The definition of a fascist? Someone who is
winning an argument against a liberal. In other words, the term is so abused in
North America that it has little or no meaning. This is less the
case in France, Holland, Hungary and elsewhere where ultra-nationalists
have won seats in municipal, state, federal and even European Community
elections. In Britain this has all been more of a rumble than a revolution yet
in the forthcoming British domestic election there could be more of a shakeup
of the political status quo. The British National Party (BNP) may win two or
even three seats and has a very strong chance of electing the first far-right
MP in British history in Barking, a working-class district situated where
London’s East-End meet the county of Essex

It’s the perfect political storm for the
far right. An intensely unpopular government, a parliamentary corruption
scandal, an economic recession, a Conservative Party that has moved
increasingly to the centre and a polarising Islamic population. Even if the BNP
does not elect an MP in the House of Commons it will still have managed to
introduce a new sound into the British governmental symphony. Panic. The
establishment parties have been forced to realise that a growing number of
people are angry with the way their sometimes valid anxieties are being

In the early and mid 1980s while working
for Britain’s New Statesman magazine I reported on the then National Front and
its racist friends on the European continent. Teutonic Supermen they were not.
More a circus of outcasts, sexual deviants and soccer thugs. National Socialism
preached from a spare room in mum’s house. George Orwell encapsulated it rather
nicely when he contrasted the Germans with the English of the 1930s. The
former, he said, cry with emotion when they see their soldiers goose-stepping.
The latter would fall about laughing.

The British National Party does not
goose-step. Under the leadership of Cambridge-educated and relatively
well-presented leader Nick Griffin they have worked diligently to expunge the
Nazi image of previous rightist parties, claiming to be nationalist rather than
fascist. It’s both true and false. Almost every believing right-wing extremist
supports the BNP but most BNP supporters are not right-wing extremists. Indeed
while the party is not trusted by the vast majority of minority groups it does
have a Jewish municipal councillor and some support in elements of the black,
Hindu and Sikh communities.

Most of all it has support within a white
working-class that has been taken for granted by the Labour Party for
half-a-century. These are the unheard, the anonymous, the ordinary. The sort of
people who fight the wars, build the cities and hold the country together.
When, however, they complain of the disappearance of their culture and values
and speak of inner-city crime and decay their collective cry is dismissed as
racism by a political and social elite that can afford not to understand. The
BNP, employing the tested tactic of fascism, merely takes advantage of the

The new number in the equation is Islam,
and the number is growing. While there is an expanding and quintessentially
English Muslim middle class and a strong resistance to fundamentalism, Islamic
isolationism is a major factor now in dozens of British cities. Entire
self-imposed ghettoes resembling Mecca Road rather than Coronation Street make
routinely tolerant, moderate British people feel excluded, afraid and
irrelevant. This is not mere fantasy. Honour killings, Muslim gang crime aimed
at the white community, young Muslim men dealing drugs and prostitution and a
political fanaticism that culminated in the 2005 terror attacks that killed 52
people and injured 700. In the past five years there have been numerous
attempts at further terror attacks and examples of political extremism from
young Muslims.

The response of the traditional parties,
the churches and the BBC is to try to silence the already largely powerless
with lectures about Islamophobia. It’s disingenuous, patronising and
counter-productive. A new conversation has to be formed and sensitive yet
difficult questions have to be asked of everybody concerned, including British
Muslims and their new left-wing comrades. Otherwise the laughter might stop and
the marching begin. Even in good old England.

If the BNP does not win a seat in the next
Parliament it will be a victory for British moderation rather than a
statement that all is okay within the country. If not now, when? If not this
time, next time. The BNP is not going away and neither, it seems, are the
problems on which is feeds.

Michael Coren is a broadcaster and writer living in
Toronto, Canada.

Michael Coren is host and producer of the nightly Michael Coren Show on CTS television. He is a weekly columnist with the Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg Sun and The London...