Posted on January 8, 2007

No To Fascism And Racism At The Ballet

Unite Against Fascism (UAF),

Unite Against Fascism Demonstration

London Coliseum

At the performance of Giselle

Friday 12th January, 12 noon

St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4ES

Simone Clarke, principal dancer with the English National Ballet, has publicly declared her membership of the BNP. The BNP is a fascist party which denies the Nazi holocaust. The BNP stands for total racist hatred. In areas where there presence has grown, violent racist attacks have escalated dramatically.

The BNP is exploiting Simone Clarke’s membership in order to promote and prettify their extreme right wing politics. Such developments are not new: historically the far right has sought the endorsement of artistic figures to attempt to normalise and disguise the reality of their politics, which include everything that is opposite to the conditions necessary for artistic endeavour.

The BNP admires Hitler, denies the Holocaust and is the modern-day successor to the Nazis, who oversaw the mass murder of millions of people and the attempted extermination of entire groups of people in Nazi Germany.

Art is central to the human condition and its flourishing relies on freedom of artistic expression. The Nazis destroyed such freedoms of artistic expression. The rise of Nazism involved such infamy as public book-burnings, the flight from Nazi territory of thousands of artists, scientists and cultural figures, the abolition and destruction of institutions of so called degenerate art such as abstract and expressionist art and institutions like the Bauhaus. One of the many victims of the Nazi holocaust was choreographer, Rene Blum who was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943, he was also the founder of the Ballet de L’Opera Monte Carlo. It is in those people’s memory that we should oppose all forms of fascism. Those artists — and everyone else — who defend the BNP should tell us if they defend the full reality of its politics: claims of ignorance are no defence.

The politics of the BNP are not hard to find, nor is their record. Since the May 2006 elections a BNP councillor in Burnley was found guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence and the agent for the BNP election agent in Redditch in the West Midlands, was sentenced to three months in prison for racially aggravated common assault.

We are calling on all those who have an appreciation for the arts, music, and dance to demand that the promotion of racist and fascist politics are incompatible with a leading arts institution such as the English National Ballet, to speak out against the association of artists with the BNP, and that Simone Clarke should be removed from her position.

Principal dancer Simone Clarke was revealed to be a member of the party by the Guardian newspaper last month.

She has since defended her beliefs, and says the BNP is “the only party to take a stand” on issues like immigration.

Campaign group Unite Against Fascism (UAF) is calling for the 36-year-old ballerina to be sacked.

It is planning to protest outside a performance of Giselle, in which Clarke takes the lead role, at the London Coliseum later this week.

The English National Ballet says it will not comment on the political affiliations or personal lives of its dancers.

‘No regrets’

Calls for Clarke’s dismissal have increased since she gave an interview defending her political views to the Mail on Sunday.

“I have been labelled a racist and a fascist,” she said, “because I have a view on immigration — and I mean mass immigration — but isn’t that something that a lot of people worry about?

“It’s not about removing foreigners. It’s about border controls,” she added.

“I don’t regret anything. I will stay a member.”

“We would like to see Simone Clarke removed,” said UAF spokesman Weyman Bennett. “We believe she had used her position to support a party which fosters division.”

‘Incompatible views’

He added that such views were “incompatible with a leading arts institution such as the English National Ballet”.

The BNP currently holds more than 50 council seats in the UK.

On its website, it portrays itself as the only party “prepared to defend our traditional principles against the politically correct agenda” of Tony Blair and David Cameron.

But it is still best known for its political involvement in areas with racial tensions, and has been accused of stirring up antagonism — particularly against Muslims — in places such as Oldham, Burnley and Bradford.