The anti-fascist website Norfolk Unity reports that the far-right British National Party concluded a electoral alliance in Stoke on Trent with one of the UK’s tiny Pensioners Party (not to be confused with the equally obscure Senior Citizens Party which field candidates in the 2005 general election). There is fuller clarification on the the Labourhome blog, which makes it clear that the PP’s leadership quickly backed away from the association with the BNP and the link to its recommendations for the local elections in Stoke is now defunct. As the town is one of the BNP’s local strongholds as most recently reported in The Guardian, it is perhaps a little surprising that the BNP should have bothered. On the other hand, it does fit with thr far-right group’s successful strategy of normalising itself at local level through visibility and self-presentation as
‘community champions’. In addition to this well chosen strategy. Stoke has the classic profile of the BNPs other local strongholds such as Burnley (see excellent conference paper by James Rhodes
) or Barking (covered last year in a report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation
): fairly homogenous areas of white working class populations, industrial decline, electoral and organizational collapse of once dominant Labour party, weakness and unpopularity of more bourgeois alternatives (Conservatives, Liberals).
Perhaps worth remarking in passing the Flemish pensioners’ group Ageing with Dignity (WOW) was absorbed by the Antwerp branch of the sizeable radical right populist Flemish Bloc (now Flemish Interest). Indeed, many other pensioners parties in West Europe lean more to right than left.
The rest of Norfolk Unity the post is a long well informed discussion of the internal politics of the BNP (surely Britain’s most well researched, extensively reported and well blogged minor party), which – presumably in an attempt to add to it factional discord – is targeted at criticising its current leadership. All good work, but, as with many exposes of the far-right I have read over the years, I could help feeling that there was a slightly odd symbiosis between fascists and anti-fascists, almost as if the writers were themselves part of the BNP’s own little universe.