News - April 2000


29th April 2000

The following is the full version of an article by Daily Express journalist Anthony Mitchell on Sharron Edwards, one of the leading lights of the new look BNP. It contains a contribution from West Midlands Anti-Fascist Action which did not appear in the published version. The rest of the article contains useful background information on Edwards and BNP plans for the Midlands, but lacks a clear analysis of the situation.

To the outside world Sharron Edwards is a church-going respectable mother of three. She holds down a 9 to 5 job and owns a smart £120,000 three bedroomed home. But behind the carefully crafted soft image lies a more sinister agenda.

She is the new face of right wing extremism and the first ever female deputy leader of the British National Party - the group who spearhead racist politics in the UK. The skinheads and jackboots have gone but the message is still the same - to ban all immigrants from Britain. Mrs Edwards, 43, plays a crucial role in the rebranding of the extremist group and is attempting to recruit "patriotic women" to the BNP and attract families with lightweight politics and fun days. The message is to "enlighten those who have been indoctrinated with multi- culturalism" and join the "battle to alleviate the perils of the present age".

Her ordinary housewife image - likened to Australian rightwinger Pauline Hanson - now adorns most BNP literature, in which she is surrounded by her youngest children Jordan, 8, and 10-year-old Damien, in soft-focus pictures. But in reality Mrs Edwards, whose oldest child Nathan is from a previous marriage, is more likely to be alongside hardened criminals and shares political platforms with racist thugs. Among her cohorts are BNP leader Nick Griffin, BNP organiser Tony Lecomber, the founder John Tyndall and key activist Richard Edmonds. Lecomber, 37, who is nicknamed bomber, was jailed in 1991 for an attack on a Jewish teacher and was sentenced to three years for bomb making. Griffin got a suspended nine-month jail term for inciting racial hatred. Tyndall has been jailed three times while Edmonds received an suspended sentence for smashing a statue of Nelson Mandela.

West Midlands Police say racial incidents have shot up over the last year in the area where extremists are operating - rising by almost a quarter to 176 - although no incident has been linked to anyone in BNP. Local race monitoring organisations say the figure is even higher. They cite numerous attacks on ethnic minorities but also on whites, like the boyfriend of black gold medal Olympic hopeful Ashia Hansen who lost four pints of blood after a vicious knife attack.

The head of the council funded Sandwell Racial Monitoring Unit, Maxi Hales, who recently won the praise of Tony Blair for his work in the community, is another victim of racist abuse. He has been sent abusive letters after setting up the unit.

Mrs Edwards claims that her hardline views have won both "praise and admiration" among friends and work colleagues and bills herself as a "sales executive". In fact she is a secretary earning a little over 14,000. West-Midlands-based Procedair where Mrs Edwards works director Brian Heap refused to comment about her involvement with the BNP. Mrs Edwards claimed she was the administration manager. But neighbours in the quiet street on the edge of the West Midlands village Wombourne where she lives in a modern detached redbrick house were shocked to hear of her political links to the far right. One said: "I see her quite often with her children and she looks so ordinary. She is always smart and polite. God knows why should be messed up with those looneys." Former colleagues also recalled an uneasy atmosphere in the office because of her politics. The senior staff member at bed saleshop Charter Brae where she worked for almost ten years, earning 13,000 a year, said: "Politically she would be very outspoken when blacks appeared to have advantages over whites. "Some people were not very happy about her politics but we are a small office so we just tried to get on."

Her husband, Steve, who she married in 1993 after divorcing her first husband in the late eighties, is also a leading light in the BNP. He is standing in the local elections in Tipton Green - which is known locally as The Lost City because of the depravation - where last year he beat the Liberal Democrats into forth place. Mrs Edwards joined the BNP late last year from the National Democrats - a splinter group of the neo-nazi organisation the National Front - and her potential was quickly tapped by the party leadership. After standing in Nottingham South during the 1997 general election for the Democrats on a race ticket she polled a paltry 446 votes. She left two years later when the group splintered. But Cambridge educated Griffin - who ousted former BNP leader John Tyndall in late 1999 - recognised her potential as part of the massive rebranding the BNP are now undergoing.

