March 16, 2013, by Fraser

Dr Matt Goodwin: Explaining the collapse of the BNP

What happened to Nick Griffin’s BNP?

Following their performance at the 2010 general election, cited as the strongest performance of a British far right party in history, the British National Party has suffered a sharp decline in support, seeing a drop from over 240,000 votes for the BNP in 2008 to fewer than 26,000 in 2012.

Dr Matthew Goodwin’s recently published paper Forever a False Dawn? Explaining the Electoral Collapse of the British National Party (BNP) explores the reasons for the BNP’s failure to capitalise upon previous support. Dr Goodwin has written other articles on this subject, suggesting that the primary reasons for this previous surge in voting was due to economic concerns regarding immigration, a sense of threat to national identity and unhappiness with the then government.

The paper refutes Nick Griffin’s claims that the BNP’s failure at the 2012 election was due to voters protesting against the coalition government by voting Labour and instead suggests that it is the party’s ‘toxic reputation’  which has limited its voting base, resulting in a negative public image that has led to its hindered progress. This failure to expand upon their voting base has essentially stunted the BNP’s popularity and led to diminished support in former key areas, as well as failing to illicit support in other major voting areas.

Dr Goodwin draws some interesting conclusions, comparing the BNP to other radical right parties in Europe who have experienced more success. He suggests that these European parties have managed to reach a broader circle of voters by structuring their extreme rightwing policies around more legitimate, moderate messages,  which are seen as more appealing and acceptable to ‘working-class and lower middle-class xenophobes who distanced themselves from crude racism’, associated with the likes of the BNP. The BNP therefore faces an uncertain future from competitors with a less hostile reputation.

Read all about it

You can read the paper on the electoral collapse of the BNP in its entirety online.

This blog post was written by University of Nottingham student Beth O’Loan.



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