Monday, 8 June 2009

Who's fault is the BNP victory?

Like every other person living in the UK that has any human decency and functioning brain-cells, I am distraught to learn about the election of two BNP MEPs last week in our European elections. HOWEVER, I'm also more than a little frustrated at the media coverage and finger-pointing that has been taking place in the last couple of days. And even now, as I write this with my laptop burning a hole through my knees, I have to endure Nick Robinson, Tory Puppy and BBC political editor, explain to the nation at the 10 o'clock news that the fault of Labour alone that these BNP MEPs have been elected.

Well, it all smells a bit like bullshit, doesn't it?

By way of further example, Monday morning on the Today programme John Humphrys took on Nick Griffin -- the slug-face who aspires to lead the British fascists to power -- and I'm sure Humphry's fans up and down the country waited in anticipation of their hero mauling the wannabe fascist. So did The Mighty Humph put the fucker in his place? Finally given a chance on national radio to turn his powers against the anti-Christ of British decency, did he provide the blood-bath we all wanted? Alas, one could only have concluded that the Humphrys, the Scourge of Westminster, wielded a very blunt, rusty blade and came off looking flaccid. Impotent. THEN, as if to re-assert his Manhood, he turns immediately to his next interviewee, Harriet Harmann, and does not suggest, but insists, repeating a familiar mantra, that it is all Labour's fault. Now against a mainstream politician (and woman), he looked very manly, where against Griffin he seemed to... lack something.

So how can the media better tackle the BNP, how can they confront their lies and misinformation? well, for a start, they could confront the lies and misinformation of the other parties, and their hypocrisy. Taking the stage in their post-election victory celebration last night, the Tory candidate (who's name I can't be bothered to look up), says something like 'It is incumbent upon me..' blah blah blah to condemn this election of the BNP in our riding'. He was followed by the recently-elected UKIP MEP -- who's name interests me even less -- who denounced his new fellow-parliamentarian as 'scum'. And too right! You're thinking. So they should! Except that when you look at successful UK parties dominated by white males, praying upon fears of immigration and racism and stroking the pathetic sentiments of British Nationalism, you don't need to turn too far right down the Road of Lunatic Fringe. In fact, glaring examples sit right along Main St. Politics UK in the Conservatives and UKIP. For when you look at the BNP campaign literature, it is really not at all that much different from that of the Tories and UKIP: save for the BNP promise to bring in 'voluntary repatriation' -- the hideousness of which should not be under-rated -- all three parties talk of bringing Britain out of the EU so that our common-sense is not trampled upon by the Brussels illuminati, all three parties talk about limiting immigration, more general threats to British values, British currency, British national identity.

(In fact, when I got my pre-election campaign literature through the door, I thought the BNP's looked rather more sophisticated than UKIP's, with it's shock sloganeering and the picture of Winston Churchill captioned, 'He would get our money back!'. Of course the BNP were being silent on their more insidious policies, but so were UKIP and the Tories.)

So it's their fault? the rise of the BNP can be blamed on the mainstream right-wing parties? Well, yes, and we need to call these mainstream parties on their hypocrisy. I am sure that the disdain those Conservative and UKIP MEPs felt for the BNP colleague was governed in no small part by class, i.e. they aren't as sophisticated in their racism. And Labour, too, is guilty, when they so inexpertly flirt with such populism, for that is their real crime in this, not (as Robinson and Humphys would have it) just being a tired old party drunk on power, as are all parties who have been drinking from the well of legislative privilege for so long. HOWEVER, it is incumbent upon the media to challenge all parties on such lies and vote-grabbing ploys. For if they do not, when confronted with the real thing -- and do not mistake me, the BNP is a much nastier, but more ugly and more dangerous beast than the Tories and UKIP -- the media lack the language, the rhetoric and, most importantly, the moral authority to attack them effectively.

If more evidence were needed, tonight -- again, while I write this -- BBC Yorkshire news, after a lead-item describing their shock and horror at the election of a BNP MEP in our region, has just run a happy little piece on the new Mayor of Doncaster, another who's name interests me very little. The problem is, of course, that he is an English Democrat, and is like-wise anti-immigration, anti-PC -- for which read misogynist, racist, homophobic -- and anti-democratic. These issues were raised in the report, but briefly, and the overall tone, as I said, was playful and cutsie, a harsh contrast to the more appropriately disgusted tone of the report on the BNP victory that immediately preceded it.

Wake up, assholes. Racism in this country isn't confined to the lunatic right. (Which is why, incidentally, historians think that fascism never really took off here in the 1930s -- racism was already main-stream, and the Conservative party of Britain typically panders to that extreme-right racist sentiment in this country.) Stop fucking around with your Westminster intrigue, stop hanging out in front of No. 10, pretending that you understand what's going on, stop thinking that the gossip of MPs represent the real issues of the country, and maybe we can avoid more of these bastards getting in next time.

