Following the news that Nick Griffin will be standing against culture minister Margaret Hodge to be MP for Barking, the BNP have kicked off their General Election campaign. The typically grandiose and self-important annocement that "BNP raises the battle standard" invites several observations.
First, and most glaring, is the fact that the party (and Griffin) don't stand for who they claim to. On the party website, the link to Griffin's constituency website has disappeared, with it the claim that the party leader was ever "standing up for the North West." The occasional story about the plight of a bird sanctuary or a wind farm having long given way to a much broader level of propaganda which marginalises those he is claiming to represent.
The use of Honduran sweatshops to produce BNP merchandise, when the North West has 38,000 textile workers, has also yet to be addressed by the MEP claiming to stand for "British jobs for British workers."
Thus, the fact that Griffin is abandoning his constituency in an attempt to become the party's first Westminster MP should come as no surprise. No doubt "standing up for Great Britain," the slogan of the party's Obama-lite website revamp, will turn out to be equally fatuous. Indeed, there are already hints that a BNP MP will be as expenses-hungry as any other, with Griffin having already used members' money to extend his home in 2001 and his expenses as an MEP being used to pay the salaries of almost the entire national party.
The cash-grabbing shows no signs of letting up, either, with yet another BNP begging letter accompanying the announcement of the election campaign. The format is the familiar one of glory-invoking language intertwined with constant pleas for more money;
The establishment are so terrified of a BNP victory they have tried to finish us off through membership freezes, huge legal costs and constant media attacks. That's why your financial support is not only appreciated, IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL TO OUR ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND OUR SUCCESS!
WE MUST, FOR OUR CHILDREN'S SAKE, SEIZE THIS GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY WITH BOTH HANDS AND SHOW THE WORLD WHAT REAL BRITS CAN ACHIEVE AGAINST THE ODDS. WE HAVE DONE THIS TIME AND TIME AGAIN THROUGH OUR PROUD HISTORY - ITS TIME WE DID IT AGAIN!
For the last couple of days, the media has been awash with publicity over my decision to stand in the constituency of Barking in the forthcoming General Election. This has terrified the opposition, because Barking was our best result in 2005. The BNP, once again, is not fighting this election to gain decent votes in certain areas - WE ARE FIGHTING TO WIN, AND I WANT YOU BY MY SIDE!
The BNP claim to stand up for the working class of Britain, but are clearly only interested in feathering their own nests and clutching for power. The BNP's puppet union, Solidarity*, campaigns for the right of workers to be BNP members and little else. Industrial disputes which cannot be linked back to race and immigration are ignored entirely by the party. And the BNP, of course, views all workers willing to stand up for their rights (unless against foreigners) as "anti-British Communists."
As Andrew Gilligan points out in the Telegraph, "the BNP will be hindered in both Barking and in Dagenham by the general expectation that the Tories will win nationally, which usually tends to depress the far Right vote." Indeed, it was Thatcher's call for a "clear end to immigration" that siphoned support to the Tories from the National Front.
But antifascists should not be complacent for this kind of "victory." Rather than let one anti-worker party draw support from a more fascist anti-worker party, we need to be active on the streets, campaigning for working class unity against fascism. Indeed, what Gilligan calls "the BNP’s legendary capacity for unforced error" has already offered plenty of ammunition.