UK Politics

BNP's Griffin in fight to hold back UKIP tide of support

Nick Griffin Image copyright Getty Images

The first politician featured in the BNP's election broadcast is not the party's leader Nick Griffin, but UKIP's Nigel Farage.

It leaves viewers in no doubt: rubbishing UKIP is a priority.

Mr Griffin's party dubs members of Farage's "plastic patriots".

The BNP says it would go much further than UKIP - bringing a complete halt to immigration and withdrawing from the EU without a referendum.

The focus is unsurprising. As Mr Farage's party has prospered in recent years, the BNP has suffered.

At the last European elections in 2009 the BNP scored a considerable success, with Mr Griffin and another of its candidates, Andrew Brons, winning seats.

The party attracted nearly a million votes. It had its rivals in bigger parties worried.


Since then, though, the news has been almost universally bad.

Mr Brons has defected. Membership has halved. Mr Griffin has been declared bankrupt.

Year after year, BNP councillors have lost their seats.

Their experience in Barking and Dagenham in east London tells the tale of the party's recent rise and fall. Back in 2006 the BNP won 12 seats, forming the second biggest group there.

Four years later they lost all those seats. This May, BNP candidates will stand in only four wards in the borough.

The BNP blames its losses on its enemies. Mr Griffin says the party is "vilified and persecuted" like no other.


His aides say sitting BNP councillors are targeted by opponents, the media and even local churches to help ensure their defeat.

The party claims the first cut of its election broadcast, which showed suicide bombers walking through custom controls and said foreigners came to steal and beg, was censored.

The BBC said it had not censored the film, but had advised the party on relevant guidelines and the law, and had then received a compliant broadcast.

Battling big institutions and standing outside the mainstream is all part of the BNP pitch.

But while UKIP's policies differ from the BNP's, Mr Farage has been playing the political outsider with much more success.

Other, much bigger, parties also worry about UKIP.

But Mr Griffin's seat in the European Parliament is among the last elected positions that the BNP still holds.

Losing it would be a grievous blow.