What the BNP election brought home to me
And so I arrive in Manchester on the day after the election of the far right British National Party to the European parliament. It’s good to be back North, a place and an idea and a set of traditions that I’ve always been intensely proud of and so, naturally, I feel a heavy note of dismay about such a disastrous result.
According to some excellent coverage in the Manchester Evening News, the city is awakening to the grim realisation that its allowed Nick Griffin, the party’s leader (who can be seen above being pelted with eggs) as one of the region’s eight seats. David Ottewell, in a strident op-ed piece, summoned up the spirit of Edmund Burke, citing his well-known maxim that “all that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”. This stuck something of chord with me. Although I couldn’t vote in this region, I had allowed my electoral registration to lapse and, therefore by extension, I am one of the many apathetic millions guilty of allowing this to happen: our inaction and complacency has allowed he far right a legitimate democratic voice.
I mulled all this over while enjoying a delicious belly of pork at the New Emperor, a Cantonese restaurant, all piped jazz saxophones, polystyrene ceiling tiles and watercolour wallpanels, and wondered what the BNP would do with a wonderful places like this, if they ever got their grip on some real power.
So it is worth reminding ourselves that the BNP are all about: that it wishes to repatriate all non-ethnic Britons, including owners of Chinese restaurants. That Andrew Brons, the BNP’s elected candidate for Yorkshire and Humberside, was once belonged to a neo-nazi group whose members were found gulity of firebombing Jewish synagogues; and that Nick Griffin, elected in the North West, believes that the gas chambers found at Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and Majdanek (and hasitly disassembled elsewhere) as a “nonsense” and a “total lie”.
So, like the egg throwers who pelted Griffin at Westminster today (worth it alone for the image, bottom centre, where Griffin’s pantomime mask of dignity falls from his face), I’ve decided that I can no longer do nothing. It’s been a while since I’ve attended an anti-facist demonstration, but this trip back to the North, and this splendid dinner in one of the quarters most threatened, has really brought the threat of the BNP home to me.