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No racists in our town

Bath Against Racism began in October 2018 when UKIP had a stall at the children’s festival The Forest of the Imagination. Parents and locals were furious that UKIP felt it was a suitable venue for their stall. The local media reported UKIP’s presence in glowing terms, almost as if they had just printed the entire press release without any journalistic investigation. You can read the Bath Live coverage here.

Immediately a Facebook page was set up, Bath Against Racism, here Bath residents voiced their concerns and began to organise.

The next media coverage of the event took a different turn after copious complaints winged their way to Bath City Council and the local paper. Bath City Council offered an abject apology for allowing UKIP a pitch at a children’s festival and the local rag wrote another article about UKIP. This time the article no longer celebrated UKIP being at the festival, rather it contained quotes from a member of Bath Against Racism. It may seem a little thing, but to change the media narrative through public opinion is a good start. You can see a video we made of the event here.

The fabulous graffiti artist who destroyed UKIP’s day in Bath was supported by Bath Against Racism when we set up a Gofund me account and raised most of the money to cover his fine.

Just a week later, with only a few days before Show Racism the Red Card day, Bath Against Racism managed to get a handful of Bath schools involved in Show Racism the Red Card. This is an annual event where children wear red to school for one day and learn about the importance of being actively anti-racist. Hopefully this year with more public support and a longer run up time we will manage to involve all the schools in this campaign. We already have a meeting planned with our local MP, Wera Hobhouse, to get her support for this.

Members of Bath Against Racism have attended demonstrations in London and supported our comrades in Swindon in their weekly protests against the Yellow Vests. The continued presence of anti-racists on the streets does have an impact on the rise of the Far Right.

When we discovered that For Britain, a Far Right ‘political’ organisation was leafletting in Bath we produced and self-financed counter flyers (thanks to Unite Community Union for the design). Any time we hear a part of Bath has been leafletted we immediately go and leaflet the same area.

The Yellow Vests came to Bath one day and in just a few hours 7 of us were there surrounding them, we handed out Bath Against Racism leaflets, and told everybody that Bath is Anti-Racist. Several of our intrepid comrades kept the Yellow Vests talking so they could not interact with the tourists.

The Yellow Vests we see in Bath and Swindon are not the ordinary working class, these are rabid racists that let our entire class down. In fact, their behaviour was so appalling we made a video of them, you can see it here.

We are currently producing posters and badges for Bath Against Racism, and hopefully we will start to see them around town.

We have a twitter account which is gaining followers, and a Facebook page.

We have had one member of Bath Against Racism featured in the local media writing about her experiences of growing up in Bath during the 1970’s and 80’s. You can read the article here,

Despite all the leafletting by For Britain and UKIP, the visits by the Yellow Vests (one day only 3 people turned up, all from Bristol, they quickly jumped on the train to Swindon to masquerade as Swindon Yellow Vests.) and the UKIP stall in the city centre, no Far-Right political organisation stood a candidate for the local elections.

I like to think Bath is generally an anti-racist town. When there are incidents of racism, we will support the victims and continue the fight against racism.

Safeguarding Children in British Schools from Beechen Cliff in Bath to West Cornwall

Illegitimum Non Carborundum

Ashley Davies is an 11 year old boy whose school let him down. It’s one thing to be bullied, it’s another thing for the school to suggest Ashley should work out better coping mechanisms. Ashley moved to a new school in Cornwall from Liverpool and it was quite a cultural shock. The Cornish locals are renowned for their view that anyone from north of the Tamar is an incomer, and ‘we don’ wan’ ‘em round ’ere’, is their attitude. One of the poorest parts of the UK, Cornwall voted resoundingly for Brexit. Not saying that supporting Brexit makes you a racist. But if the children in a Cornish school consider calling a new kid a ‘slave’ a ‘n****r’ and a ‘black idiot’, it makes you wonder quite what is happening in their homes.

Ashley’s parents seem decent people, and in the Cornwall Live article they say, ‘I’m not saying all the kids are horrible racists’. Well, I would. I grew up with racist taunts and I have no patience for it, not from kids and not from adults. Insults based on someone’s colour are always racist, and always by bullies. When my kids were being bullied at school I told them, ‘only unhappy people are mean’. And this is as true in Cornwall as anywhere else. With high unemployment, high drug and alcohol dependency, mostly seasonal work and the decline of traditional industries, Cornwall is in a dire state.

But what about the school? Back in 2018, when Bath’s very own Beechen Cliff School governors and trustees decided to ignore a ‘mock slave auction’, (white students whipped and tied a black pupil to a lamppost) someone quickly made sure it was reported in the media. It soon became a national scandal. There were protest at the time of this incident, even a petition when the perpetrators were not removed from the school. There were other reactions too.

Source Somerset Live – (Image: Paul Gillis)

The follow up to the media frenzy is that just 5 months later Beechen Cliff’s outstanding Oftsted status plummeted to inadequate and the school was threatened with closure. Ofsted found that safeguarding at the school was ‘not effective’. The chair and the deputy chair of the board of governors resigned.

I wonder if the school in west Cornwall will soon receive a visit from Ofsted now that Ashley has been brave enough to speak to the press? After all, ultimately the school has done nothing to support Ashley, just as Beechen Cliff did nothing to support their pupil.
What advice would I give Ashley? I’d say, ‘study hard, after all, the best revenge is success.’ I’d say, ‘join a boxing club, or a martial arts club, and learn how to fight’. Not just so you can punch a Nazi when you’re a bit older, but because joining a club and learning how to fight, how to protect yourself, gives you a community and confidence. And I’d say, ‘get into hippy stuff like meditation.’ Because it’s not just about punching Nazi’s, it’s also about knowing when to use your brain rather than your brawn.

The West Country is a predominantly white area and from Bath to Lands End its rare to see a black face and that’s a shame. Cultural diversity is what makes Britain great. The sooner the West Country embraces this hardly radical idea, the better.

Racist Graffiti on Islamic Centre wall in Cornwall