The British National Party Goes Straight
By Robert Locke (10/20/05)
The depth of the crisis facing Israel and other Western nations from Moslem terrorism, and more profoundly from Moslem immigration, is such that some unconventional political allies deserve a glance they would not otherwise merit. The small hard-right nationalist parties of Europe are among them, if only because they are sometimes the only political forces that are serious about this crisis in nations where the mainstream left is deluded and the mainstream right feckless.
The destruction of America by mass immigration is mirrored in most Western nations. The temptations of cheap labor for the business class that dominates rightist parties, and of electoral cannon fodder for the permanent-government class that dominates leftist parties, are the same everywhere. Even Israel has been affected, in the form of a not-so-secret addiction to cheap Arab labor that has created behind-the-scenes pressures to hang onto a dangerous population.
Although mainstream anti-immigration groups in most Western nations have had no particular association with anti-Semitism in recent years, this has unfortunately not been true of the political parties that have taken opposition to immigration as their raison d'être. With some exceptions, these parties -- which exist in all Western nations except Ireland and the USA -- have tended to base themselves on old-school ethno-nationalism that is at best suspicious of Jews, and at worst sympathetic to Hitlerism
But this is, fortunately, changing, which may eventually make such parties useful participants in the Clash of Civilizations. Let's take Britain as our example, and look at the changes in the British National Party (http://www.bnp.org.uk
The BNP's origins are utterly unpleasant. It began as something called the National Front (NF) in the late 1960's, a noisy and occasionally violent protest group known for shaven heads and combat boots. If the NF wasn't formally Nazi -- this is Britain, after all, within living memory of the Blitz -- it clearly at least sympathized with Nazism. It was correct about immigration -- for which there is absolutely no conceivable reason in a small overcrowded island like Britain -- but otherwise a colorful horror show. Its rump version (natfront.org.uk) still exists, and its founder, John Tyndall, recently died, unrepentant to the last.
The NF had no lasting accomplishments, though it was at one point in the early 70's the 4th-largest political movement in Britain, after Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Party. But in the late 1990's, elements of the British National Party, as a faction of the NF had renamed itself, sought to break out of fringe politics and go mainstream. They believed the country needed to be saved from immigration and the submersion of Britain in the EU before it was too late.
Objectively, the immigration situation in the UK is not as bad as in the US, though deteriorating fast. Britain is currently 93% British, but decaying at about 1% per year. At present rates of immigration and demographic change, the British people will be a minority in Britain by 2050, as they already are in London. The present Blair government has done everything it can, lawfully and unlawfully, to increase immigration.
In the BNP, matters came to a head in a leadership struggle in 1999, in which the aforementioned Mr. Tyndall was ousted and replaced by Nick Griffin, a charismatic Cambridge-educated lawyer. Griffin set about reshaping the party into an organization capable of waging mainstream politics without abandoning its core convictions.
The party's core conviction has always been, in whatever incarnation, a fairly straightforward "Britain for the British" message: foreigners out, national sovereignty in. What is new is that today it is, by world standards, a fairly conventional right-wing populist ethno-nationalist party, having abandoned the fascistic trappings, tendency to violence, and weird obsessions that once characterized it.
The party's transformation is not wholly complete as of this writing. Some of the rank-and-file membership is clearly not as far along as its leadership. But, after four years of reform, the BNP seems to have managed a decisive break with its past and become a credible "major minor party," as they say in Britain. (In the UK, minor parties are considerably more important than in the US, both electorally and ideologically, though not as important as in Israel.)
The BNP's new ideological complexion is generally denied by its opponents, both on the left and on the establishment "right," which is as hostile to serious nationalism as the Republican Party in the US. But it seems to be real. The accusations of "sell-out" hurled at present BNP leadership by devotees of the old ways make this clear, if nothing else does.
It would seem, in fact, that there is no longer any basis to consider the party outside the scope of legitimate democratic politics - begging, of course, the question whether even truly noxious parties should be banned, if we take democracy seriously. Such participation is something the party's opponents, from the Blair government on down, are trying to deny it, sometimes in ways that raise questions about Britain's claim to be democratic.
When last in the UK, I interviewed chairman Nick Griffin about his party at his farmhouse in the mountains of Wales, soaking wet from opening farm gates in the rain but gradually drying out in front of his fireplace. The root change, as he saw it, was the change from being centered on hating foreigners to being centered on a love of one's own country. As he put it,
"At the end of the day, it's always the positive agendas that win in politics. Anger about what is being done to this country is legitimate, but mere anger just leads to hooliganism and political impotence. It attracts angry activists who can't behave themselves or articulate an agenda, and once you've milked the public's resentments, you've got nothing more to offer them and you stall politically. It's the positive vision of a restored and redeemed Britain that's the key for us now."
In the last year or so, the BNP has completed the final stages of its ideological reforms. The three big things that had to go were anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and fascist-socialist economics. To wit:
1. The BNP has now evolved to the point where it doesn't have any significant antagonism towards Jews as such, or towards Israel. Unlike the left, it has no interest in Palestinians or the larger Arab cause, and it takes the Islamic threat seriously. It has zero inclination to actively side against Israel, simply because it really wants to have nothing to do with the Middle East at all. Griffin said:
"As nationalists, our duty is to work to build a better country for our own people, not to worry about or interfere in the affairs of others. The Middle East is simply not our problem or our business."
