Immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan will be one of the primary themes of the British National Party’s general election campaign. Speaking on BNP television, Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, sets out a blatantly populist stall for the election, which he believes will be called in late February or very early March.
Griffin hopes to exploit what he sees as an “enormous gap” between the views of the public and “politicians” on Afghanistan. The second main issue for the BNP, not surprisingly, will be “mass immigration and Islam in particular”, a subject at which he intends to go “hammer and tongs” to show the public that the BNP has not “gone soft”. He may also have an eye on limiting the damage to his party’s reputation among its racist supporters caused by his decision, forced by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), to open BNP membership to non-white people.
The third theme will be Europe. While recognising that Europe plays a lesser role in the general election in the minds of the public, Griffin explains that it is very important for a section of the public that the BNP aims to attract, namely those voters who are not sure whether to vote BNP or for the UK Independence Party.
As for the economy, the issue on which most people will focus, Griffin dismisses it on the grounds that it is “not feasible for us to get across the fact that a nationalist economic policy is the only way out of the mess”.
In other words, the BNP will go for votes by exploiting policies chosen for that purpose alone, rather than present a serious political programme to the electorate. Griffin appears to dismiss voters as too stupid to understand his economic arguments, though the reality is that the BNP’s mishmash of economic nationalism, fascism and opposition to trade would totally wreck the British economy.
Griffin states that his party is not yet ready for the election, though the main leaflets have been designed. There is also some fundraising to be done, he admits, before moving on quickly to another subject.
Money may well be a problem. The BNP went into the European election campaign in a dire financial state and spent large sums on its misnamed “Battle for Britain”. Before the election last June the party pledged that in the event of victory the party would contest every seat in the country in the general election.
That would commit the party to £325,000 in candidates’ deposits alone, much of which would be lost as the BNP will not overcome the 5% threshold for return of deposits in most constituencies. Probably realising the foolishness of standing hundreds of no hopers, Griffin backtracked, grabbing the opportunity to blame the three-month freeze on recruitment of new party members that he had agreed as a result of the EHRC’s court case.
Exaggerating wildly as usual, Griffin claimed the EHRC had cost the BNP a potential £105,000 in membership fees from 3,000 people keen to join up. “Those lost funds would have allowed the BNP to drive its way through the quiet Christmas period and launch an impressive General Election campaign the likes of which have never been seen in Britain,” wrote Griffin in an email to supporters on 12 December.
“As soon as we did make a breakthrough, the Equalities Commission pounced in what was a carefully calculated effort to make the BNP unable to contest every seat in the country,” the arch conspiracy theorist continued.
As a result the party had to “drastically scale back our General Election plans…If you want to blame someone, blame the tax-guzzling foreigner Trevor Phillips,” said the racist, before going on to appeal to existing BNP members to upgrade their membership to “gold” for “a measly £30” or take out life membership for a more painful £465.
One pot of money readily available to Griffin is the MEPs’ communications allowance for him and his fellow MEP, Andrew Brons. Each has £20,000 to spend on publicity about their work in the European Parliament and their constituency. While careful to acknowledge that the money cannot be used to promote the BNP, Griffin claims that when people hear of the two MEPs’ work, it will “have an effect”. The A3 folded glossy leaflets for the two constituencies will be ready for distribution “early in the new year”, revealed Griffin, providing “some cracking publicity”.
Leaflets will be an important part of the BNP election effort, but the BNP will not do telephone canvassing, Griffin promised, claiming that people do not like it. Instead BNP canvassers “will knock on doors”. Presumably he thinks voters are happier with a bunch of heavies at their front doors. Probably the real reasons the BNP has rejected telephone canvassing are that none of the sources of the necessary data would deal with the racist party and that the party’s canvassers sound even worse on the phone than on the doorstep.
In choosing Afghanistan as one of his election themes, Griffin must hope that voters will overlook the contradiction with the party’s much repeated claims that Islam is trying to colonise Britain and Europe and impose Sharia, and that the Muslim community harbours terrorists.
In his constituency newsletter Griffin denounces the war in Afghanistan arguing that British troops should only be sent to war “when the British people or British interests are being threatened”. Yet the BNP maintains that Islam has been engaged in a war on Western civilisation since its inception. Griffin lumps together the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ignoring the fact that, unlike the Iraq war, the war in Afghanistan was a direct response to the terror attacks on the USA of 11 September 2001, with the aim, whether or not realistic, of preventing al-Qaeda using Afghanistan as an operational and training base.
Since then, Britain too has come under attack from al-Qaeda. Even where the individual terrorists were born in Britain, they were generally trained in or directed from Afghanistan or the Pakistan border area. There are good cases to be made that the war in Afghanistan may be unwinnable, or that Britain and the US have not committed sufficient resources, or that we should not support the Karzai administration, among other things, but it is unarguable that Islamist terrorism affects British people and British interests.
Islamophobia is one of the guiding principles of the BNP except when it conflicts with the latest attempt to win votes, it seems.
Rather than present a reasoned standpoint, Griffin resorts to emotion. Launching the party’s campaign to “Support our troops, bring them home” just before Christmas, Griffin described a “devastated, grieving mother” who spoke to him “recently” about the death of her “beautiful son” while serving in Afghanistan, and apparently implored Griffin to “help our boys out there or bring them home”.
“These are the words now carved into my heart, the words of a grieving mother, words that I will carry with me to my grave and words that made me take a solemn oath to do every-thing in my power to honour, support and protect our fighting heroes who have been abandoned both on the battlefields of Afghanistan and back here at home,” gushed Griffin.
He went on to accuse “Brown, Cameron and Clegg” of being “evil leaders … liars and con artists [who] started and backed the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan …”. That none of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg were leaders of their respective parties in 2001, and that Clegg has consistently opposed the war in Iraq, must have passed Griffin by in his excitement over a new cause for an appeal for money.
Announcing a “daring and innovative strategy to expose the hypocrisy, lies and cover-ups relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Griffin promises “a wave of activism, publicity material and direct action” which “will send shockwaves through the old parties and the traitors within the media”.
It will consist of four phases. Firstly a “full-colour well-designed 12-page brochure, detailing the crimes against our soldiers” will be sent to “every MP, MSP, MLA, and AM as well as every member of the House of Lords and also every registered journalist in the UK”. Secondly, the BNP will send “10,000 brochures to each key town and city in every one of The BNP’s 12 regions”.
The third stage will be, wait for it, a “nationwide truth tour” using “our very own ‘bought and paid for’ professional advertising lorry”. That’s the “truth truck”, better known as the lie lorry, a vehicle that the BNP does not own but leases from the hardline anti-abortion campaigner Jim Dowson. The tour will be followed by BNP TV films.
Anyone who thinks they have read this before would be right. The campaign has been recycled, almost word for word, from the BNP’s “Racism cuts both ways” initiative of autumn 2008. The 12-page outrage-ously Islamophobic brochure on that occasion listed 167 people whom the BNP alleged had been murdered as a result of anti-white racism, although only in a handful of the cases was there any clear indication of a racial motive and in several the perpetrator was white not black.
The BNP claims to be different. Too true. No other party would go into a general election on the back of racism, Islamophobia, a recycled clapped out campaign, nothing to say on the issues that really concern the electorate and a lead policy selected solely to pull votes from the UKIP.