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Anti-fascists can be proud of getting rid of Nick Griffin

This article is over 7 years, 11 months old
Issue 2414
Unite Against Fascism protesters outside the BBC in 2009, when Nick Griffin was invited to speak on Question Time
Unite Against Fascism protesters outside the BBC in 2009, when Nick Griffin was invited to speak on Question Time (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The removal of Nick Griffin as leader of the British National Party (BNP) comes after years of defeats for the Nazis.

His ousting is a victory for anti-fascists who in their thousands relentlessly campaigned against the BNP around the country, often facing police brutality on protests.

Griffin was the party’s moderniser, who repackaged the BNP using the model of the Front National (FN) in France. 

He followed the FN’s strategy of “Eurofascism”, attempting to pass off the party as a respectable organisation. This meant shifting the focus away from street thugs to suits and the ballot box.

They gained council seats, and the peak of the BNP’s success came when Andrew Brons and Griffin won seats in the European Parliament in 2009.

But the forward momentum did not last. Anti-fascists responded to the dangerous rise of fascism by opposing the Nazis wherever they went.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) worked hard to win the argument that the BNP were fascists. The veneer of respectability began to fade rapidly. The key moment in the defeat of the BNP came at the 2010 general election. 

The fascists placed Griffin as their parliamentary candidate for Barking in east London, a poor area with a large Muslim population. 

They knew a win in Barking would be a major victory and a boost. UAF campaigned throughout the lead up to the election. 

The result was annihilation for the BNP in Barking. Not a single one of their 12 members sitting on the council was voted back in. And Griffin staggered into third place. 

The BNP also collapsed elsewhere. In Stoke they looked set to take hold of the council a year before the election. But instead they were left with five seats out of nine.

In total they lost at least 24 of their 31 existing councillors who were up for re-election.

Unless fascist organisations go forward, they crumble. This is what happened with the BNP.

The breakdown leads to severe frustration and tensions between the street and electoral elements come to the fore. This in turn can lead to fragmentation. 

After the series of defeats the party became riven with infighting. A leadership contest saw Brons go against Griffin to take control of the party.  Brons lost, and the result was the formation of the British Freedom Party.

Meanwhile the defeats kept coming. In May this year Griffin lost his seat as an MEP in the North West and Brons declined to stand for re-election. 

Over the years elements that made up the BNP core have tried to assert themselves in new ways.

Groups like Britain First and the South East Alliance have emerged out of the further splits within fascist groups.

These are fascist rumps without a home. There isn’t a force to pull them together.

But we cannot be complacent about the BNP. They still have two councillors, and Griffin remains in the party as president.

The fascists have stalled, but in Britain there still remains the potential for fascism to grow.

It is likely that they will try to appeal to their core base with open fascism. Attacks could also be stepped up with new dangerous forces coming out of the mix as they try to move forward.

The success in beating back the BNP has been the united front strategy on which UAF is based. We have resisted them wherever they went. 

And it is this strategy which will take us through the new battles. 

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