Socialist Worker

More action needed to defeat the British Nazi Party

Issue No. 1950a

Peter Doherty performing at the Unite Against Fascism festival in London last week (Pic: Angela Stapleford)

Peter Doherty performing at the Unite Against Fascism festival in London last week (Pic: Angela Stapleford)

The fascist British National Party (BNP) made some gains at the general election, but failed to make any serious breakthroughs in its target areas.

BNP leader Nick Griffin’s high profile campaign in the number one target of Keighley, west Yorkshire, only managed to drum up 4,240 votes — 9.2 percent — far below the 16.4 percent he got in 2001.

The Nazis came fifth in their stronghold of Burnley, with the BNP vote dropping to 10.3 percent. The BNP has several councillors in Burnley, but anti-fascist campaigners have kept the party in check.

The BNP vote in Oldham collapsed. In the 2001 general election it polled 5,091 and 6,552 in the town’s two constituencies, prompting extended media coverage and boosting the Nazis in the area.

This year its results were 2,109 and 2,606, with veteran BNP thug Mick Treacy losing his deposit. This blow to the BNP comes after four years of organised and united anti-fascist campaigning in the town.

But in other areas of the country the Nazis did make disturbing gains. The BNP’s biggest share of the vote was in Barking, east London, where it came third with 4,916 votes — 16.9 percent.

Only 27 votes separated it from the Tory candidate, who came second. Neighbouring Dagenham also saw a high BNP vote of 9.3 percent.

Both constituencies are impoverished working class areas that have gained nothing from eight years of New Labour government. The high Nazi vote reflects the disillusion and the lack of a left alternative in the area.

The BNP also did worryingly well in parts of the West Midlands, polling 9.7 percent in Dudley North, 8.7 percent in Stoke South, 7.8 percent in Stoke Central and 6.9 percent in Stoke North.

Bradford saw high BNP votes too, with 7.8 percent, 6.9 percent, 6.8 percent and 6.0 percent in the city’s four constituencies. But elsewhere in Yorkshire the BNP did not make expected gains.

In general the Nazi vote hovered between 1 and 4 percent, mostly in seats that the BNP was contesting for the first time. The BNP stood in almost 120 seats in total.

While the Nazis were never likely to win any seats, the BNP will be disappointed that it failed to pick up more votes in an election campaign where racism against immigrants featured so strongly.

The BNP’s plan was to repeat its 2001 strategy and use high profile results to build local organisation to contest council elections next year.

But its flat results outside of Barking, Dagenham, Stoke-on-Trent and Bradford will put the Nazis on the back foot.

Its poor results in Burnley and Oldham demonstrate that sustained anti-fascist activism by organisations such as Unite Against Fascism can halt the BNP in its tracks.

The BNP did not even stand in its former stronghold of east London. Bethnal Green & Bow, the seat won by Respect, had a Nazi-free ballot paper for the first time in decades.

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Sat 7 May 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1950a
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