I am very concerned about the BNP. I share none of its wicked ideas, but I can see it is intelligently led and positioning itself well to take advantage of a number of factors in its favour.
The Crown Prosecution Service is making a mistake in pursuing a retrial of the BNP's leader. There is little prospect of a conviction. The further prosecution only seems vindictive and will increase public sympathy for this odious man.
Few native Englishmen bred in our liberal traditions really feel, at an instinctive level, that it is right for the criminal law to interfere in political speech or thought. Many may feel that what Griffin said about Islam is, essentially, correct - or at least worthy of debate. They may not sympathise with his racism or anti-semitism, but they live in daily fear of Islam.
I am certain that no English jury will convict Griffin for saying that Islam is "a vicious, wicked faith", after seeing Islamists marching through London yesterday with such banners as "massacre those who insult the Prophet and "to hell with free speech". The marchers chanted threats of new terrorist attacks. Jury members will have seen a leader of the march calling through a megaphone for those who insult the prophet to be killed.
Incitement to murder seems more serious to most of us than incitement to religious or racial hatred.
The conditions are ripe for the growth of the Far Right in Britain and I fear that. There is a growing sense that Muslims are not held to the same standards of conduct as the rest of us, in Britain and abroad. Griffin says Islam is wicked and vicious. He is prosecuted. British Muslims call for "massacres". They are not. A barman fails to notice a black customer waiting to be served and he will be called a racist. The Muslims of the Janjaweed militia slaughter 300,000 black Africans in the Sudan and racism is not mentioned. European papers publish cartoons of Mohammed and Jack Straw condemns them. The press in the Muslim world routinely publishes viciously anti-semitic cartoons, without a word of comment.
I can imagine a scenario in which the BNP becomes a vehicle for popular protest against double standards which condemn almost everything the white population of Britain does, while excusing everything the Muslim population does. Nick Griffin may be elevated to the status of popular hero. The Crown Prosecution Service, staffed as it is by the weakest products of our law schools, may by its lack of judgement, set him well on the way.