The 2011 elections have been a humiliating disaster for the fascist British National Party.
The results are a victory for all the antfascist campaigners who have distrinuted hundreds of thousands of UAF leaflets and tabloids urging voters to Stop the BNP. And the election disaster will only add to the scale of the crisis in the BNP.
Stoke-on-Trent council, where the BNP had five councillors before the elections, is now Nazi-free, with every BNP councillor kicked out in a complete wipeout.
This follows the BNP’s obliteration in Barking and Dagenham council last year, when it lost all 12 of its councillors.
Across England’s local authorties, the BNP clung on to just two of the 11 seats it was defending, in Bradford and in Charnwood, East Midlands, where the party’s Catherine Duffy scraped in by just five votes.
In Burnley, the BNP now has just one councillor left – in a seat that wasn’t contested – in the town where it had eight councillors and was the official opposition in 2003.
Two English Democrat candidates – one of them a former BNP councillor – were elected on low votes of just 195 and 231 votes in the Fenside ward of Boston, Lincolnshire. But there were no other gainst for the English Democrats, the whute supremacist England First Party or the old-time Nazis of the National Front.
The two seats it has retained are all the BNP has to show for more than 260 candidates across the country. And its votes have plummeted, even in areas it had seen as strongholds.
In Stoke – once dubbed the BNP’s “jewel in the crown” – candidates for the BNP and its mates in the England First Party, took an average of 11.2%, slumping from the 27.4% the BNP averaged in the wards it stood in 2007.
Barnsley, where the BNP has been strong in the past, saw the party stand 19 candidates this time, polling an average of 8.8%, almost half their 16% average across 18 seats in 2007.
Around the country, BNP votes have slumped, with candidates often reaching only half or less of the percentages they took in 2007, the last time the same seats were contested. And in cities such as Liverpool and York, every single fascist candidate got less than 5%.
In Wales, where the party hoped to lift its vote to secure a Welsh Assembly seat through the regional lists, their vote slumped from 4.3% in 2007 to just 2.4% this time. In Scotland, the votes for the BNP and the National Front were derisory, averaging no more than 1% of the poll.
Campaigning by local UAF groups and antifascists has ensured an electoral disaster for the BNP.
The victory particularly sweet in Stoke, where local UAF activists and the North Staffs Campaign Against Racism and Fascism have campaigne over months and years to break down the BNP’s support. A huge Love Music Hate Racism carnival in 2009 helped show that the majority of people in Stoke are against racism and fascism.
The BNP was already reeling from crisis to crisis ahead of the polls. In March, longstanding Nazi and BNP MEP Andrew Brons, warned the party faithful that bitter infighting could bring the BNP to “an ignomius end before the end of this year”, and the party has also been wracked with financial and legal problems.
The BNP stood more than 260 candidates across the country – far fewer than the 655 it put up when the same seats were contested in 2007. And it struggled in many areas to get its campaign off the ground, with activists divided and demoralised and leader Nick Griffin under fire from his troops.
The results will further intensify the crisis and weaken the BNP – its future looks bleak, with more strife to come.
But antifascists cannot be complacent. Alongside the visible crumbling of the BNP over the last couple of years, we have seen the dangerous growth of the English Defence League – the racist thugs with fascists in its midst.
EDL photo: by Kelvin Williams
It is clear that BNP members drifting out of the stricken party are increasingly moving into and around the English Defence League, the racist street thug movement whose leader “Tommy Robinson” is himself a former BNP member. The BNP’s election collapse is likely to add to the drain of former members into the EDL.
Fascist elements in the EDL have already been increasing their influence inside the organisation, “hardening up” its members and directing them against other traditional fascist targets, such as trade unionists and socialists as well as ethnic minorities.
This weekend, EDL members invaded the News From Nowhere bookshop in Liverpool – the area’s main trade union and labour movement bookshop – to intimidate staff and customers.
Every antifascist will celebrate the BNP’s miserable election results. But the growth and direction of the EDL are cause for grave concern.
The election campaign against the BNP has been important not just in driving home the party’s weakness, but also in beginning to undercut the EDL, which is strongest in areas where the BNP has previously had more of a base.
Leaflets like those distributed in many thousands in Stoke have labelled the BNP as the Nazis they are. But they have also argued clearly against the anti-Muslim racism on which the EDL as well as the BNP seeks to build.
We should cheer our success against the BNP – but we must also step up campaigning against the racists and fascists of the EDL.
Pic: BNP leader Nick Griffin – with bodyguard – runs away into the night. By Alex Tracy