PELTING Nick Griffin in Parliament Square was good street theatre. The fascist leader and his chief henchman, Andrew Brons, were indeed forced to abandon a press conference designed to gloat over their elevation to the European Parliament. But the British National Party isn’t going to go away under a shower of eggs. Nor can we simply wish them away by pointing at how poorly they did overall in the European elections that, in any case, were largely boycotted by the people of Britain.
The BNP vote was a racist vote. The BNP exploits concern over mass immigration and cheap labour from the European Union and beyond to garner votes from working people who feel abandoned by Labour. The BNP tries to tap widespread opposition to the European Union in its favour. The BNP argues for white supremacy, cloaked in the language of a patriotism that existed when the British Empire spanned the globe. The BNP even claims it is a workers’ party though its half-baked corporatist theories would put Sir Oswald Mosley to shame.
This is not an exclusively BNP patch and they are not the most successful at it. Parts of their agenda are shared by all sorts of fringe, and not so far-right parties. The maverick Tory UKIP party has been remarkably successful in garnering the anti-EU vote and the English Democrats won the mayoral election for Doncaster last week.
The question of Britain’s membership of the European Union, mass immigration and even home rule for England are all part the political debate on the street and it’s a debate that must not be left exclusively to the likes of UKIP to control or the BNP to exploit.
In the 1930s fascism represented the programme of the most aggressive and reactionary elements in Europe. Though their leaders like Mussolini and Hitler claimed to represent all classes including the workers, their real aim was to crush communists and socialists; divert workers’ anger against their oppressors to chosen minorities like the German Jews and dragoon the masses for war.
The British ruling class has never needed fascism, as Mosley found to his cost when he made his bid for power in the 1930s. But racism was the ideological justification for colonial oppression in the British Empire and the ruling class still uses it from time to time to retain the invisible caste system that operates in Britain and divides the working class.
But the BNP are not just racists. The BNP are wolves in sheeps’ clothing. Their leaders pose as racists but they are Nazis. The BNP is run by hardline Nazis who believe that the Holocaust did not happen. Its rule book remains firmly entrenched in the principles of racial superiority and the banning of racial integration.
Everyone knows where this all ends up and that’s why the BNP’s leaders are so coy now about their past record.
Well we’ve got to make sure that everyone understands exactly what the BNP stands for. We’ve got to isolate, confront and expose the BNP for what it is. There are a number of anti-racist movements in Britain, some more effective than others. Hope not Hate, sponsored by the anti-fascist magazine, Searchlight, has consistently worked to build a mass movement against the British National Party and other racists and fascists.
Hope not Hate recognises that people, communities and society as a whole face problems, but the BNP is not the answer and would only make everything worse. It has now launched a new “Not in My Name” campaign that will take this message into every neighbourhood, estate and street in the country.
Hope not Hate, along with the other anti-racist movements, must be supported by the labour movement as the struggle intensifies in the run-up to the next general election.