Angry white men: Individual and contextual predictors of support for the british national party

Robert Ford, Matthew J. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The British National party (BNP) is the most successful extreme right party in Britain's electoral history and is the fastest growing political party in twenty-first century Britain. This article presents the first ever individual-level analysis of BNP supporters, utilising a survey data set uniquely compiled for this purpose. We find that support for the BNP is concentrated among older, less educated working-class men living in the declining industrial towns of the North and Midlands regions. This pattern of support is quite distinct from that which underpinned the last electorally relevant extreme right party in Britain - the National Front (NF) - whose base was young working-class men in Greater London and the West Midlands. Extreme right voters in contemporary Britain express exceptionally high levels of anxiety about immigration and disaffection with the mainstream political parties. Multi-level analysis of BNP support shows that the party prospers in areas with low education levels and large Muslim minority populations of Pakistani or African origin. The BNP has succeeded in mobilising a clearly defined support base: middle-aged working-class white men anxious about immigration, threatened by local Muslim communities and hostile to the existing political establishment. We conclude by noting that all the factors underpinning the BNP's emergence - high immigration levels, rising perceptions of identity conflict and the declining strength of the cultural and institutional ties binding voters to the main parties - are likely to persist in the coming years. The BNP therefore looks likely to consolidate itself as a persistent feature of the British political landscape. © 2010 Political Studies Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages24
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


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