As reported in the British press a few days ago, Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front in France, and Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, will attempt to launch a pan-European Eurosceptic movement.
This could indeed prove vexatious for Nigel Farage and UKIP, not least because Farage has ruled out joining his fellow ultra-right wingers. (Some would even call them fascists).
Unfortunately for the legitimate democratic parties, recent polling suggests that far-right or populist parties across Europe are threatening to create upsets in next May’s European elections. This is obviously the main reason for Wilders and Le Pen looking to form an anti-European alliance now. Le Pen will, in fact, travel to the Netherlands next month to discuss a joint campaign in the European elections with Mr Wilders’ PVV.
Yet the idea is not catching on across the extreme right in Europe. In addition to UKIP, the Northern League in Italy, Vlaams Belang in Belgium and the Democratic Party in Sweden have reacted coolly to the idea.
Interestingly, part of the problem is that the various populist or far-right parties in Europe are nervous of being associated with one another. I am tempted to ask what they have to fear and why they are so reluctant to be seen as part of the same movement. Maybe they still think that they can better hide their true colours by acting independently of each other. “Our party has not joined the alliance,” said Martin Kinnunen, the spokesman for Sweden’s Eurosceptic Democratic Party: “It is hard to say anything at this stage as we don’t know which parties will participate.”
Farage is the leader of the current Eurosceptic group in the Parliament, one that is dominated by UKIP. The Europe for Freedom and Democracy group (EFD) as it’s called, has been troubled with a good deal of internal conflict recently and it could be the case that a new political group will have to be cobbled together after the European elections.
Social Democrat and centre-left parties in Europe would do well to take note of the activity being undertaken by Le Pen and Wilders. It looks very much as if the extreme right, racist parties are mobilising in a more organised fashion than they have done before.
We need to be prepared to fight this kind of fascism with all our strength and at the same time get rid of the BNP at the European Parliament elections in May next year. Britain is fundamentally a decent country. Let’s make sure it remains just that.