Anindya Bhattacharyya looks back at the years of campaigning that led to Griffin’s downfall.
So it’s good riddance to Nazi Nick. He was declared bankrupt in January and kicked out of his Euro seat in May. Now Nick Griffin has been booted out as leader by what’s left of the fascist British National Party.
Griffin’s replacement is Adam Walker, a former teacher with a record of violence, bigotry and deception. Four years ago he was snapped campaigning for Griffin dressed up in a soldier’s uniform – despite not actually being a soldier. When quizzed about this he claimed he was wearing his outfit “in solidarity with our boys in Afghanistan”.
Walker’s career as a teacher came to an end when he was banned for life after verbally abusing three boys, chasing them in his car and slashing the tyres on their bikes. He’d previously come to the attention of the authorities for using a school computer to send hate filled messages describing immigrants as “savage animals”. Astonishingly, the teaching council rapped his knuckles for misuse of equipment – but cleared him of racism. Walker’s brother Mark is also a BNP activist, and also a former teacher. He was also struck off for using school computers – this time to send sleazy emails with lines like “I124Q” to a 16 year old former pupil.
The BNP’s Walker brothers are unlikely to prove a big hit for the party. Griffin tried to overhaul the organisation, ditching the overt Hitler worship and Holocaust denial and posing as “respectable” far right party. This kind of strategy worked well for Le Pen in France. For a while it worked for Griffin too: the BNP steadily built up council seats, establishing bases in areas like Barking and Stoke-on-Trent. His zenith came in 2009 when the Nazis won two Euro election seats.
But relentless campaigning by anti-fascists got him in the end. The BNP’s Red White & Blue festival was blockaded that year, as was his farcical appearance on BBC Question Time. UAF activists pounded the streets in Barking, knocking on the doors of potential BNP voters and confronting them with the evidence of his Nazi politics.
By 2010 the BNP was smashed out of Barking & Dagenham. The same happened in Stoke shortly after. The party itself came under pressure as the Equalities and Human Rights Commission sued it for racial discrimination. An abortive coup in the organisation led to further splits. Griffin’s electoral strategy was in tatters – and the EDL had stolen its thunder as a street organisation.
The fascist right in Britain is today in disarray – though they are still dangerous and still looking for opportunities to attack Muslims, asylum seekers or anyone else they don’t like. But the racism it fed on is still there. UKIP is the most obvious incarnation of immigrant-bashing by the political class, but the Tories and Labour sup from the same cup.
Anti-fascists and anti-racists can celebrate the (probable) end of Griffin’s career. But the bigger task of driving “respectable racism” out of the political mainstream remains. Nazis like Griffin are the obscene underside of the capitalist political order. They may be down but they won’t be out until the system that breeds them is torn down.
Picture of demonstration against Griffin on Question Time: James M Thorne, Flickr