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Nick Griffin has announced he will resign as leader of the British National Party by 2013. The announcement follows recent general and local election results which were a massive setback for the fascist BNP.

Griffin eggedThis means Griffin will no longer be BNP leader at the time of the next elections to the European Parliament - in 2014. Last June he was elected to the parliament from the North West of England. He is clearly hoping this will stave off dissent amongst his party's members, many of whom are currently unhappy about his leadership.

The BNP lost all 12 of its seats on Barking Council, in outer east London, despite Griffin declaring it the number one target for making gains. There were damaging losses elsewhere, including in the BNP's second target area of Stoke.

Griffin's own vote in Barking and Dagenham in the general election was under 15%, putting him in 3rd place. The scale of the losses, and failure to make a breakthrough anywhere, has prompted fierce infighting inside the BNP.

Griffin's own position has therefore become vulnerable. Previously credited with making the fascist organisation appear respectable - through pursuing an electoral strategy, posing as a legitimate mainstream politician and downplaying openly fascist sentiments - the shine has now worn off.

This is not an accident or a quirk of changing fashions on the far right. It is a symptom of the BNP's failure to retain council seats or make any breakthroughs at Westminster. Some in the BNP feel it may be time to ditch the 'respectability' strategy and turn increasingly to the streets.

Others draw the opposite conclusion: what's needed is a more respectable image, but Griffin's notoriety is an obstacle to them successfully presenting such an image. The fascists are deeply divided over how to proceed.

The setbacks for the BNP are, to a large extent, a consequence of anti-fascist campaigning. This has made it harder for the BNP to organise as publicly as it would wish, and has prevented the party attaining the level of credibility Griffin has craved. In the recent elections it also helped that increased voter turnout - due to the general election - boosted parties competing with the BNP in local elections.

Griffin has also been undermined by a series of damaging revelations in the last couple of months, including an incident in which a senior BNP organiser was filmed fighting in the street. It has become obvious that even prior to the election results there were tensions simmering inside the party.

Alex Snowdon

Alex Snowdon

Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union.​ He is the author of A Short Guide to Israeli Apartheid (2022).

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