Nick Griffin’s legacy is one of failure and incompetence
In June 2009, the BNP had almost 60 councillors, two MEPs and, perhaps more importantly, a series of strongholds across England. Griffin’s failure to translate this position into the feared permanent political presence in the UK is his enduring legacy.
Despite a potentially favourable climate for the far right – recession, cuts to local services, toxic rhetoric around immigration in the media and widespread disillusion with mainstream politics – Griffin’s BNP has been all but wiped out, stumbling from one crisis to another and culminating in his decision this week to “step aside”.
Vicious infighting has been fuelled by allegations of corruption and incompetence, and scores of key organisers have left. Fundamentally, the party failed to attract any significant support beyond its base of older white men with low levels of education.
This did not happen by accident. Alongside the shortcomings within the BNP, there was a concerted and often tireless campaign across the country that took on the party, exposing its lies and racism. As mainstream political leaders too often focused on swing seats they hoped would win the next election, local communities in BNP strongholds came together with churches, mosques and trade unions to offer a different analysis of people’s problems.
Far-right politics in the UK is now fractured. Several small groups that few people have heard of fight among themselves. The BNP will continue to rumble on in one form or another, the dwindling factions will continue to squabble and Griffin may even make another tilt at the leadership. But fewer and fewer people will take any notice.
Griffin’s legacy is one of failure and incompetence. But the fact the BNP achieved a significant electoral foothold before imploding should serve as a stark warning to mainstream politicians who too often take large swaths of the electorate for granted.