FAF came about because of an obvious campaign by the BNP to co-opt folk music and culture for their ideal of “Englishness”. They began selling compilation CDs of folk music on their website, against the wishes of the musicians concerned. In the national media, Nick Griffin has cited various highprofile folk artists as his favourite singers. It also emerged that the BNP’s Activists’ and Organisers’ Handbook (BNP website, March 2010) was encouraging its supporters to infiltrate local folk events and revive traditional customs as a way of addressing “the growing power of Islam”. This seems a pretty cynical attempt to exploit Britain’s unique and wonderful traditional culture as part of an insular, racist agenda.
Folk Against Fascism was formed because many in the folk community wanted to say that you can be proud of England’s music, traditions and customs without being a bigot or a racist. We also wanted to keep folk free from the taint of right-wing extremism.
FAF is neither left-of-centre nor rightof- centre. It is simply a coalition of people who care passionately about British folk culture and don’t want to see it turned into something it’s not: a marketing tool for extremist politics.
Given their recent trouncing in the general election, it would be tempting to think that the BNP no longer pose a serious threat in the UK political mainstream. But there are still two BNP MEPs who bring huge amounts of funding into the party and give it political legitimacy. The lesson we can learn from several European countries is how easy it is for far-right politics to become part of the mainstream political dialogue. Part of their agenda is to “normalise” their politics and their party, to make you think they are just like you. We want to make it very clear that they aren’t.
FAF was launched in August 2009 as an awareness-raising campaign. Since then there have been numerous events across the country, from ceilidhs and morris danceouts to gigs and concerts – all organised by people who wanted to spread the word and take a stand. Many festivals and bands support FAF – too many to list here, but you can see them on our website – and have held their own FAF concerts and tours.
Supporters have sold our merchandise, displayed our banners, loaned us their venues, worn our t-shirts on stage (including at the BBC Folk Awards), put the FAF logo on their CDs, and even made limited edition products for us to sell (thanks, Lush!). They also organised loads of events for FAF Week, which lasted from St George’s Day to May Day 2010. The week’s biggest event was the FAF Village Fête at the SouthBank Centre in London on 2 May – an afternoon of traditional fete games, WI cake stalls, maypole, ceilidhs, morris dancing and music, followed by an incredible concert on the night featuring some of the top bands on the folk scene. We also produced our first (of three) compilation albums, which features music from a wide array of new and established artists and styles (each of whom have donated a track because they believe in what FAF stands for).
For a small campaign, FAF has achieved a substantial presence in the past year. We’ve been mentioned in national newspapers, magazines, radio, and in international folk magazines. We hope the BNP are getting the message. The FAF core is just four or five people who administer the group and keep it ticking over. FAF relies on grass-roots activism.
If you have an idea for an event and you want to talk about it, get in touch via the website. There are some great events in the pipeline and we can add yours to our web calendar too. If you’re a festival or an event organiser, please put the FAF logo on your homepage (there’s a button you can download from the website).
If you’re an artist, put the FAF logo on your home page and on your next CD, give out print at your concerts and use the logo on your advertising. Please let us know what you’re doing for FAF so we can let more people know. Why not get in touch with us about donating a track to FAF for the next CD?
At festivals, why not have a FAF-themed singaround? Nick Griffin challenged Billy Bragg on BBC News during the recent election to sing “a proper folk song, like the Blackleg Miner”, implying that only BNP propagandists know anything about folk music. We want to make The Blackleg Miner our festival anthem, so if you’re running a singaround or you’re just singing at one, why not sing it? And be sure to tell people why!