ANL 'has a wider political agenda': Mary Braid looks at the reasons for a growing rift between Britain's leading anti-racist groups

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The Independent Online
IN THE EARLY 1980s the forces of Britain's neo-Nazi right seemed spent. The National Front had crumbled and with the enemy weakened, the Anti-Nazi League went into corresponding decline.

A decade later, the struggle has resumed. The neo-Nazis have regrouped around the British National Party, founded by John Tyndall, former chairman of the NF. There are two main rival anti-racist groups; the ANL, relaunched in January last year and the Anti-Racist Alliance, born just two months before.

Yesterday, Marc Wadsworth, of the alliance, complained that its peaceful rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday had been tainted by rioting during the much larger simultaneous march by the ANL in south-east London.

Mr Wadsworth claimed the league was controlled by the Socialist Workers Party and that Youth Against Racism in Europe, which also joined the south London demonstration, had links with the left-wing group, Militant Labour.

Ordinary demonstrators were not aware of the true nature of these groups, Mr Wadsworth insisted, or of 'their wider political agenda'. He added the violence at the ANL march had created a 'dangerous diversion from the real issues around racism' and that the alliance was unable to support the league's approach.

There was no shortage of SWP posters at the league's march and prominent members of the SWP are certainly active within it. But the ANL denies any link and it does enjoy the wider support of about 50,000 people.

Paul Heron, Youth Against Racism in Europe's national organiser, also denies any formal link with Militant Labour. However, he is a member of the group and admits that many YARE members also support Militant.

The rivalry between the league and the alliance is intense. Earlier this year the family of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager stabbed to death in a racist street attack in south-east London, asked the ANL and YARE to stop using their son in publicity. They asked for all communication to go through the ARA.