Report from UAF Conference, 13.2.10

5 members of Cambridge Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism attended this conference in TUC headquarters on Saturday February 13th.
Speakers included Christine Blower of the NUT, Dawn Butler MP, Ken Livingston, journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, one-time professional footballer and current TV pundit Leroy Rosenior, Jerry Dammers of The Specials, Margaret Hodge MP and many more, along with a packed and very mixed audience, a good proportion of which was young.

The presence of Margaret Hodge, whose comments in papers like The Daily Mail often appear as pandering to the arguments of the BNP, showed one
of the two major tasks facing the anti Fascist movement in the next few weeks and months, namely that of defeating them at the polls. This is
particularly important in Barking where Nick Griffin is hoping to unseat Hodge and become MP, while his cronies also hope to take control of the
council. While many of the delegates may disagree with a lot of Margaret Hodge's policies and pronouncements, and indeed see them as counter
productive, it was widely recognised that the electoral battle in Barking is to be one of the most important ones in recent years, and it
is our job to work as a united front to ensure that Griffin does not get a seat in parliament with all the prestige that would bring. Cambridge
UAF hopes to help at several mass leafletting sessions in Barking, as well as being ready to help in other local areas where the BNP decide to

Many other speakers dealt with the other main threat posed by the Nazis, that of the so called English Defence League, who are quickly becoming
the street fighting force of the BNP, working in a way much like the National Front of the '70s by marching through local communities and
picking on minorities in general and Muslims in particular. There were some horror stories from Stoke this January, when 1,500 EDL thugs
(including many football hooligans) ran amok in the City, attacking Asians, mixed race businesses and the local mosque. This is the first time BNP councillors have been so openly involved in these events, and also the first that the racists have massively outnumbered the anti Fascists, something that mustn't be allowed to happen again. UAF's
strategy is not to try to out-thug these people (many of them are well seasoned street fighters) but to use the force of our numbers to ensure
that they shall not pass. For this reason UAF has called national mobilisations against the next two EDL marches (March 20th in Bolton, April 4th in Dudley) as if we can stop them marching unchallenged now, there is every chance that we will nip their growth in the bud.

Big Cakes, Itch of King Blues and Gerry Dammers

Other notable contributions were about music, where musicians old and young talked about the power of music as well as dance, poetry, art and
so on to swing the tide against the Fascists; this is something we feel we do fairly well in Cambridge. The education version of the film about
the history of Rock Against Racism and Love Music Hate Racism called 'Who Shot the Sheriff' goes down very well in schools from year 6 to 6th
form and beyond, and we are very happy to show this (sometimes with a speaker) at local schools. We've also had some involvement with Kick
Racism Out of Football, having taken players into schools and invited kids to play a major part in local days of action;this made it especially rewarding to hear Leroy Rosenior's talk about the racism he faced as a professional footballer and his new role in organising against it with the organisation Show Racism the Red Card. He spoke with such passion and insight that it is no wonder that Christine Blower advised teachers to book him for school events – I wonder if this is
something we could do together, asking him to visit schools in the day and take part in a town meeting in the evening? Show Racism the Red Card
also provide educational DVDs and photos of many football teams with anti racism logos on them – these are ideal to display in schools (as we
do at mine). Their website is a good place to start –

It was also interesting (if not somewhat alarming) to hear of events at Staffs University where racists organised against the Students Union
President, Assed Baig, who is a Muslim and anti BNP campaigner. The BNP and EDL became involved, trying to get a foothold in the campus, and
lots of disgusting racist graffiti (including swastikas) was sprayed on University buildings. Conference was pleased to hear that despite the
intimidation, the president defeated the vote of no confidence and remains in office.

To conclude, this day set us up for a very important few months which could affect the way British politics develops for years to come – if
Griffin becomes an MP and the EDL are allowed to march unchallenged through Asian communities, things will look bleak. However, despite a
security threat to the conference from members of the EDL who tried to attack it. we can take courage from the numbers who attended this day,
from the fact that we have beaten back the Fascists in the 30s and the 70s, and above all from the fact that the vast majority of people value our multi racial, multicultural society and despise the Nazis – we are many, they are few. It is our task to mobilise this vast majority into
actively opposing the BNP in the months ahead.

Richard Rose, Cambridge UAF / LMHR, report written for Cambridge NUT.

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Coming Up...

13th March - Cambridge mobilisation for leafletting in Daggenham
20thMarch national mobilisation against EDL in Bolton
April 4th - national mobilisation against EDL in Dudley
May 3rd - Carnival in London
Local Transport available for all these activities

Next organising meeting
Monday 22nd February, 8pm, Jaffa Net Cafe, Mill Road
All welcome!