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.