Has everyone turned ultra-nationalist overnight? Not really. The BNP got fewer votes in the North West than at the last Euro elections in 2004, but fewer people voted overall and they scraped in with 8% of the total. Nationwide their vote grew by only 1%. The BNP aren’t as popular as the results might suggest, but the win will give them lots of publicity and prestige – it’s a big success for them.
How has this happened? Dig deeper than election maths and you hit the Labour Party. Labour was established at the turn of the 20th century to give voice in parliament to the working class majority and push for equality. Labour at the turn of the 21st Century is different. They’ve cuddled up to big business and started using the policies this demands. The consequences are clear. Data from the Department for Work and Pensions shows the gap between rich and poor in Britain is greater now than at any time since records began. Promises to halve child poverty by 2010 have failed miserably – nearly three million children still live on less than 60% of average income. The bank bailouts are among the largest transfers of wealth from poor to rich in human history – to make sure banks still turn profits, each person in the UK is liable for at least £20,000. Where was this money when it came to child poverty?
There’s no major party representing the interests of the low income majority any more. The BNP have taken aim at this political vacuum, targeting the poorest areas and scapegoating migrants for the problems people face.
But really, the BNP don’t feed off the despair of poorer people (most aren’t so easily fooled), they thrive off accepted mainstream prejudice. The BNP’s demonisation of ‘sponging illegal migrants’ wouldn’t look out of place at the Home Office. Their fearmongering about ‘Islamic extremists’ taking over isn’t far removed from that of the police (see page 15). And while the BNP talk about ‘cracking down’ on migrants and Muslims, Labour have been locking up and deporting thousands of vulnerable people (see page 7), and killing hundreds of thousands of Muslim people in Aghanistan and Iraq.
Labour’s response to the BNP’s success has been attempted blackmail: apparently either we put up with Labour, or face the BNP. The BNP are a growing threat, but for now they’re still nutters on the margins to most people – the real threat to our freedom and safety, right here and now, comes from ‘legitimate’ and ‘respectable’ politicians pushing schemes like the ID database (see page 8). The solutions to all these problems are clearly going to have to come from outside the status quo.