Published on Friday, 04 May 2012 23:42 Written by Gerry Gable
Tonight Redbridge and Epping Forest Together (REFT) celebrates the complete collapse of the fascist vote in its various guises in the elections for Epping Forest District Council and Loughton Town Council.
When around one hundred local antifascists gathered at Redbridge tube station in 2005 to protest against a BNP meeting in the area, it sparked the formation of a local activist group. We had the support of the editor of the Ilford Recorder who had published our open letter. Since then we have campaigned in every election where the fascists have stood locally.
We were among the first to campaign in neighbouring Barking and Dagenham, before Hope Not Hate existed, to defeat the BNP in local by-elections and continued to turn people out during HNH’s major campaign to defeat the BNP after 2006, when the fascist party took 12 council seats, its biggest breakthrough in the country.
Left with nothing after 2010, the BNP made a last-ditch attempt to regain Goresbrook ward last month and got hammered. A really strong leaflet was jointly signed off by Barking Says No, a Labour led local anti-BNP group, Unite Against Fascism, the National Union of Teachers and Searchlight. The BNP candidate was also standing for the Redbridge and Havering constituency in the London Assembly election and the leaflet did him no good at all in both elections.
Two of us have jointly co-ordinated REFT for the past six years: Bob Archer, a retired school teacher and veteran trade unionist who is a great anti-cuts campaigner, and myself from Searchlight. We have built a very broad church, embracing lots of different groups in both Redbridge and Epping Forest district, including Labour, Tories, Lib Dems, Greens, Loughton Residents’ Association, a local independent socialist councillor and the local branch of the Alliance for Green Socialism. People have joined us from several different faiths and we have had the backing of local bishops.
In Redbridge we became involved with many local issues, winning some and still fighting others, ranging from saving allotments, trying to save a swimming pool and the ongoing battle to save King George’s Hospital. We have held rallies in Ilford Town Hall and a community centre in Epping Forest district.
We got rid of the sole BNP councillor in Redbridge and, after the BNP won six seats on Epping Forest District Council, we vowed to drive them all out. After the last election in 2010 only one remained and last night voters threw her out in no uncertain terms, given her just 11% of the vote. Eddy Butler, the former BNP elections mastermind now an English Democrat, was hammered in a neighbouring ward, taking 12%.
In an attempt to fool the public, two former BNP members – Paul Morris who had been the BNP’s local organiser until last year, and Bob Jarvis, a fascist bonehead, stood as independents, only to be exposed and beaten after REFT put out a leaflet warning voters to beware of Trojan horses. They too were sent packing.
The combination of Searchlight’s propaganda skills and REFT’s organising ability dealt the nazis a severe blow. Now we must build on what we have achieved to ensure the fascists will not creep back out of the woodwork.
A thank you to all in REFT for your long-time activism and courage in the face of threats from the enemy: we intend to stop them returning in the future. If you live or work in the Redbridge and Epping Forest area please contact us through this website for news of our regular meetings.