Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why I Can't Sign This Anti-Fascist Statement

The South East Regional TUC (SERTUC) is circulating the statement below, and asking trade unionists and others to put our names to it.



We, the people of London, are totally opposed to all those who seek to promote racism in our society. We strongly believe that the lessons of history show that racism, discrimination and fascism, if unchallenged, causes hatred and division in society and will provoke fear and intimidation among many within our city.

We believe that diversity is a strength and a cause for celebration, and that those who promote racism and discrimination divide our community.

All signatories to this statement have a shared belief in justice, fairness and equality for all. We oppose racism and discrimination wherever it takes place and will not co-operate in public meetings or media events that offer fascists or racists a platform to normalise their repugnant views or to legitimise the politics of hatred.

We declare our desire to co-operate with trade unions, political parties, faith groups and others that take a stand against those that promote racist and fascist political views.'

Sounds worthy enough. But my initial concern was that I didn't see how I could put my name to the sentence "All signatories to this statement have a shared belief in justice, fairness and equality for all" when I don't know who all the signatories are. The wording asks people not just to endorse the content of the statement, but to endorse all the people who sign it.

Then I found out some more about who has signed it. In Hackney, this includes some Tory Councillors. So, if I signed the statement, I would be saying that those Tory councillors share my belief in justice, fairness and equality for all. But they don't. They are representatives of a party that supports inequality, injustice and unfairness - there is Tory policy, ideology and practice aplenty to prove that.

I also think it is a real shame that a trade union body issues a statement about fascism that does not even mention that fascism is anti-trade-union and anti-working-class. Neither does it raise any of the issues that have allowed the BNP to grow over recent years - the alienation of working-class communities through the destruction of public housing and services, the cross-party anti-immigrant hysteria-mongering, etc. That makes the statement bland and of limited use in the fight against the fascists. But if it were just bland and of limited use, I could still sign it. The fact that it asks me to give Tories an anti-fascist paint-up means that I can't.