On May 1, the racist British National Party (BNP) won a seat on the 25-member London Assembly, which has the power to amend the London mayor’s budget and investigate and publish findings on matters of interest to Londoners. Richard Barnbrook, who will take the BNP seat after coming in fifth in the mayoral race and winning 5% of the overall vote, became the extreme right’s most visible elected politician in Britain as a result. All major parties had denounced the BNP in the run-up to the city elections, saying that it represented “hatred, violence and stupidity.”
In 2001, BNP head Nick Griffin, a Holocaust denier, told reporters that his party did not admit anyone not descended from European whites or “kindred” peoples. (The BNP has since accepted a tiny handful of people of color in order to bolster its battle against Muslims.) The party is particularly well known for its hardline anti-immigrant views. Its officials have proposed deporting all illegal immigrants and even paying legal immigrants to leave England, promising “voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here will be afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin.”
Despite his party’s affiliation with white nationalism, Barnbrook tried to reassure foreign-born Londoners after his election. “Do not be nervous. As long as you abide by our identity and laws of this land, come to me and I will see where we can help,” Barnbrook told the BBC.
Barnbrook was the best known of several BNP councillors — the rough equivalent of local City Council members in the United States — before his May election to the higher-ranking post. He was well known to most Londoners, in part because in 2006 he was accused of making a film 17 years earlier that was widely described as gay pornography. (The BNP opposes the “promotion” of homosexuality.) He angrily disputed the charge, saying it was simply an art film about “sexuality.”
Just days after Barnbrook’s election, Scotland’s new counter-terrorism chief Allan Burnett said that neo-Nazis pose a serious terrorist threat to the United Kingdom. “We’ve had a number of right-wing issues recently in the U.K. that again have raised their head in Scotland,” Burnett said. Referring to the arrest of an alleged neo-Nazi in Scotland last fall for making nail-bombs, he added: “There’s no point promoting positive race relations if, in claiming to be everyone’s coordinator of counter terrorism, you take your eye off the right-wing.”