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Anti-BNP protests at County Hall: an exercise in futility?

Submitted on Thu, 18/06/2009 - 12:48pm

Upon hearing of the anti-BNP protest taking place at County Hall this week my reaction was to roll my eyes as if to gesture 'not this again'. Not because I don't believe in standing up to the BNP's brand of divisive politics, but because experience shows that ham-fisted anti-BNP protests have a horrible tendency of giving the party a twisted sense of the moral high ground. 

Scenes like last week's hounding of BNP leader Nick Griffin through Westminster hand the party a golden ticket in self-affirmation; after all, the BNP's whole identity is built upon a 'we the silenced majority' persecution complex. What more could Griffin hope for than a spot of high-profile martyrdom outside the Mother of all Parliaments?

With this in mind I anticipated the protests outside County Hall as being a case of one bunch of loonies shouting down another. As it happens, the protest was a much smaller affair than expected; fifteen people from the group Three Counties Unite Against Fascism held placards and chanted as Deidre Gates, the newly elected BNP councillor for South Oxhey arrived for her first day at work.

The protestors' politeness in their exercise of what I'd consider being the 'right' way to demonstrate is something to be admired, but I can't help but feel that it was all a little futile. After all, it doesn't take a genius to see through the BNP's attempt to seduce the voter with a toned-down message and bastardised 1940s nostalgia (Churchill and Spitfires abound) and the results of this month's local elections quite clearly reflect this.

Put simply, the vast majority of people in the UK don't have the time for a party borne of the National Front whose leader categorically dismisses the Holocaust as a hoax. Added to this, our First Past the Post voting system means that we're never likely to see extreme fringe groups make significant gains in our local councils and in Westminster, as they have done in the proportionally represented European Parliament.

So despite the recent torrent of hysteria whipped up by a doom-mongering press, we are most definitely not on the verge of a rise of the far right in the UK. To view the BNP as a threat that has to be pounced upon at every public appearance is to give the impression that we somehow are.  

22/06/2009 - 17:31 by A BNP Supporter

I'm sorry that you feel you had to write ths article and quote out dated propoganda e.g. the Holocaust denial which Nick Griffin retracted a long time ago and the age old party borne out of the National Front which is a separate organisation in its own right.

I also object to your  description of the 1940s message as bastardised an unfair description I think.

As for the majority of people I think you will find that people support quite a lot of what the BNP say perhaps like myself not all but that is called democracy.

23/06/2009 - 11:03 by Editor

BNP Supporter,

 

Thank you for your response.

 

I accept that it may have been unfair to suggest that Nick Griffin is still an active Holocaust denier, but the fact that this is brought up time and again is really the party’s problem and not its opponents'. That the BNP is even associated with such statements, no matter how far in the past, is clearly going to make people feel more than a little uneasy. I think it important that people know about this side of Griffin and the BNP, not just the watered-down message used to court voters in the recent European and local elections.

 

I referred to the use of 1940s imagery in such a way as I personally flinch whenever I see parties hijacking historical memory for political gain, irrespective of political leaning. UKIP’s adoption of Churchill as a symbol of anti-EU federalism (despite his being an architect of the ECSC) and David Cameron’s self-likening to Churchill following the Georgia crisis last year seem equally absurd to me. A campaign that links modern immigration policies to one of Britain’s gravest wartime crises is no exception.  

 

As for public support, I am also sure that many people agree with some of the party’s policies, but casual agreement has not translated into votes at the ballot box. As I mentioned in the article, it is only when elections are done on a proportional basis that a scattershot of fringe and minority groups manage to win seats. For me, the fact that the BNP still makes little headway under a sensible FPTP system is the most telling indication that it lacks significant support.

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