Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fighting the BNP in Chilton


Ten years ago or so, voting for the BNP was a dirty little secret that few were prepared to disclose.


On the very odd occasions I came across someone who I thought might be a BNP supporter, they would generally be evasive about their voting intentions. From their splentic comments about hanging or immigrants, however, they would leave me in no doubt that they were one of the few people in the ward who backed the far right.


That truism is breaking down, and if you doubt me, go up to Chilton. In the midst of the Durham Unitary election campaign, the BNP have made this their target seat, and flooded the ward with leaflets. I counted maybe 10 houses with BNP posters in windows in the area I canvassed in today. So what's going on?


It's fair to say that a small clique of the far right have been active in the area for years - from what I have been told the National Front were a presence at one time. And yet this isn't a community that has somehow been "forgotten" by mainstream politics - it was a pleasure to work for Labour's local candidates Brian Avery and Christine Potts today because so many people I spoke to not only knew them, but had been helped personally by them too. Labour are campaigning from a position of strength. The village has benefitted recently from a complete make-over following the construction of the long-needed bypass.


When you talk to some people who are potential BNP voters, they generally couldn't give a reason why they might vote fascist - simply that they were disaffected. I didn't detect that there was some growing support for the BNP's repellant policies, simply that some people wanted change. They could equally have voted Tory or LibDem if those parties seemed likely winners.


And yet there is a huge amount at stake here, because as we know, a BNP success in the Chilton seat will be feted by that party as evidence of growing support for their programme. One of our activists told me about a conversation he'd had with a BNP supporter in West Cornforth, who'd told him that Hitler was right when he gassed the Jews. Like all parties of the far right, they seek to marginalise and stigmatise minorities who they like to blame for all of society's ills. Their politics remain as noxious in the 21st century as they were in the 1930's and 40's.


There's a huge amount at stake in places like Chilton this May. I will going there to campaign again before polling day.

12 comments:

Ian White, townliar.com said...

Nick

I think many many people would bring back hanging at the drop of a hat if the do gooders in society would spend less time on paying drugies in prison and realise the countrys yob and tossers are out of control!
This does not make us all BNP supporters just people who are sick of the wishy washy way crime is punished these days by all party's.

Anonymous said...

I endorse your comments about the BNP and will be using my column in the Journal this week to urge the media to give the issue greater scrunity.

As a Conservative I would prefer people vote for any mainstream party rather than BNP. I'm sure you would be willing to say the same.

Graham Robb

dudley said...

dont you think its like a suck record calling the BNP racists and fascists all the time? why not take the time to actually read the BNP policies and debate them,or copy some like you and the other main parties have done. If you look at BNP candidates their average age works out around 35which is what i think this area now needs,the current councillors havent got a clue what is happening on the streets because they dont go on the streets until theres an election.when did you last go ot and speak to people when there wasnt an election due???............i rest my case.

Anonymous said...

My wife, a hairdresser and myself a factory worker live near Chilton. We are £370 pounds worse off under labour with the 10p tax abolition.
We will never vote for Labour again, until they truly look after the working class.They can pplough 50 billion into a bank, but take £370 pounds away from hard workers.
A vote for the conservatives is an absolute no and the Liberals are so wishy washy. We will be voting independant. We know the candidate to be honest and reliable.
But never the BNP, There policies are disgusting.

Tony and Jean.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, everyone for your comments.

Ian - the issue of "what works" as far as the criminal justice system is concerned has been the subject of political debate for years - it's fair to say that each of the 3 main parties offer distinctive policies on the subject. There is no shortage of MP's in the Commons who support what I would term a more 'populist' line, although it's fair to say that those who back hanging are now in a minority.

I think that's simply because the number of people initially found guilty of murder who certainly would have hanged, and then have been found to be innocent, has fatally undermined the case for capital punishment in this country.

Graham - of course, I agree. Your comment raises the interesting question as to whether there is any responsibility on the other parties to campaign when the incumbent party finds itself under siege from the BNP, so as to offer a real alternative to the far right.

