Posts Tagged ‘BNP’

The elections weren’t an earthquake but a confirmation of what we already knew

29/05/2014, 08:00:23 AM

by Jonathan Todd

It would, obviously, be wrong to wholly attribute to Nigel Farage responsibility for Nick Clegg’s political predicament. They are largely trading in different parts of the political market and the Oakeshott disaster is a wholly home-grown crisis for the Liberal Democrats.

Instead, Clegg’s low share price derives from decisions – in particular, betraying the platform on which he stood in 2010 – taken long before his debates with Farage.

Clegg isn’t fighting for his political life because of Farage. The blood on Farage’s hands is that of Nick Griffin’s. The real UKIP earthquake didn’t happen in Westminster but beneath the BNP, revealing part of UKIP’s appeal.

As well as taking support from the BNP, half of UKIP voters in the European elections voted Tory in the last general election. It would be a potentially decisive boost to David Cameron’s hopes of remaining in Downing Street to get these voters back. Hoping that this doesn’t happen, and that Lib Dem recovery is also avoided, is perilous for Labour.

There are other factors beyond Labour’s control that help Ed Miliband toward Number 10, such as the vagaries of our constituency boundaries and Cameron’s incomplete Tory decontamination project, which means that mistrust of his party remains more pervasive than it would otherwise be. Rather than speculate as to how low a ceiling this places on Tory support, and whether it is lowest among ethnic minorities, northerners or women, Labour should be seeking to complete the decontamination project that the last general election confirmed we require.

The trouble is that this project has barely begun. Miliband launched his bid for the party leadership talking about immigration. But it’s not clear that Labour are now any more convincing on this contentious topic than when we were ejected from office. Even more damagingly, we also left office with trust corroded in us as responsible custodian’s of public money. In austere times, we seem over keen on spending other people’s money, whether that of taxpayers or private businesses, and disinclined to make savings. While Miliband has spoken more frequently about welfare than fiscal discipline, this is another big negative exposed in 2010 that we’ve failed to recover.


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Yes they’re right wing, but UKIP is not fascist

14/03/2013, 02:48:43 PM

by Kevin Meagher

David Cameron famously described UKIP members as a collection of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. But are they fascist too? This is the question being posed by campaign group Hope Not Hate.

It is asking its supporters whether their successful efforts at taking on the far right in the shape of the BNP and English Defence League since 2004 should now extend to UKIP ahead of next year’s European elections.

“Should we begin to oppose them or should we stick to extremist groups like the BNP?’ they ask on their website:

‘The case for opposing UKIP:

‘UKIP is increasingly taking an anti-immigrant tone and as anti-racists we cannot ignore that. They are whipping up fears over new immigration and as we approach next year’s European Elections this will even get worse.

“The growing support for UKIP is scaring the mainstream parties and it will push them to adopt more hard line policies on immigration and multiculturalism. We need to prevent this and offer a positive alternative to the politics of hate and division.

‘The case against opposing UKIP:

‘We might not like some of UKIP’s policies but they are not a fascist or far right party. They are embedded to the democratic system and have more in common with the right wing of the Conservative Party than the fascists of the BNP. And, despite their current anti-immigrant rhetoric, they are still basically a single issue party.”


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Rotherham is the most important election of all

14/11/2012, 07:00:06 AM

by Rob Marchant

It seems that, over the next two weeks, we are about to suffer a plague of elections: six by-elections, plus the rather-important PCC elections.

But the one which has the most compressed timescales of all – where candidate Sarah Champion was selected yesterday, with a mere two weeks until polling day and after a walkout at the selection meeting – is going to be the toughest, nastiest and arguably the most important of all.


Denis MacShane’s resignation a fortnight ago, over the falsification of invoices, was a tragic, shabby end to what was an otherwise rather admirable and productive career, including three years as minister for Europe and some brave work fighting anti-semitism. And whilst there was never any question of personal gain resulting from his actions, it was also clear that his behaviour was inexcusable and that he had to go, to avoid dragging out the pain for him, Labour and his constituents over a further half-parliament.

What has not yet been focused on, however, is the considerable headache that his departure gives Labour.

First, we are in a political climate where the conventional wisdom is that trust in established parties is at a historic low – and therefore the likelihood of major parties being punished is high. Although neither Respect nor the BNP are currently in particularly good shape, this is good news for both of them in all these elections.


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How we beat the BNP in Cumbria

15/08/2012, 07:00:26 AM

by Rachel Stalker

The church warden of a remote Anglican parish on the west Cumbrian coast was sorting out the church loft when he happened upon an England flag. It was in the run-up to St. George’s day so he decided to fly the flag from the church tower.

Because the church is an iconic coastal landmark, the flag could be seen for miles around – from both land and sea. The church was so overwhelmed by the positive feedback from the local community that a decision was taken to keep the flag flying. It was still flying a few months later when, on 2nd June 2010, Derrick Bird tore through West Cumbria leaving 12 dead, many more injured and a community in complete shellshock. In response, the flag flew at half-mast and it provided a potent symbol of community grief and solidarity.

