Sunday, February 11, 2007

Paying for the BNP.

Matt Withers has a good piece in today's Wales on Sunday about the availability of public funding for the BNP. I know that Peter Black has posted on Matt's article already - so I want to post before reading Peter's. It will be interesting (to me anyway) if we agree - or don't.

Like most people, I find the politics of the BNP distasteful - and its a frequent discussion point where I live because the Party's leader, Nick Griffin lives close by. I also, instinctively agree with the sentiments attributed to Plaid Cymru AM, Dai Lloyd in Matt's article. However, I wouldn't have been as vitriolic in my condemnation. Whenever I comment about the BNP nowadays, I ask myself "How do I minimise its support". And nothing would galvanise support more than giving the BNP the opportunity to campaign on an 'unfairness in the electoral system' platform. I remember, a few years ago, when the New Statesman printed an article describing my home town, Welshpool, as a hotbed of racism. I accused the magazine of telling lies and was pleased when I forced a public apology from the editor. Peter Wilby reckoned the article had been 'allegorical' - another word for lies. But I refused to become involved in a protest rally by the Anti Nazi League in Welshpool at the time because of the huge publicity it would give (and did give) to the BNP.

I have exactly the same approach towards the comments of Dominic MacAskill, regional organiser for Unison. If postal workers refused to distribute the BNPs election material, I cannot think of a better recruitment strategy for Nick Griffin's party.

So, I would not ban funding to the BNP on the same basis as other parties. This issue highlights one of the strongest arguments against State funding of political parties. I believe that most of us wish the BNP didn't exist - but it does. We must try to ensure it isn't given opportunities to play the 'victim card' which will almost certainly strengthen it