As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty difficult to underestimate how awful it would be for the BNP to win seats in June. But since the expenses scandal broke last week, people have been talking as if there is now no doubt that they will be celebrating their first electoral success at the Euro elections. It would be the first time in democratic politics Britain that a fascist party would be elected to parliament. Furthermore, there are suspicions that the BNP’s racist, white-supremacist, holocaust-denying leader, Nick Griffin, will head the fascist faction in the parliament if elected. Most Brits may not care about the European parliament, but I imagine that many will be completely sickened by the idea of being represented on an international stage by these bigoted thugs.
Traditionally, the attitude among many has been to attempt to simply deny them the oxygen of publicity. The National Union of Students, for example, has a ‘no platform policy’ which aims to prohibit any racist or fascist group from speaking on any UK university campus. However, as Tim Montgomerie points out, “use of the internet has contributed to a comeback by the party” and that approach may now be completely out of date. “”By not contesting the ground we are giving them a walk-over on the critical playing fields of the internet,” he argues. It may now be time to engage with the BNP - to argue and debate with them, rather than shunning and ignoring them.
The part of his Telegraph piece that I found most concerning was this:
“I have long believed that the best way to defeat the British National Party and other extremist groups was to deny them the oxygen of publicity. That belief was shaken when I talked to two people in Salisbury cathedral after Sunday morning worship. We were having a pleasant conversation about the state of the nation and they suddenly mentioned that they’d be voting BNP. My jaw dropped.
“It quickly became clear that they had no idea what the BNP really stood for. They said that they liked its patriotism and opposition to political sleaze. They wanted to register a protest vote. I asked if they knew about the Nazi ideology that many BNP activists followed. I asked if they knew about the party’s preference for an all-white Britain. They didn’t.”
The Left already have websites targeting the BNP, but NothingBritish.com is “the first attempt by the centre-Right to offer a critique.” And it looks like a pretty fantastic effort to me. It subverts the BNP’s own language and campaigning style to deliver that simple - but hopefully effective - message: there’s nothing British about the BNP.