Meeting the Challenge of Contemporary British Fascism? The Labour Party’s Response to the National Front and the British National Party

  • Nigel Copsey


The Labour Party’s response to the electoral rise of the National Front (NF) in the 1970s and to the recent emergence of the British National Party (BNP) is the subject of the final chapter in this volume. We start with the 1970s, when popular support for the NF came in two waves: 1972–73 and 1976–77. As we shall see, in countering the NF, the Labour Party was at its most active during the second wave, that is to say, from 1976 onwards. The form that this opposition took and what motivated it is our opening concern. We then move on to the present day and consider at both national and local levels New Labour’s response to the BNP. Burnley, branded by one local newspaper in 2003 as the BNP’s ‘capital of Britain’, will serve as our case study1 What similarities and differences can we identify between the approaches of old Labour and New Labour? As the final point of reflection, this chapter asks whether New Labour’s response to the BNP has contributed to, rather than countered, the electoral success of contemporary British fascism.


Trade Union Local Election Labour Party Football Club Electoral Success 
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  1. 4.
    See Fred Lindorp, ‘Racism and the Working Class: Strikes in Support of Enoch Powell in 1968’, Labour History Review, 4, 66, Spring 2001, pp. 79–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    M. Walker, The National Front, 2nd rev. edn (London: Fontana Collins, 1978), p. 200.Google Scholar
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    See N. Copsey, Anti-Fascism in Britain (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), p. 133.Google Scholar
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    Greg Deacon, Ahmed Keita and Ken Ritchie, Burnley and the BNP and the Case for Electoral Reform (London: Electoral Reform Society, 2004), p. 20.Google Scholar
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    See N. Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: the British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2004), pp. 124–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    On Anti-Fascist Action ‘from the inside’, see K. Bullstreet, Bash the Fash: Anti-Fascist Recollections 1984–93 (London: Kate Sharpley Library, 2001) andGoogle Scholar
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© Nigel Copsey 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel Copsey

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