UK Politics

Combating the BNP

Nick Lowles has posted a long and interesting article on the Hope not Hate site about opposing the BNP. Please feel free to discuss it here, but the option also exists to send comments to Searchlight’s Where Now? Debate. I would strongly suggest you to read the whole article, but here is a small section dealing with the basis of support for the BNP.

The BNP is a racist party fuelled by a leadership that draws its political roots from fascism. That much is clear. However, its appeal goes far wider than the issue of race. The BNP is tapping into political alienation and economic deprivation. It is providing a voice for those who increasingly feel ignored and cast aside by Labour. The BNP is articulating their concerns, grievances and even prejudices.

Race is obviously a key factor but it is not the only issue. Race was a defining factor in the initial rise of the BNP in 2001. Riots, growing racial tensions and international terrorism conspired to build support for the BNP. But this is less so now.

A cursory look at where the BNP is gaining support shows that race is not necessarily the dominant issue that it was in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford. There are very small non-white communities in Stoke-on-Trent, Barnsley and Nuneaton and Bedworth. These are traditional working-class areas where people feel abandoned and ignored. It is into this alienation that the BNP moves. Yes, race is certainly a central key, but more because it provides a prism through which people can see and understand the world and, more importantly, an easy scapegoat to blame for their own situation.

But the BNP provides far more than a racist scapegoat. It gives some voters a sense of belonging, an articulation of their own frustration – even a new white identity.

This point was graphically illustrated in the BBC White Season, particularly the film set in a working men’s club in Wibsey, Bradford. “I wish I could be happy again,” said Graham Anderson. In an increasingly complicated and disorientated world it is easy to see how the BNP can point the finger of blame while simultaneously offering a new sense of white community.