I'm not sure that this is an issue in Chilton, but it certainly has been in some of the Yorkshire and Lancashire local polls. It's a subject I intend to return to later.

Dudley. Don't be hoodwinked by the BNP's apparently respectable website. The BNP has its roots in the neo-Nazi group the National Front and has links with the white supremacist, violent group Combat 18 (18 represents the first and eight letters of the alphabet from the initials of Adolf Hitler). Several documentaries in recent years have exposed the BNP as a Hitler-admiring, white-supremacist and Nazi organisation. Hitler's Nazis annihilated millions attempting to exterminate entire peoples when they took power - removing freedom of speech and the free media was one of its early acts in government. The Channel Five documentary "Neo-Nazi Hate Rock" showed that the BNP receives money from the sales of neo-Nazi hate music and fundraising events.

The BNP denies the Holocaust: The Holocaust saw the annihilation of millions of Jewish people as well as trade unionists, lesbian and gay people, Roma communities, disabled people and many others. BNP leader Nick Griffin was convicted of incitement to racial hatred for denying the Holocaust in a magazine he edited. In 1998 Griffin said, "I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that 6 million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades...I have reached the conclusion that the "extermination" tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie and latter-day witch-hysteria."

(Last two paragrahs taken from the Unite against Fascism website).

As it happens, I am familiar with the BNP website, and the sickening way that it only repeats stories of crimes against white people perpetrated by people of colour and asylum seekers, as if this is the true picture of crime in our society.

And as for listening to local people - well, regular readers of this blog will know that together with my ward colleagues, we strive to be active in our local community, using regular street surgeries, ward health checks, e-newsletters and indeed this blog as vehicles. Indeed, in Chilton, it seems to me that local people have the chance to vote for two people who are genuine community leaders in touch with local concerns in Brian Avery and Christine Potts.

Which takes me on to Tony and Jean. I'm sorry you feel let down by Labour over the abolition of the 10p tax rate. Labour has a proud record in government since 1997 promoting policies to take millions out of poverty, including children, but I understand that you are angry about this particular policy.

I would simply say that this election in your ward is a straight fight between the BNP and Labour. Every vote that might have gone to Labour which goes elsewhere or doesn't vote boosts the BNP's chances of victory. To stop them claiming that your community backs their racist programme after a possible victory on May 1st, please consider lending your votes once more for Brian and Christine. A few votes either way could decide the outcome.

Ian White, townliar.com said...

Nick

Not the old "were killed and then found to be innocent" Turnip?
I am not for one minute suggesting we hang everyone (albeit publicly in the market), these days with modern forensics in SOME cases it can be proven without doubt people did what they were accused of, some of them have even admitted it also, these are the few I would have hung or injected.
Also with a 5-10 year period on death row just for certainty!
As for giving the druggies in prison compo "stroll on" I think they should be made to pay for Bed, Breakfast and evening meal out of that compo and it will then get put back into the system, what will happen when they come out with £20+K?????
They will certainly be better of than me! and for what? Causing misery to other I would guess in 99% of their cases!
Not that I am condoning voting for the BNP as I am not but I can see why there Geobels propoganda machine is making headway into Parliament, its high time one of the other partys actually listened to those who they want to elect them and not what the party tell them to do! (post offices)

Rant over!!

dudley said...

thanks for your speedy response but regarding the slur on the bnp i have looked deeper into it since yesterday and nick griffin actually called it the holo hoax as to mean that the numbers were inflated somewhat,if that is his opinion hes entilted to it,i have spoken to bnp members and as i am a hard working individual with a young son they seem the type of people who are "more like me" and understand what i am saying.
as for connecting the bnp to criminals i have also found this blog which sheds a different light on yours and the other 2 main parties.
http://liarsbuggersandthieves.blogspot.com/
i have searched the internet to prove that these are genuine cases and not constructed by anyone,i have not seen this published in any newspapers and,i wonder why?
i also think that as you state in an earlier post that chilton will be your main concern as youngsters who were too young in may2007 are now eligible to vote and the pensioners are also turning sympathetic towards them as the leaflets they are giving out are common sense policies and they are finding it harder to live with the cost of living going up and their pensions not reflecting this inflation.

dudley said...

