Political Promise

West Ham fans say No to the BNP

In Charlie Edwards on April 25, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Saturday’s issue of the West Ham United Football Club’s fan-produced magazine Over Land and Sea was the first to be published after the calling of the general election on May 6th. As well as the usual football-related musings from the contributors, there was also a large political voice eminating from the publication. West Ham is situated in the Parliamentary constituency of Barking, where the BNP have a number of councillors standing for re-election, as well as the self-proclaimed demagoguial leader of the party Nick Griffin standing for Parliament, against long-standing Labour MP Margaret Hodge.

Among the Hammers fans who have been vocal against the local rise of the BNP has been David Rosenberg, a regular columnist with OLAS, who interviewed Billy Bragg for the publication a couple of months ago. Bragg has helped set up the Barking residents’ ‘Hope not Hate’ campaign. An army of anti-racist volunteers have flooded the streets of East London to spread a message that the BNP have no place in 21st century Britain. In this weekend’s OLAS, Rosenberg urged: “A few weeks ago I interviewed Billy Bragg and asked what results he wanted by the end of the season he said: ‘I’d like to see the BNP soundly defeated in Barking and Dagenham and the Hammers pull clear of the bottom six.’ Since then we’ve definately seen progress on the first, if not the other!” He then goes on to urge his fellow supporters to reject the BNP and vote for hope, not hate.

Another writer, Mark Walker talks of the “real privelege” that “the football fanzine movement has such a proud heritage of fighting racism within football and the community”. Over Land and Sea has a pledge on the back of the magazine to fight racism “Until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more signifance than the colour of his eyes…”; one of the core principles on which the magazine was founded in 1989.

Walker appreciated that there is a yearning to protest against the morally-tainted body politic, but “the BNP are not a legitimate protest vote.” He issued a declaration to his supporters to “please use these remaining few days to stand up for true British values of community and looking out for one other and the values we hold as a football club. The football club of (Clyde) Best, (Rio, Anton and Les) Ferdinand and Carlton Cole. Don’t vote for the politics of hate, Vote No to the BNP.”

Another commentator, Johnny Ballantyne incorporated a brilliantly thought pun into his anti-BNP statement: “Don’t forget to kick the fascists in the ‘BALLS’ in Dagenham on May 6th.” It seems the prevailing wind of opinion is blowing against Griffin’s party in East London, and it looks to have a similar local response in inner-city areas up and down the country.

If you want more information on Over Land and Sea, click on its Facebook page here.

Charlie Edwards

BELOW: Billy Bragg on the ‘Hope not Hate’ campaign trail

  1. Well I am a West ham Season ticket holder of 12 years, & I say yes to the BNP, perspective is a wonderful think eh !

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