She was quickly promoted to deputy leader and was written into their history books as the first woman ever to hold such a position. Last night a spokesman for Anti Fascist Action said: "West Midlands AFA say that the BNP using the electoral strategy is down mainly to AFA physically removing them from the streets. "They aim to match them politically to win the battle for working class hearts and minds."

Sandwell Council leader Lord Tarsem King - himself an Indian - say the BNP mischievously try and take credit on local housing estates for council work. Already 37 million has been injected into the deprived area which suffered huge unemployment with the collapse of the manufacturing base in the black country.

West Midlands Police said in a statement that the increase of race incidents was due to new categories for registering race-related incidents being introduced in the wake of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Anthony Mitchell


28th April 2000

Text of Anti-Fascist Action Ireland Mayday leaflet.

The past month has seen communities and residents' groups throughout the country organising against immigrants. Asylum seekers have been subjected to vicious rumour-mongering and stereotyping from residents' associations in places as diverse as Dublin 4, Rosslare, Tipperary, Carlow, Kerry, Tramore, Cork and Athlone. Refugees have been accused, on no evidence, of being rapists, child abusers, war criminals and carriers of AIDS and TB.

While some residents' groups may be genuinely concerned about local facilities and numbers of asylum-seekers it is clear that blatant racism is at the root of most of the objections. These anti-immigrant views have encouraged more extreme racist elements to become active:

* In Dublin's North Inner City a 16 year old boy was called a "Nigger" and badly beaten in a racist attack in a chip shop. He needed five stitches to a head wound.
* In the small village of Clogheen, Co Tipperary, a hostel which was being prepared as a reception centre for asylum-seekers was badly damaged in an arson attack.
* Stickers saying 'No Niggers, Freeloaders, No Wogs' have been put up throughout Wexford town.

Much coverage has been given to the racist comments of Councillor Michael Healy-Rae in Kerry. However with a General Election expected in the next 18 months it is clear that many politicians will incite hatred, fear and violence by playing the race card to gain votes. Fianna Fail politicians have been stoking up racism with the aim of denying responsibility for the disaster that is the government's immigration policy.

Every mistake that has been made in European countries in relation to immigration and asylum is being repeated in Ireland. Throughout Europe far-right and anti-immigrant groups are gaining huge political influence on the back of political and physical attacks on refugees. 11 million people voted for far-right and fascist parties in las't years European Parliament elections.

If racists in Ireland are burning down hostels now, before asylum-seekers even arrive, what will they do when immigrants are actually living in their areas? Racist attacks, which have been ongoing in Dublin, are getting worse. It is merely a matter of time before someone is very seriously injured or killed.

All anti-racists, trade union members and progressive activists and groups must make a stand against racism NOW. There is a role for everyone throughout the country. Difficult and unpopular as it may seem to speak out against the racism in communities, activists must do this - even if only by sending a letter to local newspapers.

Anti-Fascist Action would encourage the setting up of local anti-racism groups and is willing to help anyone seeking to establish a group. AFA will work with anyone interested in combating racism and is willing to meet to discuss tactics and ideas with groups and individuals. We can be contacted at the address below.

AFA also monitors the activity of racists and fascists in Ireland. Please send any information, racist material, etc. to us.

Note: There have been widespread community and residents' groups protests throughout Ireland at government plans to 'disperse' asylum-seekers to full board accommodation in hotels and hostels in small towns and villages. Some of these meetings and protests have seen extreme racist views being expressed. An AFA briefing document on these protests will be available soon, anyone interested please email

PO Box 3355 Dublin 7, Ireland

RA Comment
- As has been seen already in Britain, the policy of placing refugees into communities which are already under-resourced, without providing sufficient extra funding to grease the wheels of integration will always be a recipe for disaster, as well as a green light for both organised and unorganised racism.

