This year it’s harder to vote for a disease

Matthew Collins - 16 04 15
Walker: Bad babysitter set for Rotherham

Walker: Bad babysitter set for Rotherham

The British National Party (BNP), enjoyed a rare moment in the spotlight this week when the whole world and his dog stopped to pass comment that they appear to be a rather lot smaller than they were this time five years ago, when the party stood 338 candidates at the General Election, gaining half a million votes.

It must have come as quite a shock to the commissioning editors, as not six months ago we were flooded with stories about how large the far-right was in this country.

Time and time again when it has come to seeing what the far-right in this country looks like when not behind their computer screens the evidence has suggested that it is small. But still, very, very nasty.

Back in 2010 the BNP was within a whisker of taking not just control of one London council but even, perhaps, gaining a seat in parliament. They failed to do either and by the time Nick Griffin was collecting the “dead bodies” from the floor of the count in Barking and Dagenham, the party was already split.

The BNP’s failure came because they lost a hard fought battle. Fair play to them, they took their nastiness far and whenever they could, under Griffin at least until 2010, they played by the rules. They hid their outright and sheer nastiness and nazism not just from a sizeable chunk of the electorate (one million votes in 2009) but also a large chunk of their membership. Nick Griffin had long stopped banging on and on about Jews and Jewish conspiracies; instead, he took to parading himself around the country with a pint in hand and speaking about boring things like housing and jobs. Obviously it was still racist nonsense, but for some who fell for it, the BNP was a bit more like UKIP than an out and out Jew hating bunch of nazis.

Those first people to gain from the BNP splitting was the English Democrats (EDs). Some 400 BNP members jump shipped to them, including Eddy Butler and Chris Beverley, both employees of the BNP and two of the more talented nazis in the party’s ranks. In fact, Butler had been widely credited with getting BNP councillors elected around the country by changing the way the BNP campaigned. He was even behind the notorious missive that asked BNP members to cover their tattoos and skinheads when on activities.

Eng Dems: Not serious contender

Eng Dems: Not serious contender

Happily, things have not gone too well for either Butler or Beverley in the EDs. The EDs was more of a private dinner club for people who did not like the Irish or the Scottish and though they rode a similar crest to the BNP in 2010 in that they managed to put up 107 parliamentary candidates of their own, this time they themselves are down to 32 candidates, including a rather non-too committed Butler who is himself, hoping that UKIP wins in his seat (even though he knows it is unlikely).

The demise of the English Democrats would be worth an investigation-if you didn’t actually already know them. Over the past twelve months we have witnessed an enormous rise in the profile and coverage of the Scottish National Party (SNP). The party, it’s leader and policies are well documented on the centre stage of British politics. It would seem apparent that the SNP will have some say in who is the next Prime Minister of the country. The English too have never been short of nationalism. But unlike the SNP or their Welsh counterparts Plaid Cymru, the English do not appear to have a progressive voice. Not only are the English Democrats obsessively racist, they do not appear even particularly serious about anything much other than boozing and abusing. If there were awards given for worst party political broadcast ever, they’d win that, but not a lot else. Spurned opportunities, most definitely? Offering to sell other countries in the union, probably does not help.

The National Front (NF) has managed only one less candidate than the BNP. This is despite the promise at the end of last year that the NF would field twenty candidates. Instead, the NF has managed seven candidates for the General Election and a further two council candidates.

NF: Thicker than the EDL?

NF: Thicker than the EDL?

Despite picking up a few new members after the BNP’s most recent split last year, the NF has neither the money nor the infrastructure to overstretch itself. The NF has managed to at least print leaflets for their candidates this year. That they have failed to spell or grammar check the leaflets will not particularly bother them too much. Word is that they are desperate to hold merger discussions with the almost totally rudderless British Voice who at least have mild competency in that department.

British Voice: Competent and rudderless

British Voice: Competent and rudderless

The only real ‘campaigning’ the National Front does look like doing in these elections is storming a church hall in Rochdale this Sunday night because they have not been invited to the hustings.

For the BNP, it is all hands on deck in Rotherham, where their new and disgraced leader is standing. We said back in February that the party would struggle to field candidates. Having only eight candidates means along with the NF’s seven and a few even smaller far-right groups, this is the smallest number of far-right candidates to stand in a British General Election since 1987. Just a further twelve candidates for the BNP in the council elections is proof that the party is marooned. Some kind of revamp or name change will be bound to happen soon.

Steve Squire, the ineloquent and growingly Antisemitic pornographer who runs the party into the ground in London told a newspaper this week that the 2010 elections had “nearly killed” the party and that people “had gone to prison” as a result of being in the BNP.

The BNP is pushing heavily a message that the shortage of candidates is not a retreat by them, but some kind of intelligent and tactical strategy and most definitely not a sign of giving up or defeat. Pushed further, they blame UKIP for stealing their thunder and their support. Or in Squire’s case, Jews.

Just some of that stolen thunder

Just some of that stolen thunder

Certainly from where I sit, UKIP has made the debate on immigration far more widespread, loopy and unpleasant than the BNP ever actually did or could. Partly, I think, it could be because people are not entirely sure if UKIP is driven by BNP-like hatred or just UKIP-like gaffs, guffaws or stupidity.

The last remaining salient hostage in the BNP is the culinary bore and outright boor, Simon Darby. Just to keep Darby on board it is rumoured he got back a large chunk of the £50,000 it is alleged that the party owed him just after Christmas. Where he got fifty grand to lend the party in the first place is one of the oldest and longest surviving questions on the far-right.

Darby: Hostage to monies owed

Darby: Hostage to monies owed

Darby let slip his iron mask during the week. “Dudley North is the seat where I obtained nearly 10% of the vote across the constituency a few years back..” he wrote on his blog.

“As I’ve said before I think we’ve gone beyond the need for political representation and ventured into the requirement for psychiatric treatment.”

Even if you cannot vote for it, fascism still remains a disease.


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