Wednesday, 30 April 2008


Something bizarre came through my front door. A free newspaper, sponsored by The Mirror, imploring me not to vote for the BNP in the upcoming London elections. Its back page announced that the BNP would remove black footballers from the Premiership, and its centre spread presented recipes from Aynsley Harriot and Jamie Oliver, the cooking of which apparently will combat facism.

My biggest concern is that we give the BNP an inflated sense of their actual worth. The freebie sheet announced that if 5% of London's voters gave their vote to them, then the BNP would claim an assembly seat.

Of course this would be no good thing, but the occasional nutter, loon or even Nazi is the price you pay for proportional representation.

More to the point, when elected, BNP councillors have either failed to perform even the smallest part of their duties as elected representatives, or time after time condemn themselves out of their own mouths as, given a platform, they cannot resist making ludicrous statements.

Yes, we need to fight the BNP, but let's not risk encouraging them by making this bunch of two bit lunatic Nazis seem in any way credible.


katekatekatekate said...

Brilliant post, I havent metioned the people you talk about in any of my blogs, why ? Because i feel they are unimportant and the more the press and public humour them they will feel they are getting somewhere.
Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs so we cant stop that but they really are the minority and i feel the only threat from them is built up by others.

ross said...

"Yes, we need to fight the BNP, but let's not risk encouraging them by making this bunch of two bit lunatic Nazis seem in any way credible."

i don't really follow the logic of this comment, if you agree we need to fight the BNP, then clearly there is a reason they need to be fought and that reason is because they are credible (unlike the various other assorted one man and his dog fash groups)

burying your head in the sand and trying to convince yourself, and others, that the BNP are not credible is pointless when they can take 20% at probably any council election, and have a realistic chance of getting not only one, but potentially two GLA seats

the simple fact of the matter is that the BNP were the first to realise that the birth of new labour meant that there would be an abandonment of the interests of labour's traditional constituency - the working class. now regardless how unpalatable the BNP are, they have credibly filled that gap in the past, and will continue to fill it in the future while the mainstream parties continue to fight over an ever decreasing middle class middle england few thousand votes in swing constituencies that can bring them control of parliament

and the most grating thing about it is that although the rise of the BNP in recent years is almost entirely down to the policies of the mainstream parties, when it comes to election day, we get finger wagged by those very same parties telling us that it'll be our fault if the BNP increases their hold because we havn't went out and voted for those very same mainstream parties who have created the problem in the first place

katekatekatekate said...

I see your point Ross, i didnt word it particularly well.Anytime certain people are mentioned on the internet they seem to earn bonus points which is why i dont mention them by name.I dont want people looking for that kind of stuff coming vuia my blog. I think there are other ways to combat them, but my way is to not give them any credence on the www.

ross said...

i understand your position kate, however i'd say the more they are mentioned alongside credible arguments as to why they do not represent an effective nor genuine voice for the white working class the better, this is a better and more engaging response than to simply just pretend they don't exist or pretend they are not making massive inroads amongst disuillusioned, diseffected former labour voters (don't mean that i think you should be doing that as such, just making a general point about self censorship in that respect)

William Canynge said...

Thanks Ross and Kate for your views.

Ross, you are right to point out a failing of my logic, and I suppose the way I've written this implies I am trying to ride two unridable horses legging it in different directions.

However, I think the basic point still stands, the BNP have, in recent years, been invested with a credibility that they don't deserve, merely by being made out to be much more of a threat politically than they actually are.

I think the best example of this is Nick Griffin. If you look at much of the (alleged) 'quality' press, you'll see many comments about him posing some sort of unique threat because he's made the BNP respectable. The usual evidence for this is that he has a Cambridge degree. Well, whoopy do. That may well be the case, but he's also a bit odd, as his songwriting shows, and no more at the vanguard of a new politics in the UK than UKIP.

Similarly, where the BNP actually get voted in they make zero impact, and often don't bother to participate in local politics at all.

I can also remember counting in a local election not a million miles from here a couple of years ago where the BNP observer was one of the most stupid people I have ever met - challenging probably one out of every three ballot papers in front of him.

I just get a little bit concerned that the mainstream media, in investing them with more credibility than they actually deserve, actually help them because they make them appear as a credible alternative.

Ridicule, rather than over-inflating their importance, would seem to be the best course of action.

ross said...

William cheers for the reply, i definately think we are both looking at this from completely different perspectives - i'll try and explain mine in relation to the points that you've made above

you say that in recent years the BNP have been invested with a credibility that they don't deserve - first comment on this is at least we now agree that the BNP are a credible threat and therefore by extension it requires a credible response to the conditions that allow the BNP to grow, such a credible response requires a realisation of where we are and a confrontation of that position, your earlier suggestion that we somehow 'wish' them away by not giving them credibility is i'm afraid something that does the opposite of mount a credible response. My second point on this comment, was that regardless of whether you think the credibility that the BNP have been invested with is deserved or not, it is there and it is real (i would argue that the credibility enjoyed by both labour and conservatives is not deserved, however regardless of my opinion on that, my starting point has to be a realisation that they have credibility (well maybe not labour anymore!), and furthermore the credibility that they have been invested with does not derive from a few articles in the newspapers or any analysis of the one eyed cyclop, but from the fact that large sections of the population who feel abandonded and disillusioned by new labour (and new tory) are turning to them as the only alternative on offer (not because they are racist but because they have been abandoned by everyone else), and as such the BNP are being given an effective mandate by a large slice of the population - that in my opinion is the key thing to focus on in terms of considering the credibility or otherwise of the BNP - they have it, it's real, and it needs to be countered by real credible alternatives (an example of an attempt to do this is the IWCA approach for example)

