Acknowledgements to the Durotrigan blog for the following article
Beyond the Fringe: building a credible nationalist politics I
This article and a subsequent piece will endeavour to provide an outline of the reasons for the failure of nationalist politics in contemporary Britain, more specifically, in England, and suggest a means of breaking out of this impasse. In this initial instalment, the focus will be upon the weaknesses of the BNP and other aspirant nationalist parties, teasing out those factors that inhibit them from exerting popular electoral appeal. The second piece, to follow within the next week or so, will forward a concrete proposal for creating a popular credible nationalist politics in our country, outlining the policies and tactics required to realise the as yet largely untapped potential of nationalism.
The old Westminster parties are discredited, mistrusted and unpopular, offering voters nothing more than variations upon the same set of failed policies; our economy is in protracted and serious decline; our national independence is being hollowed out by the growing strength of transnational political and economic institutions and predatory transnational capitalism. Mass immigration continues apace, and the material and cultural fissures in our society grow ever wider. Against this backdrop, surveys reveal that nationalist policies are popular, but nationalist parties are not.
The time would thus appear ripe for nationalist politics to make a breakthrough, and yet nationalism in our country lies fractured and weak, beset with internal feuding and held back by excessive egotism. A myriad of small parties and groupuscules each pronounce their own way forward, and whilst the BNP continues its long and painful death under Nick Griffin, almost all bar the BNP remain unknown and invisible to the public at large; a near-eccentric irrelevance. In this context, it is understandable that a concept such as the Centre for Democratic Nationalism (CDN) should have arisen. However, from the perspective of the author, the CDN has made a strategic error, for it is clear from what has occurred thus far that it runs the risk of becoming a forum for the concerns of the small parties of the nationalist fringe, rather than serving as an incubator for a coherent and credible nationalist programme. Moreover, it needs to foster not an alliance of the obscure and the unknown, but the development of a professional and publicly palatable party. It is the contention of the author that no political breakthrough can be secured by pandering to the preoccupations of those on the margins, but that instead, nationalists should address themselves to the central concerns of the general public, and fashion their policies and strategies accordingly.
The Failure of the BNP
A few years ago, the BNP looked as if it held out the promise of breaking into the mainstream of British politics and becoming a credible nationalist party. This is certainly what its opponents feared. Looking back, 2009 marked its high watermark, with its first MEPs being elected in the June of that year, and party membership reputedly peaking at some 14,000. At that time, it possessed an opportunity of cultivating for itself not only a better public image, but also a strong base of public support. It could have, had it chosen the right tack, transformed itself into a significant political force with the potential for real mass growth and appeal. History however, was to determine otherwise.
Despite the protestations of its Chairman – Nick Griffin – and his apologists, the subsequent collapse in the BNP’s fortunes was not primarily due to concerted media and political opposition, but to problems within the party itself. These included a lack of internal party democracy; bad strategic decisions; the adoption of a number of outlandish policies peripheral to nationalist concerns, and the presence of some equally outlandish individuals with an inexplicable fetish for German National Socialism. This latter fact provided opponents of the BNP a very large stick with which to beat the party and its members repeatedly. Nick Griffin’s own failure to distance the BNP from Holocaust denial and his attempt to defend David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan on the BBC’s Question Time were both gratuitously unnecessary and disastrous for the image of the party. Then there were the avoidable and expensive court cases brought by Marmite and the EHRC, together with the repeated failure to submit party accounts on time, leading to the BNP’s contemporary indebtedness to the tune of somewhere between £850,000 and £1,000,000.
As a direct consequence of the excessive concentration of power in Griffin’s hands, the party was (and still is) bedevilled by clientelism, with promotion to the higher reaches of the party predicated more upon a slavish devotion to the person of the Chairman, than upon talent. The consequence of such a system has been that talent has not been recognised and utilised to best effect to forward party fortunes. Instead, mediocrities and oddballs have often been promoted to Griffin’s inner circle, Griffin himself seemingly being mistrustful and fearful of building a capable, talented and dedicated team of nationalists. Indeed, the situation is now such that a non-party member – Patrick Harrington – wields an undue degree of influence. Quite clearly, as pointed out by Andrew Brons and many others, Griffin has no intent of going anywhere. Providing that he can make a living out of his chairmanship of the party, it matters not to him whether it prospers electorally or otherwise.
