Early results from the local elections make grim reading for the fascist British National Party (BNP). Despite standing 750 candidates across the country in an attempt to take advantage of anti-immigrant hysteria coming from press and politicians alike, the Nazis have failed to win any seats in their key target areas.
The BNP lost its sole councillor in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and failed to make any headway in Thurrock, Essex, where in recent years it has had a councillor. The party was utterly humiliated in Scotland, where they had invested heavily and expected a good showing.
Birmingham is a city that fascists have traditionally regarded as good territory. Yet in seat after seat, Respect candidates roundly beat the BNP.
In Windsor the fascists failed to capitalise on a nasty campaign of Islamophobia in the area.
Though areas such as Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and Yorkshire have yet to declare their results, as of this morning, the Nazis’ only tangible gains were a couple of councillors in North Leicestershire.
It looks unlikely that the BNP will gain anywhere near its predicted 40 more seats and will remain far short of its stated target of 100 councillors nationwide.
A crucial factor in holding the BNP back was the qualitatively higher level of anti-fascist campaigning in these elections. Unite Against Fascism distributed half a million leaflets across the country urging people to vote against the BNP.
This campaigning undoubtedly had an impact. But the Nazis still attracted disturbingly high numbers in certain parts of Britain.
In Wales, where BNP leader Nick Griffin was standing, the fascists came 2,500 votes short of winning an assembly seat in North Wales. In Wrexham they grabbed 9.4 percent of the regional vote.
The factors that allow the BNP to make inroads – anger and despair at the mainstream parties, combined with endless “immigration scares” and anti-Muslim racism whipped up in the media – are not going to go away.
The need to build united mass campaigns against fascism is clearer than ever.