Thursday, 14 May 2009

The thin veneer of "respectability" is starting to crumble

We are now less than a month away from the European Elections. On the whole, the elections will mean little in terms of policy and the running of this country. However, they do represent a crucial benchmark for the British National Party. They believe that these elections will yield them their first MEP, and with it a considerable increase in funding, and that such a feat will cement the "legitimacy" that the party has sought in recent years.

However, over the past few months, such a goal has brought the party under considerable scrutiny and, despite the party's propaganda efforts, what has been unearthed has been far from positive.

To take just events in the North West, where leader Nick Griffin is standing for election, we have seen the arrest of twelve BNP members for distributing the Racism Cuts Both Ways leaflet, and the subsequent exposure of this leaflet as full of misinformation and lies. Then there was further controversy over leafleting as Wirral BNP distributed material urging local residents to "pop round" to anti-fascist Alec MacFadden's house because he "needs coaching in a certain direction," providing his address and telephone number in a clear incitement to violence and intimidation. A month later, on the St John's estate in Huyton where Anthony Walker was murdered in an attack with a clear racial motive, Nick griffin claimed that it was no such thing and "explained how the highly regrettable and sad murder of Mr Walker has been portrayed by the media and the establishment as a “racist attack” in order to smear the people of St Johns," a transparent absurdity. Then came the vicious attack by local organiser Steve Greenhalgh and Quiggins owner Peter Tierney on anti-BNP leafleters for their rapid efforts in organising and routing the BNP leafleters on St George's Day.

But in the past ten days, Griffin himself - the architect of the BNP's "reformation" - has done more to damage the party's new image than all of these events combined. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with the party and the fact that a considerable amount of PR work for the party's change of image has involved distancing itself from the past comments of its own leader, such as his dubbing the Holocaust as the "Holohoax."

Home Secretary Jaqcui Smith recently attempted to justify her ban on Dutch politician Geert Wilders entering the country by releasing a list of 16 others banned from entering the country for "fostering extremism." The move was widely criticised, for a variety of reasons, and I would add my own criticism that those who have committed no acts of violence do not belong on that list as freedom of speech should be an absolute.

However, one of the people on that list was Stephen Donald Black, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and member of the American Nazi Party. Shortly after the release of Smith's list, it emerged that Griffin and others have shared a platform with him at an "American Renaissance" conference in 2005 and 2006. Though Griffin insisted that "we shared a platform with these people, but it doesn't mean we share their beliefs," he has also spoken out against the ban on Black entering the UK;
I believe that the only people who can be kept out are the people who inflict violence which to my mind Don Black has not.
A sentiment that I would wholeheartedly agree with. The only difference is that Black has inflicted violence, including a failed KKK invasion of Dominica under the title "Operation Red Dog" in 1981, a fact that Griffin cannot have been ignorant of. More indicting than the meeting itself was the fact that this is where Griffin made the speech admitting that he is not "selling out" the old BNP but merely "selling" it to the British public.

The second incident, if it becomes widely known, is perhaps even more damaging. On the BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast Show on Tuesday, Griffin weighed into the ongoing debate about the Gurkhas;
We don't think the most overcrowded country in Europe, can realistically say, 'Look, you can all come and all your relatives.'

When the Gurkhas signed up - frankly as mercenaries - they expected a pension which would allow them to live well in their own country.

Because of economic development in Nepal, the British Army pension isn't now enough for them to be able to do that. It would be cheaper for us and probably far better for the Gurkhas to say, 'Why don't we just increase your pension so that more of you can live in Nepal rather than coming to Britain?'
Such views from the BNP should come as no surprise, given their position on non-whites and immigration more generally. However, to say such a thing just before an election, and to say it in the aftermath of the strong condemnation Gordon Brown has received for his stance and the immense support for the plight of the Gurkhas, is the height of political ignorance. Griffin's words here are either the result of devestating ignorance or of deliberate self-sabotage.

If the BNP is indeed self-destructing under the pressure of the elections and the intense media scrutiny, then of course that is a good thing. But I would not for a second simply assume this to be the case and leave it at that. There are only two days left to register to vote, and I would highly encourage everyone who has not already done so to act now. The higher the turnout, the less chance the BNP have of making any gains, and with the bigotry of the party once again seeping out into the public arena, we must not miss this chance to capitalise.