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Wednesday, April 29, 2009 

How to tackle the BNP effectively.

Every few years, without fail, there is a scare regarding the possibility of the British National Party making a major breakthrough. By major breakthrough, this generally means winning the odd council seat, putting in an above average performance in an area where racial tension has been running at a high after some particular incident, or not losing their deposit when it comes to contesting seats during a general election. Compared to far right parties in other countries in Europe, some of which either share power, hold substantial seats in their respective parliaments or in the notorious case of 2002 in France, when Jean Marie Le Pen contested the French presidency against Jacques Chirac, come as close to seizing complete control as can be feasibly imagined, our rank of out and proud racists and fascists are a mostly feeble bunch.

This time round, the scare is probably as close to being justified as it has ever been. The BNP, despite having its membership list published online at the end of last year, is finally getting its shit together. Helped along by the economic situation, a backlash against "uncontrolled" immigration which has never been properly explained to the public, let alone the economic and political case argued for, the feeling of victimhood which followed the glee with which the leaked members list was greeted in some quarters, and the old grievances which the party preys upon, namely the immigrants/ethnics are talking all the jobs/houses/women then twists and fabricates further, support for the party seems to be growing exponentially. 800,000 apparently voted for them at the last European elections, while 238,000 crossed their box in the 2006 local elections. According to the email missives which regularly land in my inbox, after I signed up on the BNP website to argue with a knuckledragger who was linking here, BNP supporters have raised £300,000 for the European campaign, enabling them to send a flyer to every home in the country, as well as preparing a backroom staff more associated with the "major" parties. That's still £100,000 less than the Fuhrer himself, Nick Griffin, called for, but is hardly a figure to be sniffed at.

The latest to sound the alarm, as it always seems to be, is a Labour politician, even if Peter Hain has a well-established pedigree when it comes to battling against the far right. He worries that the BNP could win up to six seats at the European elections, which while hardly transforming British politics overnight, would mean that the party could claim up to £2 million in funding from the EU. That sort of money definitely would transform the party. At the moment, the BNP is restricted to running a mainly internet based insurgency: like organisations which, ironically, defend Israel, such as GIYUS, threads and comment pieces dealing with racism or mentioning the party are swiftly set upon, further giving the impression that there is a groundswell of opinion heading the party's way. Emails are sent out asking supporters and members to complain to newspapers which run articles the party decides are either inaccurate or which it simply decides cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged; one recent such campaign against the Independent resulted in the Press Complaints Commission receiving the most ever complaints about a single press article. The latest send out concerned the fear that the News Shopper was about to blame what even the BNP described as "major carnage" in Old Bexley on St George's Day on the party, which naturally, the party assures its subscribers "is utterly ridiculous and completely unfounded". According to this forum thread, the "carnage" occurred outside a known BNP pub, but was between football fans. In the event, the newspaper's article did not place the blame on the BNP.

While Hain is right to be concerned, he ought to know by now that members of the ruling party can only make things worse by writing such articles. Admittedly, the whole tackling the BNP policy is fraught with conundrums: does "no platform" mean that you don't just refuse to argue with them, but also completely deny that they even exist? However, this doesn't apply when it comes to the Labour party, and especially either ministers or former ministers. The example of what not to do was set by Margaret Hodge a couple of years back: don't predict the BNP is about to make a breakthrough, not only because such prophecies can become self-fulfilling, but because they alert the media to the idea, who descend upon said area, and even further potentially alienate the local population, especially if cack-handed idiots start asking whether they think they're racist as they're contemplating voting for the party. All it does is result in further publicity for the party.

