Monday, May 15, 2006


Cleaning the Muck out of the Big Tent: The Truth about the BNP

Two Phones are not Better Than One

You'll have seen many discussions of why the BNP are 'on the rise'. A common explanation is that Labour no longer represent the working class. (So says Labour MPs Frank Field, and Margaret Hodge, for example.)

In general, the matter is supposed to be the result of some failure somewhere. Hodge is concerned that the people feel unloved:

"The Labour Party hasn't talked to these people. This is a traditional Labour area but they are not used to engaging with us because all we do is put leaflets through doors. Part of the reason they switch to the BNP is they feel no one else is listening to them".

Tony Parsons is even clearer on who to blame, writing in the Mirror:

"IT IS not the white working class who have abandoned the Labour Party - it's the other way around. Was there ever a political party more out of touch with the people who built it? Tony Blair, not Nick Griffin, is the architect of the rise and rise of the British National Party."

These explanations (or 'excuses') are transparently wrong and frankly inane. For what it's worth, people seem to parrot them because they wish to imply that they share assumptions about the inherent qualities of a thing called the 'working class'.

In truth, racists vote for racist parties. Has any analysis been published which shows that the recent tiny electoral success of the BNP's brilliant racial theorists is actually based around people who voted for Labour last time?

The more likely reason is that racists, previously serenely content about the matter, are no longer sure that the Tories represent them. Former Tory Councillor Robert West, as of today, a BNP Councillor, concurs:

"(Robert West) said his switch was prompted by Conservative leader David Cameron's priority list of candidates for the next general election. He said the list excluded white male candidates in favour of women, non-whites, homosexuals and lesbians."

What horrors!

There is no better symbol of West's beloved, vanishing Tory Party than 'two phones' Ed Griffin (father of BNP ubergrupenfuhrer Nick): One of his house phones was the Tory campaign hotline, the other was for the BNP. As he pointed out in his defence, back in 2001:

"The two parties are almost the same in terms of long-term plans. In terms of manifestos of the Tories and the BNP, you can hardly tell the difference."

It was clear that everyone knew, even if they didn't say it, that the Conservative Party had two phones in its heart.

So what are we to make of the current, ahem, 'rise'* of the far right?

The answer is that the Tories, and the other parties, should be proud. It's an excellent result if voters are driven to vote for the BNP because of their 'dissatisfaction with mainstream politics'.

We should expect mainstream politics to be extremely dissatisfying for racists and our concern should be that it becomes much more so still.

Perhaps David Cameron has unplugged the phone. Well done to him.

*The BNP has moved slightly ahead of the Greens to challenge 'Residents Associations' for 4th place in England's town halls. (Are we concerned about the rise of the resident?) In national elections, it has around 0.7%, along with the Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein and Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern.

Unsafe to base views solely on what West & Griffin said.

In the early 1970s the Nazis polled 100,000 votes across London. The rise of Thatcher diluted that.

But Cameron is the most right-wing Tory leader since WWII, thanks to New Labour's driving of the agenda in that direction. Look at the policies on refugees or civil liberties, the continual wars. One reason the BNP has more than zero councillors because it's been made to look more, not less, mainstream.

The new factor is that millions of suburban voters have started to realise that neither the Tory or Labour Thatcherites have delivered anything for them. It's a context which racists can easily exploit to present help for the less advantaged as special favours.

To act as though the number of racists in a country is always going to be tiny and finite is unwise, as countries from Germany through Rwanda to Yugoslavia have discovered in the 20th century.

But, as usual in what passes for British politics these days, the crasser the politicians get, the harder it becomes to provide any answers.
I don't think the numbers are always going to be finite. Just that the levels are not a matter of serious concern as yet. Let's be clear - this is no comfort if you're a elderly south Asian lady getting excrement posted through your letterbox. But the response to such individuals is arrest, charge and conviction. Not national self-recrimination.

I do not believe that the 'rise' of the BNP prefigures any general failure. Anyone can claim it matches any horror that they choose. For example, the BNP would like us to believe it matches 'political correctness gone mad'; 'out of control immigration' etc..

Supposedly more mainstream bodies like MigrationWatch will tell you something very similar.

