The resistible rise and rise of the BNP
Closer to home for me, the Lib Dems beat off Nazi Tess Culnane in Downham, Lewisham. The BNP only came fourth, but they got a full 10% of the vote, so no grounds for complacency. Mary Honeyball rather tenuously manages to portray this as a victim for Labour. However, I would have to agree with her on this:
On the streets it was sad to encounter young voters talking about voting BNP, we need to tackle this and their vote of 10% seems to have come mostly from the Liberal Democrats. As I posted in my comments previously, my experience had been that Liberal Democrats in this part of Lewisham had been quiet happy to quietly pick up racist support. Good to see they ditched this approach in Downham by selecting Duwayne Brooks. I hope that principled Liberal Democrats like John Grieves can influence his colleagues who still turn a blind eye to this. Elsewhere in London the Lib Dems still play fast and loose with race for the sake of a few votes.Incidentally, I would add local Lib Dem councillor Pete Pattison to the category of "principled Liberal Democrats".
I also liked these congratulations for Duwayne Brooks from Raedwald on the right.
This is highly unlikely to be a factor in Swanley or Downham, but there is evidence that some Jewish voters are turning to the BNP and that its efforts to portrays itself as a mainstream Euronationalist party, akin to UKIP or Pim Fortuyn, have been partially successful. So, it is important to stress that, for all its slick presentation, at the core of the BNP is antisemitic conspiracy theorising fascism. The fact hardline Nazi Culnane can find a home there exemplifies this, as does recently released mosque firebomber Mark Bullman:
[Bullman] had left the BNP shortly before the fire bomb attack to form what he called the “1290 sect”, named after the year the Jews were expelled from England, and he wrote to me: “I only attacked the mosque because there is no synagogue in Swindon, and it was close enough for public consumption”. The fuse used for the fire bomb was a rolled up BNP leaflet.
Also worth repeating, I think, that the pandering of the mainstream parties to the BNP's agenda, particularly in a time of economic crisis, fuels their rise. This is one reason why it is important for anti-fascists to articulate the arguments for the immigration. On this, see Matt S, on Greens and immigration.