The dangers of declaring victory too early ...

One of George W Bush's worst mistakes was declaring "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq at a stage when Saddam might have been overthrown but building a stable and secure state to replace what US and British arms had overthrown was, to put it mildly, not complete.

I have similar concerns about the possibility that mainstream politicians may take the setback for extreme nationalist parties in this year's general election, and their low profile in most parts of the country since, as grounds for complacency. This would be a mistake.

Am email sent out this morning from the "Nothing British" campaign says that

"Undoubtedly the BNP as an institution has lost its momentum. The humiliation in Barking. The financial collapse. The EHRC trial. Griffin’s personal failings. And the tremendous work of anti-BNP campaigns. So we are closing down Nothing British at the end of the year. We would like to thank all those who have helped our campaign against the extremism and racism of the BNP, its surrogates and other fascist groups."

The BNP's high water mark was the 2009 County and Euro elections, and they have fallen back dramatically since then: their general election campaign in Copeland was badly mishandled and their vote here fell to a third of what they had polled the previous year. Overall their general election performance was lower than expectations and has been perceived as a failure.

Hence the danger that mainstream politicians may become complacent not just about the BNP but, far more seriously, about the thousands of people who feel sufficiently excluded from mainstream politicians to consider voting for parties like the BNP. To be fair to "Nothing British", they are not encouraging such complacency.

"Nothing British" have published a valedictory article which you can read here about the "Antis" who feel excluded by Westminster politics. As they say in the summary of the report,

"Most voters supporting popular nationalist parties and attitudes do not consider themselves as extremists and would prefer to be engaged in the mainstream parties, if only they spoke to them about their issues."

One aspect of the report which will infuriate both UKIP and the BNP is that it examines voters for both the nationalist parties as representing part of the same tendancy. The report recognises that UKIP is both far more moderate, and more respectable, than the BNP. Nevertheless it argues convincingly that voters who have deserted the three main parties for either UKIP or the BNP are often doing so for very similar reasons and hence support for both parties can be seen as a similar phenomenen. And since those reasons include a feeling of disengagement with a Westminster establishment which is perceived as not listening to or caring about these voters, it isn't disputing their democratic right to cast their ballots as they wish to describe this as a serious problem.

James Bethell of "Nothing British" writes of the report:

"Nonetheless, we remain concerned that the causes of the BNP’s recent surge in popularity have not been addressed by mainstream politicians. Until their legitimate concerns are addressed, those left out of the benefits of globalisation will remain outside the mainstream and a source of potential radicalisation. This report is meant to be a wake-up call to the Westminster parties to face-up to their responsibilities to those who have fought our wars, built our industries and are currently left behind."


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