Monday, June 08, 2009

How to Stop the BNP.

The UK electorate have voted two BNP representatives to serve in the European Parliament over the next five years. This is a big and disappointing development. One of them, Nick Griffin lives close to where I do, in the heart of rural Montgomeryshire. I have a tenuous link with his home. When it was a farm owned by Mr Evan Howells, I often bought his yearling ewes at Llanfair Caereinion sheep sale. They were invariably good doers. The political establishment has responded to this electoral success by the BNP in a very negative way. I was a guest of Radio Wales on a phone-in today when the issue of BNP success came up. My fellow guest, a Labour politician was utterly scathing about the two new MEPs. I took, as I usually do, a rather different line. "Why" you may well ask.

I focus on outcomes. Winning arguments is more important than just making them. I also do not want the BNP to achieve success, which I believe is rooted in the presentation of the BNP by itself as a 'victim' - and that its electoral strategy depends on being attacked by the political establishment. Recently I heard Nick Griffin being interviewed by Peter Allen on Drive, when the BNP leader was trying to put forward the outrageous proposition that it is not possible for a black person to be British. What struck me as I listened was that Peter totally destroyed every argument presented by the Leader of the BNP, but added thousands of votes to his electoral support. It was so one-sided that Nick Griffin sounded as if he was being bullied!

My general approach is to ignore the BNP, as far as possible. I recall a huge hoohah a few years ago when the party proposed to hold a rally at Mr Griffin's home in Montgomeryshire and the anti-Nazi League decided to hold a counter rally in Welshpool - much against my advice. The BNP rally was not much more than a cake stall and a bouncy castle, but it tied up what seemed like hundreds of police, and achieved publicity that would have cost millions. Rather shockingly, I suspect that some of my friends sympathise with the BNP - mainly because they are concerned about excessive immigration, and believe that the BNP is the only political party which shares this concern. They do not believe, probably correctly, that the Government has effective control over immigration policy. They do not believe that mainstream parties are prepared to address the issue in a serious way - partly in fear of accusations of racism. We need to change this belief. Whenever I've heard a BNP spokesman engaged in civilised discussion about the party's policy, and allowed to explain the rationale behind it, I see a politician floundering like a duck in an oil slick. Without anyone to shout it down, the BNP would not have won positions as MEPS . In my opinion anyway.


Neal said...

sensible as ever Glyn.

a view from the glen said...

Glyn, exactly the point I was making years ago. You have to debate with them and in their own words they will destroy themselves. silence and violence by the looney left has done nothing to stop this encrochment. I can see why people are voting for them Labour and a political correct environment are breeding grounds for this disease.

Hopefully, the election is a wake up call for left parties to listen to their vote to win back votes from BNP.

Sorry for the rant and spelling.

Alison said...

Really angry at BNP seats, although voting for BNP was down ... because of voter apathy they walked it. Even those people who voted in Montgomeryshire, they disgust me. There needs to be some dialogue about this, otherwise people's minds will never be challenged.

This is direct from BNP's constitution:

"(b) ... is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples."

Any form. So people are going to give up their holiday in Florida, Africa, Australia, etc? That will bring you into contact with others and "integration". (Yes I'm throwing in superficial tripe, but homing in on a very me way of thinking to reason with some people).

Other thing: does anyone want a political party actively stating who they can or cannot talk to (or integrate with)? Who do you trust more, you or a politican?

In 1924 the Nazi party got 6.5% of the vote. In 2009, BNP gets 6.2%. Fascism always starts somewhere.

And what did we fight WW2 for? By voting BNP people are metaphorically pissing on the graves of those people who gave up their lives so you could have freedom.

Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...


I don’t necessarily think you are wrong, but as per your comments on Radio Wales – it is the right-wing peddling the line that we ‘have non-existant border controls’. That is false and a dangerous falsehood in the hands of the BNP.

Please indicate where we do not have border controls? Please also refer to the times where the Tory party has complained at how OTT the border controls are at airports and the like.

You peddle the myths for the BNP to use.

Frank H Little said...

My general approach is to ignore the BNP, as far as possible.

Unfortunately, they have now got too big to ignore. While the media treated them as a joke, it was possible to dismiss their outrageous assertions. Now that they are regarded as a regular party by TV and the local press, we have to answer them. Otherwise, they proclaim silence as indicating acceptance of their claims.

Perhaps I'm biased, in that I am on the front line, as are all Neath candidates. The BNP has targeted the constituency because the Labour incumbent has been the leading political standard-bearer against racism. Whatever one says about the latter years of Peter Hain, he will always be remembered, and deserves to be, for his campaign to ostracise the apartheid regime in South Africa.

The European voting figures for Neath make uncomfortable reading.

Bonetired said...

