Online shop reveals the true BNP

The BNP's Excalibur stocks a "Golly Collection". Need any more proof of the party's racist nature?

The BNP's attempts to adopt a mask of respectability are proving ever more effective. From winning its first seats in the European Parliament to Nick Griffin's infamous appearance on Question Time, the far-right party is edging its way into the political mainstream.

But how can we oppose the politics of race, fear and hatred and stop the "normalisation" of the fascists? The answer, as demonstrated by the newly established Expose the BNP website, is to show the party's true nature, rather than lazily reporting its vision of Britain's doom.

This is remarkably easy to do. While party propaganda and Griffin's speeches carefully avoid racist references, such a deeply prejudiced organisation cannot conceal its core beliefs.

Potential voters should visit Excalibur, the BNP's online shop, which betrays an unhealthy interest in race and genetics (which, despite Griffin's denials, are obsessions the Nazis shared).

Four Flags: the Indigenous People of Britain is a booklet the BNP says "proves that the vast majority of the British people have ancestors going back to the last mini-Ice Age more than 12,000 years ago".

Although this may seem irrelevant in the context of the coming general election, it demonstrates the main appeal of the BNP -- especially when it is coupled with exaggerated claims about immigration. This is the party's technique for creating fear of an Immigration Invasion (the name of another book that Excalibur sells), which it says is destroying Britain.

Excalibur also boasts the "Golly Collection", a range of items based on the dolls now widely seen as racist, especially since a 12-year-old girl burned one at a BNP event. The party refused to comment on what place the dolls had in a shop whose stock includes DVDs on the Zulu wars and books such as Race, Evolution and Behaviour and Folk and Nation: Underpinning the Ethno-State (which Griffin co-authored).

The website also sells T-shirts bearing the slogans "It's cool to be white" and "British by birth: English by the grace of God" as well as one that warns asylum-seekers: "Don't unpack, you're going back."

Even with a small membership of about 14,000 and limited electoral support, the BNP is damaging to British politics and society, not least because two of its members represent us in the European Parliament.

To ensure that Nick Griffin joins Oswald Mosley as an unpleasant footnote in the history textbooks, politicians must challenge the view that the BNP is the only party with a clear immigration policy, addressing the concerns of people who feel that immigration is out of control, but without pandering to bigotry and intolerance.

Journalists must challenge popular myths, rather than repeat misleading claims that fuel the BNP's politics of fear.

What they fear is the truth -- that no one will vote for a party of hate. To see the truth for yourself, just visit their online shop.

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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.