See Nick Griffin defend neo-Nazi terroristsDoes rising electoral support for racist parties like the BNP lead to more racial violence?
The conviction [last] week of Neil Lewington, a neo-Nazi who planned a terror campaign in Britain, certainly raises that question.
Lewington is one of the nastiest (if crack-pot) potential neo-Nazi terrorists in recent history. In his summing up, the Judge said Lewington’s terrorist actions were “designed to intimidate non-white people … for the purpose of pursuing the ideological cause of white supremacy and neo-fascism, albeit in a rather unsophisticated way.” In Lewington’s bedroom police found a nail bomb factory and a notebook entitled “Waffen SS UK Members’ Handbook”.
During the trial the court heard about one of Lewington’s inspirations, David Copeland, the Soho nail bomber and former member of the BNP. (Another was Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber).
Despite there being no evidence of Lewington’s involvement with the BNP (he appears to have been a lone wolf), his attempt to emulate the likes of Copeland raises the question: does the electoral success of the BNP lead to violent extremism?
The BNP is legitimate political party operating within the law. For that we should be thankful.
It does, however, hold many white supremacist and neo-fascist views which have direct lineage to Oswald Mosley, the German Nazi Party, the American KKK, Roberto Fiore and modern East European extremists like Jobbik. This is particularly true of leadership figures like Nick Griffin MEP, Andrew Brons MEP, Lee Barnes (Legal Director) and Mark Collett (Head of Publicity).
Whilst all parties have their rotten eggs, the BNP has more than its fair share of violent racists. Some like Robert Cottage (who stood as a BNP candidate three times) and Tony Lecomber were BNP activists. Others like Copeland and Mark Bullman (who used a BNP leaflet to light his firebomb) were on the fringe. (More details here).
Certainly the pool of candidates is likely to grow. The election and consequent media promotion of Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons gives a certain level of legitimacy to the BNP and its ideals. This means disaffected people trying to find answers to their worries are more likely to turn to the politics of racism, segregation and intolerance and follow the examples set by the BNP’s high profile leaders and violent members.
And the temperature is likely to increase, particularly if politicians refuse to debate the issues that leave some of the population feeling angry, frustrated and dispossessed. Those issues include immigration, Britishness and joblessness.
Experts on Irish Republicanism and Islamism call this the “conveyor belt” to violence. It is too early for any clear evidence either way. But we fear that the election of a small number of weird, nutty and inadequate politicians legitimises the politics of racism and that, in turn, introduces an element of violence and intimidation to British society that changes the way we do politics forever.