Splitting The Vote?

2009 may have been a good year electorally for the BNP but on a financial and personnel level it was moving close to crisis. The MEP and council election success was counter-balanced by the continuing accounting fiasco, defections and the usual infighting and fallouts so common on the far right. In the run up to the general election the BNP will face pressure on various fronts: the established parties will make a concerted effort in constituencies where the BNP are strong; the BNP will need a lot of money to finance their publicity campaign; and there is the distinct possibility that the more ‘respectable’ UKIP and the ‘not-really-very-respectable-at-all’ National Front will be fielding candidates in the same areas thus splitting the vote and there are rumours that the EDL will become a political party. 

BNP Areas

The strong BNP areas vary in sustainability, some continue whilst others fragment. The once strong Birmingham BNP remains shaky following the resignation of Sharon Ebanks over legal expenses and the subsequent misguidance of Richard and Tania Lumby who “are both raving alcoholics.” [1] According to Lee John Barnes, the BNP’s ‘legal adviser’, Ebanks “is the half black, fake neo-Nazi, demented harridan who infiltrated the BNP in order to gain information on real nationalists.” [2] There is potential support in the area but the BNP has failed to capitalise on it due to the infighting and disorganisation. The EDL has held demonstrations twice in the area with varying success, leading to 90 arrests on one, and 35 on the other.

Stoke BNP has a strong presence on the council but suffered the recent stepping down of group leader Alby Walker amidst “rumours of growing friction within the group over its future leadership and political direction.” [3] The EDL will be demonstrating in Stoke shortly  and will be joined by BNP supporters and football firms which will no doubt result in serious disturbance. Liverpool BNP is currently under suspicion on the VNN forum where a long and revelatory thread accuses Tony Ward and the Tierney brothers of using deliberately confrontational tactics against local opposition thus sabotaging the possibility of any electoral success. [4] All are accused of being state assets as indeed are Newcastle BNP members Pete Molloy and the Walker brothers who are similarly involved in unhelpful confrontations which are discussed on the same web forum. [5]

Swindon’s BNP branch could capitalise on the hoo-ha following the furore created by the cancelled Islam4UK march but they are evidently in disarray. [6] That Islam4UK generate anti-Muslim sentiment and sympathy for the BNP is obvious. However, the NF are also ‘organised’ in Swindon and this could have an adverse effect on the BNP result if they stand a candidate there as they will be vying for many of the same voters, although the BNP will have the drop on the Front due to its wider remit and notoriety but not all BNP are happy with Nick Griffin’s kleptocracy.

The NF

The National Front recent announcement that it intends to stand candidates in the forthcoming elections [7] could just be bluster designed to freak Griffin out: grandstanding rather than political reality. Despite the recent leadership coup (See Eddy Morrison & The NF and Morrison Takes Over NF by ‘Malatesta’ elsewhere) and recruiting a number of defectors from the BNP the NF is still small and with membership at £10 a pop it is difficult to see where the money for campaigning and standing candidates would come from. Unless they have a sudden run on sun wheel badges and Tyndall videos. If the NF suddenly found an extra few quid to field general election candidates (£500 deposit each) there will be a hurricane of Nazi ‘state’ accusations. Morrison has been known to associate with Special Branch [8] has a serious drink problem and has joined every Nazi party going. The conspiracy theory readily presents  itself here: Morrison takes over NF – NF stand candidates – Split BNP vote – Special Branch happy! If the NF do stand anywhere it is highly likely to be in areas where they are strongest such as the Leeds and Bradford areas, Birmingham and Swindon. Norfolk NF have been busy little bees recently as well, announcing demos and then not turning up. There is only a tiny hardcore fascist vote and they are often bitterly divided and partisan. Vicious and petty insults have streamed between NWN and VNN forums, so many that they have had to call a truce. [9] The rallying cry for Aryan Unity sounds very hollow indeed. What is clear is that the NF has the potential to split the BNP vote.