To some extent, this attitude just reflects the fact that ethno-nationalist parties ultimately reflect, naturally enough, the national characters of the nations they represent. Britain, although snobbish, is simply not a particularly anti-Semitic culture by European standards. It has historically had, going back to Benjamin Disraeli's tenure as Prime Minister in the 1870's, a greater presence of Jews on the political right than, say, the US or France, let alone Russia or Germany. Thatcher had a lot more Jewish support in her country than Reagan had in the US.
This attitude is also a reflection of the fact that Britain's great religious enemy right now, Islam, is not only obviously not Jewish, but is itself an obvious enemy of Jews, and thus tends to put British and Israeli nationalists on the same side of a global struggle. And the BNP is immensely serious about fighting the Islamification of Britain. As Griffin put it,
"We are deeply concerned about the mainly -- though not exclusively - French elite project to morph the EU, Turkey and the Mahgreb into 'Eurabia'. Bat Y'eor is 100% right about this. If this now far-advanced scheme comes to fruition then it would in turn lead to the Islamification of the whole European continent. A generation ago the revival of the historic Islamic threat to Europe would have been unthinkable; now it is clearly destined to be the great issue and decision of our time. For us, the closely linked threats of mass Third World immigration and Islamification outweigh all other considerations.
On the specific question of anti-Semitism, Griffin said this:
"Look -- we have very serious enemies in this country, both at home and abroad. If you're going to go with that old [National Front] nonsense of Jews under every bed and responsible for all the ills of the world, then you're going to have a crazy strategic vision of who you're fighting and what to do about it. The idea that 'the Jew is the enemy' is simply over for us now, and not a moment too soon, because now we can get on with the real struggles."
He qualified this by saying:
"We insist on the right to criticize individual Jews who do wrong or Jewish groups which use the influence and power that all organized and motivated groups have to lobby, for example, for British foreign policy to take directions at odds with our national interest. But there is a world of difference between such criticism and the old fantasies about Learned Elders of Zion controlling the world, and the rabid anti-Semitism that they reflect and incite."
Clearly, this qualification is elastic, and could be abused. But one notes that it would rule out, if sincere, even a Pat Buchanan level of anti-Israelism or anti-Semitism. And the BNP does seem to have dropped the Jewish Conspiracy angle: while it opposed the Iraq war, and did complain about Jews who lobbied for Britain to fight in it, this was not generalized into attacks on the Jewish community as such and was peripheral to blaming the war on Tony Blair and the pursuit of oil.
One sign of this reformed attitude towards Jews is that the BNP not only has Jewish members, but even has a Jewish officeholder: Councilor Pat Richardson, elected last year by residents of the borough of Epping Forest, just north of London.
2. The old National Front had been suspicious towards the United States as a foreign power occupying Britain, an antagonism muted during the Cold War by fanatic anti-communism. But the BNP has now adopted a foreign-policy stance whose self-described essence is "staying out of trouble," i.e. avoiding foreign conflicts. So while it is unwilling to fight wars on behalf of the US, it has rejected doctrinaire anti-Americanism. It even suggested, in its official 2005 manifesto, that it would allow American military bases to remain on British soil -- albeit, it seems, reluctantly and on account of realpolitik considerations of not wanting to provoke American opposition and needing a counterbalance to the power of continental Europe.
3. The BNP was originally, and until recently, at heart a socialist party with an economic policy based on 1930's fascist models that have largely been forgotten outside far-right fringe movements. The party's generally working-class orientation (its voters are largely alienated white working class; its leadership is generally upper-working-class with a sprinkling of the exceptionally independent-minded highly educated) made socialism natural, as did its early recognition that mass immigration to Britain was largely driven by business interests. However, Margaret Thatcher killed the credibility of socialism in Britain, so the party has since moved towards a form of economic nationalism that combines worker-owned ESOP capitalism (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) with an admiration for the paternalistic developmental economics of East Asian nations like Japan and the Asian "tigers."
Economics has not generally been the center of its message, but may become more prominent if Britain suffers a serious recession, which seems to be impending. The party has for some time been accusing the present government of selling out the nation's long-term economic future, so it probably stands to benefit from a downturn.
Despite these changes, the party is still handicapped by its past, simply because its pre-reform era remains a recent memory in the mind of the British public. Its opponents can still plausibly, if inaccurately, call it "fascist" and bring up past violent incidents of its supporters. Although it is impossible to quantify with absolute confidence, probably 10-15% of currently reported incidents are actually real, the rest being either a) ancient history, b) wholly fabricated, c) exaggerated, d) perpetrated by other organizations, e) routine working-class rowdiness, or f) speech crimes and other offences that would not be considered crimes at all in the US.
