Saturday, 14 March 2009

BNP attack on unlikely "Marxist agitator"

The latest edition of the BNP's irregular (in more ways than one) "Debden Patriot" newsletter is devoted to "revealing" the supposed Marxist conspiracy to impose a communist dictatorship on Loughton's Debden estate.

The attack is particularly aimed at Methodist church-going Loughton Residents Association (LRA) councillor Rose Brookes, dubbed "Red Rose" by the BNP for "her long history of far-left activism with Marxist front-groups" (She lists her activities as "voluntary work for Barnardos and raised funds for a charity for bereaved children" - not activities one normally associates with the workers control of production). The leaflet is a transparent smear campaign against a jovial and hard-working councillor whose only "crime" is her vocal opposition to racism. In the BNP's bizarre little world, anti-racism and Marxism are one and the same, although members of the Conservative party have also been among those to actively campaign locally against the problem of racism. They consider that all opposition to their fascist politics is communist.

Oddly, the leaflet was distributed mainly to residents in the Broadway ward, which is not Rose Brookes' seat and has never been contested by the LRA. She won the Alderton ward seat last year in a massive swing against the BNP (see chart) - another "crime" that the BNP cannot forgive her for.

BNP activists are highly territorial. It seems they would prefer a truce in the style of the Nazi-Soviet Pact: the LRA can have the supposedly middle-class areas of the town, while the BNP can have a monopoly in the working-class areas. No doubt the pressure is on from national HQ to prevent further losses, which could have a negative impact on Nick Griffin's control freakish leadership.

Its losses in Alderton and Fairmead wards last year have shaken the local BNP, demonstrating that the LRA can win votes from across the community. In fact, class differences are dissipating with the Conservatives the only party to actually increase both its share and its number of votes in the BNP's largely working-class Broadway stronghold last year. With council accommodation mostly sold off under right-to-buy, Loughtonians are more aspirational and class/party loyalties have loosened, particularly with the decline of loyalty to the Labour party. This has benefitted the BNP in Broadway and, previously, in Alderton and Fairmead. But they are feeling the possibility of a crunch on their vote and the desperate personal smears are an attempt to warn the LRA off their remaining patch of support.

The LRA has been making in-roads into the Broadway ward with a campaign to register Debden estate's green spaces as village greens and save them from development. The BNP does not have the nous to consider such a move. Now it is nervous that the LRA will contest Broadway and break the BNP vote, in the same way the BNP broke the Labour vote. The attack on Rose Brookes is therefore the rearguard action of a retreating force that can only resort to traducing those who have democratically triumphed over them.

The BNP have so far capitalised on this decline in class-based ideology to advance their race-based ideology. But there is only so far racism can be a vehicle for public support in a town that is 99 per cent white. They are seeking other avenues: attempting to revive class politics with attacks on the LRA as "middle-class nosey parkers" (an ironic twist, given that they accuse the LRA of being Marxist class warriors) and portraying themselves as an alternative residents' voice, although they don't have any track-record of success. These are likely to be far less successful than the racist line they have pushed so far, which has largely focused on black students at Epping Forest College who they accuse of drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour (an accusation that the police have refuted).

The truth is that the BNP in Loughton is a cornered animal fighting for its life. And slowly but surely, other political forces - namely the Conservatives and the LRA - are beating them back on their territory. Desperate accusations of Marxist insurgency are all they have. Yet, McCarthyite red-baiting is likely to be far less successful than black-bashing. The electorate are not fools.

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