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Published on February 20th, 2013 | by Benjamin Meggitt
Image © PA Mirror


Matchwood: The splintering of Britain’s extreme right wing

According to Medical Editor Kate Cronan of the parental advice website ‘Kid’s Health’, the most effective manner of dealing with a splinter is to try and get it out as soon as you notice it. Advice Nick Griffin, Chairman of the extreme rightwing British Nationalist Party (BNP), would do well to pay attention to in light of the recent dissent experienced within his own splinter group political party. For on Saturday the 9th of February 2013 at approximately 9 am there was re-born, in its third and hopefully final reincarnation, the little remembered and as yet still widely unknown British Democratic Party (BDP); lead by veteran racist and disenchanted former BNP member Andrew Brons. Witnessed by a meagre 60-65 people in the quiet village of Queniborough in rural Leicestershire, the ‘national’ launch of Britain’s newest extreme right-wing splinter group would have gone unnoticed by Britain’s predominantly centre leaning general public, if not for the sterling documentary work of the anti-fascist group Hope not Hate. Indeed this was a brave undertaking by the pacifist organisation’s ever vigilant watchdog volunteers, made even more worthy of commemoration considering Brons’s odd choice of ‘security’  in calling upon the ‘expertise’ of the thuggish English Defence League, to provide non-existent crowd control.

Generating a grand total of £318.65 from  the party’s first collection, most of which went to covering the costs of renting the hall and buying refreshments fit for right-wing extremists, the ironically unelected BDP steering committee vowed via a number of supposedly ‘stirring’ speeches to withdraw the UK from the European Union, enforce compulsory repatriation of ‘non-whites’ and ,most interestingly of all, eradicate the “corrupt” and policy “watering-down” sister party, the BNP.

From the perspective of the casual observer, such an overtly aggressive stance by the BDP against their relatively less extreme but still far-right parent may seem a touch bizarre. Surely cooperation to secure rather than split further the 532,000  farright votes garnered at the 2010 general election (596,000 if including those won by the equally nationalistic English Democrat party) would be a more pragmatic way forward toward a ‘better’, more racially plain Britain? However, on lifting up the rusted bonnet of Britain’s red, white and blue nationalist vehicle and looking inside at the disjointed and increasingly irate Frankenstein’s monster of an ideological engine below, the tensions between the two parties become quite obvious.

The root chord of the inevitable bad blood between Britain’s racist elite is the deep personal hatred lying between the respective party leaders and sole national representatives – MEPs Andrew Brons and Nick Griffin. Both infamous in the once prominent but now decaying National Front pro-English movement, no love was lost between the two men on Griffin’s engineering of the radical breakaway group the Official National Front in 1986 and Brons unsuccessful attempt to counter the assured deflation of the movement by marshalling the remaining National Front traditionalists. A quarter of a century later, with Brons joining the BNP late in 2005, both men faced each other once more, in a viciously fought battle for the party leadership, which saw Griffin emerge victorious by a mere 9 votes from over 2000 cast. Griffin’s narrow victory, coupled with a poor recent general election result and national humiliation through Griffin’s stuttering performance on the BBC show ‘Question Time’, polarised the already tense party, with a number of influential party members deciding two years on to join forces with Brons and launch yet another nationalist splinter group.

Without a doubt Brons’s decision to carve up, once again, the already limited and increasingly squeezed far right political electorship is further political suicide, set to splinter to matchwood the already small number of loyal nationalist supporters found in the UK. By dividing the already minuscule coalition of two national representatives between two adverse parties and openly exposing so blatantly their personal and extremist differences, Brons has expertly hammered yet another nail into the child’s coffin of British fascism. Furthermore the increasing popularity of the relatively more moderate right wing UK Independent party (UKIP), in the wake of European economic uncertainty and the high profile  switch to UKIP by Conservative party MEP Roger Helmer in 2012, has almost certainly come in part from a dissatisfied far right migration due to the sinking trajectory of the BNP in the national polls.

Due then to the infirmed condition of Britain’s far right wing, it is fair to state that, as a political movement, it is highly unlikely to have any fundamental impact on national politics in the foreseeable future. However within the right wing arena, the stage is set for an intense and potentially bloody fight for survival between the dwindling BNP and the splinter group BDP. Partially inspired by the personal hatred held between the leaders Griffin and Brons and partly due to the increasing pressure of the political countdown to the general election held on May the 7th 2015 ; neither the BDP or BNP will hold back in their attempts to derail the almost synonymous ‘alternative’ party and position themselves squarely as the ‘nationalist’ first choice.

This is quite repeptitive of what you have argued before. Could you not just say: “The upcoming general election in 2015 will only serve to intensify the contest as both parties seek to establish themselves as the nationalist first choice.”

Although still in the process of sizing each other up and yet to clash on the political campaign trail, the BDP have fired a couple of early warning shots and look prepared for battle; by clearly defining their political territory in Britain’s North East and  creating a tentative alliance with the EDL.

Although still currently being formulated, the BDP’s provocative and soon to be released ‘corruption-limiting’ constitution is set to create further tension  with the BNP by codifying an even more extreme and more belligerent political manifesto than current proclaimed by Griffin; a move which should see either an ironic rebuke from the disgruntled parent organisation or a reversion by it to a more radical form, in an attempt to comfort disparaged members. What is certain though is that the tattered St. George’s flag is set to be flown, not merely in misplaced opposition to multi-culturalism and membership of the EU but also against once fellow, now enemy nationalists parading behind the ‘wrong’ acronym.

Though the creation of yet another example of human moral weakness and irrational hatred should not be greeted light heartedly; the establishment of the BDP, far from ushering in a period of reenergised British neo-Nazism, highlights positively the increasing frailty of the UK nationalist movement. Long may it remain in its currently self crippling and pathetic state, despite the nationalist rumblings, once again, in Europe…

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About the Author

Benjamin Meggitt

Benjamin is a third year history undergraduate at UCL, currently studying his penultimate year abroad at the University of Pennsylvania. Alongside his university studies, Ben has worked within the British political system; primarily as a policy and casework intern for varying Members of Parliament, including most noticeably Under Secretary Lynn Featherstone. Aside from a keen interest in politics and international affairs, Ben is also an avid fan of rugby union and supports the London based Aviva Premiership team Saracens.

  • Siberian Squirrel

    Hey great article!

    • underthebutton

      Many thanks!

  • Iain Waterman

    Ben, thought you'd be interested to see this piece from VICE – theres also a video where he comments on the splintering of the movement

    • underthebutton

      Many thanks Iain, shall take a look!

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