- 2009 National Delegate Conference
- 15 June 2009
Conference notes with alarm that the support for the far right continues to grow and the British National Party (BNP) has increased its vote significantly in council elections, including Stoke-on-Trent, and the London Assembly over the past year and there is the very real threat one or more BNP candidates will be elected to the European Parliament in June’s elections. The BNP have gained votes by acquiring a “respectable” image and ditching the trappings of their fascist past.
This support is likely to grow as the recession deepens and workers and families face increasing insecurity and the scapegoating, hate and division of the far right strikes a resonance in workplaces and communities.
Conference rejects the use of the slogan “British jobs for British workers” which has no place in the trade union movement. We believe that this slogan, first raised by Gordon Brown in 2007:
a)promotes the impression that a solution to the current economic crisis can be achieved by excluding non-British workers from the labour market;
b)aids the employer in dividing workers;
c)encourages racist and xenophobic politics of parties like the BNP who are seeking to politically exploit the current economic situation by scapegoating black workers, migrant workers and asylum seekers.
Whilst UNISON regions, branches and activists can be justifiably proud of their activity in opposing the BNP to date this must continue to be a priority and given further emphasis.
In particular whilst intervening in elections to challenge and expose the BNP wherever they stand a candidate should continue to be a key activity the campaign needs to be broadened and include:
1)Promoting UNISON’s alternative economic strategy, a programme for recovery to get through and out of recession which protects workers, families and communities and challenges the simple and racist solutions of the BNP;
2)Building and supporting, locally and regionally, broad based coalitions to promote such a programme, defend public services and campaign against the far right;
3)Organising programmes of activity with a particular focus on young people and students incorporating, music, theatre and sport in conjunction with schools; student unions; youth workers and Show Racism the Red Card;
4)Organising and supporting migrant workers;
5)Participating in and organising activities in support of Holocaust Memorial Day;
6)Challenging racism and myths about migrant workers and asylum seekers in workplaces and with UNISON members and activists;
7)Countering the BNP’s recruitment activities targeting women, by raising awareness of the BNP’s outdated sexist attitudes to women’s role in the workplace and society; and their outrageous views on domestic and sexual violence.
UNISON activists, particularly elected reps have a key role in workplaces and their communities in challenging racism and regions should review the training and support provided to reps to ensure they have the necessary information and confidence to do so.
Conference therefore resolves to:
1)Continue the excellent and constructive partnership with Searchlightand Unite against Fascism (UAF);
2)Ask all regions to invite a speaker from the Hope Not Hate campaign to an appropriate regional meeting;
3)Ensure that publicity produced by UNISON or on UNISON’s behalf, addresses the current “respectable” image of the BNP rather than just dwelling on their past image;
4)Develop a programme of political education to ensure a wider understanding of the context of the rise of the far right in the UK and Europe;
5)Target efforts and resources at those areas where the BNP is likely to make electoral gains and make every effort to mobilise UNISON membersin those areas;
6)Work with other trade unions at a regional and national level in order to mobilise workers and to spread anti BNP publicity;
7)Campaign all year round in order to properly prepare to combat the
BNP in all elections.