Today, the leader of the British National Party -Nick Griffin- confirmed on Twitter that his party would boycott the forthcoming elections for police commissioners in 41 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales.
Griffin’s rationale is that low turnout would undermine the legitimacy of the posts – a rather odd explanation given that low turnout has often benefitted movements at the extremes of the spectrum.
While the BNP may claim that ‘the whole thing is a fiddle, designed to shoo-in another tier of Politically Correct, pro-regime placement to continue the Leftist social engineering destruction of traditional Britain’, the reality is that the party’s decision to eschew the elections reveals much about its internal health, which is clearly a long way from its heyday as the fastest-growing political party in British politics.
In many respects, the far right in Britain continues to face a perfect storm: economic turmoil has sharpened perceived risks among voters to scarce resources, such as jobs and social housing; public concerns over its core issues of asylum and immigration remain high; and the police commissioner elections are focused on precisely the kind of issue that should enable the far right to rally support: law and order. For a flagging far right party that is seeking to resuscitate its electoral fortunes, these are precisely the kind of contests it should be fighting.
The BNP’s decision to avoid these elections stemmed from an internal debate about the benefits and costs of standing. On the plus side, Griffin pondered, standing in the elections the party could show commentators that his party had not gone away, would keep some voters in the habit of supporting the far right, highlight the party’s ‘tough on crime’ ethos, help its goal of reintroducing capital punishment, and attract some much-needed media publicity.
But, in the end, the costs outweighed the benefits. The party was forced to concede that standing would cost in the region of £100,000 (if it were to contest around half of the posts on offer), most voters would probably not come into contact with the BNP during the campaign and, given that no-one with a criminal record is allowed to stand, the party noted how ‘some of our best people cannot stand’.
This raises an awkward question for the BNP leadership, and one that is no doubt on the mind of its grassroots foot soldiers: if the far right party cannot even muster enough strength to contest police commissioner elections amidst a distinctly favourable climate, then what exactly does the future hold?