The church celebrated the Queen’s Jubilee this year – the congregation like to find any excuse for a party, especially if it involves the Queen. There would likely have been a “bring and share” meal with dancing and some games for the children. There are precious few republicans in these parts notwithstanding the rock solid Labour vote which saw the local Labour county councillor comfortably returned, even in Labour’s 2009 nadir.

Here, deep in Labour’s heartlands, there is a strong sense of national identity and pride – yet it was precisely these qualities that made it fertile territory for the BNP whose toxic ideology ripped through West Cumbria with just as much ferocity as Derrick Bird.

In December 2008 the BNP came within 16 votes of taking the Kells & Sandwith county council division – Labour’s safest seat in the county, almost overturning a majority of 1,000 on a swing of 32%.

Kells had been the location of the Haig colliery which, when it closed in 1987, ended 390 years of coalmining in the county. Folk have long memories in these parts and its economic history had forged a deep political identity. Or so it was thought.

Emboldened by their results in Kells & Sandwith, the BNP decided to field a full slate of county council candidates in Copeland for the 2009 elections. Expectations were high: if they could almost take Kells & Sandwith – of all places – then they could take any seat in the constituency.

They confidently expected to take six of the twelve seats – and this confidence went right to the top of the national party. On the day of the count, Nick Griffin travelled from his home in rural Wales all the way to Whitehaven.

He did so because he expected a news story – shock BNP wins in rural Cumbria. On his way into the Civic Hall, he stumbled into leading anti-BNP activist, Gillian Troughton, completely oblivious to her part in his downfall.

Despite the BNP’s brutal campaign tactics, Nick Griffin was to be disappointed. They had a strong showing in four divisions but failed to take a single seat. As I look back on my part in kicking Nick Griffin out of Cumbria, I am reminded how much he helped forge my political ideology.

I approached the BNP’s arrival as a naïve cosmopolitan. I’d moved from Birmingham in 2004. I had deep family roots in West Cumbria, but I was basically a young professional from the leafy south Birmingham suburbs. It was obvious to me that racism was wrong and that multiculturalism is “a very good thing”.

This was backed up by a strong Christian faith that looked forward to the New Jerusalem where people of “every tribe, tongue and nation” would bow before the Lamb. It horrified me that people I liked and respected seriously considered voting BNP. Some of them even went to church with me.

An encounter with three little boys whilst out leafleting in Frizington forced me to look at the world from different perspective. These little boys had such a narrow view of the world that they genuinely thought I was foreign. (I’m obviously white British). I was a stranger bringing strange ideas about racism being wrong. They shouted racist abuse at me that they could only have been learnt from the adults around them. These little boys saw the world very differently from me and I wanted to understand it.


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Matthew Collins’ war against hate

21/10/2011, 08:01:56 AM

by Dan Hodges

Matthew Collins is a Nazi. And a good friend.

Actually, that’s not strictly accurate. He used to be a Nazi. Back when he was young and angry and felt he was slipping off the world.

When I was young I was into a bit of politics and football and girls. This is what Matt was into:

“The little old ladies attempted to flee in terror but they had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. They were forced to cower together against the walls in united agonised anticipation of their bloody beating. Their own chairs were raised in slow motion against them. This was going to be a bloodbath”.

It was. And Matthew Collins perpetrated it. The description above relates to an attack he was involved in on a group of Asian pensioners at Welling library, in 1989. He was 17, and a member of the BNP.

The story of Matthew’s brutal assault is recounted in his new book Hate. I’m not usually into reviewing or plugging books. But you should stop reading now, shut down your computer, walk out the door, find a bookshop,  buy it and read it. Then you should  think about it.

Hate is about Matthew Collins’  journey; one that began that day in Welling, continued with his “defection” to the Searchlight anti-fascist magazine, and ended with him being in the forefront of the Hope not Hate campaign that saw the BNP routed from Dagenham and Nick Griffin subjected to his grotesque and glorious political humiliation. At some point over the next few months, the BNP will cease to exist as a political party. Its destruction will have been brought about, in no small part, by Matthew.


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Sunday Review: New British Fascism: rise of the British National Party by Matthew J Goodwin

19/06/2011, 02:00:33 PM

by Anthony Painter

The BNP has overreached itself. In an attempt to make the political big time, it stretched its resources and organisational capability beyond the point of elasticity. Triumph for the forces of hope over the forces of hate? Yes. But, as Matthew J Goodwin argues in the New British Fascism, the extreme right is a more permanent phenomenon than we wish to admit. This has deeper consequences for our politics than we seem to want to face up to.

Where this book succeeds is in tying together narrative history, survey and statistical evidence, and interviews gleaned from BNP activists themselves. It gives us both a sense of context and continuity. The rise of the BNP was down to a different way of communicating hate – focused more on culture and nation than race per se – and it was also dependent on community based organisation. However, the BNP tapped a reservoir of support that was particular and politically instrumental.

Whether the BNP is still with us at the next election or not, it will have a successor. Its exodus is latching onto other groups and parties – the English Democrats and the English Defence League seem obvious places for disillusioned BNP activists to head. Indeed, ex-BNP London Assembly, Richard Barmbrook, was invited to join the English Democrats. It remains to be seen whether they can survive their transformation into the successors to the BNP as their existing membership base revolts.