MMMMMMMMMM no comment eh!

must be feeling a little sick after reading the link.

ian said...

Dudley is now showing his true colours on another forum. His anti-semitic comments with racist overtones only confirm what most of us already know.
BNP are the same ignorant racist and agrresive party as the NF of old.

I just hope that few are sufficiently naive to believe that their apparent mainstream appeal is anything but a smokescreen for their fascist ideals.

Darlington Councillor said...

Many thanks, Ian.

Yup - whilst Dudley portrays himself as some kind of new recruit to the BNP cause, he has tried to use the Town Liar site as a means to promote their racist ideology like an old pro.

He rather dropped his guard, I thought, when he repeated the old lie about the BBC being the vehicle for the Jewish Conspiracy, and it is hugely to the credit of most of the active posters on the Liar that they have seen through his weasel words, and given him very short shrift.

As for the website liarsbuggersandthieves - this is just a BNP front website set up when they realised how badly the party was being hurt by the criminal pasts of so many of their leading members.

And Dudley - if you're still reading this - yes of course the mainstream parties have some law breakers in their midsts - the political parties simply reflect society in this respect, like most groups.

The difference with the BNP is that so many members or associates of it have been convicted of race hate crimes. That tells us something about the fundamental nature of the party. And it isn't very nice.

dudley said...

the post on townliar was not of a racist nature at all it was in defence of the way the bnp were called nazis,also in that thread you will see that the bnp actually have a jewish member who is a councillor, the point of the post was to say the jewish people do not think of the bnp as nazis and that is just another spin from the left.

to be honest now the elections are over and
1)the bnp now have 100 councillors
2)a london assembly rep
3)2 high profile labour councillors including the leader have lost seats in spennymoor
4)Labour -334 cons+256

i think i need say no more as to how rubbish labour really are because the country have spoken with their feet.
unfortunately for you and all your labour friends you are now going to have to work for your money,if only you did that earlier you wouldnt be in the position your in now, and maybe we as citizens of this country wouldnt be in a mess also.

Anonymous said...

I live in Chilton.

During the last elections, much of Chilton West was empty, quite literally. When the social housing issues are sorted out and people return, stopping them next time might not be so easy. I know at least four people who voted tactically for Labour in the last election who would not otherwise have voted, to keep the BNP out.

Rather interestingly, a senior member of the NE BNP lost his job last year from not being there as much as his employers required, and is now supporting his family of six fully on benefits, including a fairly substantial mortgage. It's a nice house, too. He's on pretty much what he was on when he was working and has expressed that he is in no hurry to get a job. Nice to see my taxes put to such good use!

Most complaints I hear from talking to people seem to be centred around two issues: immigration; and immigrants taking all the benefits. When I ask if they have children, and then suggest that they might refuse treatment for that child if taken one Sunday night with acute appendicitis, requiring immediate surgery if the surgical team was black, very occasionally I am rewarded with a 'lightbulb moment'from them.

Most people in the village seem to be ignorant of the essential role that immigrants take in our society. The hard liners seem to prefer deliberately not to think about it. That's not the same as ignorance. It's much, much worse.

I've lived under some of the most extreme racism of the 20th Century, and have seen people being beaten for using the wrong beach. Alongside this racism existed several well funded and popular right wing Cub Scout-like organisations. It seems that the two go hand in hand.

Chilton, and West Chilton especially, is undergoing massive social change, and hopefully this will pave the way forward for more moderate politics. I hope so, I have mixed-race children myself, and would like to think I can bring them up to be all-tolerant with the support of my community, not in spite of it.

I like living in this village, and have made some very good friends in spite of my liberal politics and my anti-racist views (but still don't feel able to go for a drink in the pub) and had the laugh of my life when I got a staunch BNP supporter (18 yrs old) to fill in the questionnaire on politicalcompass.com and found he was A CONSERVATIVE by nature. Poor lad.