This article in yesterday's Guardian describes how voter discontent arising from the wanton abuse by MPs of taxpayer-funded expense claims has breathed new life into the nationalist, fascist, racist, xenophobic, misogynist and all-around hateful British National Party - enough life, at least, that it might gain ground in council elections, and even achieve its first European parliamentary representation.
Griffin himself [Nick Griffin, the party's chairman] may be a former National Front member with a conviction for inciting racial hatred, and the veneer of respectability on the party's candidates may be transparently thin, but however noxious or downright laughable the views they and their party associates hold, the truth is that the BNP is the fastest growing political party in modern Britain. Its support has risen sharply in successive elections since 1987, and it already has more than 50 local councillors, as well as Barnbrook's London assembly seat. A study co-authored by Matthew Goodwin, a research fellow at Manchester University who has focused on extreme right political parties, found that BNP's vote at the last European elections, in 2004, was an eightfold increase on 1999 and the largest vote for an ultra-right party in a British election.
Now this is a party one of whose London Assembly candidates Nick Eriksen was withdrawn last year after having been discovered to have written the following on a blog:
"Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible ordeal.This is a party represented in the European Elections by Eddy O'Sullivan, a Salford-based BNP candidate who set his Facebook status to read "Wogs go home", and also wrote:
"To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence.
"A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched."
"They are nice people - oh yeah - but can they not be nice people in the fucking Congo or... bongo land or whatever?" O'Sullivan, who also joined an internet group called "Fuck Islam", denied that the comments were racist and insisted they were made in private conversations between individuals. "I also may have had a drink at the time," he added.This Guardian article lists several other examples of the party's unapologetic racism. Yet, it seems to be gaining in popularity, and while this may be fuelled by the expenses scandal in the midst of people's recession anxiety, I wonder whether the alleged growing numbers of BNP sympathizers do not share their ideology anyway, but now have more of an excuse to openly show this support, hiding behind the fact of MPs misconduct in order to align themselves where they would really prefer.
Following BNP member Richard Barnbrook on his canvassing rounds in Hornchurch, the Guardian writer notes (emphasis mine):
Three workmen have stopped for a cigarette outside a house in Stanley Road, and are happy to be coaxed into a conversation about immigration by Barnbrook, who is sporting a red, white and blue BNP rosette, a gold party pin and a frankly alarming sand-coloured suit. "All the boys where I am are voting BNP," one of them says. "My mate lives in Chafford," offers his colleague, "and there's 10 Nigerians in the house next to him. Ten! And they are taking all the work. I have had enough."
Ten! They don't even have the decency to spread themselves out or come at the rate of one a year! Now this is blatant anti-immigrant sentiment, and while it might be exacerbated by tough economic times, this kind of intolerance doesn't simply materialize in the minds of otherwise tolerant individuals. Still, even though people who want to persist in their racist hate and ignorance will find a way to do this, Gordon Brown himself and his Labour government, and in fact politicians from all parties, also have themselves to blame if they are losing ground to the BNP. It is Brown's own incendiary "British jobs for British workers" slogan that has been appropriated by the BNP in order to advance its agenda of ridding the country of all 'non-indigenous people', i.e. of creating a White British nation through its 'immigration policy'. And when people see Brown's own slogan being used - to be fair in the right context - by an absurd far right party trying its best to appear mainstream, well, that certainly helps it appear mainstream. After all, it's Brown's slogan and he's currently in power.
The BNP has not become extinct, as it should have by now, because rather than have an open, transparent dialogue on immigration and racism, the mainstream parties have all carried on skipping nervously around the issue, being confronted more and more with blatant and growing intolerance in British communities, but preferring instead to behave as if it doesn't exist. Meanwhile, the media continues to paint immigration as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, to sensationalize it by having gulping, wide-eyed anchors fling about uncontextualized statistics and interview politicians who have no clue, no plan and worst of all, no message, and we wonder why this kind of hate is allowed to thrive.
And I feel compelled to remind people not to be fooled by the notion that the BNP represents British interests. The BNP represents the interests of what they call indigenous British people - yes, that means White. From their website:
On current demographic trends, we, the native British people, will be an ethnic minority in our own country within sixty years.
To ensure that this does not happen, and that the British people retain their homeland and identity, we call for an immediate halt to all further immigration, the immediate deportation of criminal and illegal immigrants, and the introduction of a system of voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here will be afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin assisted by a generous financial incentives both for individuals and for the countries in question.
Now since 'British' is not an ethnicity, clearly what they're trying to say is that White people can stay, and everyone else should just go home. I find this important to point out to people like my friend of mixed race who, in conversation the other day, mentioned that 'some of the immigration policies of the BNP are useful'. This was in response to some frustration felt by her and some of her friends that policies meant to offer support to British people were being utilized disproportionately by non-nationals. And I understand that frustration; it indicates a system that might be improved upon, surely. But supporting the BNP, a party that if they had their way would see her shipped off with the rest of the half-breeds, is certainly not the way to go. It's important not to be fooled by these people's weak, transparent attempts to appropriate the votes of the very minorities they stand in active warfare against. This kind of hate does not pack up and go away on its own. It only becomes irrelevant when we, as a nation wholly affected and with unafraid leaders, take a stand to show that we have no use for it.