Anti-fascist campaigners have been celebrating a dismal performance by far-right candidates in elections around the UK, from Scotland to council polls in England.
Their disastrous showing was also attributed to what the organisation Hope Not Hate described as Boris Johnson’s “hyping of a cultural war” and the attraction of former far-right voters to a populist agenda that included strong anti-immigration messaging.
The far-right group For Britain got fewer than 50 votes in 25 of the 47 council wards for which results were available on Friday afternoon. More than 100 votes were secured in only 10 of the wards contested by the party, which has attracted former British National party members, and argues that “Islamic doctrine and freedom are entirely incompatible”.
Nick Lowles, the CEO of Hope Not Hate, said the results showed how politically irrelevant the British far right has become in recent years. After the BNP’s collapse in 2010, many supporters were swept up by Ukip and then the Brexit party, he said, while some of the same voters had since switched to the Conservatives.
“With [Boris Johnson’s] pro-Brexit and rightwing populist agenda, which includes strong anti-immigration messaging and deliberate manipulation and hyping of a cultural war, there is currently very little political space for traditional far-right parties obsessed with racial nationalism and Islamophobia,” he said.
“The BNP tapped into political discontent that existed in many white working-class communities, and while these voters were strongly opposed to immigration and a multiracial society, they were also uneasy about the BNP’s more extreme views. When offered slightly more moderate versions of the same … anti-immigrant and nationalist messages, these voters quickly jumped ship.”
In the Scottish parliamentary elections, the former deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen, lost her deposit after polling just 46 votes in Glasgow Southside. Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confronted Fransen last week and described her as a “fascist” and “racist”.
Ukip was wiped out in the assembly elections in Wales, losing all its members of the Welsh Senedd after its 2016 breakthrough, when it won seven seats. Its candidate in the London mayoral elections, Peter Gammons, got 14,393 votes, or 0.6%.