racism and politics
The far right exists in the United Kingdom, and
is presently a dangerous threat in communities such as Oldham. Jason
Wood looks at the British National Party and how much success it's
been having as of late.
What is the British National
The British National Party (BNP) was founded in
1980 by a former National Front (NF) member. The current Chairman, Nick Griffin
(a Cambridge Law graduate) was also involved with the NF until 1989. Griffin
strongly denies any links with the NF, citing them to be extremist factions and
the like. Analysts argue that the NF and BNP are always working side by side;
the NF doing the violence and protest, while the BNP intellectually chips in to
reap the rewards.
The BNP opposes what they call 'non-white'
immigration. Their number one policy commitment is to stop non-white
immigration, invite non-white settlers to return to their own 'ethnic land'.
They state in their policy brief that they have nothing against other ethnic
groups but want to the defend their British identity which they feel is
disappearing. They have an outlined manifesto with commitments to ending foreign
aid, whilst instigating 'national service' for young people in the armed forces.
Among their other commitments, they target health, the environment and other
political topics without any analysis. They are anti-European on integration and
would increase spending to the defense budgets. They use statements that refer
to 'stolen jobs' and 'wasted taxes'. On law and order, they advocate the return
on capital punishment, together with an end to 'political correctness' in the
legal sector. Much of their policy literature is based on a fear that whites
will disappear altogether. They picture a future that Nick Griffin says is
likened to Genocide - "white people will become the minority in every
country in the world." (The Observer 3/9/2000).
What's the danger?
Britain, whether you agree or not, likes to
trumpet itself as a 'tolerant', free society with an inclusive agenda. Even the
Conservative Party with its dreadful record on 'race' has a strong new right
agenda that is pro-immigration, albeit purely for capitalist reasons. However,
as people will be aware, these credentials ring hollow when it comes to
discussing the recent uprisings amongst Asian young men in Oldham. During the
months of May and June, 'racial tensions' have exploded throughout the area,
focusing national political and media attention on the area. Shahid Ashrif on
this site explores the Oldham situation in further depth. In the aftermath
of these clashes, the British National Party decided to field Nick Griffin as
its parliamentary candidate in Oldham West.
where do you
stand on racist attacks?
race-attack takes place, and the victim is black or Asian, the result is
an endless media circus, howls of condemnation against the perpetrators,
and more calls for repressive crusades against supposed ‘racism’. If a
race-attack takes place, and the victim is white, the result is usually
total silence. No condemnation, no media fanfare, total silence. By
contrast, the BNP condemns all racial attacks, including those on
non-whites. It is not the fault of individuals that they are in our
country, and the answer to the problems caused by mass immigration must be
solved by democratic political change, not by violence."
|Oldham's recent tensions have been attributed to
far-right plans to march through the city and further aggressive moments by
groups like the NF. During the election, politicians remained unacceptably quiet
when it came to Oldham, and the Prime Minister spoke only briefly to support 'in
full' measures by the police to contain the trouble.
why are you
opposed to mixed-raced relationships?
take partners from other ethnic groups, a white family line that stretches
back into deep pre-history is destroyed. And, of course, the same is true
of the non-white side. We want generations that spring from us to be the
same as us, look like us, and be moved by the same things as us."
Nick Griffin and the BNP have scored
political capital by being in the aftermath of far-right invoked racial
tensions. Interestingly, whilst every single news report began with something
along the lines of "Asians take to the streets to riot" etc, there was
little mention that out of 30 arrests, 27 were white people. By entering Oldham
at this point, Griffin can gain large support from members of the public.
Tactics similar to this have been used in Kent
(to capitalize on the back of Asylum fears) and London (to dismiss the McPherson
Does the BNP have an active
All major political parties dismiss the BNP. Nick
Griffin has a previous conviction for incitement to racial hatred. During the
election, all BNP candidates were banned from making a speech at the counting
ceremonies. They responded by demonstrating against this.
In terms of opposition on the ground, as it were,
groups like the Anti-Nazi League and Youth Against Racism in Europe have
actively based their campaigns on wiping out the BNP. This is often channeled
through protest, demonstrations and direct action, all of which has brought a
media frenzy against them.
Our roles as educators...
Firstly, we need recognition that far right
groups are alive and well, functioning in a political climate that fosters
racism. The government and Conservative approach to asylum seekers has
encouraged peoples' perceptions about 'race'. This, in turn, with deprivation in
inner cities creates a healthy ground for racism to flourish.
As a result of this, and with the NF incited
problems, the BNP can create a political campaign. In Oldham, this is evidenced.
Work with both white and black
young people needs to take place. Workers will obviously develop different
strategies based on their experience and the situation where they are. However,
it is a good idea to tackle the issue of the BNP head on, for little is actually
known about what they stand for and what they would do if power was elected to
One useful way that I have done work in the past
is to actually have BNP resources to hand to explain what they mean. For
example, the increased their emphasis upon defense and even national service for
young people can be compared to studies around Hitler's youth movements. Whilst
young people are studying history at school, pieces of work that ask questions
such as "What would have happened if Hitler had won the War?" can
provoke some heated ideas. You can stem that onto "Is fascism still around
today?" When young people begin to share ideas, you can present them with
some of the literature and ask them what kind of feelings they provoke. You can
access a range of BNP propaganda at http://www.bnp.org.uk.
As stated before, much of the BNP 'facts' can be
strongly contested even without much research. However, as with every
educational activity, back up what you say. Young people have a right to full
and frank information that is supported.
Immigration: Its about YOUR jobs! Positive discrimination sends white
people to the back of the queue in getting jobs and promotions.
You can argue that positive discrimination is actually illegal and
does not take place. Another good tool is to ask how many
influential people in a young people's life are actually black...How many
Black managers can they point to? How many political leaders and other key
figures are Black? Perhaps even go as far as to explain why equal
opportunities policies exist and why they are used.
Some useful resources that may help you:
Black Information Link
Campaign Against Fascism & Racism
Commission for Racial Equality
Britkid Anti-Racism Game (Online
For more resources and analysis, keep
visiting the Black Perspectives section of this site.
always reference the author of this page. How
to reference us.
Copyright © 1999-2002 Student Youth Work Online. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 14, 2002
Contact the author
for further discussion about this paper