David Blackburn

The BNP’s appropriation of British institutions must be resisted

The BNP’s appropriation of British institutions must be resisted
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Hardly a day passes without Nick Griffin cosying up to a poster of Churchill and the Few. Valour provides potent nationalist imagery, but Griffin has no right to it – as his distinctly ambiguous stance on the Ghurkhas’ residency rights makes clear. This morning, senior officers, in conjunction with Nothing British, condemned Griffin’s opportunism:  

We, the undersigned, are increasingly concerned that the reputation of Britain’s Armed Services is being tarnished by political extremists who are attempting to appropriate it for their own dubious ends.

We deplore this trend for two reasons.

First, the values of these extremists - many of whom are essentially racist - are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military such as tolerance and fairness. Commonwealth soldiers, who comprise about 10% of the Services, represent an invaluable contribution to the success of Britain’s military, both in history and the current day. Many have won the highest awards.

Second, the reputation of our Armed Forces was won over centuries of service in some of the most difficult areas of the world. Political extremists should claim no right to share in this proud heritage.

We call on all those who seek to hi-jack the good name of Britain’s military for their own advantage to cease and desist.

General The Lord Guthrie GCB, LVO, OBE, DL

General Sir Mike Jackson GCB, CBE, DSO, DL

General Sir Richard Dannatt GBC, CBE, MC

Major-General Patrick Cordingley DSO’

I doubt that the forces’ reputation is being tarnished because the BNP’s arguments are so muddle-headed - it’s a delicious irony that the Spitfire above was flown by a Pole. But much of the BNP's success has come on the back of appropriating populist imagery, and the armed forces, veterans’ associations and the Churches must do more to challenge the BNP's disingenuousness from a conservative and tolerant standpoint. As the Question Time debate nears, I can’t help thinking that the BBC would have done better to pit an establishment figure, such as Archbishop Sentamu, against Griffin rather than Bonnie Greer, whose metropolitan liberalism is a natural target for Griffin and his supporters.