Northern Uproar

So I wake up this morning to find that this piece of shit, and this other piece of shit, have been elected to the European Parliament. The Griffin result is a particular blow to me because I grew up in Greater Manchester, I still live here and happen to think it’s heaven. What follows is just a few loose impressions, written in the heat and light of the moment, on what the victory means.

One. Sunny Hundal argues that the BNP’s increased profile may actually make it easier to defeat. He raises a lot of good points. The fascists have been playing the underdog for so long, complaining that the British people would have voted in a Griffin premiership years ago if it weren’t for those pesky reds and the liberal media. Let’s see how they act now the party has a couple of major seats and some serious cash behind it. Will Griffin and Bron reward the British Volk for its support or just ride the EU money train? Time will tell, but the performance of its elected councillors suggests that UK voters who are stupid and nasty enough to vote BNP will not get a good return on their loyalty.

Two. Surely it’s time for the apologists for BNP voters to shut up. You don’t have to be Gerry fucking Gable to understand exactly what this party is and what it stands for. The BNP’s shambolic PR job can’t hide the ugliness of its policies and personalities, particularly as there is so much information available that exposes its true nature. If BNP voters were merely interested in controlling immigration then they could have voted Tory, UKIP or even Labour. In fact no credible political party is against immigration control.

We will hear the usual useful idiots arguing that the BNP gain is a result of mainstream politicians not listening to the suffering martyrs of the white working class when they talk about immigration, housing, expenses, political correctness, multiculturalism, the decline of the family, the neglect of Labour’s heartlands – take your pick.

Forget that a working class person can sometimes be wrong. Forget that BNP support also comes from the bourgeois professional classes who are probably not that affected by the recession. The Times found that the leaked BNP membership list ‘describes the occupations of some members that are deemed to be sensitive or of use to the BNP, such as NHS doctor, teacher, journalist, vicar, company director, scientist, engineer or construction manager. Others are listed as public speakers. The list appears to include several former police officers.’

Nevertheless the commentariat will continue to treat British fascism as an exclusively working class phenomenon. It will continue to call for an ’open debate’ about migration that has been going on for about half a century now, a debate that has always and exclusively been framed by the anti-migration right. It will continue to treat the working class as it treats inner-city Muslims – like a monolithic bloc, a quietly foaming dog that may go crazy any second.

If you haven’t seen the Don’t Panic BNP Undercover video, do so. This was made by Don’t Panic‘s staff, posing as media students. Their research turned up many enlightening moments from BNP members and supporters. ‘What do you think [the party] stands for?’ asks one of the filmmakers. ‘Bloody never Pakis,’ the voter says. He repeats this, then gives a thumbs up and walks away.

The thing is this. In a democracy you at least in theory have political parties that cater for all political persuasions. Some people are racist, therefore you are going to get a racist party that campaigns on racist votes. Harry Hatchet, native of BNP capital Burnley, had this sussed back in 2002:

No, sorry to break it to you, but there is a harsh truth that people are going to have to face up to – the BNP vote is a racist vote, pure and simple. The BNP know that and they have devised their strategy around addressing the concerns of racists and making an appeal to them. Mainstream politicians insist on saying that not all BNP voters are racists. Perhaps, but the vast majority of them are.

The people who vote for the BNP do so for reasons of race and little else – because they believe the BNP will ‘sort out the Pakis’ or ‘stick up for us’ or because they have had enough of the ‘Paki lovers’ on the council. The BNP’s ‘respectable turn’ in replacing bomber jackets with badly fitting suits hasn’t changed the message it has just made it easier for people to vote BNP.

Quite so. As Sarah Ditum points out, there is no point in engaging or accommodating racists. They should be opposed and their arguments challenged – and that’s all we owe them. I’m told that the BNP vote went down this time round, so what’s needed is to get those people who don’t vote to vote democratically rather than assuage the imaginary demons of self-pitying bigoted scum.

Unfortunately, there has never been a harder time in my memory for getting people to have confidence in democratic politics.

(Thanks to Anthony Cox for advice on this)


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