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Griffin’s gone Barking mad

Labour’s Margaret Hodge must get her strategy right if she is to see off a challenge by the BNP, says Richard Sudan

Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP for Barking, who has spoken in the past of the need to deal with the far right head on, will now face a showdown with the BNP’s Nick Griffin at the next election.

Griffin has announced he will stand in the constituency, pouring resources into a campaign almost certain to repeat the usual hate-filled sentiments regarding asylum seekers and so forth. They are certainly a threat with almost a third of the local councillors belonging to the far right party.

If the BNP believe their best chance of getting a foot in the door is in Barking then we must be wary – and challenge them every step of the way. Why that door is open is a question that the main parties must address.

For now it is open and so we must fight them democratically – and as loud as possible.

Whilst some are hopeful that far-right would-be MP’s will have their efforts flattened and ironed out in the next election (whatever they achieved locally being dwarfed nationally) their success, especially recently, has given us warning signs that we cannot ignore.

They target disillusioned voters often in deprived areas and shamelessly espouse and promote their view of Britishness. We can never therefore under-estimate their limits and the importance of challenging the views that are core to their ideals if we can call them that, as well as their policies.

Only recently changing their membership criteria to allow non-whites to join the party, and then to have the nerve to market themselves as the party of modern Britain is a disgrace.

Any other parties holding alliances with far-right groups must be questioned at every possible opportunity, be it whatever platform, we must continue to have this discussion. While there are numerous campaigns dealing with this type of politics, it will only be by approaching the problem through open eyes that we ensure the BNP do not gain their first MP.

Leading right up to the election whether it takes place in May, far-right interests in Britain will continue to seek to recruit disillusioned voters.

We must expose any affiliations and shared goals our mainstream politicians may have with the far right in Europe, and expose the BNP by questioning them on real policy away from the familiar territory of questions they are used to.

Only then will any voters they have yet to gain see them away from their footing, and stumbling due to lack of any real direction.

Hodge has a tough fight on her hands, but it may be that Griffin has overestimated his chances on this one. While they gained support in the last general election, Hodge has vowed to “expose and expel him from the constituency.”  Let’s hope it will be sufficient to prove Griffin barking mad.

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