The official Green Party position is that we will be boycotting any platform that includes the BNP. Although I can see the rationale, and feel the same repugnance as others at sitting alongside authoritarian candidates, we could find ourselves to be self - excluded from the political debate, and could play into their hands, by associating ourselves with the self-satisfied political elite of the Westminster parties if they also boycott, and on the other hand, if the ConLabLibdems do show up at hustings platforms, we would simply lose out.
Euro elections are regarded by the electorate as unimportant, and so present a chance for them to make a protest vote. We benefited from this in the 80s, UKIP had their boost last time, and now it looks as if the BNP is going to cash in this time. There is a phenomenal disaffection with conventional politics at present, with the credit crunch, bonuses, MP allowances, police brutality and surveillance, not to mention really big things like climate change. Greens should be positioning ourselves as the valid, constructive alternative to the mainstream parties, and to do this we have to challenge the BNP head on. We are diametrically opposed to their approach: we stand for wide democracy, they stand for authoritarianism. We stand for social inclusion and they stand for social exclusion.
In any debate, their strength is in the popular opposition to immigration (built up by the daily drip-drip of right wing press reportage), and they will make political capital by characterising our policy as "open door".
We should open any debate by regretting that we are having to reopen discussion on a matter that was settled in 1945, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of British lives, and expressing our regret that the sacrifices of patriotic British servicemen who were injured and died in WWII in the fight against fascism is being set aside. We should be ready as we do so to make a precise and detailed comparison between Nazi and BNP policies.
The sound psychological analysis of the BNP and Nazis is that they both use the psychological defence mechanism of projection to load all the negative things in their lives onto an identifiably separate group, in Hitler's case, the Jews, and in Griffin's case, the immigrants.
Greens make an uncompromising stand for the absolute rights of political asylum seekers to come here, and make no apology for our desire to speed up and simplify the acceptance process for asylum seekers.
We should emphasise that our global approach to politics means a preventive solution to immigration. Why do people leave Afghanistan to come here? War. (Our solution to Afghanistan - buy and use the opium) Why are Iraqis coming here? War. (We opposed the BushBlair invasion) Why Somalis? War (We seek a comprehensive UN/OAU solution in Somalia).
Repression, torture and political imprisonment drive people to leave their homes and families and come here. We propose a Global Human Rights Index.
Endemic poverty drives "economic migrants". We advocate global equity and non-violent resolution of conflict. Global warming will increase the wave of migration, as people flee flooded and arid lands. We should be calling for an amnesty for all illegal migrants (for their own sake, and to take them out of the hands of the criminal gang masters). We should be calling for a big drive against the criminal, exploitative people traffickers. We should set up refuges and channels for sexually exploited migrants to escape their captors.
Joblessness and housing shortage are the burners that lift the BNP hot air balloon.
GND+ and Right to Rent, with re-use of empty properties and new build of eco-homes is our answer.
In summary, the debate with the BNP offers us a chance to set out our relevant and radical policies clearly, a chance to give leadership to the grey parties on how to defeat the BNP arguments.
It is a difficult question, and I accept that the majority position of the GP is to boycott, but there is a strong case for us to go on the platform and challenge the BNP, setting out our claim to the vote of those who are angry and disaffected by the mess that grey politicians have made, and making clear that there is a humane, constructive and Green way of expressing that disaffection in the ballot box.
To avoid the debate is to deny ourselves the chance to put ourselves forward as the sensible way to make a protest vote, and may well be exploited by our opponents in all parties as political priggery, cowardice, and laziness (because those, sadly, are the kind of terms that are used in the electoral debate).