Today's report in the Guardian on the latest attempts by the BNP to infiltrate middle England makes disturbing reading. According to Ian Cobain (a Guardian journalist who joined the BNP and became central London organiser) the BNP already has significant numbers of members living in smart, wealthy areas of London such as Chelsea and Knightsbridge. BNP members in these areas include Peter Bradbury, a leading proponent of complementary medicine who has links to Prince Charles, Richard Highton, a healthcare regulator, and Simone Clarke, principal dancer with the English National Ballet.
There are also dozens of company directors, computing entrepreneurs, bankers and estate agents among the 200 members and lapsed members living in central London. One member is a servant of the Queen residing at Buckingham Palace, while a number are former Conservative party activists.
As I have said before (here and here) the BNP is evidence of a new challenge in British politics. In the past the battle ground (sometimes literally) of left vs right politics centred on our inner-cities – this is no longer the case. The BNP has begun to develop a network of suburban supporters, people who are openly willing to admit not only to supporting a racist and bigoted political party but to doing so with pride and patriotic fervour.
In my view the broadest possible coalition against the BNP must be constructed nationally, regionally and locally. It needs to involve trade unions, black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, faith groups, lesbian and gay groups and every other community threatened by the rise of the far right.