1 July 2001
NF demo in Leicestershire; Tony White (top left), Kevin Watmough (bottom left), Watmough shows his Combat-18 allegiances (right)
Anti-fascists throughout Bradford are preparing to greet the National Front, should they try and gather in the city next Saturday.
The fascists have declared that they will be holding a march in the city and claim on their website that a formal application has been made this weekend. It seems likely that any such march will be banned.
However, there is a real danger that even a small number of fascists turning up could spark trouble, which is, of course, exactly what they intend. Asian youths are known to be well prepared to meet any fascist attacks. Trade Unionists and other anti-fascist groups are meeting at a number of assembly points in a low-key mobilisation.
Police are said to be treating the situation seriously.
Saturday sees the finale of the 2001 Bradford Festival, with it's a "world in a city" festivities in Centenary Square, where anti-fascists will no doubt join thousands of other revelers to await developments.
The British National Party - the other fascist group who are trying hard to present a more respectable front - will be hoping to capitalise on any trouble, as they have done elsewhere in the North. In Oldham BNP leader Nick Griffin picked up a sizable 16% of the vote at the recent general election. He has since featured in numerous newspaper and television interviews.
According to Nick Lowles of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, the BNP are aiming to capture a number of council seats at the local elections next May. At the recent general election BNP activists were carefully noting which council wards turned out to vote for them. In one Oldham ward they are reputed to have picked up half the votes.
BNP members watch the count at Bradford North (John Brayshaw far right)
In Bradford North, where the BNP candidate John Brayshaw got just over 4% last month, the key turnout wards were in the Eccleshill area. Here there is a widespread local discontent with the way the council has handled the schools reorganisation, for example, with local schools being closed and not enough places available at replacement schools. Leading local BNP organiser Arthur Bentley has been working hard to exploit these resentments.
The National Front, however, appear to have no clear strategy, but have been keen to make a mark in Bradford ever since they were so emphatically driven out after the "Battle of Bradford" in 1976.
They have few local activists. Kevin Watmough, the NF webmaster who moved to Bridlington in 1997 following a local fall-out between fascists, is reputedly back in the area. He has been seen with his close friend Tony White - head of Leeds NF - at recent demonstrations in Leicestershire and Oldham.
Tony White is generally mistrusted by other NF activists, particularly in the South, since he was exposed as an informer to police and anti-fascists alike in 1995. Those involved in the "expose" included Kevin Watmough and the notoriously violent fascist David Appleyard.
But Appleyard's violent activities, which included allegedly beating up the area's top BNP organiser Arthur Bentley, led to a split. Appleyard has since moved on and Watmough subsequently vouched for his friend Tony White and brought him back into the fold.
There currently appears to be no formal links between the 2 fascist groups locally.
Meanwhile mainstream politicians have been heavily criticised for their part in heightening racial tensions. Tomorrow a report will be put to the United Nations which claims that "politicians and media alike have been encouraging racist hostility in their public attitudes towards asylum-seekers."
See previous posting;
See also: Searchlight magazine.