BNP Electoral Gains Shock Political Establishment

The British National Party (BNP), a neofascist political party that limits membership to whites, more than doubled its number of local councilors in British elections this May, shocking anti-racist leaders and the political establishment.

The May 4 vote gave the BNP 50 seats on local councils, more or less equivalent to city councils and county commissions in the United States. That was up dramatically from the 24 seats the BNP won in 2004 local elections.

The gains were not entirely unexpected. In the weeks leading up to the vote, analysts and politicians had warned that the BNP seemed poised to make serious electoral advances, with one academic study suggesting that 25% of British voters were considering voting for the BNP three weeks before the elections. That study and other analysts said the party was strong in white, working-class areas, especially those affected by industrial decline and non-white immigration.

The BNP targeted such areas with pamphlets like one that attacked both the Conservative and the Labour parties under the headline, "Shut Down by the Tories, Abandoned by Labour, Only the BNP Will Stand Up for British Workers."

"Just as Hitler singled out minorities to blame for the economic crisis of the 1930s, the BNP wants to scapegoat black and Asian people for the housing crisis and economic failure," a Unite Against Fascism official told The Independent. "There is a great danger that the BNP's election gains give a veneer of respectability to racist ideas, and could pull mainstream politics into the gutter."