Is the BNP on the rise? Today’s Guardian certainly seems to think so. But, taking this simply as ‘people are becoming more racist’ or ‘this is unsurprising given unchecked immigration’ is being lazy. There are lots of reasons that the BNP has prospered in local elections rather than national elections, and I want to use this thread to formulate a more considered response. Peter Black for e.g. says:
In many ways that is fortunate as I am still having difficulty getting past my anger at [Margaret Hodge's] stupidity. I do not know if eight out of ten of voters in Barking and Dagenham were thinking of voting for the BNP before, but after this outburst it is almost certain that they are now.
It seems that Mrs Hodge has been talking to her electors but not listening. If many of them are considering voting for the BNP then it is because they are disillusioned with the Labour Government and the local Council. The BNP may be racists but it is not racists who they appeal to. Instead, they latch onto dissatisfaction and apply a simplistic and popularist solution to local problems. Often this can involve finding scapegoats, in all cases it involves casting themselves as an anti-establishment force who local people can identify with.
That’s hit the nail on the head. But there’s another problem. The traditional Asian response to the BNP has been to rush into the arms of the government and want some sort of censorship. Not only that, Labour has been comprehensively rubbish in putting forward the case for immigration (another area that needs dealing with).
We need to get more intelligent than that. More strategic. I plan to use this thread to gather some ideas and links of my own to formulate a more detailed response a bit later. Comments and ideas are welcome.
Update: Written an article for Comment Is Free to the same effect – drew a huge response.
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Filed in: Party politics,Race politics