The British National Party is undoubtedly controversial. Throughout the 2010 general election, Nick Griffin became a widely hated figure in the British political system, appearing on a particularly memorable episode of Question Time, where he was met with contempt from audience members throughout the show, and defaced images of the party leader’s face appeared across the country. However, despite the backlash from the British public, the BNP still managed to attract 564,321 votes over the course of the election – the fifth most voted for party. As someone who does not support the party, and knows little about them, I wanted to get the other side of the story. In an effort to find out more from someone who knows the party well, I spoke to Jacque Claude, a 19-year-old BNP supporter, to find out more about the party which arouses extreme opinions on both sides.
‘Before I knew the BNP existed, I wasn’t very politically aware,’ Jacque admitted, ‘I did, however, have opinions on our society and culture.’ Jacque recalled noticing Nick Griffin, who he describes as an ‘incredibly intelligent man’ on television programmes, and finding himself identifying with his points of view on issues such as immigration, which Jacque considers a ‘huge problem’. The BNP was the first political party Jacque became involved with, but assured me that his opinions have always been the same.
‘There are different kinds of nationalism,’ says Jacque. These are ethno-nationalism, which accounts for race, and civic nationalism, which means you are ‘a passport holder in the country and have legal rights here.’ Ethno-nationalism is the type the BNP subscribes to, which gives rise to the idea of the indigenous Brit. ‘This idea of indigenous people is not made up by the BNP – it’s fact.’ This is one of the most hotly-contested claims of the BNP, and much of the difference in ideas stems from which kind of nationalism you choose to adhere to. Many would say that being a civic Briton is enough; but Jacque, and the BNP generally, believes that it is significant that a Briton must be ‘of majority stock of the white races who have lived on this island for 40,000 years.’ Jacque describes the processes of ‘white flight’ (white people leaving Britain) and mass immigration as contributions to being ‘ethnically cleansed out of our own country.’ Jacque says that it is ‘preposterous’ to call a black person British, ‘like saying a white person is African, or Chinese.’ ‘We all deserve equal rights,’ he says – and apparently returning immigrants to their historical homelands, by way of restoring traditional cultural differences, is the way to do this. Jacque gives an example of his definition of nationalism as stated to him by the NW Regional Organiser of the BNP: ‘If your mother was starving and you had your very last scrap of food in your pocket, who would you give it to? Your starving mother or a starving person in Africa? I’m pretty sure everyone would say their mother. And that is nationalism at its core.’
The BNP website states that the party is a ‘patriotic, democratic alternative’ to the parties they say have ‘wrecked our great country’. Many people have interpreted the patriotic aspect, along with other highly divisive policies regarding immigration and the definition of Britishness, as a sign that its members harbour racist views. ‘The BNP is an anti-racist party,’ Jacque said, ‘We believe that all races are equal in that all races deserve a right to their homeland.’ Jacque goes on to say that the BNP believe that all races and cultures are important, which is why it is important to preserve them. He describes the changing of a country’s culture of a ‘travesty’, regardless of where it occurs. ‘Remember – a people makes a culture, not the other way round.’ He also makes reference to the current Hope for England campaign, which seeks to stop racist attacks. This may relate to the English Defence League, who are often mistakenly associated with the BNP. Jacque describes the EDL’s members as ‘violent, thuggish and not very smart people’, adding that ‘there is no place for thuggery in British politics.’ BNP members are often subject to violent attacks involving darts, clawhammers and fireworks, Jacque tells me, from the ‘Unite Against Fascism’ group, an anti-fascist group who Jacque claims is fascist in itself in its attempts to stop the opinions of the BNP from being heard.
Nick Griffin became one of the most hated men in Britain when his place in the public eye became particularly significant around the 2010 election. Jacque describes his achievements, such as ‘[turning] a former Neo-Nazi party into the most successful sensible and moderate nationalist movement that has ever existed in Britain’, as ‘incredibly impressive’. However, he does believe that the party could do with a new leader, as he believes that lots of people’s negative opinions about the party are related to people having ‘the wrong impression’ about Griffin. Jacque hopes that, once Griffin has resigned, the party will be given a new lease of life with a leader who is ‘intelligent, passionate and brave’, to revamp the party’s image.
