The Rise of the BNP in Scotland: SARWAR OUR TARGET; Right-Wing Extremists' Real Purpose Is to Sow Dissent between Local White and Asian Voters

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), July 5, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Rise of the BNP in Scotland: SARWAR OUR TARGET; Right-Wing Extremists' Real Purpose Is to Sow Dissent between Local White and Asian Voters


Byline: By Richard Elias

THE Scottish BNP plan to fight Asian MP Mohammad Sarwar at the next General Election.

They have no chance of winning the Labour MP's Govan seat but it will provide them a chance to stir up trouble and win publicity.

Sarwar became Britain's first Asian MP in 1997 and is widely respected at Westminster and across the country.

But deluded BNP vice-chairman Scott McLean believes Sarwar is 'losing support'.

He told our undercover reporter: 'White people should have a real choice to vote for.'

While the BNP failed to make their mark at the ballot box in Scotland, there are signs their latest propaganda war is winning over voters.

Although they did not win any seats in the European elections, there was a sharp rise in the votes they amassed.

The party contested the Euro constituency in Scotland, with Steven Blake as No1 choice and McLean as No2, and secured 19,427 votes, despite a poor turnout.

That amounted to 1.7 per cent of the vote, which compares favourably to the last General Election when they registered just 0.4 per cent.

Every vote was cheered by a small group of supporters at the Edinburgh count. And, according to experts, it all amounts to the warning signs of a BNP revival.

One political insider said: 'The fact they are registering nearly 20,000 votes means they are certainly on the radar in Scotland.

'And who knows, unless we are careful, they could do even better next time around.'

Nationally, the BNP won 17 local council seats, one more than in the previous elections, although their actual vote, around 800,000, increased by almost four per cent.

The party's sharp rise in popularity in England follows some of the worst race riots seen in Britain.

After trouble erupted across northern England in the summer of 2002, the spectre of the far-right making political in-roads across the UK loomed large. In towns such as Burnley and Halifax and Bradford, all of which have significant Asian populations, the BNP began to pick up support.

From across the social spectrum, disillusioned voters turned to Nick Griffin's party, believing they offered a realistic chance for change.

Council elections in 2003 saw the BNP make their most significant gains.

And for a time, it appeared as if Britain would go the same way as France and Austria, and have the far-right as a major political party.

But the threatened upsurge in popularity failed to materialise.

And despite a concerted effort to change the party's image and give them an 'acceptable' political face, voters rebelled.

The warning signs for the UK about the increased influence of the BNP had been there for several years with senior activists promising an all-out assault on the political scene.

Griffin's radical overhaul of the party, designed to rid itself of the old 'skinhead and bovver boot' image worked a treat.

The BNP began to win over those who, even a few months earlier, would have been repulsed by the organisation.

In the seventies and early eighties the far-right had been dominated by the National Front who made no secret of their extremist views.

But in-fighting led to their demise and it was left to the BNP to fly the flag for 'acceptable' far-right politics in the UK.

In 1993, they won a by-election in the London borough of Tower Hamlets with their 'rights for whites' campaign.

However, the momentum could not be maintained and within five months they lost the seat.

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