Alex Constantine - November 23, 2008
(From the comments section: " ... Whether the BNP is simply a racist ultra-nationalist party or an out and out fascist party is up for debate. I suppose what they lack is a charismatic leader and snappy uniforms. I'd rather not wait around while they manage to acquire either or both. But perhaps we should simply agree on their being a nasty bunch of educationally challenged bigots. ... ")
By John Rentoul
20 November 2008
One thing I got wrong in trying to answer The Big Question in The Independent this morning, was to say that "one of the most surprising" names on the leaked BNP membership list was that of someone who stood as a Green Party candidate in the 2001 and 2005 elections.
What I meant was "one of the names that was not surprising at all", because there has been a philosophical overlap between the "deep" green movement and fascism from the early years of both.
Yesterday, the Green Party admitted that two of its former activists had been exposed as members of the BNP: Keith Bessant, its parliamentary candidate at Cheltenham in 2001 and 2005, and a Rev Stanton.
This reminded me of the origins of the British National Party in the break-up of the National Front in 1980, and the confusion that followed. For a while there were two National Fronts, as well as a growing BNP. The larger NF fell under the influence of Patrick Harrington, the most recent prophet of the "Third Way" before Tony Blair (the phrase has both fascist and centrist antecedents, with Oswald Mosley's New Party and Harold Macmillan both using it in the 1930s).
The NF relaunched itself as the National Democrats in 1995 as a final spasm before lapsing into its present almost moribund state. But that whole phase was heavily influenced by an eco-nationalist message based on the "blood and soil" notion of a smaller, more sustainable, culturally and ethnically homogenous population, a kind of sub-Tolkien Anglo-Saxon fantasy.It is a fantasy that can come uncomfortably close to some of the more backward-looking politics of the fundamentalist wing of the green movement.