However, the multiculturalist response to racism favoured by most of the left is also a proven failure. The approach of promoting cultural diversity within a community while downplaying the need for unity based along class lines is bound ultimately to racialise any situation where it is applied, usually resulting in different sections of the community being played off against each other in the competition for resources.

See also race and class section


13th April 2000

Sinn Fein doubled its vote in a crucial council by-election victory in a target Westminster constituency seat on Thursday.

Assembly member Barry McElduff took almost half the first preference votes to claim the west Tyrone spot on Omagh district council after votes were counted yesterday. He said the "writing was on the wall" for Ulster Unionist MP Willie Thompson, an extreme hardliner, whose seat will be targeted by Sinn Fein in the next general election.

Mr Thompson won West Tyrone in 1997 with a majority of just 1,161 votes. In a high turnout, Mr McElduff yesterday claimed 3,757 first preference votes, ahead of UUP candidate Bert Wilson in second place on 1,672. SDLP candidate Gregory McMullan came third. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP described the result as a "stunning" success for Barry McElduff and Sinn Fein.

Mr Adams said: "Today's stunning by-election victory in West Tyrone is another sign of the growing political strength of Sinn Fein across the island. In recent weeks we have fought and won two by-elections, each time showing massive rises in Sinn Fein support. This time we have more than doubled the Sinn Fein vote. "I wish to congratulate Barry and the Sinn Fein team in West Tyrone and thank the electors for once again backing the party in massive numbers. This is a further endorsement of the Sinn Fein position and strategy."

Reproduced from
Irish Republican News and Information


12 April 2000 
Vikram Dodd

The author David Irving falsified history to exonerate Adolf Hitler, driven by anti-Semitism and his own pro-Nazi views, the high court ruled yesterday. In a devastating judgment, Mr Justice Charles Gray ruled that a book which branded Irving a Holocaust denier was justified in its charges. The defeat left his reputation as a historian utterly destroyed, and the author of the bestseller, Hitler's War, facing bankruptcy and the loss of his Mayfair flat.

Irving, 62, had sued American academic Deborah Lipstadt and her publishers, Penguin books, for libel. Penguin books and Professor Lipstadt ran up £2.5m in legal and research costs to prove Irving had persistently and deliberately misrepresented and twisted historical evidence to suit his ideology. Lawyers for Penguin plan to have bailiffs seize Irving's central London flat, worth £750,000, within three months to try to recover their costs, according to defence sources. The Guardian has established that even before yesterday's verdict, Irving was in financial trouble having taken out five mortgages on his flat, according to land registry records.

To a packed court, Mr Justice Gray delivered a verdict that excoriated Irving as a man and a historian. Irving had increased his political activity over the last 15 years, addressing far right audiences in the US, Germany, Canada and the New World, the judge said. "The content of his speeches and interviews often displays a distinctly pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish bias. "He makes surprising and often unfounded assertions about the Nazi regime which tend to exonerate the Nazis for the appalling atrocities which they inflicted on the Jews. "He is content to mix with neo-fascists and appears to share many of their racist and anti-Semitic prejudices. "The picture of Irving which emerges from the evidence of his extra-curricular activities reveals him to be a rightwing pro-Nazi polemicist. "In my view, the defendants have established that Irving has a political agenda. It is one which, it is legitimate to infer, disposes him, where he deems it necessary, to manipulate the historical record in order to make it conform with his political beliefs." Irving had denied all the charges in Professor Lipstadt's book.

The judge found: "Irving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence; that for the same reasons he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favourable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards, and responsibility for, the treatment of the Jews." Mr Justice Gray ruled that the author was "an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist and that he associates with rightwing extremists who promote neo-Nazism".

