Does the BNP oppose Islamization only out of electoral calculation?

It sure sounds that way in a speech Nick Griffin gave to a BNP meeting in 2006. The speech is quoted by R. John Matthies of the Middle East Forum in an article surveying the “far right” anti-Islamic parties of Europe:

The BNP’s Nick Griffin, for his part, has admitted to privileging anti-Islamism for electoral gain—and for the same reason, to discourage attacks against the Jews. In a branch meeting recorded in Burnley, Lancashire, in March 2006, for example, he said: “But we bang on about Islam. Why? Because to the ordinary public out there, it’s the thing they can understand. … If we were to attack some other ethnic group—some people say ‘We should attack the Jews’ … —it wouldn’t get us anywhere, other than stepping backwards. It would lock us in a little box, which the public would think ‘extremist-crank-lunatics, nothing-to-do-with-me,’ and we wouldn’t get power. Whereas by making Islam the issue, when every time someone turns on the television, every time they pick up a newspaper … they get a drip, drip, drip. Something else, which tells them, ‘Yeah, Islam is a real serious problem; I’m really worried about it; what kind of future are my children and grandchildren, my nephews and nieces, gonna have, in a Britain which is on the way to becoming the Islamic Republic? That’s what I want to stop. The British National Party are the only people talking about it. Yeah, I think they’re the ones for me.’ That’s the reason for the tactic.”

I thought the BNP stood against the forces of Islamization because they want to save Britain from Islam, not because they think that doing so is the most effective way to win votes and gain power. I thought that Griffin opposed Islam (and discouraged anti-Semitism) as a matter of belief and principle, not as a mere “tactic.”

Griffin is intelligent and handles many issues well. His writings over the last few years rejecting anti-Semitism (see below) have struck me as principled and sincere. But the above quote reminds me of what used to put me off the most about him, which was not any excessive right-wingery but rather his underlying mental framework that seemed to come from the Old Left, with its belief in power not truth.

* * *

Past VFR articles on the BNP and anti-Semitism:

BNP leader criticizes anti-Semitism
Explaining the BNP
BNP chairman criticizes his followers’ anti-Semitism
How reformed is the BNP?

- end of initial entry -

Bill Carpenter writes:

The mediocrity of the BNP is an indictment of the Tories. Instead of espousing the concerns of ordinary people and offering conservative remedies for those concerns, the Tories merely try to package liberal ideology more convincingly and pragmatically than the Laborites do. Put another way, the so-called Conservatives are overwhelmingly Right-liberals. The second-stringers have to take up the slack in representing conservative principles, which they barely grasp, the BNP being in some ways as much a “national socialist” party as a conservative party. (This is consistent with your perception of their Leftist instincts.) I don’t understand the causes of the abject worthlessness of the Tories, but sometimes it seems that educated Britons would rather surrender to the EU and Islam than be found in the same polling booth as patriotic working people.

Justin T. writes:

I don’t see why you are surprised by Nick Griffin’s tactics … let’s not forget: this is a man who was one of the founders of that bizarre merger of far-left and far-right ideas, the International Third Position. This is a man who in the 1980s praised Louis Farrakhan, visited Libya and praised Muammar Ghaddafi, and expressed support for Ayatollah Khomenei. And in the early 1990s, he was still an advocate of Holocaust Denial and edited anti-Semitic journals.

It is only recently that he has moderated his positions on the issues before us.

LA replies:

Some time back, Justin criticized me for being too credulous about the BNP. The exchange is here.

Bert Rustle writes:

I watched the above linked video of Nick Griffin giving a presentation without a teleprompter and not simply reading verbatim from notes. I have never seen such a presentation before by a politician and I do not recollect having watched such a lengthy political presentation before. In my opinion the video does not state ” the BNP oppose Islamization only out of electoral calculation,” rather that it is an obvious manifestation of the failure of Multiculturalism with which many people will be aware of.

In my opinion, the presentation by Nick Griffin is outstanding, especially when compared to the output of the representatives of the various wings of the Establishment Party.

Furthermore, unlike the representatives of the various wings of the Establishment Party, those of the BNP pay a heavy personal price without enjoying substantial personal enrichment. As a Cambridge educated lawyer, Nick Griffin could have been earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for the last twenty years or so. Instead he has stuck to his guns, whilst evolving his politics rather more than the (ex-) communists and (ex-) CND members in the British Government. In my opinion.

Mr. Jones writes from England:

I’m not a member of the BNP (yet) so I have no inside knowledge but I think the essence of the clip is him saying which, of the list of things they oppose, is the one they should focus on for electoral calculation. I’d guess there are others in the party that have a more “Le Pen” type view of who they should be focusing on and it’s that strand he is arguing with.

The fact is though…

The traditional centre left parties are the vehicle for the Left-Liberal project but also contain the working class vote that is harmed most (or at least first) by the multi-cultural dream. The centre-right parties could call a temporary halt to the class war, steal the working class vote on a nationalist ticket, do what’s neccessary, and then go back to business as usual. But they won’t, at least not in the UK. I don’t know why as I don’t have much experience of that world. Part of it could just be simple class snobbery, a more or less eternal problem in the UK. The baleful influence of the MSM will have something to do with it as well.

So that leaves parties like the BNP which, at least currently, are expanding in previously solid Labour party terriotory. Given the current voter base they’re not going to be small government capitalists. Also, given their previous fringe status they almost certainly had a high percentage of nutters (the same thing happens in far-left circles because of the low numbers). As they get more mainstream that sort of thing will *probably* get diluted.

In the end though, my view is that the current situation is one of national survival so I’ll probably end up supporting them at some point even if there’s things I don’t agree with.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 15, 2008 01:23 PM | Send

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