Day 10 Newcastle

Matthew Collins - 25 05 09

After yesterday’s run-in with the fascist Fagan and his gang of pre-teen terrors, driver Kevin knocked me almost off my feet when he suggested another curry as we pulled into Newcastle. That’s his fourth by my count, and no doubt Mr Lowles & co will be offering further encouragement to get Kevin closer to the “difficult fifth curry” of the week before the long weekend is over.

Newcastle looked glorious (as did the bit of Gateshead we drove through) as the sun began to set on what had been an extraordinary and possibly, if you’re involved with education, depressing early afternoon watching the BNP corrupt youngsters.

Tom from the Mirror left the bus to get the train back down south, but did remind me to mention that we shared a near empty bar with former Newcastle and England footballing legend Chris Waddle on Friday night.

Today it was Newcastle town centre’s turn to host the bus. It was teaming with nervous looking Newcastle supporters, which was another reminder of how good a player Chris Waddle was and how sorely he was missed by the Geordies today when they could have done with his talents by all accounts.

We arrived at 11.30 and were warmly greeted by Unison regional convener Claire Williams and her team, who had been leafleting the town centre since 10.00am. People love this old red bus and going one better even than the women of Spennymoor yesterday, the men and women from the trade union produced a helium pump and hundreds of their own balloons. Away they went, covering the town centre with balloons and more leaflets.

“We’re so pleased you could come to the North East,” Claire told us. “We are fighting hard all over the region against a particularly nasty BNP group.”

By midday there were a good two dozen trade union activists handing out leaflets and balloons to the people of Newcastle and the support we received was fantastic. The denouncement of the BNP by the Church of England today most certainly had a positive impact and people were very willing to stop and talk about the issues and also their concerns.

I have long shared the belief that the trade union movement is really at the front of the fight against fascism. While people in Newcastle share the common discontent of the politicians in Westminster, like elsewhere they find an anti-BNP message delivered by the trade unions honest and engaging.

Claire let us leave a little early, which was good news for Kevin who faced a six-hour drive to Liverpool, but she was severe and serious in her assessment of the BNP in the North East. “They are vile up here. I know they are vile everywhere, but we have something up here that is rotten to the core and I want you take that knowledge back with you.

“We have a magnificent trade union movement who are totally dedicated to defeating the BNP’s racism, sexism and homophobia, and we will not be intimidated by the BNP’s thugs.”


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