The challenge in fighting the BNP has, instead, to be left to the grassroots and those who cannot be linked back directly to the Labour government. While the BNP seems likely to pick up some votes at the European elections from UKIP, whose vote seems likely to collapse, or at least plummet, Labour has to face up to the fact that the most defections will come from their supporters. This is not because, as some right-wingers love to argue, that the BNP is left-wing, and QED that means that fascists are also lefties, but because the BNP more than any of the other parties are prepared to get down and dirty with the actual voters themselves, reassure them that their concerns are not prejudices and that they will fight for them personally rather than the "outsiders". This is politics of the old school, in all senses, and it's what the other parties have increasingly abandoned. The white working class, for various reasons, feels this abandonment most acutely. In fact, the working class as a whole, regardless of colour distinctions, feels much the same. Labour promised them much and has not delivered sufficiently, and now they're the ones suffering the most while the others who benefited have far more resilience. The argument against the BNP then has to be made not just on policy grounds and on exposing their true, still disgustingly racist views, as shown by last week's party leaflet, but on the other facts: that the BNP make for the most part dreadful councillors and politicians, as the record conclusively shows. They also have to be personally argued against: the no platform policy has completely failed, and is now not principled, it's simply cowardly.

All this said, the BNP probably won't get those six seats, and if they do they'll only get them because of the European parliament's PR system, the same reason why the Greens will also win seats, and why many who would normally vote for the main three parties will switch their support. The BNP is not about to win parliamentary seats, which really would be a breakthrough. The party will remain one of the least successful relative far-right forces in Europe, and this country will also remain one of the most tolerant, least racist and least prejudiced in Europe. All of that should be remembered before we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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I would not normally consider voting for the BNP but as the three main parties offer nothing different on Europe or many other issues then there is no point in voting for them.

All the main parties having offered a referendum on the European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty have now reneged on this commitment. UKIP are exposed as a bunch of clowns so if one wants to show the politicians that they do not have our support there are few options other than the BNP.

The BNP may have few councillors and they may not be very effective. The same can be said about Labour councillors, many of whom actually run councils.One sees the urban squalor in many Labour run authorities despite the money that has been poured in to them over the past 50 or more years. They have now tried the same trick on a national scale and have bankrupted the country.

There will be many people who also feel that their vote in the Euro elections has no value. They may also vote BNP. If nothing else is may put the frighteners on the 'powers that be' and force thaem to come up with some changes. My own view is that we need to get out of the EU so that our politicians have something to do. The power has been sucked out of our Parliament and we should return to government by the nation state. Then there would be no need for the BNP.Which is worse, a vote for BNP or a vote for the EUSSR?

I think the problem we have is that the press push anti-EU propaganda and anti-immigrant propaganda knowing that (under our present system for electing MPs) any shift to the BNP will hurt Labour more than the Tories. If we had PR for Westminster, there would be no advantage for the Tory press to do this and the BNP would not get upwards of a million votes. I'm sure you weren't suggesting that PR is at fault for actually bothering to represent 1 million or more voters (our present system for Westminster does ignore millions of voters). And this is where the problem lies, the major parties can get away with ignoring millions of voters and still get elected to government. This is partly why Labour and the Tories cannot be bothered to get 'down and dirty' with the voters and the BNP find a vacuum (fuelled by the right-wing press) for their views. People think the EU elections and local elections don't have much influence on government policy so (under a PR system) they can register their disapproval of the government without consequences - they are unfortunately largely right in this.
Local government is weak and emaciated (by Thatcher in the 80s). And the EU commission (appointed by national governments) and the Council of Ministers (once again made up of national government representatives) still have far more influence on EU policy than the EU parliament which is elected directly by the people.

Yet there are consequences to electing fascists to any body. It gives them a voice (and as Hain points out - more funding). Also as the EU parliament and local government make so few decisions, it allows them to look good without having to make any difficult decisions. BNP councillors do largely turn out to be rubbish (as indeed do councillors from other parties), but what makes them worse is that they get away with making awful decisions without getting much publicity for it. If we had PR for Westminster it would be in the interests of even the Tory press to expose the BNP failings - only then will their support fall away.

"UKIP are exposed as a bunch of clowns so if one wants to show the politicians that they do not have our support there are few options other than the BNP."

