Bridget Chapman, Chair Kent Anti-Racism Network, reports
WHILE KENT HAS SOME VERY WEALTHY AREAS, large parts of the county, particularly around the coast, are seriously economically deprived. Lack of jobs, lack of investment and lack of infrastructure have made people feel abandoned by what they see as the Westminster elite. This is one of the factors that has led to the area being seen as fertile ground for the far right who have focused in particular on Dover.
For them, Dover plays an important part in a nationalist narrative that includes Nelson, the White Cliffs and defending our shores against the ‘invader’. They have tried to tie all this into an emotive ‘Support Our Truckers’ campaign, which they are using to garner support for their message of hate.
It is against this background that several local organisations have come together to form the Kent Anti-Racism Network. Those organisations include Thanet Stand Up To Racism (which brought the Thanet community together in a heroic campaign that denied Nigel Farage a parliamentary seat), Folkestone United and Kent Refugee Help. The umbrella organisation is young, but is growing all the time and is open to any group that wants to align itself with an anti- racist message and grow and develop links, campaigns and activists across the county.
As I write this, we are preparing for a large counter-mobilisation to oppose the ‘Unity March’ the right have called for 30 January. This will be the fifth time in a year that the far right have gathered in Dover. If we get the numbers that we hope for, it will be a clear rejection of their agenda by the people of Dover and send a clear message that racists and fascists are not welcome here, or in any of our towns.
Beyond the 30 January demonstration, we will be looking to organise a conference to bring together activists from around the country who may be able to help us develop our skills and tactics in tackling the racism that is growing alongside a failed policy of austerity.
» If you want to join or support our work you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow us on Twitter: @kentantiracism and Instagram: Kent Anti-Racism Network and like us on Facebook: Kent Anti-Racism Network.
delegate from Folkestone and District NUT Association.