Internal plots and a wipe-out at the polls has left the British National Party in tatters, Ultán Gillen reports.
Despite their grand claims before the vote, the BNP never came close to winning any seats in the recent British General Election. In their number one target constituency, Barking in London, wannabe-furher Nick Griffin was crushed by sitting Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who took over 50% of the vote. Griffin was humiliated, pushed into third place by the Tories. In their flagship local government area, Barking and Dagenham, instead of taking control of the council as they had hoped, the BNP’s twelve councillors were wiped out as Labour took all 51 seats. Overall, the BNP lost all but two of twenty eight councillors up for re-election. These poor results reflected both the hard work on the ground by their opponents and the party’s internal problems.
The BNP’s electoral campaign began in disarray. At the end of March, a memo sent out from BNP headquarters revealed that the party’s director of publicity, Mark Collett, and national organiser and national elections officer, Eddy Butler, had been removed from their positions for conspiring against Griffin. Collett, who was acquitted of race hate charges along with Griffin in 2006, is most notorious for being the “star” of a documentary entitled Young, Nazi and Proud. He was arrested after Griffin told police that Collett had threatened to kill him. The BNP’s violent streak also surfaced in footage of their London organiser and his thugs punching and kicking two young British Asian men while canvassing. The BNP campaign was also hampered by difficulty finding candidates to stand, even in Barking and Dagenham, and two days before the election, the BNP website, Twitter and Facebook pages were pulled down by their administrator in another internal row.
The grassroots anti-fascist Hope Not Hate campaign mobilised over a thousand volunteers against the BNP, who delivered leaflets and got people out to vote. In the words of Hope Not Hate’s Nick Knowles, “We played a major part in a highly successful campaign. The BNP is divided and defeated and the results in Barking & Dagenham and Stoke-on-Trent will have an impact on both the fascists and our own campaign in the months to come.” Margaret Hodge, in her victory speech, said “The message of Barking to the BNP is clear: get out and stay out. You are not wanted here and your vile politics have no place in British democracy.” Griffin was forced to agree, blaming his defeat on people actually turning out to vote. Despite taking over 500,000 votes, his party has suffered a serious setback, and there will be no let up in the progressive campaign against it.