Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/584/7452
Defeat the BNP: Build a socialist alternative
Anti-BNP Socialist Party protest in Barnsley, photo by Yorkshire Socialist Party
THE FAR-right, racist BNP's success in narrowly getting two members elected to the European parliament has horrified millions. In fact the BNP's vote decreased compared to 2004 in both Yorkshire and the North West, but the collapse in support for New Labour meant that they still got MEPs elected.
Rightly, many workers and young people fear that the BNP will be able to use the platform and finance that they have gained to spread their racist, divisive ideas.
The BNP today tries to disguise its racism, falsely posing as a party that stands up for working-class people. In reality, however, little has changed. Black and Asian people are barred from joining the BNP, whose leader. Nick Griffin, was convicted for inciting racial hatred in 1998.
Andrew Brons, BNP MEP for Yorkshire, revealed the depths of his racism when asked if black athletes and footballers like Kelly Holmes and Jermain Defoe could be described as British - his answer was no.
The trade unions and anti-racist young people need to come together to build a mass movement to defeat the BNP. The first step should be a mass, national demonstration against their racist ideas under the slogan 'jobs and homes, not racism'.
However, if we are to succeed in undermining the BNP, demonstrating alone is not enough. It is also necessary to begin to build a political alternative that genuinely stands up in the interests of working-class people. The BNP's five highest votes were in Stoke on Trent, Barking and Dagenham, Thurrock, Barnsley and Rotherham. All these are overwhelmingly working-class areas where, until recently, the vast majority of people voted Labour.
Fury with New Labour is the primary reason for the increase in the BNP vote. In Barnsley, for example, New Labour's vote plummeted in the European elections from 45% to 25%, while the BNP's vote increased from 8% to 17%.
Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, summed up the findings of a poll of BNP voters. The BNP won MEPs, he argued, "not because its supporters are all racist, but because many voters feel insecure and let down by the main parties".
YouGov's poll showed that most BNP voters oppose the BNP's racist attitude to non-white people. While immigration was a major issue for most BNP voters, the single biggest issue was insecurity. More than 80% of BNP voters were not confident that their family would have "the opportunities to prosper in the years ahead".
Seven out of ten BNP voters believed that "there is no real difference between Britain's three main parties" and 59% of them that Labour "used to care about the concerns of people like me but doesn't nowadays".
The poll findings couldn't be clearer. Labour's transformation into New Labour - a party of big business and the super rich - has left working class people effectively disenfranchised. The brutal reality of 21st century capitalism, with unemployment heading towards three million, has dramatically increased working class people's feelings of anger and insecurity.
Faced with three virtually identical pro-capitalist parties a minority have been prepared to express their anger by voting BNP. Many more stayed at home and didn't vote at all. Central to the defeat of the BNP will be the creation of a party that genuinely stands in the interests of all working class people - regardless of their ethnic background or nationality.
The temporary electoral platform for the European elections - No2EU - involving the transport workers' union, the RMT, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Britain and others, was a first step. For the general election we have to aim to build on that and create a clearly pro-working class, socialist electoral alternative.
In The Socialist 17 June 2009:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party editorial
Lindsey Oil Refinery construction workers
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party review