On a happier and altogether more hopeful note, I was greeted at my door on election day by a small group of students from the University who were out canvassing, trying to get people out to vote for anyone except the BNP. One of them, to my further joy, was an ex-students of mine. Unfortunately, I can't pretend that I had a special hand in shaping his politics -- I seem to remember Sam's politics being spot-on long before he arrived in my dark, basement seminar room. (I can celebrate, at least, that I didn't fuck him up and 'turn him right' or anything. We must learn to celebrate even our limited successes.) But such activism goes some way in filling the massive gap left by our limp media, where we might one day hope to see a real, interrogating journalism. In the meantime, taking to the streets seems the best way to defeat the fascist bullshit.

10 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Of course, no one would welcome support for the BNP: they play on a nasty and insular tendency in the population. But expressing your opinion is part of democracy. The same type of democracy that allowed you to be educated in the UK and remark on a political system you clearly do not understand.

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  2. I don't usually post comments from 'Anonymous' (he's usually an asshole), but I decided this time to be magnanimous, given the accusation, but also, I'm curious to find out what part of the UK political system he thinks it is I don't understand.

    This does have the whiff, too, of 'I don't support the BNP, BUT...' (well, if the jackboot fits, no?), so perhaps Mr Ymous could take this opportunity to clarify that?

    (And perhaps the clarifications could start with a name?)

    Incidentally, if I wanted to be really pedantic -- and I usually do -- I might point out that one part of me having the opportunity to be educated, live and work in the UK is down to the fact that as a Canadian I am a loyal subject of Her Majesty's Empire, which has very little to do with democracy.

    If I wanted to be pedantic.

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  3. Yeah Michael, that's right, I'm a secret BNP supporter! Which is why I'm a labour party activist and all who hates the BNP (or should that be ENP?). I am simply pointing out that it is a mark of this nation's greatness that a relative outsider (and Canadian citizen, no one speaks of subject-ship do they?) can remark on our political system. Sorry if you don't like that ... maybe you should read J. S. Mill's On Liberty for some clarification yourself, especially the section where he speaks about human imperfection meaning no view should be oppressed.

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  4. Just to add Michael: I'm a WOMAN

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  5. Well, that's all a relief! I asked for clarity and I got it. Really, genuinely, I am glad that you are a Labour activist and hate the BNP. (The woman part is fine, too; I was only being flippant when I called you 'Mr.')

    I am sorry too if I'm seemed more aggressive because of the 'Anonymous' thing; I just suspicious when I see 'anonymous' thing; it's not like I'm expecting your personal details - but you could have used any clever moniker (like, 'Labour Activist Woman' or something?)

    I am happy to stand corrected and offer unreserved apologies. Really. (I am sorry if this seems less than sincere -- I don't mean it to be; I'm just a cynic so often that even when I'm trying to be sincere it doesn't sound like it.)

    I've got some more questions/issues, though:

    1) You still haven't said what part of your political system it is I don't understand. I'd be happy to likewise apologise for that, too, but I don't know to what you refer.

    2) I don't think post-election of 2 BNP MEPs is a good time to be talking about 'the mark of this country's greatness', do you?

    3) I've read Mill, though it was a long, long time ago and so I accept that maybe I need to revisit it, but to be honest I don't buy the liberal view that all views should be tolerated. Perhaps on that we just have to agree to disagree... [geddit?]

    In Canada we have anti-hate laws (or we did, anyone?) and equality laws that I think would see off the BNP nicely. (Though I'm certainly not going to pretend there aren't racist assholes there.)

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  6. A Country can be great without being racist (including Canada); there are different parts of the UK, and you need to comprehend that only in areas where lots of deprivation does this occur

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  8. Sorry, omitted a key word in the last version:

    'A Country can be great without being racist (including Canada)'

    Yes, I would completely agree. Though that's NOT the issue. The question is whether a country can be great WHILE being racist, and I don't think it can be.

    'there are different parts of the UK, and you need to comprehend that only in areas where lots of deprivation does this occur'

    Ok, a) I get that there are different parts of the UK, and that not everyone is racist. I get that. Thanks. (I got that before you pointed it out, but thanks anyway.)

    b) and this is a Big Fuckin' B -- racism in this country DOES NOT only exist in areas where lots of deprivation occurs. It exists -- as it does in most countries -- in all levels of society. It exists in this country in the highest strata, amongst the middle classes (which was my point re UKIP as the bourgeois voice of racism) and is formalised by its widespread presence in its institutions.

    To what extent that is true or not in other countries, I'll leave to others to sort out after they have shocking election results that should cause all citizens/subjects to hold their heads in shame.

    I still don't know what part of your political system it is I'm supposed to not get.

    Is it that you think I believe the BNP shouldn't haven't been given a voice on national radio? I don't think I say that they shouldn't be, though I'm of two minds about that. But my REAL complaint was not that Griffin was given a voice but that the interviewer, and the popular/mass media in general, was unable to deal with him appropriately. That is, show his lies for what they were. It wasn't an argument about your political system but about the media, which demonstrated how ineffective it really is as a means promoting proper democracy in this country.

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  9. Michael: Expresses opinion against the BNP.
    Anon: But that's democracy! They are entitled to voice their opinion! You don't understand, you're Canadian! You're oppressing racists!
    Me: Screams in exasperation.

    Democracy doesn't mean blandly listening to what people have to say. It means debating ideas and deciding their merits - which is what Michael was doing, in polemical fashion. Responding is a long, long way from repression. It doesn't seem like Michael who needs the democracy primer, anyway.

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