On 4 June this year, Britain elected two members of the far-right British National Party (BNP) to the European elections -- the first time fascists have been elected to such posts.
It's important to understand what these new Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) stand for. They're not simply hard-line Conservatives; they are out and out racists. One, Nick Griffin, railed that "international Jewry have declared war on the white man," while the other, Andrew Brons, is a former member of the National Socialist Movement in Britain, a party founded on Hitler's birthday.
There are deep underlying currents that have led us to this point. The absence of mainstream politicians -- from all of our parties -- in many communities, combined with a devastating economic crisis hitting the most vulnerable in our society, has laid a fertile ground for the BNP. The BNP has skilfully manipulated the economic crisis, which is devastating working class Britain. Playing on the fears of ordinary people, it has whipped up anger and exploited issues like housing shortages and insecurity to scapegoat minorities and immigrants.
Campaigners from across the parties have come together to launch a strong campaign -- telling the BNP "Not in my name."
During the election -- where the BNP failed to make the huge breakthrough they expected -- Hope Not Hate, a union-backed group, used new media and enthusiastic grassroots activists to launch an unprecedented campaign for Britain's future.
Outside the constraints of the main parties, supporters used email, website and tools like Twitter to build a movement of tens of thousands people in a couple of months. In one weekend blitz, they put out a million leaflets at transport hubs educating people about the BNP. That's probably more than the official campaigns were able to do.
Since the election, the campaign has grown even more. 80,000 people signed an anti-BNP message directed at the president of the European Parliament. To mark the opening of the Parliament tomorrow, Hope Not Hate has released a new video produced by its online team, Blue State Digital. The video is a powerful rebuff to the BNP -- and shows a united movement of modern Britain that sets itself against the hateful division of racists who would turn the clock back.
Campaigns like Hope Not Hate can't defeat the BNP alone -- but they are a vital part of the wider movement to counter this threat. Thanks to the efforts of grassroots activists who are proud of the modern, diverse, and progressive Britain, Hope Not Hate has given people cause for hope that we can kick the BNP back where they belong.