A Guardian journalist just spent seven months undercover as a member of the British National Party. Amazingly, he made it as high as London organiser for the party during his stint.
Splashed all over the paper's front page today are his exclusive revelations, gleaned as a result of his undercover efforts. These include:
- Members are advised not to be racist or anti-semitic
- They are told to act at all times in a way that brings credit to the party
- They use encryption software to protect their member lists
- They occasionally use false names while on party business for fear of losing their jobs otherwise, especially those in the public sector.
If this is the best the Guardian can do in terms of a smear job after having obtained unprecedented access to the party's inner circle for months on end, then perhaps it really is the case that the BNP of today is not the beast it once was.
In fact, to me the biggest concerns arising from the article are that the Guardian is prepared to 'out' people who are not politicians as members of a political party, and that people who are members of a legitimate political party fear losing their public sector jobs solely because of that membership.
If we're talking fascism, then publishing member lists of a political party in a newspaper or threatening people's jobs because of their political affiliations seem to be fairly fascist acts to me.
And it is very possible that the tame aspect of these 'revelations' will have the opposite effect to that intended by the Guardian - that of encouraging more people to think of the BNP as an increasingly mainstream organisation.
Of course, this is a process already underway. The BNP are gaining up to a hundred new members a week and obtained nearly 10% of the vote in recent British council elections.
There are of course major concerns with aspects of the British far right. Their policies in relation to Ireland for starters. Or the recent arrest of former BNP members in a bomb plot that was almost totally ignored by the media, including the Guardian.
But the weakness of these revelations about the current state of the party is likely to attract rather than repel people in the UK who are as concerned about the tidal wave of immigration they are experiencing and angry about the lies they have been told about immigration by more centrist parties.
And since I'm guessing that wasn't the intention of the Guardian when they set out on this undercover mission, I'd say that was seven months wasted.