The BNP’s most well-known policies relate to their views on immigration and ethnic integration. The recent Channel 4 series, Make Bradford British, addresses the issue of ethnic and racial segregation in Bradford, along with tensions between the ethnic groups, and how this can be solved. Nationalist policy, Jacque says, is the only way these problems can be abated. ‘We need to stop immigration, stop funding multicultural projects, offer racial foreigners money to go back to their land of ethnic origin and ask those who don’t want to leave to live by our cultural rules.’ Jacque also suggests stopping the halal meat trade, which he brands ‘evil’, and instilling Christian traditions into British society. Further ideas include preventing the conversion of churches into mosques, and ceasing translation services for those unable to speak English. Jacque also agrees with the BNP’s policy to leave what he calls the ‘incredibly devious’ ‘Soviet State of Europe’ – the EU. ‘Immigration is fine. Mass immigration is not fine.’ Jacque says he has no problem with small scale immigration, whereby immigrants blend into society, and ‘things remain relatively harmonious.’ Jacque refers to ‘no-go areas’ for white people in the UK, and believes that it’s ‘very sad’ that lots of divisions in the UK stem from cultural differences. Jacque’s main argument for stopping immigration is to preserve culture – ‘Only then will we see true racial and cultural diversity. China remains Chinese, England remains English, Japan remains Japanese.’
On a similar vein, Jacque calls Britain’s ethnic integration programmes ‘a horrible experiment that has gone wrong.’ Jacque particularly objects to the fact that the Government has ‘never once asked us in a referendum whether we want our country to be transformed into a multi-racial and multicultural society.’ Jacque states that, had the public been asked around the time of the 1948 British Nationality Act whether they wanted to see the country as it is today, that they would have said no. He goes on to call the racial foreigner figure, of around 5,000, of the time, as ‘perfectly acceptable’. It is the cultural mixing that Jacque objects to, and he asks ‘why on earth are we tolerating Muslims following the orders of the Koran and colonising our once great country?’, and describes parts of Britain as resembling Saudi Arabia as a result of Britain’s changing culture. ‘It’s not that we hate other culture, it’s just that we love our own and believe it should be preserved. As long as all cultures are preserved in their own country, we have diversity.’
Jacque has ‘very low opinions’ of current Coalition government leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, labelling them ‘dirty liars’. He categorises their policies as ‘horribly anti-British, anti-working class and anti-industry’ , and believes that all parties aside from the BNP ‘put the interest of British people last’. Jacque asserts that the BNP are the party capable of tending to Britain’s pensioners and putting Christian traditions before multicultural events. Jacque says that his own involvement in the party, such as running for a position, is uncertain, due to internal conflicts within the party, leading to an unclear future for the British National Party.
‘You shouldn’t judge someone by their political views. We can all be friends.’ Jacque states that the BNP believes that the only restriction on freedom of expression should be the prevention of the use of violence. He is grateful for the support of his friends and family, whether or not they agree with his views. ‘This is democracy in action,’ Jacque said. Whether you agree with the British National Party’s policies or not, it is clear that there are some supporters, such as Jacque, who are very clued up on what the party stands for, and able to justify their support with their own beliefs. To make it clear, I, personally, have not changed my mind, and do not condone the views of the BNP myself, but it is reassuring to know that at least Jacque is well-informed about what his party stand for, unlike some of its supporters, and that he does not support the violence associated with other nationalist groups. It will be interesting to see how the opinions of the BNP do change in the hands of a new leader, as Jacque hopes, and whether or not the relatively poor impression left by the Coalition government will affect support for the BNP in the future.
I would be very interested to hear people’s views on this piece. Again, as a non-supporter, I can’t provide much information about the party, and I do not agree with their policies, but I would like to know what other people think.
Jacque has his own WordPress, outlining his nationalist views, which you might be interested in reading.