One thing that history teaches us about times of economic hardship is that far-right politics often uses this to its advantage, allowing it to once again rear its ugly head. One only has to look back at the National Front rallies of the seventies and eighties, or Weimar Germany for all too harrowing examples of this. And while the Tory party has taken an undeniably huge swing to the right, the actual far-right parties in Great Britain seem unable to take hold of any meaningful support.
Nowadays the British National Party are little more than a joke. Members and candidates are streaming out of its doors to form splinter parties that achieve precisely nothing. I don’t expect they’ll be around much longer, and they’ll certainly never achieve any kind of meaningful influence. Nick Griffin is precariously hanging on to his seat in Europe while his party has to resort to flogging scrap metal to raise funds (no, seriously). The departure of Andrew Brons from the party all but sealed their fate, and these days they can barely afford to field candidates in elections.
Even the once-threatening English Defence League seems to have succumbed to infighting, barely able to demonstrate effectively due to low numbers and interference from the band of neo-nazis and jingoistic bigots that still choose to call themselves the National Front. The only far-right party making any kind of electoral gains, the English Democrats, did much worse in the local elections than was expected.
It’s no surprise that with these parties failing to even tread water, a lot of them would flock to UKIP, which has caused them all manner of problems. After an attempt to boost their support by opposing gay marriage, to distance themselves from the bigger boys, they’ve had what no-one could deny has been a terrible week. Another day, another UKIP scandal. Candidates are being exposed for posting racist, sexist and homophobic sentiments on social media, accusations of electoral irregularities are floating around, which true or not, can only be damaging.
Their campaign flyers have been labelled xenophobic and inaccurate. Their response? Rather than kicking out candidates who are clearly unsuitable, they claim they’ve been subjected to a smear campaign by the Tories. This smear campaign seems to have taken the form of people listening to them and reading their publications. It’s hardly Leveson. It’s never a good sign when welcoming Robert Kilroy-Silk back into your party might actually boost your credibility.
So, what does this mean? Are the far right too incompetent to actually gain any support? It’s certainly a way of looking at things, but I prefer a different interpretation. I prefer to think that the British public simply won’t stand for the divide-and-rule bullshit peddled by these groups any more. I think that people have become more tolerant and accepting, and this means that far right ideology simply won’t fly in today’s society. But I would think that, I’m a woolly-minded liberal.