 The BNP & Labour

It is no secret that Labour is worried about the BNP’s progress at the polls. They have the  most to lose in wards where they compete with the BNP, having alienated a large percentage of the white working class folk as well as members of the electorate who are tired of the government’s arrogance, unwillingness to listen, the war, the handling of the economy and their failure to ‘tackle immigration.’ The announcement of swingeing public sector cuts is not going to help their prospects. The majority of the popular press are against Labour and the Murdoch papers are pushing fears of immigration and antipathy to the EU. As are the BNP. Nick Griffin is contesting the Barking seat which is currently held by Margaret Hodge, a cabinet member who has already acknowledged that many constituents could well vote for the BNP. Her position in the cabinet indicates the likelihood of a strong ‘punishment vote’ in the BNP’s favour. However, UKIP is also standing a candidate which could dilute the BNP’s potential result as voters are still wary of the extremism and violence associated with the BNP. In order to gain electoral success the BNP will require concerted campaigning and publicity which they can ill afford compared to the incumbent.

The EDL

The EDL web forum is currently running a poll on whether to implement an official membership scheme which has gathered cautious support: on the plus side it means weeding out the Nazis they allegedly dislike; on the negative side, the memory of the BNP membership leak is still fresh in many people’s minds. That this would incur a membership fee is an obvious attraction: the EDL have been making a few quid on merchandise (polo shirts a tenner, gloves £4). There are also rumours, and ONLY rumours, that the EDL may become a legitimate political party. This takes money only some of which could be generated by donation, membership and merchandise. Campaigns are fought in the media as well as at the polls and although the EDL have been on Radio 5 and such like they need a wider profile in order to be ‘taken seriously.’ If the EDL is continually represented as a violent racist street gang they will not fare so well. It will need professional PR to shed this image as there are too many Sieg Heil photos knocking about to resurface and do them damage at a later date. The average EDL supporter is not likely to become involved with prolonged campaigning, leafleting and door stepping and like the BNP in the past, the EDL will have difficulty in finding articulate speakers and candidates with no dodgy background. If the EDL did go ‘legitimate’ then they would no doubt stand on the same issues and in the same areas as the BNP, i.e., predominantly white estates with social problems. Despite the media flap about their activities, many people have no idea who the EDL are or what they are going  on about. To add to this, the current EDL demo’s are attended by a wide variety of hooligans from the far right who are more interested in a pint and a ruck than electioneering.

As ever the Nazi web forums are abuzz with rumour and gossip that the EDL are ‘state’ and a method of gathering information and monitoring extremists. There is also the fact that standing EDL candidates in wards against the BNP will harm the latter’s vote which must surely appeal to state agencies. With UKIP muscling in on the anti-Islam/immigration/EU issues the last thing the BNP need is for the NF and EDL to further dilute their vote.

Conclusion

The general election is going to be a hard one. Labour will be battling for their lives given the appalling polls against them. The BNP will pressurise Labour in some areas like Barking or Oldham but also miss out on places like Birmingham through disorganisation. The BNP has money problems and Griffin’s prolific output of monthly begging letters to the membership will no doubt increase in frequency. In wards with potential there is also the possibility of splitting the racist vote between UKIP and the NF: the chances of ‘nationalist solidarity’ pulling all the factions together is highly  unlikely.

PS: In case you didn’t know:  Woodfield ward by-election (Harrogate) 7th January 2010: LD 688 (62.6%); Con 246 (22.4%); BNP 92 (8.4%); Lab 73 (6.6%)
Extremely dire results blamed on ‘the snow.’

‘Malatesta’

 

NB: all material by ‘Malatesta’ is copyright free.

Please pass it on to anyone who may find it useful.

[1] http://www.nwn-forum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2056

[2] http://leejohnbarnes.blogspot.com/2009/07/sharon-ebanks-liar-nutter-and-grass.html

[3] http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/news/Shock-BNP-leader-quits-suddenly/article-1617268-detail/article.html

[4] http://www.vnnforum.com/showthread.php?t=103306

[5] http://www.vnnforum.com/showthread.php?t=104277

[6] http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php?t=671167&page=5

[7] http://www.national-front.org.uk/nfnews.htm

[8] This is a great read by an ex-mate and comrade of Morrison. Sad really.  http://shieldwallpatriot.blogspot.com/2009/09/hes-wrung-un.html

[9] http://www.vnnforum.com/showthread.php?t=105941

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About malatesta32

Malatesta, undercover anti-fascist blogger, has analyzed the changing fortunes of the British far right since 2009. He has written for the anarchist magazine Freedom and the book, Militant Anti-Fascism: 100 Years Of Resistance (AK Press 2015). http://www.akuk.com/index.php?_a=product&product_id=7285
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