Two substantive factors have changed over the last decade or so. Racially driven extremism has been rejected. They are still racist but the BNP and others have evolved their argument into a more sophisticated critique of cultural threat, political betrayal, and economic desolation. This is what has enabled the BNP, falsely, to claim that they are the “Labour party that your father voted for”.


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The Battle for Barking: good television – bad politics

03/12/2010, 12:00:19 PM

by Dan Hodges

The Battle for Barking, broadcast on More4 earlier this week, made for compelling viewing. Award-winning documentary maker, Laura Fairrie, spent a year “embedded” with the Margaret Hodge and BNP campaigns as they fought house by house, street by street, for control of the constituency and the council.

I was in Barking for part of that campaign as well. My job was to manage the press on behalf of Hope not Hate. I spent some of that time dealing with Laura Fairrie.

She’s a talented documentary maker. And a brave one. At best, the BNP are instinctively suspicious and hostile towards the media. At their worst, they turn violent.

Laura Fairrie didn’t infiltrate them as such. She wasn’t filming under cover. What she did was much harder. She got them to accept her. Then trust her. By then end, they had come to like her. There’s a telling moment at Griffin’s campaign launch when the BNP’s Bob Bailey asks for questions, and says, “Let’s start with Laura”. It’s said with undisguised affection. “They’ve had such terrible experiences with the media and film makers”, Laura told the Guardian. (more…)

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Labour’s lost estates

02/12/2010, 02:34:47 PM

by Atul Hatwal

In the seven months since the general election one of the few areas for genuine consensus within the party is a re-discovered desire to reach out and listen.

But if the party is serious about getting to the parts other big conversations have failed to reach, then the bandwagon is going to have to roll through a couple of tough neighbourhoods.

On one side of town, is a place, let’s call it, “white town”. Generations of white working class, big estates, low incomes, traditional Labour vote bank, rife with all the problems that decades of deprivation bring.

As Labour’s straight-listening express trundles through this area, immigration will be the hot topic.  And what comes back won’t be pretty.

It was on Labour’s watch that the rightward drift in the debate on immigration happened. A succession of ministers were happy to bow to the Littlejohn platoons and show how ‘sound’ they were on immigration.

In the past few years, talk of “white working class” issues (you know, those special issues, that Asian or Afro-Caribbean working class families living in the same areas don’t have and can’t understand) with its relentless whistles have turned parts of the PLP into a Westminster version of one man and his dog.

And over the summer our leadership candidates fell over themselves to pay their respects at Mrs. Duffy’s doorstep. David Milliband even made it inside for a cup of tea.

She might be a nice old lady, a bit overwhelmed by the media scrum, but the substance of what she said is clear. Immigration is causing unemployment and the burden of immigrant claimants is preventing deserving Britons from getting their benefits.

This summer, not a single one of our princes standing for the leadership had the courage to simply say,

“No, Mrs. Duffy was wrong”.

Not one. (more…)

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Three cheers for Nigel Farage!

09/11/2010, 12:00:33 PM

by Kevin Meagher

NIGEL Farage is back. Yes, that suspiciously French-sounding, irrepressibly upbeat Euro-baiter par excellence swept up 60% of the votes to retake the leadership of UKIP last week.

This is of course the same job he casually abandoned just a year ago. For big talents on small stages, there is always the lure of something better. In Farage’s case, defying Parliamentary protocol and standing against Speaker Bercow in the general election. That did not work out, so it’s back to the old day job: jolly Euro-bashing and all round right-wing populism.

To many, leading UKIP is a dubious honour. This is, after all, a party David Cameron once described as “a bunch of … fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists, mostly.” But therein lies the point: Farage’s enemies are on the right. The two men in British politics loath to see Farage return to lead UKIP are David Cameron and Nick Griffin. (more…)

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Phil Woolas is our fall guy

05/11/2010, 09:00:44 AM

by Dan Hodges

JUDGMENT day for Phil Woolas. Though not for his accusers in the liberal mob – their verdict was passed long ago. “He is guilty. Those leaflets pandered to prejudice. They have no place in the new politics”.

Save your breath. Woolas was never anything more  than a patsy. The fall guy. Ritual sacrifice to our conscience.

His campaign was “toxic” according to the Telegraph. Made him “unfit to sit on the front bench” said Liberal Conspiracy. Even Trevor Philips found himself moved to describe the leaflets as “unhelpful”.

In the eyes of the law, Woolas stood charged with misrepresentation, not inflaming racial tensions. Sharp political practice. Not racism. But that was always a detail.

Yes, we can take our positions. Swap stories from Oldham with similar tales of electoral skulduggery in marginal seats the length and breadth of the land. Debate the constitutional implications of the judiciary imposing their judgment over that of the electorate.

It would be an exercise in irrelevance. This case was not about clumsy photo shopping mixed with a few equally crude allegations. It was about the politics of immigration, religion and race. Or more accurately, about the Labour party’s shameful failure to adopt a coherent, let alone moral, stance on any of these issues. (more…)

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