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More Similar Than They’d Like to Admit? Ideology, Policy and Populism in the Trajectories of the British National Party and Respect

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alistair Clark


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In recent years, small political parties have considerably increased their representation in British political institutions, particularly, but not exclusively, in local government. Understanding these parties is important since they play a key role in setting the boundaries of debate through the often radical demands they make on the political system. This article therefore assesses the trajectory and ideological underpinnings of two of the most controversial of these small parties, the British National Party (BNP) and Respect. At first glance, both parties would appear to be diametrically opposed. It is however commonplace in the European literature on minor parties to acknowledge similarities as well as differences between parties on the political fringes. This article will therefore argue that a number of similarities can be identified between the BNP and Respect, albeit similarities not necessarily found on the left–right or material-post-material divides. It goes on to examine the implications of this for our understanding of radical minor parties and in particular draws out the ‘populist’ nature of their approach to politics, before proceeding to highlight the limitations of such a strategy.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clark A, Bottom K, Copus C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Politics

Year: 2008

Volume: 3

Issue: 4

Pages: 511-534

ISSN (print): 1746-918X

ISSN (electronic): 1746-9198

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.


DOI: 10.1057/bp.2008.20


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