BNP goes upmarket to target white middle class

Legal defeat prompts far-right party to 'refocus its propaganda on a new front'

The British National Party is attempting to cloak its image as a party of violent, racist thugs by appealing to middle-class voters at the general election.

Nick Griffin, the BNP's leader, has signalled a radical change in strategy for the forthcoming campaign after his widely derided performance last October on BBC1's Question Time, which draws a large middle-class audience. It will attempt to capitalise on disillusionment with both Labour and the Conservatives over the expenses and lobbying scandals.

The BNP's legal officer, Lee Barnes, in an article sent to activists, claims the BNP has "won over" the white working class and that it is now time to use "propaganda" to reach out to a wider circle of voters.

Yet the strategy remains targeted at white voters, with Mr Barnes telling activists they must appeal to the "white liberal middle class" and the "white Tory middle class".

The move is a sign that the court defeat inflicted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over the BNP's ban on non-white members has forced the party to modify its election campaign strategy away from race to broader issues of class.

Yet critics described the plan as a cosmetic move to cover up its racist beliefs and showed that the BNP had gone as far as it could in picking up working-class votes.

Last week Robert Grierson, a barrister, was selected to stand as a candidate for the BNP in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, where the Conservatives have a majority of more than 12,000. After his selection Mr Grierson was forced to resign from St Philips Chambers in Birmingham where he has worked as a tax barrister for 10 years. "I felt I had to stand up and take the flak I will no doubt get. This shows that the BNP is not a party of skinheads and knuckle-draggers," he said.

But Sutton Coldfield's MP, the Tory frontbencher Andrew Mitchell, described his BNP opponent as "an extremist in a suit".

The BNP's top target seats remain the working-class constituencies of Stoke Central and Barking, and the strategy is unlikely to have a significant effect. Last year, however, a BNP candidate won a shock victory in a council seat in Sevenoaks, Kent, the heart of Middle England.

In his article, Mr Barnes dismissed the "smug, selfish, apathetic, politically correct parents" of middle-class voters, but said it was time to appeal to the next generation who are under 45. He claimed this group were suffering "racial discrimination" when applying for university places.

He wrote: "As a result of the Equality Commission case we must now refocus our propaganda on a new front – that of the Nationalist Classless Society and the creation of a meritocracy as opposed to the racist multi-cultural system. Even though we have failed to market ourselves properly to the White Working Class we have won them over.

"But we must now also reach out [to] the children of the White Liberal Middle Class and White Tory Middle Class and explain to them how mass immigration, New Labour and Cameron's Tories and multiculturalism have betrayed them."

The BNP is fielding 300 candidates at the general election, expected on 6 May, and more than 1,000 in the local elections on the same day.

A spokesman for Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation, said: "This is an indication of Nick Griffin's desperation as he is unable to break through to the extent he had hoped following the European elections and he is casting around for a new strategy. This will inevitably increase divisions within the BNP which have already been created by his disastrous Question Time performance and his defeat at the hands of the Equality and Human Rights Commission."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes