Of all Britain’s political parties, the BNP bring the giggles, no doubt about that. I’m not suggesting that race hate is a laughing matter, merely pointing out that over the past two years or so, they have entertained me a great deal.
I attend an extremely liberal university. I am surrounded by the trappings of liberalism and laissez-faire education, so it is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone is in perfect agreement: racism is bad, sexism is bad, Tories are (almost) worse. This is not the case across the nation. NUS (motto: student power, what a shower) elections do not reflect the wide range of ideological battlegrounds that occur in general elections. There is no candidate for the NUS Treasurer who advocates the ‘stringing up’ of perverts as it’s ‘the only language they understand’. Not once have I seen a potential student representative call for the university’s international students to be sent packing back to their homeland. Yet in many parliamentary seats, there are candidates that advocate such policies.
They interest me so much I’m writing my dissertation about them. For those not in the know, a dissertation is a massive essay about a subject of your choosing and is usually the point in higher education when each student thinks “This shit just got real”. It causes third years to spend night after night in the library, drinking enough Red Bull to fly to the moon and back. I have seen the effect it has had on others. For a few weeks, they are bleary-eyed, tetchy, jumpy and irritable. It’s like living in a house full of stroppy teenagers who have had their Wi-Fi disconnected.
The question I ask is: has the BNP become more mainstream since being elected to the European Parliament in 2009? Has being invited on to panel shows like Question Time, hence giving them a slither of reputability, meant that they have diluted some of their extreme views? Or have they used the platform to bolster their campaigns?
When Nick Griffin was invited on to David Dimbleby’s weekly political roasting, I was disappointed by the reaction to the invite. Protesters marched to BBC Television Centre, demanding he forfeits his place. But as I pointed out to anyone who would listen, the first pillar of fascism is not giving everyone a voice. I’m sad to say that Griffin is a democratically elected politician so he has every right to appear on such shows. Besides, when you are as pathetic as Mr. Griffin, it smacks of suicide. Give ‘em enough rope.
I am studying interviews with the leader from the past decade. Has his language become more conciliatory or inflammatory? He is asked in one interview about his views on the Holocaust, having been a ‘denier’ in the 90s. He says he no longer argues with the numbers but despises the “industry” that has built up around the Holocaust. I know Nick, I can barely move in my house for Auschwitz key chains. During ‘BNP Wives’, a documentary on Sky about the role of spouses in the party, one wife said “I hate it when people say I’m a Holocaust denier. I’m not… I dispute the numbers”. Oh that’s alright then. I didn’t realise you were the Carol Vordeman of Holocaust death-counting.
What does become apparent is the media’s role in helping Griffin and his ilk. In one interview he reads verbatim from The Sun about immigrants in Calais waiting to claim benefits in Britain. It’s no wonder people might consider voting for him when the press prints exaggerated stories about asylum seekers claiming the right to live in the annex of Buckingham Palace, demanding three servants and chauffeur on pain of death.
Without doubt my favourite Griffin quote comes when he is discussing energy. “We believe that Britain needs a serious nuclear power plant… if, for that, we need to import a Japanese physicist and his family, obviously we do so”. This rests on the assumption that a Japanese physicist will want to live in the UK when it is run by a party that hates foreigners. It would be as strange as leaving for Russia and writing “I’m here to investigate the death of Alexander Litvinyenko” on your visa application.
He does do a nice line in collective community organisation though, forgetting for one moment that he is on the hard right. He raves about co-operatives like Waitrose which “do a good job”, which is like a committed Marxist saying “everything and everyone should be treated and paid equally, except for that nice boss of Debenhams because they make lovely cotton socks”.
My view? Nick Griffin has tried hard to detoxify the party’s image but we’re dealing with views so potent they are basically radioactive. And what do we do with radioactive waste? Dump it in reinforced bunkers in unpopulated areas. That sounds like a fair solution for all concerned.