A bit of a surprise on my Sunday morning telly today: Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, was one the two political guests on the North West opt out of The Sunday Politics.
It took me a few minutes to remember that Griffin was actually one of my elected representatives – sneaking in as the 8th and final MEP for the North West of England thanks to the unique way in which the European Parliament deals with our votes once we’ve cast them.
At the time, 2009, it was a new high for the party. Two representatives in Brussels, and a growing track record for success in local elections – at one point, they seemed confident about even getting hold of councils: Stoke and Barking were told to me as potential prime targets.
Since then, things haven’t gone to plan for the BNP. One of the two BNP MEPs has left the party, and the number of councillors is down to just three across the country. At one point, the BNP was the second-biggest party on Burnley Council, now it’s not there at all. Either through defections or defeat, BNP councillors don’t tend to stick around.
The established media narrative is that the BNP have had their day. UKIP is now established as the fourth biggest party in the UK, the turn-to protest vote party of the day, and the BNP is dying a slow, painful death.
However, watching Griffin on the Sunday Politics made me fear that not only is that narrative wrong, but potentially dangerous.