Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shock ! Horror ! We talk to "fascists"

Yesterday two of us finished leafletting Shaftesbury ward (one of the 4 wards in Wandsworth that will be part of the proposed new parliamentary constituency of Battersea & Vauxhall). Afterwards we stopped for a drink. When we said we'd been out leafletting, the landlady told us that this was a "National Front pub" and said she had voted for them last time (don't know whether that meant she had voted for them in the 1970s or was confusing them with the BNP).

If we'd have been SWPers no doubt we'd have been on our mobiles to mobilise "anti-fascists" to come for a fight (though the outcome of a bar room brawl between building workers and students wouldn't have been in any doubt). Anyway, not being SWPers, we stayed and talked. It turned out that the landlady was originally from Ireland and used to vote Labour and that members of her family were currently victims of the government's campaign to drive people off incapacity benefit and on to (lower) jobseekers allowance hassling them to "seek" non-existent jobs. Someone else told us that his dad had been a shop steward at a local factory (since closed) and that during the Miners Strike they had put up striking miners picketing sites in London. He asked for some copies of our manifesto to show to his family. They're in the post.

It's ridiculous to call NF or BNP voters fascists. They are just workers who have misidentified the cause of the problems all workers face. We were told that in April a scene from the Royle Family with Ricky Tomlinson was going to be filmed in the pub. Very apt, as Ricky Tomlimson, who now supports Scargill's SLP, was once a member of the NF. Which goes to show that people who support or vote for parties like the NF can change, but you need to talk to them rather than fight with them.

Earlier we had met our Tory opponent in Lambeth and Southwark, Michael Mitchell, who had a stall outside Sainsbury's in Clapham High Street. He was just packing up with two policeman standing by. We jumped to the wrong conclusion that the police had told him to move on. He said he was just finishing and anyway had got permission from the council to have a stall there. We said you don't need to have council permission to hold a stall anywhere as long as you weren't selling anything and weren't causing an obstruction. We never ask. He's a councillor himself (in Southwark). Maybe this has gone to his head.

Three other members attended and leafletted a day school at a venue round the back of Clapham Common tube station organised by the London Mining Network to which we'd been invited by a former member now involved in this single-issue group. It's a group campaigning against the ravages of opencast mining by capitalist corporations, which also goes on in Britain. A worthy cause no doubt, amongst thousands of others. What's needed to achieve what each of them wants is a succesful single issue campaign for socialism as a world in which the planet's resources, natural and industrial, have become the common heritage of all so they can be use to provide for people's needs not for profit.

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