I really want to celebrate the fact that I was among the voters in the UK’s North West region who re-elected Chris Davies of the Liberal Democrats as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). At some point, later in the day, I am sure I will. Right now however I am angry that Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party (BNP) is one of our eight MEPs.
The North West win has not come as a surprise. In the run up to the election nearly every other party tried to convince the electorate that a vote for them would count as an anti-BNP vote. The threat of a BNP win was real. What is unreal is this seeming unwillingness to accept that there are racist people in the UK (at least 132,094 live in the North West) and that on June 4th these racist people exercised their democratic right and duly sent not one but two -Nazis to represent the rest of us in Brussels.
Apparently all this is the fault of the mainstream political parties. It was they who alienated and excluded “regular voters” from the political and democratic process. That the BNP win is a direct result of the frustration that “regular voters” feel and have felt for a long time – they have expressed this frustration by way of a protest vote.
Rubbish. Utter rubbish.
Firstly, if Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are deemed mainstream political parties, the remaining eight options on the North West ballot paper should have provided sufficient choice for those seeking an alternative view. Failing that, the right to invalidate one’s ballot paper is the ultimate protest vote but it comes as no surprise that BNP voters did not take this course of action. Those who voted in favour of Griffin’s party were not protesting; they were endorsing a hate group that has unfortunately been allowed to masquerade as a political party.
Secondly, to assume that a sense of disillusionment and disenfranchisement is reason enough for a “regular voter” to lend his or her support to a hate group is a leap in a logic that I am unwilling to take. Unless of course regular voters” is code name for “racist, homophobic and xenophobic white voters.”
If the BNP’s relative success in the European Parliamentary Election shall be discussed along the lines of finding fault and apportioning blame then I have no problem in placing all the blame on the BNP voters around the UK but in particular those in the North West and York and Humber region.
Whatever forms the discussion will take; there is no room for those who argue that the BNP supporters are unaware of the party’s racist, homophobic and xenophobic beliefs, or that BNP voter is well meaning but ill educated person who has been duped. If condemnation for the BNP party is (almost) universal then the same should be true of its supporters.
We certainly should not attempt to portray them as victims; they seem to be doing a good job of it themselves. Listening to Nick Griffin citing the Race Relations Act as the basis of potential law suits against employers who sack BNP supporters is reason enough for us to raise the level of the debate surrounding the BNP and its existence as a political party.
One reason why I detest the BNP so much is because I, like so many others, can see through the name change that transformed the National Front into its present form. Comparisons have been made between the BNP and the Ku Klux Klan and I could not agree more with these comparisons. Yet unlike the KKK, the BNP has been granted political party status, which has resulted in what Mshairi describes as a schizophrenic relationship between the rest of the nation and the party and its supporters.
That is why on the one hand the BNP can appear on a ballot paper yet its members are denied the right to openly associate with their party of choice. It is the same flawed logic that saw the other North West MEPs refuse to share a stage with Nick Griffin as he gave his victory speech despite the fact that they will be sharing a forum in Brussels.
I think our leaders and law makers need to decide where they stand on the issue of the BNP and should that day ever come, I hope they are bold enough to place BNP in the same category as all other hate groups and revoke their political party status. Until that time our discussion of the BNP and its increasing support be limited by this rather bizarre cycle of misplaced blame and unwarranted empathy.