The BNP is looking to exploit the recession to win Euro seats; but thousands of people will thwart its message of hate
Over the next few months Searchlight and its HOPE not hate campaign will be gearing up to prevent the BNP from winning seats in the European elections. We anticipate mobilising thousands of activists and delivering over 2 million leaflets and newspapers in what will be the biggest and most intense anti-fascist campaign in history.
And it is needed. The BNP poses a threat in six Euro regions, with as little as 7.5% required in the North West, where the party leader, Nick Griffin, is standing. With Ukip faltering, few local elections and the economy hurtling into recession, we will need everyone who opposes the BNP's message of hate to play a part. A BNP victory will change the political landscape in Britain.
The last few years have seen the British National Party make significant electoral gains across the length and breadth of the political landscape – often off the radar of the political and media class at Westminster, which has remained preoccupied with a very small part of the electoral map that decides Westminster elections: so-called middle Britain.
Quietly but steadily the BNP has been building its support. While many commentators have focused on its traditional heartlands in the Lancashire and Yorkshire mill towns, the BNP has been widening its base across the country. In 2007 the BNP stood 742 council candidates, averaging 14.7% of the vote. Last year they averaged 13.9% in 642 wards. The regional average vote is fairly consistent across the country.
The critical element to this palpable support for the BNP is that it has occurred against the backdrop of extraordinarily benign macroeconomic conditions. Well over a decade of continuous quarter-on-quarter growth, low interest rates, falling unemployment and general prosperity have obscured the economic and cultural issues the BNP has focused on. It has tapped into a deep sense of alienation among many who have not prospered in the good times, a corresponding fracture of working class identity, and indeed demonisation in popular culture – all refracted through the prism of race.
On 15 September last year, when Lehman Brothers went for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, the world changed. More specifically the world changed in terms of the climate within which the BNP is seeking to gain political traction. Any cursory reading of history suggests that recession and depression breed extremism; everything else being equal, the BNP will expect to benefit from the suffering and the insecurities that will intensify over the coming months and years.
Jon Cruddas and Nick Lowles
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