In an astonishingly stupid decision, Durham University's debating society has invited two leading BNP members, Andrew Brons MEP and Chris Beverley, to speak in a 'debate'. It begins at 8.30pm next Friday (12 February) - anti-fascists will gather to protest from 6pm.
Unite Against Fascism explain on the Facebook Event page:
'Andrew Brons was a member of the National Socialist Movement, a group which was deliberately founded on the date of Hitler’s birthday and which was also responsible for a number of arson attacks on synagogues in the 60s. Brons later became the chairman of the National Front between 1980 and 1984 and co-edited their journal New Nation. Since he has joined the British National Party and was elected in the Euro election in 2009 for Leeds and Humberside.
Chris Beverley is a Leeds councillor for the BNP and is their main liaison with German nazi National Democratic Party, along with other Nazi BNP members he attended a gathering of the European National Front in 2007.
The Durham Debating Society are playing with fire by inviting these fascists onto campus. We cannot allow fascists a platform to divide the community and incite racist attacks. Brons and Beverley have no interest in open debate, they are leading members of an organisation that that explicitly justifies violence and repression and campaigns to whip up racism against Muslims.
This is not an abstract argument, wherever the BNP organise racist attacks rise. They may use the word “freedom” and “liberty” and they may receive votes at elections, but this does not hide the fact that they are racist, homophobic, sexist and violent organisation.
We must learn the lessons of history…we cannot give fascists an inch. If we are to stop the Nazi BNP we must unite together, whether black or white, asian or Jew, gay or straight, Muslim or Atheist.'
This is a statement that makes all the core points I'd emphasise - I've blogged previously about the need for a No Platform policy. This is a particularly idiotic instance of Nazis being offered a platform, lending them a false respectability that is utterly undeserved - and dangerous. Hopefully Durham students will themselves organise to get the invitations cancelled. For the rest of us the challenge is to mobilise a large and lively demonstration which totally isolates these fascists and deprives them of legitimacy.
What can you do? Here's UAF's excellent advice:
• Sort out transport and bring people to the UAF demonstration outside – assemble 6pm outside Durham University – Friday 12 February (national mobilisation).
• Get a motion passed through your union to condemn the invitation
• Send a complaint to the debating society (email@example.com), copy in the vice-chancellor (firstname.lastname@example.org ) and students union (email@example.com ).
• Organise a Unite Against Fascism meeting in your college and attend the Unite Against Fascism annual conference in London on 13 February
One other thing: it's worth noting that the Durham Uni invitation comes on the back of this news from Newcastle University.
Picture: Brons (left), National Front leading member Martin Webster (centre) and current BNP Fuhrer Nick Griffin (behind Webster)