Well there is one option, namely not voting for such an openly racist and bigoted political party. You want to show politicans they don't have your support, scrawl obscenities on your voting form and stick it in the ballot box, I'm sure if enough people did that it would get noticed, and with the added bonus of not being a vote for the BNP.

"Which is worse, a vote for BNP or a vote for the EUSSR?"

Hmm, let me think...

Labour's very effective negative campaigning prevents the old political parties from publically discussing subjects many voters see as critical. This doesn't remove the voters concerns. It simply eliminates the possibility of public discussion of sensible small changes to accommodate them.

There will be benefits from a well funded mass membership BNP with upwards of 500 councillors, half a dozen MEPs and maybe one or two MPs. Not least will be to "put the frighteners on the 'powers that be' and force them to come up with some changes."

Of course we wouldn't have needed this radical method of getting politicians to respond if it wasn't for the systematic debasement of public life by Blair, Mandleson,Campbell and, especially, Brown. If by some chance the BNP then go on to achieve state power, the (vigourous) use of Labours own police state apparatus against its creators will be some consolation and, frankly, very funny*.


*eg Mr G.Brown and associates in HiVis "Community Payback" jackets.

I genuinely don't understand the antipathy towards the EU other than yer basic xenophobia. Presumably the oligarchs in charge of the press don't like the idea of the EU closing our tax loopholes, but seeing as we're going to do it anyway isn't that a moot point?

Surely anything that takes us further away from being America's puppet can only be a good thing?

"Surely anything that takes us further away from being America's puppet can only be a good thing?"

Your argument seems to be that we should stop being America's puppet, by becoming the EU's puppet. Better to cut the strings altogether.

"as some right-wingers love to argue, that the BNP is left-wing"

Do let me know if you disagree but having had a trawl through their awful policies, I think a fair description of the BNP would be "Racist Socialists".

Falco:
But we wouldn't be the EU's "puppet", in the EU we would be an active participant - this isn't the old Franco-German EEC of yore.

And the simple fact is that we can't go it alone anymore - it's a romantic fantasy. The world economy is so globalised that without being part of something bigger the UK will eventually become a dull backwater of a country.

"Surely anything that takes us further away from being America's puppet can only be a good thing?"

Two of the biggest newspapers in the country are owned by Rupert Murdoch, a man who is all too eager for that to happen. The Sun has been doing the 'let's get away from Europe and towards the USA' angle for years now.

This is a great post, some alarming comments and Falco, I would say that socialism is not really tenable with a racist agenda.

And don't even mention the Nazi's as they weren't socialist no matter was said in the title.

bluepillnation:

The EU is a centralization of power away from individual countries, we are very much its puppet and our "active participation" gains us very little. If you want to be part of something bigger then why not look to the world economy and leave matters beyond that to each country?

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill:

Let's take a look at the USSR, racism flourished in the worlds largest socialist experiment. Racism is an optional view for either left or right, various parties on both sides have accepted and rejected it.

I maintain that the what the BNP offer is strong socialism, with the optional extra of racism.

Except the USSR was 'socialist' in name only so it's not a very good comparison point at all.

Charlie has answered for me, the USSR is a bad analogy, racism flourishes wherever there is ignorance, mixed with other factors.

The US has never been socialist but racism did and still does run deep.

As I said, no connection but nice try.

Every known example of socialism was "impure".. according to other socialists.

If it is to mean anything, then let its practioners define its features.

=> Socialism = Racism (in practice).

Pardon?

That's just bad maths.

Try this...

=> Capitalism = Racism (in practice).

Sums never were a socialist strength.

As we see at the end of every socialist government.

Oh dear.

You didn't come from Iain Dale did you?

And given the current state of play, it seems that capitalists aren't too good at sums either but so it goes...

@610

I'll leave you to to wallow in your homophobia.

bye.

Homophobia?

Where?

Might I suggest you check out some of the BNP's policies? They are left-wing.

