Sunday, 14 January 2007

The BNP and The Ballerina

Another week, another BNP panic.

This time the liberal establishment and their allies are raising a stink about Simone Clarke, the ballerina outed as a BNP member in The Guardian's festive hatchet job. Unite Against Fascism were protesting outside Clarke's house and the London Coliseum, demanding she be sacked by the English National Ballet.

Am I the only one who thinks this is stupid?

In her interview in The Mail on Sunday (31st December) Elizabeth Sanderson writes,
Simone's explanation for why she decided to join the party last year - given here for the first time - cannot be simply brushed aside as a foolish error, let alone ignored.
The reason is summed up in one word: Immigration. It has, she told the undercover journalist who exposed her, "really got out of hand' - and today she maintains the BNP" are the only ones to take a stand' on the issue that she believes troubles the majority of voters, even though such views have led to her being branded a racist and a fascist. "Using the word immigration is now a greater crime than cold-blooded murder," she claims.
She goes on,
By her account at least, she was by no means brainwashed - in fact it was her foreign-born partner who spurred her to sign up.
"I joined about 18 months ago," she says. "Yat and I were watching the television. As usual I was moaning about something that I had seen on the news and he just said, "Well, stop moaning and do something about it."
"I didn't really know anything about the BNP but they had come up in conversation a few times because they had just won some local council seats.
"We went on to the computer and we looked them up and I read their manifesto. I'm not too proud to say that a lot of it went over my head but some of the things they mentioned were the things I think about all the time, mainly mass immigration, crime and increased taxes. Those three issues were enough to make me join so I paid my £25 there and then.
"I think the BNP are honest. They're not trying to dress up what they want, which is change on these issues."
Grant me leave to utter what amounts to a heresy for the UAF and its hangers on: while the BNP is a fascist party, not all BNP members are fascists. Like it or not immigration and crime *are* big issues among working class people. They are also issues the left prefers to avoid for some reason or another. Take crime or, more accurately, fear of crime. It just doesn't register on the radar as a live issue for most left groups. But if we're not out there putting socialist arguments on crime and punishment, is it any wonder the populist hang 'em and flog 'em sentiments whipped up by the press and exploited by the BNP is so readily accepted? Are we then to condemn anyone who, under these circumstances, find the quick fixes of the BNP attractive?

Surely the answer lies not in persecuting people like Clark. In fact it is disastrous. As I've argued previously you're not going to convince anyone more of the truth of their argument if you target and punish them for holding those views. Put yourself inside the head of a BNP sympathiser for a moment. If you see members and supporters of the organisation under attack by the establishment for speaking on immigration and multiculturalism, might you begin wondering whether the BNP are onto something?

Socialists should not be in the business of echoing these calls for Clarke's head. We need to be out there in the communities and workplaces arguing for positive answers to the concerns Clarke and millions like her have. If we continue to denounce and brush them under the carpet as UAF and others of its ilk have been doing, the BNP will continue to be seen as the radical alternative to New Labour's greed and cronyism. It is really that simple comrades.


ejh said...

I disagreed with the demo but I think it also wrong to call it "stupid". One's first reaction to an anti-fascist demonstration should surely be to sympathise with it, even if expresing doubts about the particular wisdom of that particular action.

This should particularly be so if the action was carried out by a rival political group. The tendency to denounce rival political groups - who, miraculously, get everything wrong, just as they think your group gets everything wrong - is probably the single most destructive impulse on the political left. As I get older I tend, more and more, to conclude that what particular line the left takes on this or that complex issue is a great deal less important than how the left relate to one another and their wider audience.

Iain said...

I agree with you phil that we do ignore immigration and particularly crime far too much. I've written a few letters into the socialist on the issue, and last year around the whole foreign prisojn mess I wrote a long article on that, but i delyed in sending it too long. The fear of crime is something that we also need to address (it's my final year prokect at uni), but we have to realise the main victims of crime are working class people and thus we need to construct demands that take account of this.

Sharon said...

Simone is the English version of Joan of Arc. She has as much right to her own opinions as you have to yours.
Wouldn't it hane been great if Yat had jumped the barrier and laid out a few of those bullying uafers.

ejh said...

No, it wouldn't.

voltaires_priest said...

Sharon: You're not Sharon Ebanks, are you?

voltaires_priest said...

Incidentally, I wouldn't mind UAF doing Clarke out of a job. Right after they've done the same to Gilad Atzmon... oh, I forgot, he's the one who does the gigs for Respect, right...