I'm not a Brit, but as an American and an avid internet observer of the British scene, I have been fascinated to watch the rise of what might be an effective nationalist political party in Britain.
The British National Party, under its leader Nick Griffin, has been touting Britain's elections for Members of the European Parliament, to be held on June 4, as its breakthrough. It hopes to capture five MEP seats, with the possibility of a few more if all the cards fall its way. (Which seems to be happening, as the extraordinary U.K. House of Commons expenses scandal in Westminster engulfs ever more British MPs of all parties.)
Commenters in the Brit political blogosphere predict anywhere from zero to five seats, with three as the most common guess. Any seats at all will produce public funding for the party, a very substantial boost, and will raise their visibility in Britain.
It's happened before. Another small party, the United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP], whose main plank is to take Britain out of the European Union, was very successful in the last MEP election. But UKIP contests few local elections in Britain. For the upcoming June 4 MEP election, polls show it losing ground. Part of this may be the difference in styles. BNP is a bit scruffy and makes a fuss, while UKIP appears to be much more urbane. Unhappy British voters—particularly former Labor voters—appear to like the fuss.
I know I'm not supposed to like the BNP. Because it openly states that ethnicity matters, the British press and TV treat the BNP as if it is toxic waste. The U.S. Mainstream Media follows suit, when it mentions the party at all. The BNP did rise out of the ashes of a more strident National Front Party, and some of its leaders allegedly have or have had radical links (sort of like Obama and Jeremiah Wright, although Griffin has distanced himself much more effectively). All I can say, at a distance of 3000 miles, what the BNP is actually saying and doing now looks rational, reasonable and pretty darn good to me.
Nationalist politics acknowledge the ethnic dimension of nations. Levelers assert there is no difference between peoples, and happily dilute—even replace—the heritage peoples of the West. Nowhere are they more active than in Britain.
I use the term "Heritage Peoples." This is intuitively obvious, but let us see what BNP says about being "British":
"We mean the bonds of culture, race, identity and roots of the native White peoples of the British Isles. We have lived in these islands near on 40,000 years. We were made by these islands, and these islands are our home. When we in the BNP talk about being British, we talk about the native peoples who have lived in these islands since before the Stone Age, and the relatively small numbers of peoples of identical race, such as the Saxons, Vikings and Normans, and the Irish, who have come here and assimilated."[BNP FAQ, 2007]
Indeed, in an April 23 quote, Griffin himself describes the ethnic quality of Britishness in plain language:
"We don't subscribe to the politically correct fiction that just because they happen to be born in Britain, a Pakistani is a Briton. They're not. They remain of Pakistani stock,' he added.
"You can't say that especially large numbers of people can come from the rest of the world and assume an English identity without denying the English their own identity, and I would say that's wrong.
"In a very subtle way, it's a sort of bloodless genocide.'[BNP Updates Language & Concepts Discipline Manual, BNP News, April 27, 2009]
Indeed, the "racist" epithet is thrown at BNP every day. BNP replies that it prefers a truly multicultural world where British people are clearly British and peoples from other countries are likewise unmistakable in their provenance. This is not an original policy with BNP, of course—in the second half of the twentieth century colonies of whites throughout the third world were encouraged to pack up and leave.
The BNP's policies strike me as candid and accessible. Here, for instance, is BNP policy on immigration:
"On current demographic trends, we, the native British people, will be an ethnic minority in our own country within sixty years.
"To ensure that this does not happen, and that the British people retain their homeland and identity, we call for an immediate halt to all further immigration, the immediate deportation of criminal and illegal immigrants, and the introduction of a system of voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here will be afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin assisted by generous financial incentives both for individuals and for the countries in question."[Policies—BNP Website]
Here is a nationalist party that cherishes its Heritage People and states clearly the goal to retain the traditional ethnic balance of their nation. It recognizes the fact of the demographic tsunami—something even sensible observers in the U.S. shrink from doing. The BNP intends to halt the immigrant flood and roll back the replacement of its Heritage Peoples. What's wrong with that?
