| Tuesday, 24 January 2006 Source: Searchlight
Clive Potter, expelled from Unison
Jay Lee, unwanted in Aslef
John Walker, BNP treasurer
The creation of a trade union signals a dramatic departure for the fascist party. After years of encouraging members to infiltrate existing unions in the hope of seeking confrontation with officials, the BNP is now setting up an alternative structure.
According to documents lodged with the Certification Office, which regulates matters concerning trade unions, Solidarity aims to "improve the relations between employers and employees throughout all industries served by the union".
It will also strive: "to protect, assist and promote the working and living conditions of the citizens of the British Isles".
It all seems above board at first appearance but a closer look at the registration form makes its true agenda more apparent. Solidarity will also, its documents claim, "resist and oppose all forms of institutional union corruption" and "promote freedom within and without the Trades Union movement, protecting and promoting freedom of belief, thought and speech, irrespective of political and religious affiliation or creed".
It also intends to set up a Political Fund and "print, publish, issue and circulate" literature that "may seem conducive to the … objects of Solidarity". It will also seek to "aid and join with any organisation, federation, political representative or body … having for their object, or one of their objects, the promotion of the interests of workers or the furtherance of the political objectives enshrined within the Political Fund".
There is no reference in the documents to BNP involvement but let there be no mistake about it, this is a BNP front.
The first "President" of the union was Clive Potter, a long-time BNP activist from Leicester, who was expelled from Unison for improper conduct. He was quickly replaced by Patrick Harrington, who was expelled from the RMT. Harrington was one of the National Front "political soldiers" in the late 1980s alongside Nick Griffin, now leader of the BNP. Other BNP activists involved in the project include Jay Lee, who was recently booted out of Aslef, and John Walker, the BNP's national treasurer, who has had his own troubles with the T&G.
A time to complain
Solidarity operates in name but so far not in reality. For it to be a proper trade union it will have to obtain a certificate of independence. This is a long and complicated process and one that will cost the BNP several thousand pounds.
Searchlight's exposure of Solidarity and its clear role as a front for the BNP will hopefully encourage a more thorough investigation by the Certification Office and complaints from trade unions. More importantly, however, the birth of Solidarity should remind the union movement of the need to oppose the BNP and highlight the incompatibility of racist politics with the ethos of trade unionism, which is based on solidarity and unity.
The February 2006 edition of Searchlight will carry the full story of the BNP trade union plus a comprehensive article on the relationship between British fascism and trade unions in the 20th century.