The British National Party (BNP) has expelled its dominating personality and former Euro MP, Nick Griffin. Griffin lost his seat when he was driven into bankruptcy following a succession of lawsuits.
At the same time, Tories fed up with Prime Minister David Cameron’s wishy-washiness, including Members of Parliament and some major financial donors, are joining the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).
Adam Walker, the current BNP chairman, has alleged that Griffin had attempted to spread lies about the party and had harassed current members. Griffin, who had led the BNP for fifteen years, replied “Breaking news! I’ve just been ‘expelled’ without trial from the #BNP! That’ll teach me to tell a member of staff he’s a ‘useless, lazy t***.’”
If the BNP is falling apart, UKIP may pick up many of its more rational members. Despite its media-created stereotype, the BNP is not composed entirely of knuckle-dragging neo-fascists.
Some BNP members, like the typical UKIP supporters, are simply puzzled and angry patriots, who are outraged by what Britain has become, and who, not without cause, fear the loss of its national identity.
These developments could herald real changes in British politics.
The BNP has been generally categorized by an ideologically illiterate media as “far right.” In fact many of its principles are or have been quite left.
Ironically, the BNP’s apparent collapse has come at the time of its first real political achievement and potential boost: it apparently played a major part in exposing the monstrous and incredible Rotherham scandal: in a small city an estimated 1,400 young girls were being enslaved and sexually exploited by gangs of mainly “Asian” (i.e. Pakistani) men, while the police, social work industry, and Labour-dominated city council, apparently terrified of attracting charges of racism and of failing to “celebrate diversity,” did nothing and for years ignored innumerable complaints by victims and their families.
It was apparently work by a BNP activist that dragged the scandal into the light and has begun forcing resignations of guilty officials. Many people are now demanding criminal prosecutions of those who betrayed their trust and did nothing. It shows the incoherence of the left that it should call the BNP “Nazi” when its icons like Churchill and the Spitfire were agents of Hitler’s doom.
Nevertheless, the expulsion of Griffin may well mean the end of the BNP, or its shriveling from a big little party into another extremist, irrelevant groupsicle. No doubt many will consider Griffin’s bankruptcy in part the result of the abuse of legal process to obtain just that result.
The BNP’s angry, extremist, confrontational style has traditionally not succeeded in British politics, and it has never been able (some might say has never tried very hard) to shake off its ancestral links to the extremist National Front.
Griffin had succeeded in reforming it a little but not in cleaning up its overall image, although his victory at the Euro-elections showed he had succeeded in becoming a national figure. It is unlikely the BNP can find anyone to replace him.
While the BNP largely attracted angry working-class voters, UKIP has tended to attract the angry middle-class, people bitterly disillusioned with the unnatural alliance at Westminster between the Tories and the leftist Social Democrats (whose senior members do not even try to hide their contempt and hatred for the Tories), with the left’s unchallenged stranglehold on the publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation and the publicly funded “arts” industries, with a wasteful foreign aid budget, and most of all with Cameron’s failure to assert British interests and independence vis-à-vis Europe.
Cameron has, certainly, had commendable — and difficult — success in restoring Britain’s economic health after the disastrous fiscal irresponsibility of the Blair-Brown Labour Governments, but national cultures do not live by bread alone. The anger driving UKIP is about something deeper — the failure of an ancient heritage, a kind of cheap, shallow, flashiness, the virtual destruction of Britain’s once-proud armed forces just as Russia appears to be threatening Crimea and the Baltic states, even the loss of symbols of national pride like Blair’s scrapping of the Royal yacht and the Royal train. (Why didn’t Cameron replace them? Even Spain has a royal yacht.)
While Scotland was allowed a referendum on whether or not to remain part of the United Kingdom, Cameron and the Tories have endlessly temporized and delayed over allowing the British people a referendum as to whether or not they wish to remain part of Europe.
Many perceive a great and growing gap between the interests of the “political class,” who compose all the major parties, the higher bureaucracy, and the people at large. Revelations a few years ago of widespread Parliamentary corruption, resulting in a few slap-on the-wrist punishments have done nothing to heal this gap.
UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage, has so far played his cards brilliantly. As a several-times-reelected Member of the European Parliament he is politically salted and is a proven vote-winner.
He is angry without, unlike the BNP, being scary, and has shown he cares for principle more than the smarmy politician’s politeness so many voters are sick of.
Prince Charles, invited to speak to the European Parliament in February 2008, called for EU leadership in the battle against climate change. During the standing ovation that followed, Farage was the only MEP to remain seated, and he went on to describe the Prince’s advisers as “naïve and foolish at best.” Farage continued: “How can somebody like Prince Charles be allowed to come to the European Parliament at this time to announce he thinks it should have more powers? It would have been better for the country he wants to rule one day if he had stayed home and tried to persuade [then Prime Minister] Gordon Brown to give the people the promised referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon.” It seems he is prepared to risk unpopularity rather than go along with what he believes to be humbug. Even many who admire Prince Charles and his devotion to environmentalist causes found Farage’s honesty refreshing.
He has flaunted his golf-clubbish political incorrectness by flagrantly smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, and his style speaks, as did Churchill’s, to much of the contrary, incorrigible heart of Englishness — the England of Johnson, Chesterton, Edmund Burke and Peter Simple. His party’s policies appeal to core British values without being “over the top.” His opponents claimed his intervention in the Scottish independence referendum to keep the kingdom united would be counter-productive, but there was, in the event, no evidence that that was the case — the result could be seen as another endorsement of his popularity.
The biggest challenge for Farage and Cameron now is to hammer out some sort of electoral pact not to contest the same winnable seats at the next general election so that they do not waste resources and votes fighting each other, and with an eye to a coalition government more coherent and effective than the present one.
Otherwise, with Britain’s first-past-the-post system, a vote for UKIP will effectively be a vote for a Labour Party apparently mired in ancient ideologically mummified socialism.