It's hardly breaking news that the British [sic] National Party are a bunch of racist goons. But it's a little unsettling to see a Tory MP such as Eric Pickles* suggest that "They are going to be a very serious force in British politics and the mainstream political parties have got to get their act together and start confronting them."
On that latter point, we can agree. But, again, the suggestion that the BNP are going to become a force, let alone a serious one, in British politics gives these clowns much more credit than they merit and does a grave disservice to the collective wisdom and decency of the electorate.
Take, for instance, the claim made by the BNP's Andrew Brons (MEP, alas) that Kelly Holmes, double Olympic gold medallist and born in Britain,"is only partially from this country, even if she is an integrated member of the community." I guess we should be happy that Brons accepts that mixed-race or ethnic minority Britons can become "integrated" - though that point is rather undermined by his declaration that "I don't accept the term Black British or Asian British. Britons are the indigenous peoples of these isles."
In other words, the BNP are a bunch of unreconstructed racists. Who knew? The larger point is that these people cannot help condemning themselves with their own words. And unless and until they can find a smarter sort of racist they're not going to thrive in British politics. Does anyone seriously believe that, given even semi-credible alternatives, the BNP is going to become a force, let alone a serious one, in British politics?
The only way that can happen is if the mainstream parties are gutless enough to pander to the BNP. But if you pander to racists then you can't be surprised if voters, alas, decide they'd rather vote for the real racists than the pretend bigots. Happily, even then I trust the good folk of this country not to fall for the BNP's rancid politics.
And yet ministers and opposition politicians seem only too happy to help the BNP. Because that's what scaremongering on immigration and other, related, matters amounts to. Immigrants are not taking "British" jobs; nor is there compelling evidence to support the notion that immigration reduces living standards for "indigenous" Britons. What one may say is that the economic figures are a wash, leaving one to be happy that this country has provided opportunities for people from other countries to better themselves. That's something to celebrate, not bemoan.
In any case, the BNP are not going to do terribly well in any election people care about. Yes, one would be happier if they had not won seats in the european parliament but I'd wager that it will be nigh on impossible for the BNP to prevail in any election in which the turnout is more than 50%. Pretending that these morons are important enough to merit being pandered to would be a terrible development.
Let them talk: the more they are heard, the more revolting they will seem. Because they are vile. And the British people - of whatever background - are wise enough to appreciate this. Ultimately, the only way to legitimise the BNP is to treat their "concerns" serisously. That would give them the credibility their own words and actions do so much to undermine. Kill them with oxygen, not pandering.
UPDATE: Clark Hogan-Taylor has a good and sensible post on how to defeat the BNP. It ain't rocket science and nor should we build them up as some kind of collection of marauding political bogeymen.
*Standard immigration and BNP caveat: it is of course easier to think this while ensconsed in rural Selkirkshire than it might be were one in Essex or Lancashire. Nonetheless, the point stands.