This does not prove that fascists are left-wing unless you can show that the BNP is fascist, but that would be pointless as it would entail consideration of fascist policies which would show whether they are left-wing (of course the policies are broadly statist/protectionist, and therefore associated with the left).

I have checked out the BNP policies, any thing that may pass for 'left-wing' is negated by the fundementally right-wing worldview they hold.

P.S. A study was published in which people were shown two statements. Statement 'A' was supportive of redistribution of wealth. Statement 'B' suggested that non-white immigrants should be repatriated. People who agreed with statement A were morel likely to agree with statement B than those who disagreed with statement A.

Socialists are more likely to be racist than capitalists are; it should be obvious, as workers in low-paid jobs, more likely to be socialists, have the most to lose by immigration. People wrongly connect race to immigration, even for non-whites born in the UK. Business owners and managers (more likely to be capitalist) gain by immigration, in cheaper labour.

What right-wing world view? All their economic policies are socialist, more so than Labour's have been for 15 years! How can you claim they have some hypothetical "right-wing" views, when their policies are clearly left-wing?

Oh good grief, I bet you came from Iain as well didn't you?

First off, this study you talk of, I would like to read it thanks, it sounds magic.

As for "Socialists are more likely to be racist than capitalists are" is as wrong as it is broad sweeping, such generalisations have no place in a decent debate.

Let me guess, you vote Tory?

The BNP have a far right-wing world view, you can't argue that, unless you are a member?

And I hope Southend is treating you well, how do you feel about the infiltration of the BNP into Essex, always a Tory strong hold, reflects upon the values of both the people of Essex and the Tories?

They're economically left-wing for the simple reason that they appeal directly to those disenchanted with Labour, not because of any great ideological fervour for macro economics. The first thing the BNP would do if they came to power would be to follow Hitler's example and ban the genuine communist and socialist parties and then the trade unions. Their stance on everything else puts them on the very far-right wing. That study is also erroneous: supporting redistribution of wealth does not make someone a socialist. The recent House of Lords immigration report also found that there had been little downward trend in wages as a result of the eastern European states joining the EU: there had been little overall difference.

As might have been expected seeing Iain Dale's linked here, all the blame is put squarely on Labour, although the idea that Labour's negative campaigning is the sole reason why the other parties can't talk about certain subjects is absolute nonsense. We've been having a debate about immigration for instance for over 40 years, just that the policies have not changed any great deal as a result.

Neil is quite right regarding PR; I wasn't suggesting that PR system in the EU elections was the problem, rather that it should kept in mind as to why they will do better than they will elsewhere. I actually agree with those who suggest that having a couple of BNP MPs might be good in the long-run for democracy; it would open up debate, and it would also show them comprehensively losing, which would be good all round.

Bluepillnation

The EU parliament is not democratic in the sense most would recognise. It cannot be as it has no opposition.

The Parliament is a one-sided talking shop, with its very own rubber stamp to play with. When even the smallest opposition forms cvonformist, gravy-train MEPs try their hardest to squash it, from mass walk-outs when told something they don't want to hear, through changes to rules to ban groupings that might dissent to actually braking their own rules of parliamentary procedure to prevent opposition from speaking.

So why the antipathy to the EU? Let me see, something about reversal of 800 years of progress in political rights, perhaps.

That's weird, and ever-so-slightly creepy. If someone posts comments on your thread do you always try to find out about them to come up with a personal line, instead of addressing the point?

Actually I no longer live in Essex. As you see I don't blog so I don't have a reason to keep my information up-to-date. I was offered a job there, moved there, now the company has moved me. Essex is one of many places I have lived, and holds no unique place in my affections, although I liked it and found the people friendly and likeable in the Southend area.

What has the rise of the BNP in Essex to do with the matter anyway?

I think that the voters of Basildon, Colchester, Harlow and Thurrock might have something to say about your unilateral move to make them Conservative, but the point is irrelevant. If the BNP have socialist economic and fiscal policies then they are left-wing!

