The Great Debate UK
- James Graham is the Campaigns and Communications Manager of Unlock Democracy The opinions expressed are his own. -
The rise of the far right in Britain is not a sign that people are flirting with fascism but a signal that disengagement has reached a crisis point.
The BNP’s rise has been slow but relentless over a 20-year period. The big turning point was actually the 2001 general election when Nick Griffin got 16 percent of the vote in the Oldham West constituency following a series of riots around the north of England. In 2003, they became the second largest party in Burnley, a trick they repeated in Barking and Dagenham in 2006 and Stoke on Trent in 2008. The election of Richard Barnbrook to the Greater London Assembly last year made it clear that they were in the running to make gains in the European Elections. If anything, the big surprise is that their gains were as limited as they were.
But there are a number of things to note about this. First of all, their success under Nick Griffin has been rooted in successfully presenting themselves as a non-racist and non-fascist party. Their deep fascist and Nazi links are apparent to anyone who does a bit of research but they have become adept at presenting themselves on the doorstep as something else.