May 28, 2010

How to beat the BNP – and make sure they don't come back

It is only through open debate that we can expose the BNP's false prospectus and vile intentions, argues Margaret Hodge

Several symbolic victories lightened the gloom for Labour at the election, but none more so than the trouncing of the BNP in Barking and Dagenham. I doubled my majority; the BNP was driven into third place by the Tories; and all of its councillors lost their seats. In short, the politics of hatred and racism were decisively rejected.

Four years ago, I warned of the dangers of the rise of the extreme Right, after a surge in BNP support in my area. Some believed that by raising the problem, I was creating it. But I remain convinced that we cannot deal with the issue by ignoring it. All that does is add to the alienation of those who believe that politicians don't listen to their grievances, and haven't a clue about their concerns.

The argument about whether we should share platforms with the BNP is redundant. It is only through open debate that we can expose its false prospectus and vile intentions. That is why, in Barking and Dagenham, the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, consistently refused to debate with me, or the other candidates. He knew he'd lose the argument – on immigration, on the BNP's hideous heritage, and on local concerns and priorities.

The people here looked to the BNP because they have legitimate grievances. They have experienced the most rapid demographic change in the country. All of us would feel some unease if our neighbours suddenly seemed foreign, and the produce in the shops became unfamiliar. The traditional employer, Ford, has cut back from 40,000 workers to 4,000. The sale of council houses created a lack of decent affordable homes. The local Labour Party became too complacent, and there was no mainstream opposition.

The result was a cocktail of circumstances that the BNP could exploit. In 2006, they put forward 13 candidates in the local elections and won 12 seats. With more candidates, they might well have taken control of the council. Our voters felt we had completely lost touch with them.

Our response was to do everything we could to reconnect with people, and give them a positive reason for voting Labour. In our coffee afternoons, street meetings and door-to-door visits, we didn't talk about national issues. Instead, we listened to what voters were concerned about – from potholes, to the resiting of bus stops, to anti-social behaviour. And, of course, they talked about immigration and the impact they felt it was having on housing, jobs, schools and crime.

First, we always tried to deliver on the local concerns, to show people we were listening. Second, we worked hard to stay in touch with those we met, so people got to know their MP and local activists. Finally, we talked about immigration. Voters of every race share the same concerns about the way housing and welfare benefits are allocated. We didn't promise to turn the clock back. But just by listening and showing understanding, we began to restore confidence and trust.

Since 2006, we have almost doubled our party membership, and are now truly representative of our community. In the council wards where the BNP was strongest, we put forward African and Asian candidates – and they won with handsome majorities.

Yet this is the beginning, not the end of the campaign. The BNP retained its deposit in 72 constituencies, and remains a threat to tolerant, democratic politics across Britain. In particular, we still have to find our way through the issue of immigration. To this end, we need a better system for rationing housing and benefits, with priority for those who have lived in an area for longest. This would immediately lance the toxic perception that the allocation systems are unfair. In that way, we could start to change people's attitudes to immigration, and relegate the BNP to the dustbin, where it belongs.

Margaret Hodge is the MP for Barking & Dagenham



Anonymous said...

just read griffins new essay on the BNP website... I think we have him all wrong hes a lovely fellow really;not racist ,corrupt self serving. I think I will send them 50 quid now to have him save my country.

No on second thoughts I think i will just keep on thinking hes a lying self serving pig.I think I will spend the 50 quid in the pub then I can talk as much shite as him lol

Anonymous said...

lol excuse me I cant stop lauhing. I see on there website Junkie Jefferson is in charge of all elections lol. I think we can all go home ,job done they will never win another seat lol

Jain said...

A mate of mine, who has nothing at all to do with the BNP, and is in fact a fully paid up member of the Labour party for 20+ years, received this email from the BNP.

1. Why the fuck are they emailing people not on their mailing list?
and 2. Is Barnbrook standing again?

From: BNP Press Release []
Sent: 27 May 2010 11:09
Subject: Labour Election Fraud Causes Barking Council By-Election

BNP Press Statement:
Labour Election Fraud Causes Barking Council By-Election
Election fraud committed by the Labour Party has forced its newly-elected for the Goresbrook Ward in Barking to resign and force a by-election.

The ward previously held by British National Party GLA member Richard Barnbrook, was contested by the Labour candidate while he was still a council employee. Such open party allegiance is forbidden under council rules.

The Labour candidate's employment record was uncovered as part of an ongoing investigation into election fraud in Barking being conducted by Mr Barnbrook.

"We informed the Labour Party that we would be going to court on this matter," Mr Barnbrook said.

"Faced with the legal threat, the Labour councillor threw in the towel and resigned."

The by-election will be held shortly and will be contested by the BNP.

"We have to be realistic about this election," Mr Barnbrook said. "We know what happened here on 6th May and the reasons why it happened. Nonetheless, we will fight it to the best of our abilities on issues which really matter to the local people."


Anonymous said...

Will Bumbrook invesrigate BNP election fraud in South Wales ?

Or the use of false re4sidential addresses in Barking ?

Old Sailor

Anonymous said...

With ""CROOKS" Gri££ing/Dowson/Darby/Jefferson, running the BNP its on the road to being declared BANKRUPT! The thiefing PIGS are robbing the members blind lol.

Anonymous said...

The far right always do better when the government is a right-wing Labour one. So the best way of limiting the far right's growth is to avoid Labour governments. And how did Labour manage to fuck up so badly over the councillor who's had to resign in Dagenham. How fucking stupid can they be?

Anonymous said...


New website

Eddy exposes Gri££in \LIES!

Anonymous said...

re Jain @11.41 as much as it chokes me to say this, for once Dicky is not speaking with forked tongue.

He who finds it difficult to string a sentance together must have been sober when he said this cos he is being truthfull


Anonymous said...

"We have to be realistic about this election," Mr Barnbrook said.

Er, does he think then that he's gonna lose again?