A New Party
Having ascertained that neither Griffin nor Harrington are interested in necessarily either promoting the growth of the BNP or its electoral viability, it is clear that there is no point in simply waiting for Griffin to leave of his own volition. We do not have the luxury of time. Although Andrew Brons has forwarded a credible case against the formation of yet another nationalist party, it is the view of the author that this is in fact precisely what is required, whether or not our venerable MEP for Yorkshire and Humber would wish to assume the mantle of leadership himself. One thing however is clear: it would stand a much greater chance of success were he to provide it with his blessing. There are many good and dedicated nationalists who remain within the BNP or its penumbra, whose skills and enthusiasm should be put to positive and productive use in forwarding our cause. Without a practical goal to work towards, the risk is that they will leave nationalist politics altogether, or select a party that is not a good fit for their beliefs and principles. Besides these people, there are also those who have joined other parties who could be tempted back were a suitable vehicle to emerge.
Before proceeding further, it would be apposite to provide a straightforward definition of our cause. It is this: to gain recognition of the existence of the indigenous peoples of the British Isles, and in accordance with such recognition, to assert our right to national self-determination as set out in the UN Charter. Sovereignty inheres not within the person of the monarch or in parliament, but in the body of the indigenous peoples of the British Isles themselves, whether they should so choose to define themselves collectively as British, or separately as English, Scots, Welsh and Irish. Our purpose is to defend and forward the interests of our people, with a view to securing their social, political and economic well-being.
To join a new party it should only be necessary for the prospective member to pledge to forward the cause of establishing recognition of the indigenous peoples of the British Isles, and their right to political self-determination. This would constitute the sine qua non for admission. As such, the party should be open to all citizens of the United Kingdom irrespective of their background. Upon this one principle, all nationalist politics are predicated. Irrespective of differences in other spheres of policy, this is the one principle around which all nationalists can surely unite.
There has been much discussion concerning the toxicity or otherwise of the BNP brand. Certainly, Nick Griffin is as politically toxic as a politician can be, and under his leadership the BNP will never be anything other than a pariah party that people lend their vote to as a protest, holding their noses whilst they do so. As he will not relinquish control of the party, there is no alternative but to form another. The question therefore as to whether or not the BNP brand is permanently tarnished is not a relevant one. It is at this point, that many readers will cry “but what of other existing parties?! Might not they provide us with the vehicle that we require?” My answer to this is a categorical “no”.
Recently, the leadership of the Brent Group announced its decampment to the British Freedom Party, and others, as Brons has enumerated, have left at various times over the past 18 months to join the English Democrats and the National Front. Some have also managed to gain membership of UKIP, despite a formal ban on ex-BNP members, and others have joined smaller parties that realistically nobody outside of nationalist politics or those who closely observe it, such as its fervent opponents and a few academic specialists, has ever heard of. Moreover, the micro-parties on the fringe of the fringe would not attract public support if they were to be known, for after all, how much genuine appeal would a party that displays an SS Death’s Head on its homepage exert? Does an answer really need to be provided to that question? If it does, the proposal that will be outlined in the article subsequent to this one will not be to your liking, and it would be better for all concerned if you were to remain pursuing your current specialist personal interests at a far remove from the political fray.
The Weaknesses of existing Parties
Returning to the question of why none of the existing parties constitute suitable vehicles for our purpose, the reasons are numerous, yet each of the candidate parties possesses a distinctive weakness rooted in its core ideology which means that it will either never reach out beyond a certain level of support to gain electoral success at Westminster, or contains values at variance with our core principle: the recognition of the right of the indigenous peoples of the British Isles to political self-determination.
