This is cross posted from Epping Forest BNP Watch
Labour candidate Ross Hatfull pulled out of hustings for the Wanstead by-election, organised by Wanstead’s Counties Residents Association (CRA), thereby preventing them from going ahead.
He said: “The party line of the Labour group is not to share a platform with the BNP, but also there are a lot of people concerned there could be trouble if it went ahead.”
The candidates from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties had planned to participate, so Labour was in a minority with its no-platform position.
BNP arguments are not hard to take apart, so why not take them on head-to-head at hustings? In the light of allegations of racism against one BNP campaigner, if there had been trouble from the BNP supporters it could only reflect badly on them.
Responding to the cancellation, Ian Lannigan of Wanstead said: “Fascists must be faced head on. Disengagement doesn’t work (see what’s happened in Dagenham) and only allows their lies to gain traction. We have to engage and defeat these racist buffoons in debate. The BNP has been handed a a PR victory by the inept Labour machine. The other candidates are denied a chance to present their policies and engage an intelligent and informed electorate.
“To withdraw on the day is cowardly, shameful, counter productive and will infuriate the CRA and Wanstead Historical Society who have worked hard to arrange a fair hustings. The voters will punish Ross Hatful and the BNP will reap the reward.”
While being in the presence of a candidate from a racist party may put a bitter taste in many people’s mouths, the BNP will not be defeated by silencing them but by hitting them head on with their hypocrisy, lies and hate-mongering. Labour’s unilateral decision to destroy the debate has merely helped to divide rather than unite opposition to the BNP and provided fuel to their propaganda. Defeating fascism will not be achieved by suppressing debate and attempting to ban fascists from freedom of speech.