As long as the odious BNP are a legal party then they have a right not only to stand for elections and also to take their seats if they win (having said that I am not sure if they would reciprocate to other parties if they were in power).

And that is the problem. We cannot just pretend that they are not there but on the other hand we cannot (to use that well worn cliche) give them the oxygen of publicity.

In my view the best way of dealing with them is avoid giving people the excuse to vote for them., to prevent the situations occurring when the extremist thrive.

Easier said than done? Probably but one can but try

Glyn Davies said...

Neal - Thank you. Politicians are not receiving too many comments like that at the moment.

VFTG - This is not an easy issue. Even though I tend to say what I think, I'm extremely careful with my words when the subject is anything to do with immigration or racism. Must admit that I've never been involved in public debate with the BNP. If I were to be, I would want their representative to speak without any interuption from me. What I think this election result might do is encourage mainstream parties to speak more openly about immigration.

Alison - I realise its easy to be angry, but the way to defeat the BNP is to allow them to try to explain the rationale of their policies. Almost no-one in Britain would sign up to the quote from its constitution that you quote. Its just such a ridiculous thing to say. But becoming angry and shouting them down makes them seem 'victim' rather than 'racist bully'.

Marcus - Did not realise it was you - and I was given no chance to respond on the programme. Your point is taking the debate too far from the point of my post, and what I hope I said. My view is that we have become so afraid of discussing immigration, because of the fear of being branded 'racist' that we have left the issue open for BNP exploitation. About two years ago I recall being in discussion with a group of friends whose view was that 'Nick Grifin is talking sense'. Well he wasn't, but he was talking about what bothered them. The point I try to make is that since the underestimate of the level of immigration that followed the rights of EU citizens to come to the UK to work was so shockingly under-estimated, almost no-one believes Government assurances, and believe that the UK have almost open borders. Perhaps you speak with different people from me, but that is what I hear. A debate about the actual levels and controls is a seperate issue, which I may post on when I have time.

Frank - I agree that we have to take the growth of the BNP seriously, but our challenge must be based on exposing their arguments rathere than shouting them down. Interviewers should allow them to explain their policies rather than interupt them, which saves them from explanation.

Bonetired - In general, I think we are of one mind about this. I have always tried to ignore the BNP completely, but by this post its clear that I'm changing my position somewhat. We need to be a lot smarter than simply being outraged and disgusted by them. In my view, the BNP have, in effect, made it crucial that mainsteam parties discuss issues such as the appropriate level of population and immigration. These issues matter to too many people for us to steer clear of them.

Alison said...

Glyn - people are still voting, which means they are endorsing BNP's constitution. And those people who did not vote through apathy are just as bad. For every BNP vote, 29 people did not vote.

The constitution, my quote is from page 3 (right column, point B):

I suggest people take a read of it before they decide they cannot be bothered to vote at the next elections.

Alison said...

Sorry I don't want to flood this thread, so last comment from me. Just read this blog post and it provides a start for analysis:

Found via Twitter.

Anonymous said...

Great to see Nick Griffin being pelted with eggs today - getting a taste of his own medicine.

I tend to think this is a wake up call for the mainstream parties to take on the thorny issue of immigration.

It's all very well for us in our comfortable, middle class, predominately white areas to take the moral stand against racism, but I wonder how we would feel if our children went to a school where they are the minority?

Please don't misunderstand me, I abhor racism, but there are people out there who do see an erosion of the "British" way of life (whatever that is) and as no other political party has taken on board this issue, they have turned to the BNP who are only glad to fan the flames.

Glyn Davies said...

Alison - people are voting for the BNP without knowing what party stands for. That's why its important to let them tell us. I do not think many people would then support such a party.

Anon - I do not agree with you. It might be enjoyable to see the eggs fly, but all that will do is increase support for the BNP. However, I do agree with you that we canot allow the concerns of people who live in areas of social tension, particularly where associated with cultural differances to be addressed only by the BNP. Often these areas have looked to the Labour Party, but over recent years have looked and found little response.

Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...


Yes that valleys commando voice belongs to me.

The problem is though Glyn, when your initial salvo on the debate is 'we have no border controls' then we aren't likely to have a sensible debate are we?

I do think we have been too insular in debating immigration, I genuinely do. But until we are at least at a point of reasoned facts as our starting point, it is difficult to see that changing.

Bonheddwr said...

Glyn, the problem is that politicians, especially Tories and Labour, make excuses for the people who voted for the BNP.

Politicians should say clearly that there is no excuse. Everyone knows what the BNP stand for. If you vote BNP you are a racist.

Only then will people stop voting for these fascists.

This image makes the point much better than i ever could -

Anonymous said...

Stupid comments by politicians such as 'we have no border controls' Glyn only give credence to the views of racist parties such as the BNP. Please engage in grown up discussion, not pathetic (and un-true) slogans!