The British National Party is set to formally launch its scab union on the 24 February at an undisclosed venue in central London.
It is the latest attempt by the BNP to attract working class voters away from Labour. ‘Solidarity, The British Workers Union’ was registered with the Certification Office in December 2005 but it has yet to hold a formal public event. This will change this month when it holds its first Annual Meeting.
Solidarity claims that it will be a normal trade union defending the interests of any British worker, but in reality it will be simply a front for the BNP. Given the BNP’s views on trade unionism and industrial relations, Solidarity will be little more than a scab union.
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”.
The BNP has been at pains to pretend that Solidarity is an “independent” union, not linked to any political party. It even installed former National Front leader, Patrick Harrington, who now runs Third Way, as its President. It even wrote a letter to the Communication Workers Union denouncing an article in its union journal claiming that Solidarity was a scab fascist union.
“We are not as a ‘front’ group for anyone,” the scab union wrote in its letter. “Solidarity calls for the unity of all workers on a progressive platform.”
The BNP has attempted to hide its involvement in Solidarity. The documents submitted to the certification office made no mention of the BNP, however it did state its intention to set up a Political Fund and “print, publish, issue and circulate” literature that “may seem conducive to the... objects of Solidarity”.
But let there be no mistake about it, this is a BNP front. The President of Solidarity is Patrick Harrington but the project is coordinated by Clive Potter, a long-time BNP activist from Leicester, who was expelled from Unison for improper conduct. The Solidarity address traces back to Potter’s home. 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.
The establishment of Solidarity appears to be a natural continuation of the party’s turn to working-class politics which began in 2000 and quickened over the past two years. The second edition of the Solidarity bulletin focuses extensively on the issue of migrant workers.
Solidarity is unlikely to ever take off. To operate formally as a union it needs agreements with employers and a proven record of activity, neither of which it is likely to achieve.