The neofascist British National Party (BNP) made unprecedented political gains in June, when two of its members were elected to the European Parliament.
Capitalizing on resentment of Muslim immigrants and economic fears among working-class voters, the neofascist British National Party (BNP) made unprecedented political gains in June, when two of its members were elected to the European Parliament.
Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, won a seat in the country's North West region, while BNP politician Andrew Brons won a seat in the Yorkshire and Humber area. Overall, the BNP share of the vote was just enough to win two seats according to the proportional representation used in European elections.
Brons, a retired college teacher, was reentering politics for the first time in decades. He ran for office on five occasions in the 1970s for the National Front, a white nationalist party linked to racist skinhead gangs.
The heads of Britain's two largest political parties were united in their dismay over the result. Tory leader David Cameron said, "It brings shame on us that these fascist, racist thugs have been elected to the European Parliament." Labour's Harriet Harman called the results "terrible."
"We're now representing Britain in the European Parliament [with] a party that is a racist party, a party that doesn't believe black people should even be allowed to join," Harman said.
When Griffin arrived at election offices in Manchester's town hall, anti-racist protesters surrounded his car and hurled eggs at him. Griffin returned a short time later in a police van. As he took the stage to speak, the other winning candidates left the platform in protest.
Griffin received a warmer reception two months later when he was interviewed at length on "The Political Cesspool," a white nationalist radio show based in Memphis, Tenn. On the show, he attributed BNP's election gains to fear of the "creeping process of Islamification."
"We in the BNP have been very clear that we think Islam and our traditional Western values are incompatible," he said. "Islam must leave the West, and the West must leave the traditional lands of Islam."
A week later, Griffin attended the BNP's tenth annual "Red, White and Blue" summer festival. Featured attractions included a carnival midway game of hurling wooden balls at coconuts painted with the face of Sir Trevor Phillips, the black chairman of the U.K. Equalities & Human Rights Commission.
The festivities were dampened by the news that American white supremacist organizer and moneyman Preston Wiginton, a close associate of Griffin who was scheduled to address the gathering, had been prevented from entering the country at Heathrow Airport. His presence, the Home Office said, would "not have been conducive to the common good."
Griffin received more bad news in September when the Human Rights Commission — the agency whose chairman was the target of the coconuts game — ordered the BNP to pay the equivalent of around $3,300 to cover the costs of legal proceedings on a proposed law to ban political parties from discriminating on grounds of ethnicity.
In a statement, Griffin lamented that amending the BNP constitution to admit non-white members would "stick in the craw of all dedicated nationalists" but said it was a choice between "evolving and living to fight another day or going down in a blaze of glory."