Monday 15 February 2010

Introducing the New 'Non-Racist' BNP

At a secret location in Essex yesterday, the BNP's boneheads voted to amend their constitution to allow non-white members take out membership for the first time.

Of course, this was foisted on the BNP by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on pain of facing further action in the courts and I'm sure some of the hardcore Nazis in the BNP's ranks will not be best pleased. I'm inclined to agree with former Stoke group leader and ex-BNP councillor Alby Walker who said "I think some hard-line members will see this as a sell-out by Nick Griffin and leave the party." With any luck this might include a few in The Potteries who then go on to stand against the BNP in the imminent local elections. If any of them are reading this I say go on, you know you want to ...

Ultimately this won't make a blind bit of difference. You can't really disagree with Weyman Bennett, chair of Unite Against Fascism, who notes "I think that regardless of the vote, the changes are cosmetic and have only happened because the courts forced them to stop racist practices." Even in the unlikely event of an influx of deluded idiots from BME backgrounds, nothing will stop the BNP facilitating and sustaining the racist networks that in turn animate the organisation. The window dressing of a few non-white faces will not prevent it from being a danger to the labour movement and any kind of democratic politics.

Fortunately, so far the BNP have proven completely inept. After a decade of near perfect conditions for the far right - a decay of the Labour vote, the ebbing away of 'class politics', media obsessions with radical Islamism, alienation and atomisation, the largest wave of immigration Britain has ever seen *and* an economic crisis - their support remains around the two per cent mark, they have around 50 local authority councillors (and, apparently, another 50 parish councillors), one member of the London Assembly and two MEPs. Only a political leadership devoid of all talent could equal the BNP's dismal show of support.

But one must not be complacent. I pretty much agree with this piece from Mark Seddon. The EHRC ruling will make it easier for the BNP to market itself as a non-racist populist hard right alternative to mainstream politics. Because the BNP's leadership are too stupid I don't think they will pull it off (plus there is too much ugly political baggage attached to the name). But that isn't to stop something even more frightening in the future from emerging. An immeasurably greater threat to politics as is would be a neo-fascist organisation at peace with the presence of most minorities and wraps its message up with a strong dose of liberal tolerance. It happened in The Netherlands once.

In the mean time, immediately after declaring the BNP "had changed" they proved their democratic credentials by assaulting an invited journalist and publishing an endorsement by a fictitious black guy. So the new 'non-racist' BNP marks a significant milestone in its history with violence and lies. Oh well, start as you mean to go on.


J said...

I wish this had come a few days earlier when I was explaining the meaning of "tokenism" to a friend.
Such a brilliant example!

Let's hope they all start quarrelling about this inside that meek party of theirs and soon go down to shambles.

Great entry, though :)


Anonymous said...

Your point that the BNP have fortunately wasted their chance to exploit opportunities in the UK over the last decade is a good one.

But it's only one half of the story. There's the matter of the major parties doing a much better job of exploiting opportunities to shift to the right over the same period of time. Who cares if the BNP are stuffing up if Labor and the Tories are going to utilizing xenophobia and insecurity to push reactionary agendas?

The classic example is Australia that had a laughable far-right party called One Nation in the 1990s. It imploded, but popularised xenophobic political rhetoric that was picked up by the major parties.

Phil said...

Funny you should mention One Nation. Its founder and spiritual head, Pauline Hanson, has said she's moving to the UK.

Anonymous said...

I think it's like Tracey Emin threatening to move to France because she feels under-appreciated and over-taxed. Some people just enjoy the headlines. Interesting that the current leader of the centre-right Liberal Party said "There was a time when she articulated a cry of rage from a section of the Australian population ... But that time has passed" because his party and their coalition partner successfully adopted One Nation's rhetoric on immigration, indigenous affairs and multiculturalism winning (back) most of One Nation's voters.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, so far the BNP have proven completely inept.

I couldn't disagree more with this Phil.

10 years ago the BNP were a party with the social status of Myra Hindley amongst even the small proportion of the electorate who were aware of them. Last year they won almost a million votes and have elected representatives at every level of government in England apart from Parliament (something which could change this year).

Yes, Nick Griffin has made some glaring errors as BNP leader (not spotting Sadie 'Shady' Graham was a wrong 'un in particular) but I don't think this has hindered their support in any important way. Certainly many BNP members regard him with the same reverence otherwise displayed by evangelical Christians for Jesus.

A decade ago the BNP were a small neo-Nazi group whose main form of political activity was organised confrontation with perceived opponents. Now they're in the European Parliament and can rightly call several areas around the country their electoral strongholds. If this is a 'dismal' performance, I would hate to see what success looks like!

Phil said...

I don't want to come over as complacent. Clearly the BNP pose a big problem. It's not just that their support, where concentrated, makes life more difficult for BME people, the labour movement, and anti-fascism generally it reinforces and tempts the mainstream parties into adopting populist hard right measures (as * argues - and it is why, for the same reason, anyone who cares about the labour movement should favour a strong far left. But anyway).

I still think that the BNP should be doing better than they are. If we had a situation particularly favourable to the far left - a strong labour movement, an establishment politics in some areas dancing to its tune, combative workers ... if the SP and/or the SWP could only muster the level of support the BNP currently have, serious questions would need asking.

Miloronic said...

Maybe the left should start a party where only people with green eyes are allowed to join. We would then get onto the news and in the papers regularly. The amount of media exposure that the BNP get is depressing. Hundreds of thousands of people marched against war and how much air time did this get, two minutes? And who do we get on Question Time representing a left wing party? Oh yes a postmodern neo keynesian from Respect.

Ian said...

Who needs the BNP when you have New Labour....

Regarding the aping of fascism by the Labour government, immigrant bashing leading to police state meaures, here's an interesting tale told me by a friend at a London College...

I hear that Transport for London are collaborating with UKBA in issuing special Oyster cards to overseas students at Colleges.

These are to be used to trace the movements of students to show whether or not they attend college at the times they are supposed to. And no doubt to spy on them in terms of what they do in their spare time as well. These special Oyster cards are to be compulsory, apparently.

Using them, the movements of the students will be logged, and TFL will thus act as informants for UKBA on the movements of overseas students.

Thus Transport for London have now been enlisted as agents of the immigration police in tracking the daily lives of overseas students

How long before these methods are used against the rest of us?

These are methods that the Stasi in the old East Germany could only dream of. They are also reminiscent of apartheid South Africa.

Disgusting. This should be raised in parliament. Maybe the left and other anti-racists should initiate a picket of TFL headquarters to protest against it.