Anti-Racist rally, London 29/04/06
Anti-Racism rally, Trafalgar Square, london 28/04/06
The recent increased focus on the British National Party (BNP) has caused fears amongst some that the racist group are about to make a breathrough on the political scene in the UK, in this weeks local elections. Labour MP and Cabinet Member Margaret Hodge warned that the BNP could command as much as 80% of the votes in Barking, a district in East London, whilst think-tanks and policy groups have also warned of the BNP's potential victory in some areas, as the party fields a record number of candidates to contest the elections.
However, last saturday the youth of England came out in force to show exactly what they thought of the BNP and their racist platform. At an event organised by the 'Love Music Hate Racism' (LMHR) organisation, Trafalgar Squared rocked and skanked to the delight of the 45,000 people who had turned up. The rally, which doubled up as a free concert, was supported by Trade Unions and other anti-racism movements, which were trying to encourage people to come out and vote on May 4th in order to halt the BNP in their tracks.
As the square basked in sunshine, a mix of 'urban' and 'indy' acts took the stage, playing to the equally mixed crowd. The organisers of the event had very deliberately catered for the different genres of music which have captured the imagination of today's youth, and it worked a treat. The Heartless Crew, Roll Deep and energetic young rapper Akala represented for the 'urban' youths, while the 'suburban' kids rocked out to the Mentalists, the Paddingtons and a Babyshambles missing their infamous front-man Pete Doherty. Doherty was arrested on the morning of the concert for allegedly injecting a female fan with Heroin, with pictures of his apparent crime splashed all over the pages of the Sun 'newspaper'.
Regardless, the show went on, with Lethal Bizzle being the best performer by far. As he knocked out his crowd pleasers like 'Shame' and 'Pow', the whole crowd sung along in unison. What was striking about this concert was the way so-called 'skaters' and 'rudeboys' had managed to come together and really get into the spirit of things. The 'rudeboys' moved their heads to the 'indy' artists and the 'skater' kids moshed and crowd-surfed enthusiastically to Lethal and the other 'urban' acts. It was a real sign of hope that Britain's youth, be they black, white, asian, jewish, muslim, hindu or anything else, had managed to come together and unite against the fascism and hatred of the BNP.
There were the obligatory speakers, ranging from trade unionists and politicians to a spokeswoman from the Muslim Council of Britain and a Gay rights activists, and 'f**k the BNP' was the chant of the day. Despite any differences anyone may have had before hand, they all managed to put it all aside for this very worthy cause. In these dark days of the War on Terrorism, the illegal war in Iraq, ID cards and increasingly polarised societies everywhere, this show of youthful unity and love provided a searing ray of hope that there will be a better future for us all. The sooner the grown up's can learn from the kids and get their act together, the better.
P.S. a special mention must go out to the young mixed-race rapper who performed a song about the discrimination faced by Irish people at the hands of the British Establishment. The emotional and heartfelt performance, which talked about innocent people being labeled 'IRA' and 'terrorists', is similar to the plight faced by muslims today. If anyonewas there around 2pm and knows the artists name, let me know!