BY JAMIE FOSTER
The BNP’s last elected official has announced that he is stepping down at the next election in May and will be voting Labour. Brian Parker, from Pendle in Lancashire, is a borough councillor. He has written to the electorate and told them that Jeremy Corbyn is not a warmonger like Mrs May. He says that non interference in other countries is BNP policy. He also says that Labour councillors were grown up enough to work with him but Conservative councillors wouldn’t even speak to him.
Andrew Stephenson, the Tory MP for Pendle, says it is fantastic that the BNP was losing its last councillor and would no longer be a political force in the country. It perhaps should come as no surprise that Labour would have far more in common with the BNP than the Conservatives. The BNP were classed as a far right party but like all far right parties they had more in common with the far left then the right wing. Most of their policies involved a big state solution to the problems they envisaged. They appealed to the same working class electorate that Labour appeals to. Labour will be looking to hoover up the voters left behind by the collapse of the BNP.
It is hard to think of the BNP as anything but an anachronism. The time has passed when white racism was a driving force in British politics. The truth is that, while immigration levels are a concern for many, skin colour isn’t in the way that it used to be. The BNP is a reflection of an uglier time when white people in Britain disliked their neighbours based on skin colour. Those times are behind us. That is not to say that racism has disappeared entirely. Institutional racism still exists in many forms. The Windrush generation scandal shows that the cards are still not stacked the same, white or black. It is impossible to imagine a white section of the population being treated as badly by a government office. Nonetheless in the general, public racism is now a minority concern, the vast majority having moved on.
There is just not the underlying fear and dislike for parties like the BNP to profit from. New parties of the far right are anti islamist in tone rather than more generically racist. In this way we are unlike our European neighbours who still manage to support traditionally racist far right parties as part of their political makeup. This can only be a good thing. As a country we have grown more tolerant over the years and have accepted people who look differently to us into the fold. I appreciate that young black people may still have the experience of racism but it has clearly changed since the 70s and 80s when racism was a mainstream problem.
So here at Country Squire Magazine we applaud the death of the BNP as a political force. It was only ever an embarrassment stirring hatred and discord where none needed to be.
Labour should be very careful about sopping up the leftovers of the BNP. Labour already has an antisemitism problem which is unlikely to be helped by the influx of racists from the collapsed party. The conversation around immigration is also unlikely to be helped by ex BNP voices chiming in to cause trouble and dissent. Labour should also ask itself how it has reached a place where they are the natural party to receive support from the BNP in its death throes. What has Corbyn and Momentum done to the party to mean that racists feel welcome and an affinity to the party? Is Labour still a mainstream party or has it transmogrified into something else? Is it now a place where the kooks and the loons feel at home? This is an existential question for Labour as it moves forward.
No more BNP councillors is like removing graffiti from our public life. It let us carry on with a higher tone. Let’s hope Labour doesn’t lower that tone. Time for the Labour moderates to get together and do a spot of house cleaning for their own for the sake of the party and the country.