Earlier this month, British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin staged a "demonstration" outside parliament. To be more accurate, he held a mini press conference which lasted less than half an hour behind two placards stuck into the ground. It won't rank alongside a standard Stop the War Coalition march, let alone the long, lonely efforts of Brian Haw. However, it does demonstrate the BNP's commitment to "astroturf" faux-radicalism.
It should go without saying that the party are anything but radical. They represent the logical extreme of an ongoing lurch to the right in British politics, where the mainstream parties compete to be the toughest on immigrants, the unions, those on welfare, and the public sector. The BNP distance themselves by claiming that such moves represent an "establishment con," and their efforts are helped by that same establishment. As well as using the far-right party as an excuse to move rightward, they also demonise the fascists as a convenient foil to quell criticisms from the liberal end of the mainstream spectrum.
All of this has allowed the BNP to gain considerable publicity and momentum, but their "astroturf" activism also has its part to play. The BNP lack the will to do serious grassroots work within communities on local issues, as Nick Griffin has amply demonstrated with regards to his North West constituency. Hence why what most movements would call activism is branded "super-activism" by the BNP, and armchair warriors are generously granted the title of "activists." However, if they can talk the talk, then the theory goes that they can rope in enough of the less politically aware that they don't have to bother walking the walk.
This is why they have made great pains to portray themselves as the heroes of the white working class. That this is a lie, and that organised working class have always been the BNP's first target has been dissected in depth by the Anarchist Federation, Brighton Solidarity Federation, Antifa, and myself, amongst others.
But what of their position on Afghanistan?
Nick Griffin has tried to claim that "the BNP is the only party that demands an end to the illegal war in Afghanistan." This is quite obviously a lie, with the Greens and Respect both making the exact same demand, as well as having their most prominent members (George Galloway and Caroline Lucas) as vice-presidents of the Stop the War Coalition. This is not to mention the whole plethora of radical and grassroots activists on the radical left who are opposed to the war. By contrast, Griffin's one man "demonstration" rings exceedingly hollow.
As does his party's declaration that "only the British National Party’s Land & People previously reported on" the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP). The pipeline, of course, is the key to US-UK interests in the region, in line with the goal of imperial planners to secure "strategic markets and resources" in the region.
The BBC reported on the deal to build the TAP in 2002, as well as then-governor of Texas George Bush's negotiations with the Taliban on the subject in 1997. Michael Moore covered these incidences in his documentary Farenheit 9/11 as well as the much deeper links between Saudi enterprise, the bin Ladens, and the Bush family.
Most importantly, the Guardian, whom the BNP claims "become the first British national newspaper to report" it on 10th December 2009, published an article in October 2001 which stated that "Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from central Asia to the Arabian Sea." A quick Google search provides a further 82 results for "trans Afghan pipeline" at guardian.co.uk.
By contrast, the BNP's Land and People website first covered the pipeline story in August 2009 (as a search on the site for both "Afghan pipeline" and "Afghanistan pipeline" attest), whilst articles tagged "Afghanistan" on the main website go back only to April 2007.
What we see, then, is that the Griffin and the BNP's attempts to present themselves as "radical" are farcical and fallacious. Unfortunately, in the context of increasing disillusionment with the government and the propaganda function that the far-right serve, they are convincing a great many people. It is important that they are not ignored or brushed over, but exposed for what they are and opposed by people who can offer a genuine, grassroots alternative.