You claim it fits your assumptions - everyone's gone to the right and nothing's being delivered for the people of the suburbs. Why would that make people vote for a party of racial theory? It's simpler to assume that people vote for racists because they are racists.

This is backed up by the testimony of those involved, not by theory.

As you imply with the comment about the NF in the Thatcher years, the history of fringe-Tory racism is deeper than just two quotes. The Monday Club still identifies itself as being composed of Conservatives and was closely associated with the mainstream of parliamentary Conservatism until the 1990s.

The John Townsend incident (a sitting MP who called for repatriation of non-whites) occurred during William Hague's tenure as leader. Hague REFUSED to throw him out. This was not an oversight. It was political judgement.

It is this kind of issue which has slowly changed within the Tory party, as evidenced by the testimony of participants today, as well as the historical record. An example of this shift in tone is Howard kicking out Ann Winterton MP for the cockle-pickers joke at a dinner party.

You can see how a 'two phones' Tory would start to feel uncomfortable at that decision, made only a few years after current Home Office Shadow David Davis supported Townsend's position in the party.

(Note that Winterton had already lost her shadow cabinet post for another crap racist stand-up routine, but has now been let back in the party after 'apologising'. The likes of Robert West need not worry too much on this evidence. Winterton isn't inadvertently coming out with this stuff at Gay Pride celebrations. She's talking to the audience she knows and the rest of the Tories know it.)
What concerns me is the notion that ’it's simpler to assume that people vote for racists because they are racists’ and the implication here that no racist votes Labour.

Let’s take the famous result – Barking:

Party Votes (k) % Change

TNL 13.8 -13
Tory 4.9 -6
Nazi 4.9 +10.5
Lib 3.4 +2
Other +5

Turnout +5

NL 15 -5
Tories 7 +5
Lib 2.4 +0.3
Nazis 1.6 +3.7

Turnout -16

Labour ‘lost’ just over 1,000 votes and the Tories 2,000. That covers most of the 3,500 increase in the Nazi vote. So, a mixed picture.

2 associated points: first, what makes the British uncomfortable is overt racism. Griffin has joined the edge of the British mainstream by acknowledging this. But the mainstream already panders to racists. Blair’s immigration stance is far more racist than early Thatcher’s. The raids on 1000s of Muslim homes and internments are designed to impress racists. It’s naïve to think that Hitler could never happen here, or only in Germany.

Second, people vote Nazi for many reasons – anti-’socialists’, law ‘n order, economic stability imposed from above, national danger, belief in ‘discipline’. Non-racist Nazis are credibly depicted in Edgar Reisz’s Heimat.

I too “do not believe that the 'rise' of the BNP prefigures any general failure”. The failures - wars, police state, Ministerial criminality & hatred of MPs, mounting inequalities, lack of clear alternatives - are about massively more than 15% of the vote for the BNP in Barking.
You've WATCHED Heimat!? I am impressed. Isn't it about 19 hours?

You say:

"The failures - wars, police state, Ministerial criminality & hatred of MPs, mounting inequalities, lack of clear alternatives - are about massively more than 15% of the vote for the BNP in Barking."

The failures you cite are not best represented by the rise of the BNP. My description of individual racist migrating from Tories (where they were previously happy) to the BNP relates to specific individuals & events and is no theory. I'm not arguing there's no racism outside the Tories and the BNP, but describing the history of overt racism in the Conservative Party and that the current rise in BNP support is more directly linked to this than some idea of Labour 'abandoning the working class'.
There’s no dispute, surely, that New Labour have moved to the far Right of European politics, and are now either indistinguishable from, or slightly to the Right of, Cameron’s Tories. Not just New Labour, but the whole UK political ‘axis’ has shifted. Disappointment that this has not delivered benefits to East London over three decades will form part of the answer. But the notion that the ‘caring’ Tories have repelled the racists is not sustained by the voting figures in Barking or elsewhere. Anyone who says ‘well done’ to Cameron has embraced the opposite of what the facts are telling them. Indeed, some racists who once settled for the Tories may now be sufficiently encouraged by the wholesale right-wing shift to support the ‘transitional demands‘ of the ultra-right in order to shift things a bit more. In a Britain where the favoured form of racism is never direct, “one reason the BNP has more than zero councillors because it's been made to look more, not less, mainstream."
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?