The far-right British National Party won its first seats to the European Parliament Monday, revealing a troubling shift in British politics, and in an unusual bout of post-election organizing, tens of thousands of Brits have begun pushing back online.
"Hope Note Hate," a campaign that says it aims to counter and "expose" the BNP’s "extremism," began collecting signatures Monday morning from citizens who feel the BNP does not speak for England.
The effort drew over 26,000 supporters in under 24 hours. That’s a strong start for an unusual project; organizers are simply promising to deliver a list of supporters to the European Parliament when it swears in its new members.
Gary Younge, a Guardian correspondent and columnist for The Nation, discussed the BNP’s rise last month:
In the absence of any confidence in the mainstream, a volatile and disillusioned electorate is poised to reward the margins. The European elections look set to deliver big wins for the nationalist United Kingdom Independence Party, the racist British National Party and the Greens. Thanks to proportional representation and the toothless nature of the European Parliament, these upcoming elections provide the perfect opportunity for a protest vote. But the signs are as predictable as they are portentous.
A party with historical roots in the working class that fails to advance the interests of that class will engender cynicism. New Labour’s electoral project was based in no small measure on the calculation that the poor had nowhere else to go. A small but determined minority have retreated into their national and racial laagers in search of solace rather than solutions.
The web activists are hoping to shame the BNP, and maybe bring some former Labour voters out of those laagers.