Speech to UAF conference, London

Over the past two years we have been able to break the back of the BNP as an electoral force.

The tactics of UAF have been crucial in this.  Our initiatives have been open and broad based.

The only qualifications we needed was whether you were prepared to act against the fascists or not.

We worked on the basis of securing an alliance which involved the Labour Movement, the faith communities, lesbian and gay organisations, students and young people, people with disabilities – everyone threatened by fascism.  This meant there was real social force behind our work.

The victories we had in Stoke, Barking and elsewhere were a direct result of these tactics.

However you estimate the threat of the British Freedom Party, I believe our tactics need to be based on those we have employed successfully so far.

Unfortunately the conditions which assisted the rise of the BNP remain in place.

Mainstream politicians continue to routinely demonise the Muslim community.

Equally, the terrible economic conditions are prompting the usual vitriol against immigrants.

Perhaps the most serious development has been the attack on multiculturalism initiated by David Cameron in his notorious speech in Munich.

This is surely fertile ground for the fascists.  The EDL understood this immediately.  As did Marine Le Pen – both praised Cameron for his supposed insight.

The conditions under which fascism can grow are not created by abstract economics – but by politicians, writers, presenters and opinion makers in the media.

Unemployment may create rivalries for jobs – but it still takes a racist to blame migrant workers for unemployment.

The collapse in the housing market does create competition for rented properties and higher prices.  But it takes a fascist to blame that upon Muslims.

So certainly the CWU endorses the view that opposing racism, Islamaphobia, and anti-Semitism must remain central to our work.

Multiculturalism is a great productive force.  It allows for an exchange of knowledge and skills in every field – from the Arts to the Sciences.

Those people who attack multiculturalism not only attack the integrity of British society – attacking multiculturalism also attacks our common economic future by cutting us off from the most dynamic sections of the world market.

For these reasons, we believe that we must celebrate and promote the diversity of our society.

We must defend multiculturalism against bigoted attacks whether those come from the EDL or from David Cameron.

Certainly the CWU welcomes and endorses the establishment of One Society Many Cultures.  This is a positive promotion of everything that is best in the movement against fascism.

And the CWU continues to support the important work amongst young people that Love Music Hate Racism undertakes.  Having a cultural element to our work ensures that there is an easy entry point to people who have little political experience.

Amongst my roles is that of TUC spokesperson on Europe.

My work on Europe has shown to me just how dangerous the rise of the fascists are in a number of countries.

We have become accustomed to the idea that the National Front will come second or third in the French presidential elections.  We regularly see fascists in coalition governments in both southern and northern Europe.

We can congratulate ourselves on the successes that UAF has had against the BNP and the EDL in recent years.

But I’m afraid we have much more work in front of us yet.

It is for that reason that the UAF must remain a central part of our political activity.  Affiliation, membership and direct participation remain crucial if we are to keep an organisation adequate to confront the fascists.

Supporting Tony Kearns as your new Treasurer is one measure of the CWU’s commitment to UAF.  We will not be found wanting in supporting your other initiatives.

Thanks for listening.

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