UKIP is the largest of the parties popularly perceived as to some extent possessing a nationalist, or at least patriotic, orientation. However, it proves to be unsuitable for our cause for many reasons. Ideologically it is nothing more nor less than a breakaway Thatcherite Atlanticist wing of the Conservative Party, and as such, can at best be considered a civic nationalist party; it is a class-based party that looks to the interests of transnational capital with a North American colouration. As such, its model of economic development is literally bankrupt. Furthermore, it does not recognise the concept of indigenous British peoples; its activist base is weak; its membership is highly aged; it is dominated by the person of its Chairman Nigel Farage; its MEPs do not serve the national interest when they have the opportunity to do so, and as mentioned earlier, ex-BNP members are banned. Most importantly, the general public see UKIP as a single-issue party standing for departure from the European Union, and thus do not consider voting UKIP other than in EU elections.
The English Democrats could to a certain extent be characterised as a little Englander version of UKIP, but with a more rounded economic policy and drawing a clear distinction between “the English” (ethnic) and “the people of England” (civic). Despite possessing a degree of public recognition in a handful of locations across the country – such as Doncaster where the Mayor is an English Democrat – they remain generally unknown, and their membership is small. Although some well-known former BNP members such as Eddy Butler and Chris Beverley have joined, the EDs have not experienced significant growth over the past year. The party appears to be treading water, and those voters who have heard of them tend to associate it with a single issue: an English parliament and a solution to the West Lothian Question. This is predictable enough, given that this is what Robin Tilbrook and most EDs seem to be most passionate about and to concentrate upon.
The British Freedom Party experienced a painful birth that led to the creation of a smaller entity without an ideological raison d’être named the Freedom Democrats. Nonetheless, the BFP attempted to formulate its own nationalist response to contemporary demographic realities through forwarding the concept of cultural nationalism, which in essence could be described as a form of beefed-up civic nationalism. Many of its other policies, good, and in some instances bad, were directly carried across from the BNP. As such, it did look as if it possessed some potential for growth and popular appeal. However, for a number of reasons this did not occur.
After almost a year in existence, BFP meetings with figures in the counter-jihad movement led to its relaunch under the chairmanship of Paul Weston last November, with caretaker leader Peter Mullins standing down. This shift however seems to have created an even greater ideological muddle, with the BFP issuing a seemingly random melange of ‘policies’ in its 20 Point Programme, a number of which were mutually incompatible. In addition, this ‘programme’ appeared to be an unnatural graft onto underlying BFP policies, and must therefore be assumed to have sprung from the imagination of the new Chairman. Owing to Weston’s personal preoccupation with Islamism and Islamisation, the BFP has fallen into the trap of fixating upon Islam, with little attention being paid to other policy issues. Whilst this focus has lent itself to a natural yet awkward tactical tie-up with the EDL, such a narrow focus will not yield general electoral success.
Weston too has acknowledged that his new model BFP is essentially “UKIP but we will talk about Islam”. That, essentially, is why Weston left UKIP: other than Lord Pearson it did not take a clear position against Islamisation. Were it to do so, my opinion is that Weston would fold the BFP tomorrow and return to UKIP. If the Tories were to ever become anti-Islamisation and pro-EU withdrawal, he would in an instant join the Conservative Party. The BFP is thus driving itself into a cul-de-sac. There remains room for party growth, but ultimately it will stall and fail, stunted by its narrow vision. It does not represent the way forward for nationalism, for although the concerns of the counter-jihad movement and nationalism overlap to a certain extent, they each represent a distinct position. The BFP is at risk of becoming a small British Neocon party.
The BFP, if people have heard of it, has thus come to be thought of as “the anti-Islam party”, just as UKIP is known as the “anti-EU party” and the EDs “the English parliament party”. All three overly fixate upon a single issue which hamstrings their electoral prospects. As for the National Front, its brand is more toxic than that of the BNP, and in public perception is simply known as “the racist party”, thus signifying electoral suicide. Any further discussion of the NF is superfluous.
Having thus surveyed the field of existing contenders for the nationalist vote in Britain and England, it is time to draw this piece to a close. The true conclusion to this article will be provided in the next instalment, in which the focus will shift to providing a positive proposal that it is hoped readers will find both appealing and practicable. After a period of dispiriting setbacks, there is a basis for cautious optimism grounded in a realistic analysis of the challenges that we face. Success yet lies within reach.