Socialist Worker

Tory leadership and Nazi links

Issue No. 1764

Tory leadership and Nazi links

THE LINK between the front runner for Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, and the father of Nazi BNP leader Nick Griffin is more than an isolated embarrassment for the Tories. It points to how mainstream politicians fan racism and provides lethal ammunition for thugs in and around Nazi groups.

Edgar Griffin was a member of the Tory party for 53 years until last week. He made no secret of his racist views. Edgar Griffin supports driving all black people out of Britain under so called "voluntary" repatriation. No one in the Tory party batted an eyelid when Edgar Griffin became one of the vice-presidents of Duncan Smith's campaign to be leader. He was even listed on the leadership contender's campaign literature (see right).

The Tories reacted only when a Daily Mirror reporter rang the BNP's enquiry number and was greeted by Edgar Griffin. It's not difficult to see why Griffin senior could fit so easily into the Tory party.

Tory leaders, even Duncan Smith, are desperate to change their image to appeal to the electorate, which largely rejects crude racism. But the core of the claimed 330,000 members of the party hold hard right views on race and immigration.

And it does not stop with them. Duncan Smith himself used one of his first speeches on getting elected to parliament in 1992 to blame black people for housing shortages in Waltham Forest, east London. He told MPs in November 1992, "The ethnic population of Waltham Forest, which is the fifth highest in London, has put pressure on housing demand-15 percent of the borough's population, about 33,000 people, come from ethnic minority groups."

In July 1994 he showed a keen interest in "voluntary repatriation" schemes and wanted to know from the Home Office how many people had applied for it under the 1971 Immigration Act. Duncan Smith's rival, Ken Clarke, presents himself as a more modern figure who would never stoop to such bigotry. But one of his key supporters is Andrew Lansley.

He was the author of a memorandum before the 1997 election that urged the Tories to shore up their vote by scapegoating immigrants. The Tories, with John Major as prime minister and Kenneth Clarke as chancellor, did just that.

It was about a desperate gamble to create a sense of crisis around small numbers of asylum seekers coming to Britain so they could then present Labour as "soft on the issue". The party of the poll tax and pit closures saw that racist scaremongering could help keep them in power. Labour Party leaders criticised the Tories for playing the race card and then capitulated to every one of their arguments.

The New Labour government has continued attacking asylum seekers. The result is not only to encourage Tory racist scapegoating and sickening campaigns in papers such as the Sun and Daily Express. It provides space for the Nazis of the BNP and NF. The Tory response to the BNP's attempts to grow is to reflect most people's revulsion at the Nazis.

But then it argues that even harsher official policies against asylum seekers and immigrants are needed to undercut the far right. New Labour ministers follow a similar line, even as they denounce the Tories for playing into the BNP's hands.

The danger then is of a vicious circle where mainstream scapegoating encourages the Nazis who in turn shape the official agenda of even worse scapegoating. Breaking that cycle means two things-mobilising mass opposition to the Nazis and also systematically undermining the official racist scaremongering which gives them a breathing space.


BNP's attempt to win respectability and right wingers

THE TORY party has always been a home for far right wing groups with links to fascists or sharing many of their views. The Monday Club is one. A former chairman of its youth section, Andrew Rosindell, became Tory MP for Romford this year on the back of viciously baiting asylum seekers. The magazine Right Now! unites people on the extreme right of the Tory party with fascists. So does the Bloomsbury Forum founded five years ago.

The Nazi BNP and NF are about far more than heightening popular prejudice for electoral gain or to cover up for the failure of government to deliver for working people.

They want to turn those prejudices into pathological hatred of black people, Jews and anyone else they regard as "subhuman".

Their aim is to forge massed ranks of thugs. Nazis target not only black people, but also trade unions and anything that stands in their way of establishing a dictatorship and "racial purity". Their method is firebombing people's homes, not just inflammatory language.

Former members of the BNP and NF disillusioned over their failure to make a breakthrough turned to working inside the Tory party or closely with party activists. After the 1997 election the BNP hoped the Tory party would split.

It hoped to be able to turn a hard nationalist, anti-European, anti-immigrant Tory split-off into something like the Austrian Freedom Party, with fascists at its core. The BNP still hopes for that to happen. Building on disillusion with New Labour in working class areas is a stepping stone.

The BNP is proud to claim that up to 200 members are also in the Tory party because it is as elitist and pro-establishment as the historic party of big business.

Hitler gained the support of many members of right wing parliamentary parties in Germany in the early 1930s. That has also been the strategy of many fascists in France, Austria and Italy over the last decade.

To achieve that the BNP needs to present itself as no different from right wing Tories. Everyone opposed to the Nazis needs to rip aside their attempts to appear as respectable.

Part of that is showing how the bar-room racism of the Tory party and the manoeuvres of its leaders make the prospect of something even worse that Iain Duncan Smith more likely.


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Sat 1 Sep 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1764
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