and donations above a certain
threshold must be reported to the Electoral Commission.

How much can third parties spend?

At a national level, third parties that are not registered with the Electoral Commission are
legally prohibited from incurring expenditure of more than £10,000 in England and £5,000 in
each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in connection with the promotion of a
registered party or group of candidates.

Third parties that back or disparage candidates at constituency and local level are subject to
separate spending limits: £50 plus 0.5p per elector at local elections and £500 at other
elections. Any individual that wishes to spend more than these limits is required to register
with the Electoral Commission as a recognised third party.

Recognised third parties are entitled to incur the higher levels of expenditure at elections to
the UK and European Parliaments and the devolved legislatures. For instance, a recognised
third party may spend up to £159,750 in the European Parliament elections.

These limits apply in relation to the 365 days preceding a general election, and the four
months preceding all other regulated elections.

Although the PPERA lays down no limits on spending in relation to local elections, such
spending will count towards the spending limit if it falls within the regulated period for an
election to which a limit does apply.

After Elections

Following elections, third parties that have registered must submit a report detailing their
expenditure. The report must list each payment incurred by the third party and be
accompanied by a supporting invoice or receipt for payments of more than £200.

Recognised third parties must also report the total of any donations received in connection
with their campaigning, and give details of individual donations of more than £5000.

It is an offence for a recognised third party to fail to submit an expenditure and donation
report to the Electoral Commission.

Section 6 Useful Contacts
Anti Nazi League

Organisation dedicated to combating fascism and racism.


Antisemitism and Xenophobia Today (AXT)

Contains in-depth analysis and trends regarding anti-semitism and racism across the world.


Commission for Racial Equality


Kick it Out

A campaign to eliminate racism from football.


Institute of Race Relations

Provides useful resources fro activists, campaigners, students, researchers and teachers
working against racism.




Trade Union Congress (TUC)

Represents the interests of the 7 million trade unionists and their families in England and


Tyne and Wear Anti-Fascist Association (TWAFA)

TWAFA campaigns against racism, fascism and hate crimes in the North East of England.


Unite Against Fascism (UAF)


Trades Union Congress Regional Offices
Northern Region

Regional Secretary:         Kevin Rowan           krowan@tuc.org.uk
Education officer:          Trevor Sargison       tsargison@tuc.org.uk
                            (Northern, Yorks & the Humber Regions)


Yorkshire & Humber Region

Regional Secretary          Bill Adams           badams@tuc.org.uk


North West Region

Regional Secretary          Alan Manning         amanning@tuc.org.uk
Education officer           Peter Holland        pholland@tuc.org.uk


Midlands Region

Regional Secretary          Roger McKenzie       rmckenzie@tuc.org.uk
Education officer           Pete Try             ptry@tuc.org.uk
Policy and Campaigns        Alan Weaver          aweaver@tuc.org.uk


Southern & Eastern Region

Regional Secretary          Mick Connolly        mconnolly@tuc.org.uk
Education officer           Maggie Foy           mfoy@tuc.org.uk
                            Rob Hancock          rhancock@tuc.org.uk
Policy and Campaigns        Laurie Heselden      lheselden@tuc.org.uk


Wales TUC

Regional Secretary          Felicity Williams    wtuc@tuc.org.uk
Education officer           Julie Cook           jcook@tuc.org.uk
Researcher                  Darron Dupre         ddupre@tuc.org.uk


South West Region

Regional Secretary          Nigel Costley      ncostley@tuc.org.uk
Education officer           Marie Hughes       mhughes@tuc.org.uk


Scottish TUC

General Secretary           Bill Speirs        bspeirs@stuc.org.uk
Deputy Gen Secretary        Graeme Smith
Deputy Gen Secretary        Ronnie McDonald
Asst sec                    Tracey White
Asst sec                    Rozanne Foyer
Asst sec                    Stephen Boyd
Asst sec                    Mary Senior


TUC Regional Education Officer for Scotland

                            Harry Cunningham   rcunningham@tuc.org.uk

Northern Ireland Committee, ICTU

Asst gen sec                Peter Bunting      info@ictuni.org
Dep asst gen sec            Tom Gillen
Advisory services           Ann Hope
Education officer           vacant

TUC Brussels office

European officer            Peter Coldrick     pcoldrick@tuc.etuc.org
Administrator               Elena Crasta       ecrasta@tuc.etuc.org


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