Given that the British government is known to employ agents provocateurs, given the interest of the British race-relations industry in fabricating or exaggerating incidents to justify its own power, and given the plethora of left-wing groups involved in seeking, stirring up, or faking trouble, one must apply some discount to what one hears about the BNP. Equally, one must remember that some of these stories are true. But given that the ruling Labour Party still has its labor-union thugs and the Conservatives its crooked businessmen, it is doubtful that the BNP is more indictable for lawlessness than the major parties.
The British voting public -- which is deeply dissatisfied with the mainstream political establishment in Britain and eager for alternatives to listen to, if not actually vote for -- seems to be gradually, and with due skepticism, picking up on the fact that the BNP has changed. This will take longer with the political and journalistic establishment, which has a vested interest in keeping this newly-mainstream political competitor "beyond the pale." When the BNP isn't criticizing the destruction of Britain by immigration and the EU, it is usually, criticizing the incompetence, corruption, and fraudulence of the present government and opposition, something that hardly endears it to them.
The BNP has accused Tony Blair's ruling Labour government of waging an empty war on terror. It has accused this government of ignoring supposedly effective solutions, like establishing effective border controls and ending Moslem immigration, and resorting instead to measures that either make the problem worse, like invading Iraq, or amount to mere power grabs and authoritarian posturing. It has claimed that while the government's proposed new anti-terror law will violate legal due process and the rights of the accused, this government has so vitiated the police with political correctness that it is unable to enforce existing laws with ethnic minorities. It has argued that without serious enforcement of such laws against crimes like illegal immigration, people smuggling, illegal weapons, ordinary gangsterism, and drug smuggling, any anti-terror effort is doomed from the start, because such non-political crimes are the foundation of terrorist operations.
The BNP has also opposed the government's attempts to abolish such basic legal rights as trial-by-jury even for non-terrorist cases. It has a curious de facto ideological alliance on such questions with some British civil libertarians, which extends to its opposition to national identification cards and other illiberal measures.
In the May 2005 British election, the BNP hounded the opposition Conservatives with accusations of insincerity in their pledge to reduce immigration. As this pledge has been made and broken by successive Conservative governments for decades, this seems to have resonated with the public, and the BNP probably thus played at least a small role in Michael Howard's defeat. That British voting turnouts are at record lows suggests that the BNP's main electoral effect, thus far, has been to undermine public confidence in both major parties, despite not capturing a large vote for itself.
The BNP is subject to continuous harassment by the government, which subjects it to police surveillance and other measures that are quite surprising to learn of in a democratic nation -- though similar things are, of course, done in Israel to dissident parties. Arbitrary arrests of its leadership, seizures of party literature, interference with its bank accounts, and attempts to fire its members from public-sector employment are routine. This harassment may subside in future, if the party's new-found legitimacy becomes more widely recognized, or it may not, probably depending on how much public sympathy it wins.
Most Americans are unaware that British law makes it actually illegal to say things like,
"Islam is a wicked and evil faith,"
Which BNP chairman Griffin is soon to be on trial for saying, with real jail time as a possible outcome. Americans who admire Tony Blair because he consented to send Britain's tiny army to Iraq have no idea how terribly he is repressing basic freedom of speech at home. The penetration of European Union law into British law only makes things worse, based as it is on a Napoleonic tradition that lacks Anglo-American ideas about freedom of speech.
The BNP's effectiveness is enhanced by the existence of a "respectable" doppelganger, the United Kingdom Independence Party (ukip.org), which began as a quit-the-European-Union movement but has morphed into a polite bourgeois imitation of about 80% of what the BNP stands for. The mainstream political establishment seems to have deliberately promoted UKIP to steal the BNP's thunder, but then the respectability of UKIP has meant that the BNP's ideas, which are mostly similar, can no longer be dismissed as fringe. And the BNP has "street cred" (credibility) with the alienated working class, which its genteel doppelganger doesn't, and Britain still being Britain, class still matters.
The EU is an aspiring superstate that aims to displace America from its dominant world position, if not become the outright nucleus of a world government. Recent popular votes in several European states against further EU integration have been answered by the EU establishment with plans to continue with the federal project regardless. It has been giving a billion Euros a year (roughly a billion dollars) to the Palestinian Authority, plus the legitimacy of recognition. The BNP's opposition to such funding, and to the EU itself, therefore places it in a very interesting position for anyone who cares about Israel. It is, at the very least, an interesting creature to watch, and not the monster it once was.
1. Locke, Robert, "Is Population Transfer the Solution to the Palestinian Problem -- And Some Others?," July 8, 2003,
2. Locke, Robert, Rethinking History: Were the Nazis Really Nationalists?" August 28, 2001, http://frontpagemag.com/articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=1280
5. Locke, Robert, "Abolish The European Union," June 5, 2002, http://frontpagemag.com/articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=1231
7. Locke, Robert, "Islam: A Defective Civilization?" February 28, 2002, http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=1237
9. Locke, Robe
rt, "Abolish The European Union," June 5, 2002, http://frontpagemag.com/articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=1231
10. Locke, Robert, "Conspiracy Theory and the National Question," July 24, 2004, http://www.bestwriters.com/good/archives/00000031.htm
Robert Locke resides in New York City, his archive is at http://www.robertlockearchive.com/
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