The BNP (British National Party) has been prominent in the news because of its leaked membership list, which included some public-sector staff.
Attempting to throw off a reputation for thuggery, they don suits instead of boots. However, this fails to mask their nasty, racist ideology.
Membership of the BNP is incompatible with public service, especially for nurses, midwives and health visitors who care for people who are vulnerable.
BNP policies are totally at odds with the core professional values of nursing. The history of fascist discrimination and persecution of the most vulnerable and powerless contradicts the philosophy of nurse as carer and advocate.
BNP rhetoric privileges British citizens in statements about health care, and would restrict access to others, notably immigrants, however needy. It goes so far as to blame falling standards of care and hygiene on immigrant labour in the NHS, shamefully neglecting the valuable role played by overseas nurses and other staff.
The NMC code says that nurses should never discriminate against people in their care. This alone renders membership of a discriminatory party incompatible with belonging to the nursing community.
It is probably no accident that the promulgation of racist ideology by groups such as the BNP parallels the experiences of black nurses of being racially abused by some patients.
Nurses don’t just need to subscribe to a doctrine of anti-discrimination – they need to be seen to do so. Police officers can be sacked for being members of the BNP. The same should go for nurses, who ought to be in the vanguard of resistance to racism, discrimination and fascism.
Mick McKeown is principal lecturer, School of Nursing and Caring Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, and Dave Mercer is lecturer, Department of Nursing, University of Liverpool