Fascist BNP attempts to recruit among protesting lorry drivers

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The Independent Online
THE EXTREME-RIGHT British National Party is targeting lorry drivers protesting about rises in fuel prices and road taxes.

The BNP leadership has instructed members to recruit "as many people as possible" at protest rallies where thousands of drivers have brought Britain's roads to a standstill.

The move, designed to capitalise on dissent about foreign drivers working in Britain, has been condemned as "sinister" by the Labour Party and mainstream truckers' groups.

"It's time those lorry drivers paused and looked at just who is trying to hitch a ride on their protests," said a Labour spokesman.

The neo-Nazi party, which has overtly racist views, has printed campaign literature aimed at drivers worried about foreign truckers undercutting them.

The BNP had an active presence at the protests earlier this month and says it recruited "on the spot" when nine British cities had roads blocked by protesting drivers. The party will step up its presence at drivers' protests planned next month.

"This tax is positive discrimination for foreign workers," said Michael Newland, spokesman for the BNP. "It is squeezing our lorry drivers. The foreign drivers come over as part of the process of internationalism."

Steven Norris, head of the Road Haulage Association, described the BNP's new emphasis on exploiting domestic political grievances as cynical opportunism: "They claim they are the friend of drivers, but I cannot say I welcome this development because what they stand for is loathsome."

The leader of the splinter drivers' group Transaction, which co-ordinated the recent truckers' demonstrations, has refused to condemn BNP's actions.

"They can approach any lorry driver they like," said Frank Stears, a Kent-based haulier. "I don't care. I am not politically minded. I am fighting for the survival of my business."

Truckers believe the hike in diesel cost by 6p a litre means they cannot compete with the continental, paying pounds 644 to fill a 1,000-litre lorry tank in Britain, compared with pounds 340 in Belgium and pounds 369 in France.

The neo-Nazi propaganda leaflet, called "Stopping Labour's Highway Robbery", says: "Demonstrations by lorry drivers and cabbies, like earlier protests by farmers and fishermen, are a welcome sign that the long-suffering taxpayers of Middle Britain have had enough. Independent hauliers ... and ordinary motorists have become the latest victims of the broken promises of the Labour Government."

Tony Blair is to examine introducing a levy on foreign truckers coming to work in Britain.