A blog by Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper about Kirklees Council and our activity to improve the local and global environment (and also anything that I fancy talking about)
Friday, 6 April 2012
The BNP - My part in their downfall.
When the close of nominations came through for the Kirklees Elections in May the BNP were notably absent. No BNP candidates! Hurrah! Dewsbury, once described as the jewel in Nick Griffin's BNP crown was now free of the peddlars of electoral hate. It was a by-election in Heckmondwike which saw their breakthrough in 2003 and this one was followed by another Councillor in that ward and one in Dewsbury East. In 2007 predictions of 5 or 6 BNP Councillors being elected were being whispered by Kirklees Party leaders. When the results came they failed to gain the 3rd seat in Heckmondwike and there were no BNP gains elsewhere.Their bubble appeared to have burst. The slide had begun and they lost seat after seat. In 2010 they lost their last seat on Kirklees following internal BNP wranglings which saw one of their Cllrs attempt to challenge Nick Griffin for the leadership. The BNP did stand in the Newsome and Kirkburton Wards in some elections and it was here they usually recorded some of their worst votes in Kirklees. They didn't seem to be able to get any traction in the wards where we were strong. Was this because having a strong Green Party presence had helped make people liberal, enightened and reject racism and hate? I'd like to think so but really I think we had cornered the market in the anti 'major ' party vote and there was no room for the BNP. Outside our target wards we decided not to stand a candidate in the Heckmondwike ward on a number of occasions. The rationale was that our vote there was around the 200-300 mark and would not transfer to the BNP easily if we weren't standing and would in fact be more likely go to the party most likely to beat the BNP. I'm sure this tactic helped Labour who have turned the tables on the BNP rather spectacularly.
On the council the BNP Cllrs were oddly silent, never produced a budget amendment that I can recall and you wonder why they wanted to be Councillors in the first place. They did say they weren't the most right wing members on the Council and named a right wing Conservative Councillor who admittedly is rather unpleasant. I did my fair share of challenging the BNP on the Council. On one occasion the Council was proposing something a bit authoritarian and the comment I made was "If Kirklees did this we'd be behaving like fascists and 66 members of this Council don't want to behave like fascists" As there were 69 Councillors in total the BNP took this as personal attack and they surrounded the Councils Solicitor demanding action. She had to point out that I had not in fact called them fascists it was simply their assumption that I was referring to them. Heaven forbid!
Having said all this we can't be complacent about the BNP or their ilk and we all need to make sure they don't gain a foothold again. In many ways we are fortunate that they have imploded before the financial crisis really took hold. Entering a time of economic strife could provide fertile ground for right wing extremists. So where have the BNP gone? Perhaps they've gone to the dark side of the moon! Here's the first 4 minutes of the new film Iron Sky
I am a Green Party Councillor on Kirklees Council and have been since May 1999. I was the Green Party Candidate for the General Election in the Huddersfield Parliamentary Constituency. I work in the energy efficiency/microgeneration sector and have done for the last 20 years or so.