This comment has been removed by the author.

Septicisle

"They're economically left-wing ... Their stance on everything else puts them on the very far-right wing"

Errrrrmmmmmm, you do know that "left-wing" and "right-wing" are terms that apply to economic policy, don't you? If they're economically left-wing, then they are left-wing!

The left has managed to associate racism and other bigotry with the right, to make themselves look better. That doesn't make it true. It is just as prevalent (in fact the experiment I described before suggests racism is more prevalent) in the left. The left's blindness to this has not helped to reduce the damage done by racism and other undue discrimination.

The USSR was socialist in both philosophy and ideology, it runs rather deeper than just the name. I certainly admit that it wasn't a perfect socialist state, (leaving aside the impossibility of that), but it was a serious attemt to make one.

"I have checked out the BNP policies, any thing that may pass for 'left-wing' is negated by the fundementally right-wing worldview they hold."

It seems to me, (and I may have the wrong end of the stick here), that you view any party, no matter how left wing, as on the right if they are racist. This just doesn't wash, there are pro and anti racism forces on both sides.

Re the socialists = racists / capitalists = racists nonsense you are both speaking from an inappropriate orrifice.

And you do realise, presumably, that economics is not the be all and end all of politics? If you asked the BNP themselves what they are, they'd probably tell you exactly the same thing: that they're economically left-wing and socially right-wing. That does not make them left-wing. Indeed, they vent hatred against the genuine left and Marxism especially because it has always historically stood against fascism. In any event, these labels and associated arguments are unhelpful: regardless of whether you're on the right or left, the BNP needs to be challenged. I would have thought we could agree on that.

@Richard,
So was that a Telegraph, Sun or Tory Party press release you got that EU gubbins from?

A more pro-EU view can be found here:
http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2009/4/19/44536/9381

Anything to balance the American hegemony has to by its very nature be good. The world can't survive another Bush.

Septicisle has it down pat, so what he said.

Falco:

Wrong regarding a party on the right being racist, that is not what i think but thanks for telling me my own mind. try not to do that again won't you old bean? And you do knwo the bad maths joke was exactly that? To expose the idiocy of the other commentor.

Richard:

Apologies for creeping you out but always curious, a curious mind is a good one, as it is open to many, many things.

And after a reading of the BNP 'polices' it remind sme of the section in 'Mein Kampf' where Hitler refuses to accept that economics and poverty are at the root cause of anything, he demotes them to a third or fourth factor behind moral values and the racial make-up on a nation.

You'd think we'd have grown out of that level of base thinking but clearly not.

Richard wrote "Errrrrmmmmmm, you do know that "left-wing" and "right-wing" are terms that apply to economic policy, don't you? If they're economically left-wing, then they are left-wing!"

Very very far from the truth. Stalin and Mussolini both had "left wing" economic policies in terms of strong regulation of or nationalisation of major companies and industrial sectors. I think you'd be hard put to define Mussolini as a left-winger though, when he was having thugs beat and kill democratic socialists , social-democrats and Communists, much like Hitler.

Hitler's economic policy was run for the benefit of 'aryans' (white, non-Jews and non-Slavs) with lots of public works programmes to provide employment, but he was an insane right-wing nationalist who simultaneously had anyone criticising him or his party killed or jailed or sent to a concentration camp, gassed 6 million jews plus millions of gypsies and gay people and disabled people - and invaded other countries.

The BNP are just opportunists like the Nazis who are for whatever they think will get them votes at the time. Before September 11th Nick Griffin and one of his Euro-MPs were chanting "death to the Jews", denying the Holocaust and distributing anti-semitic leaflets. Since 9-11 they decided it was more popular to preach hate against all Muslims, black (and brown) people and immigrants.

They have no principles. They just want to find some group to blame all problems on in order to get themselves into power - and prefer easy targets - minorities like British Muslims and immigrants - to the real culprits.

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