The argument is often made that the best way to respond to the British National Party is to bring them into the political mainstream and to take their arguments on, and defeat them.
My view is that it is right to seek to defeat the BNP by argument, and by organising to defeat them. That is, after all, how politics works in civilised countries. I do not think that there is any argument for bringing this party into the mainstream: because they are utterly marginal. They managed to get 5% in London and have isolated areas of support in other parts of the United Kingdom.
What makes the BNP more notable than other fringe parties, is that those with convictions for criminal offences, particular violent ones, are over-represented among their ranks. These convictions often arise from racist attacks.
It is sometimes suggested that the best way to deal with violent political movements is to bring them into the mainstream: to teach them good manners, so to speak. Sometimes that is unavoidable, as part of a historic compromise. However, there is also a real danger that rewarding tiny but aggressive political movements in this manner will encourage other small groups to adopt violence as a strategy, specifically in order to inflate their political stock.
The BNP may participate in this country’s democracy. They are not, however, a democratic organisation.
Standing up to violent extremists takes courage, and I have great admiration for anybody who puts their personal safety on the line.
Which brings me to this story:
On Friday morning a young female student was attacked on her way to work by three armed members of the far right. They pulled her to the ground, kicked her repeatedly in the ribs and slashed at her head with a knife. Whilst attacking her they called her “A Dirty red” and “Filthy lesbo”, the latter being a reference to the victims sexuality.
She suffered a fractured rib and severe bruising, but given the severity of the assault the injuries could have been far worse.
The attackers singled out this student because she campaigns on her campus to drive out the BNP. The victim is also a member of Unison and the NUS.
They knew her name and route to work, and deliberately targeted her to intimidate her and others campaigning against the far right.
The incident has been reported to West Yorkshire Police and they are currently investigating the attack.
The BNP may be a political party. It is also a conspiracy of thugs.