BNP supporters include many hardworking, but unappreciated people. Their lives can be turned around by a confident Christianity that values them.
The Political Establishment reviles the BNP, either describing them as beyond the pale, or denigrating them for views they do not necessarily hold. In so doing they guarantee that the BNP will build a core following that will endure. Instead we should understand the people who voted for the BNP. The recent Channel4-commisssioned Yougov survey of electors highlighted the issues.
- BNP voter families are poorer than national median, but less than 10% below. Indeed, if you allow for the concentration is the lower income areas (Burnley for instance), they are about average.
- They are disproportionately manual workers (36% v 20% in the population), male (61% v 48%), and read the most down-market papers (33% v 20%). There are few professionals (11% v 36%) and few readers of the quality papers (6% v >12%)
- They feel left out by society. “Just 19 per cent of BNP voters are “confident that my family will have the opportunities to prosper in the years ahead”. This compares with 59 per cent of Labour voters, 47 per cent of Lib Dem and Green voters, and 42 per cent of Conservative voters.”
- They feel discriminated against as compared with immigrants, such as the feeling that immigrant families can jump the queue in getting a council house (87% v 56%), and feel that white people suffer unfair discrimination (70% v 40%)
There is something else that can be inferred from this data. Despite being of near median family income, they display signs of being below the average educational levels (more Sun & Star readers and lots of manual workers). That means there must be something else that characterises these people. I would suggest that they are hardworking people. The sort of people who two or three generations ago who do any job rather than claim dole; who would be horrified if their children had sex before marriage; who would be proud if they could go through their working lives without a day off sick; who would work long hours to afford the luxuries; who would be proud of their council houses and keep their gardens in a better state than a National Trust property. They are the sort of people who a generation ago would have bought their council house, and immediately change the front door to a mahogany-look one with a brass knocker to show their status. The same generation who would have seen the next door house being allocated to a single mum, who having had three children by different fathers, gets more cash and benefits through a few minutes of drunken sex, than they ever could by working 60 hours per week. They are the people who should be proud of what they have achieved, but looking round now say “should I have bothered?” (or something stronger). They resent those who get things easy, and the hectoring state who taxes their pleasures (smoking and drinking). They have been deserted by their natural political party, who, in being multicultural and inclusive has lost its dogmas and its passion. The final straw is when they support a party who seems to answer their concerns, they are treated as outcasts by the political establishment. That same political establishment, who having for years actively encouraged the politicians to gorge themselves at the public trough, now dither in sacking them.
Like the worst gangs, the BNP encourages these people to blame this on other groups – on the muslims, the immigrants, the corrupt politicians or the foreign imports – then provide a strong solution. But the solution is to turn inwards, rejecting outsiders, rejecting foreign imports, rejecting customs. It is also to say that by a strong government that they can believe in, they can get the esteem that they lack. But this will not be the answer. Crushing ones opponents never brings peace; harsher punishment does not reduce crime, nor does protecting jobs make us richer, or even reduce unemployment. Like the communists of yesteryear, they believe with the right plan, ruthlessly implemented they can solve all problems.
The answer is not to revile such people, but to see them as achievers, who have been lead astray. One hundred years ago, they would have been the people who packed the churches during the revival, cheered loudly on the terraces on Saturday afternoon, sung lustlily on a Sunday morning and repaired to the club afterwards. The churches again need to accommodate them. To provide them with strong dogmatic statements, not tortuous arguements about gender-inclusiveness and sexual orientation. To provide them with a strong sense of faith, that believes its past achievements and what it can achieve, not a faith that is no better than any other. The BNP followers, I would suggest, are made up of people who have been lead astray, but are not fundamentally evil. They are sinners whose lives can be fundamentally changed by a confident faith.
Channel 4 commissioned a massive poll of 32,000 electors, of whom nearly 1,000 voted BNP in the Euro election on 4th June. This is the website analysis.
First, who voted BNP? They were mainly men: they voted divided 61 per cent male, 39 per cent female. (Men comprise just 48 per cent in the electorate as a whole.)
They were also more working-class. In the country at large, professional workers outnumber manual workers by 20 per cent to 18 per cent. Among BNP voters the pattern is very different: 36 per cent manual workers, 11 per cent professionals.
One third of them read the Sun or Daily Star as against one in five adults generally; just 6 per cent of BNP voters read the upmarket papers (Times, Telegraph, Guardian etc), which is less than half the national average.
Yet the household income of the typical BNP voter (£27,000 a year) is only slightly below the national median (£29,000) – and not that far below that of a typical Conservative voter (£33,000).
It is not money that marks BNP voters apart as much as their insecurity. Just 19 per cent of BNP voters are “confident that my family will have the opportunities to prosper in the years ahead”. This compares with 59 per cent of Labour voters, 47 per cent of Lib Dem and Green voters, and 42 per cent of Conservative voters.
Among UKIP voters the figure is also fairly low, at 28 per cent, which suggests that UKIP also picked up the votes of many who feel the traditional parties let them down – and not just on Europe.
Not surprisingly, BNP voters regard immigration as the top issue facing Britain. Fully 87 per cent of them told us it was one of their top three or four concerns. (This compares with a still-high 49 per cent among the public as a whole.)
But when people are shown the same list and asked which three or four issues “are the most important facing you and your family”, the figure falls to 58 per cent. True, this is three times the national average of 20 per cent, yet it means that for almost half of BNP voters, immigration is NOT among the worries of day-to-day life.
We also find that most BNP voters do NOT subscribe to what might be described as “normal racist views”. Just 44 per cent agreed with the party in rejecting the view that non-white citizens are just as British as white citizens.
Yet the feeling is widespread that white Britons get a raw deal. Seventy seven per cent of BNP voters think white people suffer unfair discrimination these days. But that is also the views of 40 per cent of the public as a whole.
The average British voter is more likely to think that discrimination afflicts white people than Muslim or non-white people. And only seven per cent of the public think white people benefit from unfair advantages, while more than one in three think Muslim and non-white people receive unfair help.
Thus the BNP is tapping into some very widely held views, such as the desire to stop all immigration, and the belief that local councils “normally allow immigrant families to jump the queue in allocating council homes” (87 per cent of BNP voters think this, but so does 56 per cent of the public as a whole).
Yet, depending on how the term “racist” is precisely defined, our survey suggests that the label applies to only around a half of BNP voters. On their own, these votes would not have been enough to give the BNP either of the seats they won last night.
There are two telling pieces of evidence that suggest wider causes of disenchantment. Seven out of 10 BNP voters (and almost as many Green and Ukip voters) think that “there is no real difference these between Britain’s three main parties”.
But perhaps the most startling finding came when we tested anecdotal reports that many BNP voters were old Labour sympathisers who felt that the party no longer speaks up for them. It turns out to be true. As many as 59 per cent of BNP voters think that Labour “used to care about the concerns of people like me but doesn’t nowadays”.
What is more worrying for Labour is that this sentiment is shared by millions of voters, way beyond the ranks of BNP voters. Overall, 63 per cent of the British public think Labour used to care about their concerns – and only 19 per cent think it does today.
In contrast, just 29 per cent think the Conservatives used to care about their concerns; this figure has climbed to 37 per cent who think they care in the Cameron era.
Yes, Labour has a problem with voters deserting the party for the BNP. But its far bigger problem as it heads towards the next general election is to extinguish the overwhelming public view, reinforced by the scandal over MPs’ allowances, that today’s Labour Party is no longer on the side of ordinary voters. And that, more than anything else, is why its vote collapsed to just 16 per cent in the Euro election.