Clever use of the internet has partially defused the uniformly negative media coverage of BNP. The BNP site offers fresh material daily, and it pulls no punches with its stories. There is certainly interest in the site. According to Alexa internet ratings, the BNP has far, far more traffic than Conservatives, LibDems, or Labor.
The BNP forces are also masters of the You Tube media. A single Y-T inquiry with key word "BNP" yielded forty pages of listings, albeit there were many dissenting views such as the one with the uncivilized title, "BNP Are C_nts". Whichever side of the BNP divide you stand on, if you like your material in movie-form, it's ready for you.
By no means is BNP a wholly electronic communicator. In those area that offer promise, BNP organizers canvas door to door with pamphlets and face-to-face explanations why BNP says, "Britain first!" This year, for the European Parliament election, it has sent out 29 million pieces of mail!
British race-relation quangos and their fellow travelers in government are well-aware of the BNP and Griffin. In December 2004, he was arrested after a covert taping (by a BBC i.e. tax-funded operative) of a speech before a private gathering. BNP and Griffin identify the increasing Muslim population in Britain as one of the chief threats to the country, and in the December 2004 meeting he was captured on tape as suggesting that Islam was a "…wicked and vicious faith." He knew that he was treading the edge of the draconian Race Relations law, and further said he could possibly get seven years prison for such a statement. Government pursued just that course, charging four counts of "incitement to racial hatred." Griffin was eventually acquitted on all counts. Not surprisingly, the BNP proposes to abolish all restrictions on free speech, absent only "…common law restrictions on incitement to violence…"
Another grim reminder of official antipathy: BNP membership—that is, membership in a democratic and legal political party—is grounds for local governments to sack police and teachers. In the fall of 2008 the party membership list was leaked, and many such firings occurred.
Is BNP a one-issue anti-immigration party? Widening its scope seems to have been a part of Griffin's leadership. The issues of EU membership (out now, please), trade (mild protectionism), job protection (part of the immigration and guest worker issue), crime (unshackle police, allow persons to resist an intruder without penalty), defense (small, competent forces, avoid foreign wars), energy (develop alternative fuels and energy, promote advanced nuclear power), environment, education, and health are all covered in the manifesto. All told BNP's policy seems to be fairly conventional nationalism, bent on internal improvement and de-emphasizing foreign involvement, with an added tinge of social democracy. Voters certainly have a choice—BNP policies are a rather stark contrast to the Lib-Lab-Con party line.
BNP strategy seems to be to build the party in disaffected regions (London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, and Burnley northeast of Liverpool are examples), and let success in electing members to local offices (town and city "councilors") increase the appeal of their brand. BNP is eager for councilors to render good service to constituents, though of course some do poorly in the event—an artifact of governing versus merely opposing government) Electing local councilors builds the party machinery and provides experience in actual government for members, as well as building a positive picture to combat negative propaganda.
There are no BNP Members of Britain's Parliament at this time. It takes determination, organization, and grit to make an election-winning party from scratch. But the BNP is making progress:
Total votes in General Elections
Make no mistake, the BNP remains very much a minority party. The '05 results represent only 0.7% of the total voters, country-wide. But the 2007 Welsh showing was 4.3% of the vote, and in the '08 London Mayoral contest more than 5% of voters went BNP. The party has discrete areas of strength, and these are where it means to win MEP seats.
The stakes are high for Britain. Shall it retain its traditional identity, or become a collection of synthetic citizens, whose opinion is perhaps better polled as mere consumer preference?
It would be interesting to see a country-wide nationalist political party in the US so straightforward in its platform, and so effective in its party-building effort. If BNP are successful on June 4, it will be a lesson to patriots throughout Europe and the US.
Stay tuned, June 4 will be here before you know it!
J. Paige Straley (email him) is a VDARE.COM reader in Charlotte, NC.