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Keywords:

  • Extreme right;
  • BNP;
  • national identity;
  • Britishness;
  • liberal values;
  • manifesto analysis

This article examines the ways in which the BNP utilises the elements of British national identity in its discourse and argues that, during Griffin's leadership, the party has made a discursive choice to shift the emphasis from an ethnic to a civic narrative. We put forward two hypotheses, 1: the modernisation of the discourse of extreme right parties in the British context is likely to be related to the adoption of a predominantly civic narrative and 2: in the context of British party competition the BNP is likely to converge towards UKIP, drawing upon elements of its perceived winning formula, i.e. a predominantly civic rhetoric of national identity. We proceed to empirically test our hypotheses by conducting a twofold comparison. First, we compare the BNP's discourse pre- and post-1999 showing the BNP's progressive adoption of a civic narrative; and second the BNP's post-1999 discourse to that of UKIP in order to illustrate their similarities in terms of civic values.