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26 Oct, 2009 17:12

UK uproar against British ultra-nationalists

Hundreds of UK citizens brought politics back to the streets by calling for denying a voice to the right wing British National Party, which is accused by many in the UK of pursuing racist policies similar to the Nazis.

There’s no such thing as bad publicity. The old saying looks to have proved true for the British National Party. Since leader Nick Griffin’s appearance on the BBC’s flagship question and answer program last Thursday, a poll shows 22 percent of those questioned would consider voting for the far-right party. The BNP says 4,000 new people have inquired about membership.

Angry scenes preceded the program with 500 anti-fascist activists gathering outside Television Centre to protest the appearance of the far-right party on Question Time.

Leader Griffin appeared nervous and was frequently shouted down, but 8 million people watched the show – half the night’s total television audience.

This was just the culmination of weeks of priceless publicity for the party. The BNP has come under fire from a wide range of institutions for its views and associations.

At the end of last month, there were renewed calls for a ban on its members working in schools – a move supported by Britain’s second largest teachers’ union, NASUWT.

“Do they promote intolerance, hatred, racism, homophobia, bigotry? Do they promote violence and do they actually want an all-white Britain and any group, as far as we’re concerned, that did not pass those tests, are not appropriate to work in public services,” concludes Chris Keates, the union’s general secretary.

A teacher by profession, Mark Walker was suspended after declaring his intention to stand in local elections as a BNP candidate.

“To me it’s a case of freedom of association. I don’t espouse my politics, I teach my subject and I had the best results in the county, which goes to show they’re not bothered about the results the kids get, it’s about politics,” says Walker.

BNP members are already banned from the police and prison services, and now a review on schools will take place. But Hugh Lanning, of the Public and Commercial Services Union, says it's still not going far enough.

“They don’t believe in the fair delivery of public services, there’s an equality duty that public bodies have”, says Hugh Lanning, Deputy General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union. “You cannot be a fascist at the weekend and be a good civil servant during the week.”

The BNP says mainstream politics is running scared, following its EU election victory in June when the party won 2 seats in Strasbourg. And even its detractors admit that the government’s failings have left a gaping hole that the BNP is more than happy to fill.

Poet and activist Michael Rosen believes “The BNP is a Nazi party, and we know what the Nazis did. Mainstream politics fails because it does not do what it’s supposed to do, and that’s look after everybody. The job of government is not to govern, but to provide, so that’s the way the main parties have failed.”

As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And it looks set to continue for the BNP. Following his Question Time appearance, Nick Griffin called the audience a lynch mob and has demanded a rerun.