I've been dithering about this post, writing and discarding a previous version. As an ex-lefty I can grasp pretty much exactly what's going on in the non-communalist bits of the Respect split - but with the BNP I felt I just didn't know enough about the internal dynamics of the party to produce anything meaningful or interesting. Then I read this pretty damn poor piece in the Guardian and thought "I know more than he does, anyway", scrubbed the original post and decided to shoot from the hip.
I won't revisit all the reasons we are where we are, the long journey from Windrush, via Notting Hill and Enoch Powell to Gordon "Union Jack" Brown and the prospect of the natives becoming a minority in the next 50 years. Read the posts on demography, immigration and the BNP.
Let's just draw a few straw men in the sand and see who salutes. A great deal of what follows is guesswork. Comments will be opened for anyone who wants to fill me in on where I'm guessing wrong.
You have to assume that Nick Griffin and his closest followers are driven by either extreme ideology, which may not be National Socialism but partakes thereof, or hatred of non-Brits. How else have they stayed motivated through all the long years of struggle after the National Front fell apart ? Given the amount of harassment - up to and including violent assault - that they must have had over the years, they must be pretty committed to have stayed the course.
All that struggle and toil - and paradoxically, that which they feared, the cleansing of the Native British from large parts of their homeland, is becoming their great asset. As the natives see the (non-integrated) immigrant population grow, and find that they are strangers in more and more areas of what used to be their country, so will any nativist party find votes just waiting for a home. The BNP brand, thanks to constant negative publicity, is well positioned for the 'plague on all your houses' vote - and commentators from Jackie Ashley to Nick Ryan in the Cif thread above have testified to the strength of this political current.
But the new BNP voters - and activists too - don't do fascism. They're British, damn it !
I'm never sure if this is a difficult one for the left to get their heads round or whether the accusation that 'you hate black/brown/Muslim/Polish people' is just a useful way of abusing a political enemy. Let's have an example. I have a favourable prejudice, born of good times drinking with them in ski resorts, towards North Italians. But that does not mean I'd be happy if the entire population of Turin decided to move to Gloucestershire. Some of them, yes - that would be fine - but not so many as to wipe out the local culture and leave me living in Lombardy on the Severn. I like my North Italians in North Italy, thank you.
And that's IMHO how many Brits feel about mass immigration. They don't hate the immigrants as individuals - indeed they're hardly to be blamed for grabbing a chance to better themselves. But they don't want to be strangers on their own streets. A proportion (IMHO a significant one) of these people are potential BNP voters. And the less jackbooty the BNP, the more of these voters they'll pick up.
So - you've got a leadership - and the leader has his old, trusted comrades - who are well to the right of the new followers, new activists, and potential new voters. Perhaps a few of the trusted followers ARE Nazis. While others aren't apparently very good organisers.
I know not what prompted the BNPs webmaster, head of events and group development, and the head of administration, to set up a blog attacking one Mark Collett and one Dave Hannam, both close to leader Nick Griffin. Apparently the one is a liability and the other incompetent. But the leadership found out, they were expelled (one having her house entered by what appears to be deception and her computer taken) - and it was discovered that a huge number of activists, some pretty senior, agreed with the rebels rather than the leader.
There are ongoing suggestions that the individuals concerned have a hold on Mr Griffin which makes him want to keep them on board. Maybe a few skeletons rattling in the back of a cupboard.
Another leader of a nationalist party, some seventy years back, had to make a choice between jettisoning his old comrades of the early days and potentially losing a new-found power base. He chose to stick with the new power and ruthlessly cast off (or shot) the old brigade. But Mr Griffin's nowhere near power yet.
Guessedworker, posting with his usual readability at what otherwise IMHO seems to be an increasingly eccentric Majority Rights, maps out a few possible scenarios - none comforting for Mr Griffin. I get the impression that a compromise is being sought - certainly the "Real BNP" website is but a cached shadow of what was there a day or two back.
I would guess that there's a tremendous desire to try and get things sorted, given the possibilities for all that EU Parliamentary dosh in next year's Euroelections. From their perspective the one good thing is that the split has hardly registered on Joe Public's radar. But a lot of hard words have been spoken - and they'll all be on anti-BNP leaflets though letterboxes next year.
(In the long run, the demise or otherwise of the BNP won't IMHO affect the future shape of divided politics in divided Britain, which will still be driven by demographics. There'll be a party for the Native Brits, but it's somewhat less likely to be the BNP).
Any (non-actionable) ideas, you who read this ?
BBC Question Time - Willy Wonga edition
1 hour ago