Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fighting racism in our communities

Illness kept me from last Friday's vigil to mark the tenth anniversary of the Brixton nail bombing.

I was pleased that other local UNISON members were present (and will blog a link to the local media coverage once the South London Press website catches up with the print edition!)

Ten years ago the people of Brixton learned what the racist BNP thinks of our wonderful local community and only the courage of local people prevented carnage. Within just over a fortnight local UNISON activists took the lead in organising a 300 strong march from Brixton to Trafalgar Square to join 1999's May Day rally. Acting as Chief Steward on that demonstration was one of the most important things I have done as a trade unionist.

I was therefore really happy today that - ten years after we took the lead in organising that important demonstration - our local UNISON branch endorsed a decision of the joint trade unions to produce a local leaflet urging all Council employees to register to vote. Because whilst the far right came to Brixton with a nail bomb ten years ago, this year they want a Euro MP to represent the very communities they tried to decimate.

Just as we opposed the nail bomber in 1999 so we must oppose his co-thinkers in 2009. UNISON is calling on all our members to vote against the far right, but to do so you have to be on the electoral register in the first place.

It is equally clear to me that if we are to neutralise the appeal of the far right to marginalised groups and individuals then the trade unions have to use our political clout to put progressive policies which benefit working class people back on to the mainstream political agenda.

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