You say that they are only made out to be more of a threat politically than they actually are - i'm not so sure about this, they have over 100 councilors now, a seat on the GLA, the finances & organisational structure in place to push out for even more etc.., this combined with the even further right like the NF getting 5% of the vote in a number of london area GLA elections, plus the NF getting 10,000 votes more than the pathetic left list in one constituency. if you add up all the votes that the BNP, english democrats, NF and UKIP got at these recent elections it's a heft chunk (i know not all these parties are the same, however they do represent a definite right wing block in terms of 2nd preference votes). And personally i don't think this is the peak, i think a lot of people who feel abandoned & disillusioned by labour are still voting for labour purely because they can't bring themself to confront the fact that parties like the BNP do actually offer a place for their disillusionment to be voiced to, over the next few years if more sections of that still labour voting population begin to crumble away and give their protest to right wing populist parties then the BNP threat will grow substantially

I agree with your point that when the BNP get voted in they are ineffective and make little attempt to engage in local politics, but to be honest this could be applied to any of the mainstream parties, so the BNP just needs to do a little bit more than the mainstream parties do to be seen as a credible alternative in relative terms

I also agree that the bulk of the BNP are dozy racist twats, however i don't believe that anything more than a sizeable minority of their voters are racist or stupid - this is the problem

Again your focus on the mainstream media giving them credibility to me seems like a dangerous position to take if you are serious about confronting the threat that they present, this is because this analysis seems to suggest if you get the media to stop talking about them then that will solve the problem, now apart form the implications this approach says about things like freedom of the press, the bigger point is as i mentioned earlier that the bulk of the credibility that the BNP has, is delivered from the bottom up, by the public, on election day - a top down approach to fighting the BNP by trying to silence the press does not actually confront the source of credibility/power itself, so this approach in isolation is in my opinion tactically flawed as it attacks the wrong area. Only by offering a credible alternative to real people on the ground who feel abandoned by their traditional party of interest for issues like housing, crime, employment,healthcare, social & economic inequality will combat the ever increasing support for the far right - and like it or not at the moment the BNP are the only party that look like coming close to providing this (obviously they do this as a populist measure to garner support to push their real agenda, but to ignore the fact that they do attempt to address the concerns of ordinary people is very dangerous)

look at the resurgence of facism in italy at present, berloscuni saying they are the new falange, the mayor of rome getting saulted with 'duce duce' fascist salutes, talk about 300,00 martyrs ready to march on rome - this is the trajectory that's possible when you try to pretend the rise of the right is something dreamt up in the heads of the media

Ridicule should be part of the overall fight against the right (and lets face it they invite it at every turn they make) however it's not enough in itself, there is real, substantive & credible support for the overall far right block, it requires a real, substantive & credible alternative to counter it

(re your story about the BNP observer, I was in oxford on thursday for the IWCA and labour had a local smack junkie volunteering for them as the teller at one of the polling stations, at one point he was slumped over the desk and despite three complaints he wasn't removed, this even had the effect of a number of people not voting due to the general intimidation of the situation

William Canynge said...

Ross - cheers again for taking the time to comment.

I don't think that, beyond a shared distaste for the far right, we are going to come to a common view on everything, but I thought I'd just add a few more thoughts.

100 BNP councillors? Really? I ask simply as a point of fact. In 2006 they had 53 councillors, surely if they're representation has gone up 100% then that would have been a much, much bigger news story than it has been?

It's also fair to point out that the rise of the BNP in some places reflects a Tory local vote in the mid-2000s that had nowhere else to go. In many northern towns it wasn't the white working class that turned to the BNP, it was the middle class of the villages and suburbs, who, unable to vote for a Tory party that had collapsed, in the absence of any other alternative and unwilling to ever vote Labour (even New Labour) voted BNP. It will be interesting (and perhaps welcome) to see how the revival of the Tories at a local level in the north impacts on the BNP vote in places like Burnley.

ross said...

Hi William,

They have about 100 councilors in total now, although a chunk of these are parish/community/town council seats, these are often not contested at all, or if they are they are poorly contested, and sometimes people are just co-opted onto them

re your second point, the bulk of the seats that the BNP have won in recent years were won from what were previously staunchly labour areas, and the seats that they won were taken from labour, from what i can remember in these areas the noticeable shift in support from labour to BNP were the defining features of the contests, obviously one can draw different conclusions from this in terms of what it means, but i think it backs up my point about a disillusioned and abandoned working class who had previously always supported labour find themselves with nowhere to go but into the arms of the chameleon BNP

obviously in these areas and around the country there will be a slice of ex-tory voters as well who are not happy with cameron's determination to fight labour firmly on the middle ground and his (and brown's) desires to just mimick each other's positions in fear of alientating that all importance slither of a few thousands of key voters in marginal constituencies around the country who will make or break the next election

ross said...

oops, when referring to the bulk of seats the BNP won, i meant to say 'in london'