An anti-fascist group has called on Hackney residents to help fight the British National Party (BNP) in east London.
The rallying call came from Nick Lowles, national coordinator of Hope not Hate, at a meeting in Stoke Newington last night.
Lowles told activists that Britain faced “a far-right threat like never before”.
The BNP is currently the second largest party on Barking & Dagenham Council and the borough is a major target for the party.
According to anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, if the votes cast by Barking and Dagenham voters in the 2008 Greater London Authority elections are repeated in the upcoming local elections, the BNP would win 21 council seats placing it “neck and neck in another nine”.
The BNP already holds 12 seats on the Barking and Dagenham council and needs only another 14 to win overall control.
Party leader Nick Griffin is also standing as a parliamentary candidate in Barking and aims to unseat former Cabinet minister Margaret Hodge. Lowles said that although the BNP presence in Hackney was small, activists in the borough had a key role to play in preventing the party making gains in nearby areas.
He called on Hackney people to join campaigners gathering in Barking on April 17. Activists will deliver a special 12-page newspaper to every house in the borough.
Lowles also asked activists to make calls to voters in Barking and Dagenham to help identify those sympathetic to the anti-BNP campaign and encourage them to register to vote – a campaign method pioneered by Barack Obama.
Andrea Enisuoh, coordinator of Hackney Unites, said: “We can’t sit on our hands while the borough down the road is taken over by fascists.
“We don’t want them to get a foothold anywhere. We have to address the threat by tackling the issues that make them popular and take them on about the facts.”
Denis Lenihan, a member of Hackney Unites, said: “We can connect with voters in Barking more easily than politicians can. We face similar issues to people there as we live in a similar borough”.
Matt Collins, director of Searchlight Educational Trust, said: “While part of it is identifying people who can help, another part is persuading people that they will be voting to live under an apartheid council.”
A BNP membership list leaked in 2008 revealed nine members lived in Hackney.