Leading article: Expose the BNP’s lies and distortions

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The Independent Online

The unexpected victory of British National Party candidate Paul Golding in a Sevenoaks by-election is the first council seat won by the party outside London and south of the Thames. Widespread anger, following the economic downturn and continuing rows about jobs for indigenous workers, have delivered the victory. But, while the BNP has no chance of taking power in Kent, this is no excuse for complacency.

The party’s foothold in the North West of England, where party leader Nick Griffin is standing, grows stronger. There, the BNP requires just a 2 per cent swing in the polls to win a seat in the European Parliament. In that eventuality, the party will gain access to as much as £250,000 in public resources to continue its campaign. To stop this, voters resist any illusion that the BNP could create jobs in Britain. Its twisted worldview would only achieve the reverse, isolating us in Europe while dividing our nation.

A question mark remains, however, over whether our mainstream politicians can communicate this message. So far Gordon Brown has done the reverse. Indeed, his only resonant soundbite – “British jobs for British workers” – is now trumpeted on the BNP website. The Prime Minister should never have used this right-wing dog-whistle phrase. Each repetition gives succour to the BNP’s sinister platform, though it makes little sense in this globalised world. What precisely are “British jobs” in a country where more than 300 of the top 800 companies are foreign owned?

And if this is one example of a communication failure by politicians, there are others. The BNP’s strength comes from a sense of disenchantment felt by many poor, white communities in Britain whose concerns – not least regarding job stability, inflexible council housing lists, and crime – seem to be ignored by a distant Westminster elite that seems to speak a different language.

The tragedy of this is, of course, that while the growing support for the BNP is a manifestation of broad frustration rather than aggressive racism in Britain, every ballot cast for them strains race relations in Britain a little further.

It falls to the media and mainstream politicians to expose their lies and distortions. To send these racists to Europe would shame our nation.