So it’s now June and we’ve all been hearing about and discussing the recent ‘earthquake’ European election results. There’s been a fair few headlines in the last week reading things along the line of “2014 the rise of the far right” and they are not far wrong. The mainstream political system across Europe has just taken a big step to the right and unfortunately with that comes a threat much closer to home. Times are hard and the living standards of the working class have been in severe decline for some years now thanks to our lapdogs of the rich coalition government and their forced austerity measures attacking and strangle holding every single community up and down the country. Everyone is looking for someone to blame and fair enough, but as always at times like this and as repeated throughout history, the ruling elite have done a pretty good job of convincing everyone that it’s not them and their monstrous swollen bank balances always going up that are to blame. They’ve been giving us easy scapegoats. They’ve been telling us to blame the immigrants, the disabled, terrorists, Muslims, Europe, people without a job and it has been working for them and we are now seeing a new rise of the far right street movements. Whilst the recent buzz of the European elections has been going on, with Nigel Farage all over the TV and in the newspapers, there was a left wing gig in Portsmouth attacked by EDL thugs, an openly fascist white pride demonstration in Swansea, a huge Islamaphobic hooligan march in Brighton and fascists having to be kicked out of Easton in Bristol by the locals to name but a few of these far too often occurring incidents. Uniformed fascists Britain First were invading (their words) mosques in East London the other day!!! This cannot carry on. With this new rise of the mainstream far right across Europe comes a new rise of street level fascism from right within the heart of the communities we live in. It must be stopped and the most effective way to stop fascism is by organising and confronting it in our streets as soon as it rears its ugly head. We must fight back and we must do it now.
We see clearly the “special relationship” between fascism and democracy.
The two are co-dependent and complement each other well. As much as politicians
decry the “hate filled extremism” of fascism and however much they try to distance
themselves from right wing fundamentalism, they will always use it for their own
ends, either indirectly or directly. This is most obvious in situations of
political, social or economic crisis and conflict such as what we see in Greece and
the Ukraine. There we have seen open collusion between fascists and the authorities,
and murderous attacks on demonstrations, political opponents and immigrants, as the
fascists once again step up to their long established role as paramilitary enforcers
of the state.
Time and time again history has shown that their democracy is a carefully
manufactured illusion and a diversion. Capitalism and it’s governmental protectors
will always unleash the forces of reaction when under serious pressure. Governments
and capitalists everywhere, when it comes to it, will always choose fascism against
progressive or revolutionary social movements. Both use fear and violence to gain or
maintain power and control. The only difference is in the words employed: “security”
from the government alongside the “violence” of the fascists. Both rely on divisive
strategies to get what they want: “immigration policies” of the state alongside the
“racism” of the far right. Attacks on the working class is another shared and core
basic principle and preoccupation of fascism and government alike. With so much in
common the only real differences are ones of scale and success. Clearly the everyday
violence, racism and relentless attacks of governments everywhere are streets ahead
and so much more effective and far reaching than your average fascist party or
Politicians and fascists alike do the bidding of the rich and stand in
the way of real change and the struggle for a better world. Both are the enemies of
freedom and it is time we started treating them as such.
The elections of last week saw a surge in popularity for foreigner-bashing, Tory jackbootboys, UKIP, who gained 161 councillors in England and topped European election polls with 27% of the vote (with a voter turn out of 34%). The rest of Britain’s far-right, however, saw its vote collapse at the elections. The BNP, which has recently been seen as the most serious far-right political threat, saw losses in support across the country retaining only one council seat and coming out with no MEPs, two less than in 2009.
Below are the election results for councils in England & NI. More analysis on Anti-Fascist Network blog.
Codnor & Waingroves – Alan Edwards 39 2.7%
Ripley – Ken Cooper 80 3.2%
Chaddesden – Paul Hilliard 136 4%
Derwent – Carol Tucker 81 3.4%
Barking and Dagenham
Eastbrook – Anthony McKay 222 3%
Eastbrook – Paul Sturdy 166 2.2%
Goresbrook – Bob Taylor 469 7.1%
Mayesbrook – Giuseppe De Santis 280 5%
Barneshurst – Paul Hulme 89 1%
Belvedere – Brian Haslam 328 4%
Blackfen & Lamorbey – Chris Wait 287 3%
Blendon & Penhill – Erin Bradley 390 4%
Brampton – Maureen Slaughter 268 3%
Christchurch – Ben Scott 241 3%
Colyers – Peter Finch 383 5%
Cray Meadows – John Brooks 262 3%
Crayford – Stephen James 539 6%
Danson Park – Ronald Slaughter 295 4%
East Wickham – Michael Jones 381 4%
East Wickham – Nicola Finch 346 4%
East Wickham – Jaymie McCoy 216 2%
Erith – Robert Howard 323 4%
Falconwood & Welling – Jimmy Dobson 398 4%
Lesnes Abbey – Carl Bussey 284 3%
North End – Mark Horne 407 6%
Northumberland Heath – Paul Carver 444 5%
Sidcup – Lucy Ann Money 181 2%
St Mary’s – Mark Bryant 271 3%
St Michael’s – Laurence Picton 407 5%
Cray Valley East – Deborah Kane 284 7.2%
Cray Valley West – Roger Tonks 139 3.3%
Mottingham & Chislehurst North – Philip Dalton 181 6.8%
Fieldway – David Clarke 210 4.8%
Fieldway – John Clarke 212 4.8%
Heathfield – Michael Collard 285 2.5%
New Addington – Cliff Le May 168 3.1%
New Addington – Donna Treanor 80 1.4%
Northolt Mandeville – David Smith 234 2.4%
Northolt West End – David Furness 362 3.4%
Enfield Highway – Gary O’Connor 289 3%
Enfield Lock – Jason Keogh 296 3%
Palmers Green – Angelos Gavriel 158 4%
Ponders End – William Walton 223 2%
Southbury – Marie Nicholas 223 2%
Turkey Street – Steve Squire 278 3%
Coldharbour & New Eltham – Cliff Adams 401 3.8%
Eltham North – Roberta Woods 307 2.3%
Eltham South – Thelma Peete 248 2.5%
Eltham West – Paul Ramsey 314 4.8%
Middle Park & Sutcliffe – Nick Scanlon 313 3%
Gooshays – Ray Underwood 247 2.3%
Heaton – Kevin Layzell 556 6.1%
Yiewsley – Vincent Evans 304 3.7%
South Ruislip – Gavin Cardy 223 2.5%
St James – David Child 100 1%
Tonge with The Haulgh – Dorothee Sayers 109 3.3%
Gannow – John Rowe 149 4.8%
Rosegrove with Lowerhouse – Chris Vanns 297 21.9%
Miles Platting & Newton Heath – Gareth Black 397 14.2%
Moston – Stephen Carden 153 4.2%
Marsden – Brian Parker 339 29.8%
Vivary Bridge – John Rowe 154 11.4%
Cadishead – Brenda Leather 397 16.1%
Irwell Riverside – Gary Tumulty 73 3.4%
Langworthy – Kay Pollitt 86 3.4%
Pendlebury – Eddy O’Sullivan 122 4.4%
Winton – Wayne Tomlinson 323 12.3%
Billinge & Seneley Green – Alan Brindle 64 1.2%
Thatto Heath – Paul Telford 51 2%
Town Centre – Peter Clayton 87 3.5%
Bredbury & Woodley – Andy Webster 89 2%
Bredbury Green & Romiley – Tony Green 60 1%
Brinnington & Central – Brenda Waterhouse 93 3%
Heatons South – Sheila Spink 165 4%
Manor – Duncan Warner 67 2%
Reddish North – Paul Bennett 419 13%
Reddish South – Ged Williams 271 8%
Ashton St Peter’s – Bill Kitchen 303 10.3%
Droylsden West – Ian Connor 106 3.4%
Abram – Dennis Shambley 134 4.8%
Priory – Chris Stone 38 1.4%
Erdington – Frances Waldron 703 1.2%
Kingstanding – Frances Burke 92 2.1%
Shard End – Kevin McHugh 134 2.9%
Bablake – Mark Badrick 74 1.7%
Binley & Willenhall – David Clarke 108 3%
Cheylesmore – Stephen Comer 327 7.7%
Henley – Rose Morris 109 3%
Holbrook – Christine Wilkins 292 8.1%
Longford – Frankie Bates 78 2%
Lower Stoke – Keith Oxford 70 1.76%
Radford – Arnold Clements 372 11.1%
Sherbourne – Mark Graham 73 2%
Upper Stoke – John Hurren 94 2.4%
Westwood – Darren Thomas 348 8.8%
Whoberley – Dawn Wagstaff 54 1.3%
Woodlands – Hunter Helmsley 69 1.6%
Coseley East – Ken Griffiths 123 3.9%
Nuneaton & Bedworth
Arbury – Phillip Kimberley 48 2.9%
Barpool – Alwyn Deacon 71 4.4%
Bede – Yvonne Deacon 206 12.5%
Birchills-Leamore – Bob Ball 140 4.8%
Bushbury North – Simon Patten 116 3.7%
Battenhall – Jennifer Whitwam 16 0.8%
Bedwardine – Timothy Whitwam 37 1.5%
Cathedral – Andrew North 24 0.8%
Gorse Hill – Ashley Bradley 31 2.7%
Nunnery – Carl Mason 286 13%
Rainbow Hill – Alan Draper 36 2.8%
St John – Linda Bell 30 1%
Warndon – Julie Whitwam 32 2.9%
Mid & East Antrim
Coast Road – Robert Bell 101 1.8%
Coast Road – Steven Moore 73 1.3%
National Front (Ian Edward’s faction)
Laindon Park – Anthony Harms 21 1%
Lee Chapel North – Thomas Beaney 80 2%
Harefield – Ian Edward 198 4.8%
Victoria – Bernadette Jaggers 18 1.3%
Grays Thurrock – Thomas Davis 51 2.2%
Tilbury Riverside & Thurrock Park – Mick Griffin 59 4.5%
National Front (Kevin Bryan’s faction)
Croham – Tony Martin
Downham – Tess Culnane
Worcester Park – Richard Edmonds 185 1.8%
British Democratic Party
Royds – Dr Jim Lewthwaite 152 4.5%
Tong – Liam Kernaghan 115 4.2%
Middleton Park – Kevin Meeson 358 6.9%
Benwell & Scotswood – Ken Booth 136 4.8%
Elswick – Kenny Baldwin 414 18.5%
Fenham – Russ Rickerby 121 4.3%
Hainault – Julian Leppert 284 3%
Blackfen & Lamorbey – Michael Barnbrook 884 10%
Queensbury – Paul Cromie 1377 35.8%
The annual council elections lets us take a snapshot of the far right groups futilely chasing electoral success (in the same way that counting 100 sorry looking blokes standing behind a wall of police outside a Wetherspoons gives a good indication of the dismal state of the EDL).
Council elections have a particular significance for the BNP. For many years, the party’s strategy has focused on steadily building up support in local council wards as a way of legitimising the party in the eyes of voters and as a stepping stone to winning seats at a regional or national level, such as in the London Assembly, European Parliament or the House of Commons. The relatively low number of far right candidates this year indicates that, for the time being, this strategy is a non-starter for the fascists.
It’s a numbers game
Hope not Hate has produced a list of most far right candidates, but have unhelpfully grouped the couple of hundred fascist candidates with the 2,000+ UKIP candidates which makes it difficult to use. The list is also missing some BNP council candidates. We will post a full list of far right candidates on our website shortly.
The Hope not Hate list does give a reasonable overview though and confirms that the BNP have virtually collapsed as a functioning electoral machine. There are only 112 BNP candidates in this election compared to around 740 candidates in 2010 when these seats were last contested. That’s quite a drop.
It’s clear that the BNP has been unable to rebuild its organisation following the bitter internal struggles and splits in the last few years. They have proved incapable of taking advantage of the favourable political climate and have been comprehensively outmanoeuvred by UKIP.
However, it also indicates that the party has halted some of its decline. They are standing slightly more candidates than they did in the 2013 council elections – when they had 104 candidates – even with the additional strain of standing in the European elections this year.
Is there something in the water in South-East London?
The list of candidates also provides a good snapshot of the remaining areas of strength.
The largest group of candidates by far is in Bexley in South East London where there are 21 candidates standing. Bexley must have one of the largest BNP branches in the country as many others do not even have enough active members anymore to stand this many candidates.
Former prominent BNP member Michael Barnbrook (a delusional man who genuinely believes he uncovered the parliamentary expenses scandal) is also standing an independent in Bexley. We are not aware that he has disavowed his fascist past or politics.
Outside Bexley, there are five candidates in Greenwich and three in Bromley.
Elsewhere in London the picture is rosier for anti-fascists. London BNP organiser Steve Squire has managed to scrape together six candidates in his home borough of Enfield but he’s not managed much else.
The party has disintegrated in its former strongholds in East London and there are only four candidates in Barking & Dagenham where the BNP were the official opposition on the council until 2010. The neighbouring borough of Havering has two candidates, despite regular BNP activity in the area and the party’s much publicised foodbank.
It’s grim up north
It looks like the BNP has realised that the party does not have the capacity to mount a campaign to defend Nick Griffin’s North West seat in the European Parliament or regain the Yorkshire seat held by retiring far right MEP Andrew Brons (who left the BNP in a huff in 2012).
Apart from seven candidates in Stockport and five in Salford, there are few candidates anywhere else and none in places where the party was previously able to garner worrying levels of support. The networks of local activists who supplied hundreds of candidates across the region in 2009 and helped win two seats in the European Parliament have thankfully crumbled away.
There are no BNP candidates in Oldham, Kirklees, Leeds, Rotherham or Bradford. All of these places had elected BNP councillors in recent years. Equally disastrous for them, there are only two candidates in Burnley where the party was at one time the second-largest group on the council.
Another reason to cheer for anti-fascists: Brian Pendle is defending his council seat in Pendle and will almost certainly lose. This will leave the BNP with only one elected councillor in the entire country (Cathy Duffy in Leicestershire).
Few and far between
The other areas where the BNP appear to have retained some strength or organisational competence are Coventry where there are 13 candidates and Worcester where are eight candidates. The number of candidates in both of these places is odd as there has been little support for the far right in either city in recent years. They may have competent local organisers. Places to keep an eye on.
Outside the areas already mentioned, there is really only a smattering of candidates. Particular highlights include one candidate in the entire South West (Chris Stone in Exeter, is it a bit lonely down there Chris?) and only two candidates in Birmingham where the BNP used to be able to stand a full slate of 40 candidates with ease. This is yet another former stronghold where the party has withered.
There are two candidates in Larne in Northern Ireland. This may be a good thing as anytime the BNP has attempted to get involved in Northern Irish politics in recent years the ensuing results have been chaotic and damaging.
Any other time-wasters?
No other fascist party has achieved noticeable electoral success in the last 20 years apart from the BNP. Still, a small collection of slow learners from other, smaller far right groups have decided to try their luck again this year.
Those paragons of white unity the National Front torpedoed their own, admittedly slim, chances by splitting into two rival factions (hilariously, this is not even the first time this has happened). The one that has retained the right to use the National Front name is standing five candidates in Essex plus party leader Ian Edward in Hillingdon. They are going nowhere fast. The other faction is standing three candidates as independents across London including veteran fascist and former BNP’er Richard Edmonds.
Even though party leader Andrew Brons is not defending his seat in the European Parliament, the British Democratic Party are still trying to make a go of it with a collection of rejects from the BNP. They are standing three candidates in Newcastle (including former BNP North East organiser Ken Booth), two in Bradford (including former BNP councillor Jim Lewthwaite), one in Leeds (former Leeds BNP organiser Kevin Meeson) and one in Redbridge (former BNP councillor Julian Leppert).
No room for complacency
It is gratifying to see that the BNP has effectively collapsed in so many places where they once posed a real threat. This isn’t the time to kick back and relax though. With the far right in a weakened state, anti-fascists have been presented with a golden opportunity to put then out of business for a generation.
This happy state of affairs is unlikely to last. The success of UKIP is once again pushing the political consensus toward the right and the social issues the BNP previously successfully exploited are still there. The emergence of a new group, a more effective leadership or some chance, unexpected electoral breakthrough could reinvigorate the fascist right, and leave us once again on the back foot. We shouldn’t waste the opportunity we’ve got.