According to Jon Cruddas the far-Right BNP is busy exploiting the present economic crisis and could easily end up winning seats in the European Parliament for the first time.
Jon Cruddas has long pointed out that one reason for the growing support for the BNP has been its ability to respond to and exploit genuine local grievances - the credit crunch will only end up exacerbating these issues and could help turn more people toward the far-right. It is sobering to remember that in recent local elections the BNP has continued to gain seats in east London and Stoke-on-Trent and picked up enough elsewhere to hold 46 council seats in England. This of course follows the dramatic 2002 local election successes in the North of England and a 4.9 per cent showing in the Euro elections in 2004. For the first time ever in this country, an openly racist party has sustained the support of more than one in 20 British voters over several contests.
I believe that 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. If the trends of the past few years continue continue, the BNP may well make the type of breakthrough that Jon Cruddas is signalling and it will then be far more difficult to reverse than to stop it before it occurs.
What Britain needs is a broad anti-fascist coalition, a new coalition of the willing. This 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.