Peter Hoskin

How the BNP are campaigning

How the BNP are campaigning
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Given the very real prospect that the BNP will make some sort of mark on next month's elections, I'd recommend you read Martin Fletcher's article in the Times today.  He offers not only an effective portrait on a recesson-hit town - in this case, Barnsley - but an insight into how the disgusting nationalist group are going about their campaign.  The key point is that, despite the misleading "far-right" designation that's slapped on them, the BNP are targetting - and are capturing - traditional Labour voters:

"Mr Griffin expresses sympathy for the 1984 miners strike, triggered by the closure of the Cortonwood colliery in Barnsley. He denounces the Government’s privatisation programme. He accuses Labour of crushing ordinary people to ensure maximum profit for its corporate financiers. 'It has sold out,' he thunders. 'The old Labour Party is dead. Long live the new party for British workers — the BNP.'

...

It is a remarkable speech for the leader of a far-right party: large chunks of it could have been delivered by Barnsley’s very own Arthur Scargill.

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But many of Barnsley’s 220,000 inhabitants remain wedded to 'old Labour', and feel betrayed by a 'new Labour' Government that has — they believe — forgotten its working-class roots and ceased fighting for the underdog as its members milk the public purse."
Relatedly, this passage rather jumped out at me, and it should jump out at Gordon Brown too:

"Barnsley’s BNP is well organised, well funded and active at grassroots level. It claims to have put 65,000 leaflets through letterboxes last year, and mans a stall in the town centre market every Saturday where it promises 'British jobs for British people'."

A final point: the article quotes one of Barnsley's Labour MP's, Eric Illsley, lamenting how the BNP "exaggerates people's fears and worries". My take is that it's all very well Westminster politicians railing against the BNP's tactics and message - there is good cause to.  But that shouldn't detract the main parties from getting their own houses in order as well.  This is why Norman Tebbit's intervention today has some power.  If there's anything fuelling the rise of extremist parties at the moment, it is - as this today's Populus poll shows - the disgraceful actions of our parliamentarians.