The 32-day trial over Professor Lipstadt's 1993 book, Denying the Holocaust: the growing assault on truth and memory, was one of the most emotive for a generation. In court, Irving had denied millions of Jews were exterminated in gas chambers, such as Auschwitz. "It is my conclusion that no objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz and that they were operated on a substantial scale to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews," the judge ruled. Irving described the verdict as "firstly, indescribable, and secondly, perverse". The judgment was "understandable" given the judge's being "an up-and-coming member of the establishment", he added. Explaining his defeat, he said: "I suppose it is my own fault for having explained myself inadequately clearly." Last night he added: "My own feelings about race are precisely the same as 95% of the people of my generation. That is all I will say. "If the British soldiers on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 could look forward to the end of the century and see what England has become, they would not have bothered to advance another 40 yards up the beach." Asked if he had sufficient funds to cover the massive costs of his defeat he answered "no." Most of his donors came from abroad, but Irving denied that his money had come from fellow Nazi sympathisers. He said 4,000 supporters, the bulk from the US, had sent him varying amounts. One American had handed him $50,000 cash in a brown paper bag at Amsterdam airport, Irving said.

After the verdict Deborah Lipstadt told a news conference that Irving had "done a lot of evil things". She added: "The way he denigrated survivors and survivors' testimony in the courtroom was horrible." The academic accused Irving of "perversion" for not merely denying the Holocaust but for "dancing on the graves" of its victims. Almost in tears after a four-year battle, she said: "Soon there won't be people to tell the story in the first person singular and it'll be easier to deny." Anthony Forbes-Watson, head of Penguin books UK, said it was unlikely all costs would be recovered: "Sometimes principles override financial considerations. How can you be a loss-maker when you win a case on such overwhelming grounds as these?" Israel's ambassador to the UK, Dror Zeigerman, who sat in court to hear the result, said: "The lesson for the new generation - my generation - is that we have to continue the struggle. We cannot give up against these people who raise their voices, like Irving." Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, the son of a Holocaust survivor and a spokesman for the Re form Synagogues of Great Britain, said: "It is a victory for 6m voices that cannot speak for themselves. "But even more important for the long-term consequences, it is a defeat for the Holocaust denial industry and the bigotry that lies behind it." Mr Justice Gray refused Irving leave to appeal, but Irving said in court that he intended to do so. Hitler's fan in a career of controversy The son of a naval commander from Essex who served in both world wars, David Irving, 62, is best known for Hitler's War, his bestselling account of the second world war from the Fuhrer's perspective. It presents Hitler as a balanced leader who knew nothing of the Final Solution until it was too late. After dropping out of university - he got 11 A-levels - and spending a year as a steelworker in the Ruhr, Irving made his name with a book about the allied bombing of Dresden and biographies of Rommel and Rudolf Hess. He quickly gained a reputation as an awesome researcher, unearthing elderly Nazis from Alpine villages and Argentine ranches, but ran into trouble after disputing whether there were gas chambers at Auschwitz. Irving's partner, Bente, has been openly critical of his views, and his twin brother, a civil servant, has changed his name to avoid comparisons with him.

Reproduced from
The Guardian (UK)
Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 2000


3rd April 2000

The Upstarts, Red London, D.M.S., Steve Drewett, Blyth Power, and Attilla the Stockbroker will be playing at The Dome, Junction Road, London, N19, on Sunday 23rd April. The gig starts at 7pm and tickets are £8 in advance, £10 on the door. The Dome is opposite Tufnell Park tube. Various fascist groups have made threatening noises about attacking the gig, and as virtually all these bands have played for AFA anti-fascists are encouraged to attend.

Order Fighting Talk in print. Prices for 4 Issues by land mail: UK: Individuals £4/ Institutions & Organisations £14 Overseas: Individuals £10/ Institutions & Organisations £17 Cheques/orders payable to 'Anti-Fascist Action' Fighting Talk, BM 1734, London, WC1N 3XX

Reproduced from
Anti-Fascist Action