IREHR: In the UK elections, what can American anti-racists learn?

Posted by Leonard Zeskind at

The Labor Party lost votes and seats in the parliament. The Tories may yet cobble together a majority coalition and once again install a Thatcherite prime minister. Yet, in the London borough of Barking, the vote for the Labour incumbent increased, and Nick Griffin, the chairman of the white-ist British National Party (BNP), suffered an ignominious defeat. The BNP’s loss was all the worst for them because they had held seats on the local council and bragged that they would become the majority ruling party in the borough–a proposition that would have catapulted white nationalism into the center of English politics. Instead, the BNP lost every seat they had held on both the Barking borough council as well as every seat in nearby Dagenham. And they lost several council seats they had in other boroughs as well.

This stunning repudiation of racism and anti-Semitism was engineered by “Hope Not Hate,” the campaign affiliate of Searchlight magazine, an anti-fascist anti-racist monthly published without fail since 1975. The May 2010 issue was Number 419. (The cover features rocker Billy Bragg telling a less-than-salubrious character where to get off.) Since its founding, The Institute for Research and Education for Human Rights has worked with Searchlight, and this writer has been a regular contributor to that magazine since 1988. Last June, IREHR vice-president Devin Burghart watched closely as Hope Not Hate activists campaigned against the BNP during the European Elections (see “Planes, Trains and a Big Red Bus”).

For people in the United States to understand the significance of these election events, a bit of background might be necessary. British National Party leaders and others of that ilk have been working closely with their American counterparts since American Nazi Party chief George Lincoln Rockwell went to England to create, with Colin Jordan, the World Union of National Socialists in 1962. In the decades since, David Duke took a turn transplanting his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the UK, and David Irving and other British Holocaust deniers have cultivated customers on this side of the Atlantic (Irving often “winters” in Key West). The most famous British export was the white power skinhead subculture–with its boots, braces and Skrewdriver music recordings. A phenomenon I describe in Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream.

Even before the BNP’s creation in 1982 out of a badly fractured British National Front, its leaders spent a considerable amount of time cultivating supporters and dispensing advise here in the USA. John Tyndall, the BNP’s founding fuehrer, made numerous trips across the Atlantic, visiting with at various times: William Pierce of Turner Diaries fame, the remains of the white Citizens Councils, Willis Carto’s Populist Party factions, and Atlanta attorney Sam Dickson–a ubiquitous figure at American Renaissance conferences. With Pierce, Tyndall discussed the necessity to build an organization based on national socialist ideology, but without the attendant swastikas. With Dickson, the topic was white supremacy’s “11th Hour.”

Once the BNP’s current chairman, Nick Griffin, succeeded John Tyndall, the British organization’s relationship with American white nationalists became both more practical and strategic. The American Friends of the BNP started raising funds in 1999, and Griffin credited it with making a “significant contribution” to his party’s 2001 election campaign. At several venues in the DC area, including American Renaissance, Griffin counseled white nationalists to foreswear the “boots” of paramilitarism and put on the “suits” of electioneering.

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3 thoughts on “IREHR: In the UK elections, what can American anti-racists learn?

  1. NewFederalist

    At least in Britain these people have access to the ballot where they can be repudiated. Here they have to peddle their wares on the street and incite violence since political activity is largely denied them. I say let them participate in the political process and see how far they get. My guess is they won’t get very far.

  2. LibertarianBlue

    Anti-Racists just have to ignore them. Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, Black Separatists, Nation of Islam, Brown Berets, etc thrive on attention and controversy. Ignoring them is our best weapon.

  3. frank

    There is a scathing story on the webpage Titled Stung by racism navistist leader pulls out of rally. The story calls Chelene Nightingale an incurable racist…and also Former congressman Tancredo a racist that will be at a rally June 5, that will have neo-nazi skinheads in attendance. Southern Poverty Law is reporting it today.

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