Neo-Nazi BNP win 13 council seats
(joint statement from YRE and ISR)
The neo-Nazi British National Party won 13 council
seats in the local elections on the first of May.
They now have 16 elected local councilors,
including 8 in Burnley, where the BNP's group is now the official opposition
to Labour with one more seat than the Liberal Democrats.
Elsewhere the BNP won 2 seats in Sandwell, one in
Dudley, one in Stoke-on-Trent, one in Broxbourne and another seat in
This does represent a certain political
breakthrough for the BNP, who have been struggling to hide their neo-Nazi
ideas in order to gain votes and new members, although they are still far
from becoming an important national force.
Many of the seats were won with very small
majorities, and they failed to make the breakthrough they were hoping for in
areas like Sunderland (where they stood 22 candidates but none were
The election of further BNP candidates is
dangerous, encouraging increasing divisions, racial tensions and prejudice
in local communities where the BNP have an influence.
The leaders and the key activists of the BNP are
neo-Nazis, people who believe that whites are superior to all other races
and whose ultimate aim is a Nazi dictatorship, like Hitler in Germany or
Mussolini and Italy, that can smash all working-class organisations and
They use racism and all other common forms of
prejudice, to divide working-class people and help big business and
capitalism to continue to exploit us all.
The BNP leadership have been trying for years to
build a far right party which can attract support beyond a few scattered
individuals. Time and time again they have failed, defeated by mass
movements against racism and fascism.
But, faced with a new political situation where
millions are alienated from the mainstream political parties and looking for
a way to punish the establishment, the BNP have attempted to 'rebrand'
themselves and lose the neo-Nazi image that held them back before.
The issue of asylum undoubtedly helped the BNP,
particularly the way that many mainstream newspapers and politicians have
linked it to the terrible level of local services (produced by years of cuts
and privatisation). BNP members have made no secret about how pleased they
are that their anti asylum seeker views are being 'legitimised' in this way
by the media and mainstream political parties.
In some areas, particularly relatively better off
areas with a mainly white population, racism was also a big factor in the
votes that the BNP were able to attract. However, most BNP voters are by no
means convinced neo-Nazis, or even support all of the BNP's public (very
watered-down) policy statements.
Just fed up
Esther Addley, writing about the BNP's campaign in
the Guardian on 30th April, commented:
'spend a few days in Dudley, and it becomes plain
that the people in this borough at least aren't sudden racist converts,
they are just fed up.
Their houses haven't been fixed quickly enough
and the roads don't get swept often enough and the youth centre on Meadow
Road is always shut and the estate office on Priory Road has been closed
down so all the old people have to walk an extra 500 metres up the hill to
pay their rent - and above all, Wren's Nest estate got lots of money from
a European fund to do it up, and Priory estate didn't, and the people on
the Priory aren't too happy about it.'
The vast majority of the population who are
eligible to vote donít vote in local elections, not seeing any point in
voting for careerist politicians who promise the world and then do exactly
the same as the party that were in before.
Punish the establishment
A large proportion of the BNP's new vote comes from
people who don't agree with the BNP on many issues that want to punish the
establishment and the careerist politicians who represent it.
Sadly any progress for the BNP, with their policies
of divisions and hatred, will make it harder for local communities to unite
in campaigns to improve services and put an end to the neglect that they
have suffered for years.
The establishment is uncomfortable at the growth of
the BNP and terrified that a new anti racist movement could develop in
response. The news has been full of New Labour and other mainstream
politicians arguing for people to vote for any of the three main parties,
whether you agreed with the or not, just in order to keep the BNP out. But
it is their unpopular policies that opened the door to the BNP.
Genuine left alternative
To halt the growth of the BNP we need to build an
anti racist movement and a genuine left alternative to the mainstream
political parties and the far right.
Such an alternative must take up the
bread-and-butter issues of jobs, housing, low pay and privatisation,
opposing the pro-big business policies of New Labour and the BNP with
working-class unity and the power of the trade union movement.
The potential for such a movement is shown by the
excellent results received by many left and socialist candidates in the
recent elections, though these have received nothing like the publicity from
the media that the BNP enjoy. Karen Mackay, one of the Socialist Party's
three councillors in Coventry was re-elected on first May, more than
doubling her majority.
The Scottish Socialist Party have won at least five
seats in the Scottish Parliament (counting is still going on), where they
previously held one. In Strathkelvin and Beardsden Jean Turner, a former GP
and anaesthetist stood as an independent in protest at the closure of the
local hospital and won a seat in the Scottish Parliament.
Leaflets and other campaigning material against the
BNP will be ready next week. For more information about what's going on in
your area, or how you can help with the campaign against the far right,
please get in touch.
Naomi Byron, secretary of Youth against Racism
Clare James, national organiser of International