In the local council elections in May the British National Party (BNP) won 32 new seats, bringing its national total to 48.
Its election material addressed those who felt "despondent, depressed, angry, ignored, abandoned, forgotten, ripped off, exploited, overtaxed, unrepresented". They said that the crisis in the NHS showed "the profit motive outweighing patient care", and denounced "private gain for public service".
In other words, they try to appeal to working-class people. But the BNP identifies the enemy not as the bosses and their political servants, but as "multiculturalism". Mainly, it attacks Muslims and immigrants, but anybody who is not white is a target for the BNP. They are a racist party; the attack on multiculturalism is just code.
The BNP appeals to people who are too despondent to take on the real big-business class enemy. It calls on them to support it in having a go at a vulnerable scapegoat: mostly workers who are even more "ripped off, exploited, and unrepresented".
If this is the 'theory', then racist attacks and discrimination are the 'practice'. The longer-term goal of the BNP is to crush the whole labour movement, black and white, and put us all under a fascist dictatorship.
There are many working-class people who are not despondent, or racist, who feel unrepresented by the established parties. The Labour Party of today, deep in cahoots with the millionaires whose loans keep it going, allows us scarcely a glimmer of representation. The working class is disenfranchised, apart from a few socialist candidates here and there.
Asylum rights campaigners often hear people who are not hardened racists saying: "Who's campaigning for the people already here? We have to stand up for ourselves. If some asylum-seekers get hurt, that's a pity, but ..." This view, starting with a justified feeling of being politically exploited and unrepresented can quickly turn rancid, into BNP-type scapegoating.
Unless we challenge the lack of affordable housing, good schools and decent jobs, paid for by taxing the rich, we cannot fight the scapegoating effectively. This fight can not be postponed in the name of uniting everyone now against the BNP: it is essential to undercutting the BNP.
We need a labour-movement campaign which is against the BNP but also for socialist policies, against the Tories, the Lib-Dems and the Blair-Brown New Labour leadership. We have to re-gear the labour movement to fight for a workers' government - one based on working-class organisations and struggles and willing to defy capital and push through measures for housing, schools, health, jobs.