Frank Field: Demonising the BNP is not going to help defeat them

The government has run an open door policy without asking the public

Share
Related Topics

The archbishops were right – up to a point – to broadside the BNP. The basic aims of the BNP are a direct attack on the Christian belief that we are all created in God's image and gain our equality from that most basic of facts. What does the intervention tell us about how the Church, let alone political parties, should do politics against the BNP?

We must not be fooled. There are some BNP members who hold the most wicked views. But do not make the mistake of thinking BNP supporters are of one ilk. Listen carefully when many of them talk. They express a great love for their country, think it is becoming the pits, and have real anger against a political class who won't talk about non-PC issues like immigration.

It is here that the Church stands guilty of neglect. I have tried to engage them on this issue through the balanced migration cross party group Nicholas Soames and I have formed. Our aim is, over the longer term, to bring into balance the numbers entering and leaving this country.

Lord Carey, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Archbishop of York have been brave about the nation loosing its identity. What discussion there has been in Church circles has been to accuse the group of being racist, or anti-asylum. It is this infantile response from so much of the political class in this country that has given rise to the BNP's latest surge.

The Government has run an open door policy without ever asking voters if this is what they wanted. On this front the Church has aided and abetted the main parties. The scale of immigration is at an unprecedented scale in our history. When Idi Amin during the 70s started hacking to death those of his citizens with Asian roots, large numbers came to this country. The current rate of immigration is equivalent to that two-year movement from Uganda, every month. How is it possible for newcomers to integrate at this rate?

Voters see their country changing and are refused a chance, through any of the three main parties, to register their disapproval, let alone embrace a new approach. Many are clearly going to use next month's European elections to make their voice heard. Because of the failure of the Government to act decisively to protect our borders, the question is not so much the size of the BNP vote, but whether it will push Labour behind it in any of the regions?

The BNP vote will not be halted by what the Archbishops say – welcomed as their comments are. Voters want change before the votes are counted, not afterwards. To delay until after the General Election any major engagement with mainstream voters on the immigration issue will be seen as the political parties running scared.

Is it not too late to pull back many of our lost voters who are intent on punishing the Government for its negligent open borders policy. It is the policy that has exposed those hard working families the Government champions to a downward push in wages and greater competition for decent housing and schools. The economic and social impact of immigration has neutered Labour's efforts to shift resources to poorer people and poorer areas.

A Prime Minister considering a fight back would use this week to announce a left turn on immigration – left, because it is its own core voters who are paying the price for not having a rigorous and fair control of immigration.

The key change Gordon Brown must announce is to break the link between people coming to this country to work and for this group to be automatically granted citizenship. The stay of this group of workers should be limited to four years. There will of course be citizenship places to be won. But there should be no automatic right to such status.

Of course the policy needs to be backed up with mega reforms.

But none of these programmes, such as Ed Balls' push to technical education, will be given as much as a second look by the electorate unless it cuts the root supply to the BNP – in other words, it breaks the link between coming here to work and coming here to become a citizen. Without clear action on this front the Archbishops, and the rest of us, will be merely spitting into the hostile political wind that is beginning to engulf British politics.

The writer was Minister for Welfare Reform 1997-98 and is Labour MP for Birkenhead

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee