The article makes interesting reading. Here's an excerpt:
Likewise, the notion that so many Brits are anxious that their countrymen unfurl flags (both literally and figuratively) is also not surprising. One need only look to Michael Billig's Banal Nationalism to understand why.
What strikes me, however, is the reason that so many give for not throwing their support behind the British National Party (BNP) or its ilk: the perceived relationship between these parties and fascism.
One might posit the following hypothesis. The story of postwar British history is often presented as a narrative of malaise. The empire fell. The industrial economy vanished. Britain ceased to be a major superpower. Everything that made Britain "great" appeared on the wane.
Under such circumstances, what did the country have? The war. People were united then. Good and evil were obvious. The importance of class diminished. It was truly, as Churchill put it, the country's "finest hour." To forget that the great struggle was against fascism and to invite that ideology in with open arms is unthinkable, even though most Britons know only the nostalgic memory of the war.
Nationalist parties across Britain must contend with this reality. During the Watch Group incident in Scotland during the early 1990s when two small groups campaigned against English "white settlers," at least one media outlet equated Settler Watch with the Nazis. The Scottish National Party, which did not support the Watch Groups, responded by announcing that it was not a fascist party and was in no way similar to Hitler's NSDAP. To anybody paying attention, this was obvious. The catch is that much of the success or failure of nationalist groups is tied to perception, memory, and nostalgia.
Nationalism gains its strength by forwarding an imagined past and invented traditions. Yet this fact is a catch-22. Just as strength comes from the past, so too does weakness. What version of the past is a party tied to?
Voters (increasingly?) identify themselves through the lens of their party, just as they do through the consumer items that they purchase. Many of us believe that we are a product of the past, almost as if our personalities, skills, and interests are a result of genetics rather than our own efforts and hard work. Many genealogists seem to think, for example, that we are who we are because Uncle Cleo was a mason and Auntie Jean a secretary. Surely our ability to build things or to keep track of appointments must be related! If one comes from a long line of freedom fighters, then surely fighting for freedom is in the bones. It is nature. It is inescapable.
If a political group is imagined in connection with unpleasant memories, voters will seldom willingly equate themselves with that past. If Great Uncle Abner flew in the Battle of Britain or Grandmother Adele kept things organized in a shelter during the Blitz, few can fathom turning aside that legacy to support anyone or anything associated with the enemy their relatives so bravely faced down more than seventy years ago.
Memory, especially nostalgic memory, matters. A lot.
So, it is striking that so many more people than in other European countries would support the BNP than would support similar parties elsewhere in Europe, but they do not do so given the association with fascism.