Northern Uproar

June 8, 2009 at 5:44 pm (elections, Europe, fascism, immigration, Max Dunbar, Racism)

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)

32 Comments

  1. Danny said,

    There are a lot of racist peeps out there but I feel that the majority of voters for BNP will just be people deciding to vote but not wanting to with the other parties.

    My local elections… only one non-mainstream party (mainstream party being labour, conservatives and lib dems) existed and that was BNP. If that was an Independent, Green party or such I would have voted them. Because I couldn’t vote I didn’t vote – I took responsibility for doing the right thing and voting BNP wasn’t the way forward.

    I personally think EU Parliament is over rated – the EU is indeed responsible for most of our laws directly or indirectly however I don’t think the UK representation up until now has even been in our favour. I could easily say that I can’t see any of our representatives as making any difference – not exactly how the 2nd US, sorry, I mean EU, works…

  2. Matt said,

    The SWP have now issued an open letter to the left calling for a united slate in elections to stop the decline in the Labour vote letting the BNP in:

    “Dear comrade,
    Labour’s vote collapsed to a historic low in last week’s elections as the right made gains. The Tories under David Cameron are now set to win the next general election.
    The British National Party (BNP) secured two seats in the European parliament. Never
    before have fascists achieved such a success in Britain. The result has sent a shockwave across the labour and anti-fascist movements, and the left.

    The meltdown of the Labour vote and the civil war engulfing the party poses a
    question—where do we go from here? The fascists pose a threat to working
    class organisations, black, Asian and other residents of this country—who BNP führer
    Nick Griffin dubs “alien”— our civil liberties and much else. History teaches us that
    fascism can be fought and stopped, but only if we unite to resist it. The SWP firmly believes that the first priority is to build even greater unity and resistance to the fascists over the coming months and years. The BNP believes it has created the momentum for it to achieve a breakthrough. We have to break its momentum.
    The success of the anti-Nazi festival in Stoke and the numbers of people who
    joined in anti-fascist campaigning shows the basis is there for a powerful movement
    against the Nazis. The Nazis’ success will encourage those within the BNP urging a “return to the streets”. This would mean marches targeting multiracial areas and increased racist attacks. We need to be ready to mobilise to stop that occurring.
    Griffin predicted a “perfect storm” would secure the BNP’s success. The first part
    of that storm he identified was the impact of the recession. The BNP’s policies of
    scapegoating migrants, black and Asian people will divide working people and make
    it easier to drive through sackings, and attacks on services and pensions. Unity is not a luxury. It is a necessity. If we do not stand together we will pay the price for a crisis we did not cause.

    The second lesson from the European elections is that we need a united fightback to
    save jobs and services. If Cameron is elected he will attempt to drive through policies of austerity at the expense of the vast majority of the British people. But the Tories’ vote fell last week and they are nervous about pushing through attacks. Shadow chancellor George Osborne told business leaders, “After three months
    in power we will be the most unpopular government since the war.” We need to prepare for battle. But there is a third and vital issue facing the left and the wider working class. The crisis that has engulfed Westminster benefited the BNP. The revelations of corruption, which cabinet members were involved in, were too much for many Labour voters, who could not bring themselves to vote for the party. One answer to the problem is to say that we should swallow everything New Labour
    has done and back it to keep David Cameron, and the BNP, out. Yet it would take a miracle for Gordon Brown to be elected back into Downing Street. The danger is that by simply clinging on we would be pulled down with the wreckage of New Labour.
    Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS civil service workers’ union, has
    asked how, come the general election, can we ask working people to cast a ballot for
    ministers like Pat McFadden. McFadden is pushing through the privatisation of the post office. Serwotka proposes that trade unions should stand candidates. Those who campaigned against the BNP in the elections know that when they said to people, “Don’t vote Nazi” they were often then asked who people should vote for.
    The fact that there is no single, united left alternative to Labour means there was
    no clear answer available. The European election results demonstrate that the left
    of Labour vote was small, fragmented and dispersed. The Greens did not make significant gains either. The mass of Labour voters simply did not vote. We cannot afford a repeat of that. The SWP is all too aware of the differences and difficulties involved in constructing such an alternative. We do not believe we have all the answers or a perfect prescription for a left wing alternative. But we do believe we have to urgently start a debate and begin planning to come together to offer such an alternative at the next election, with the awareness that Gordon Brown might not survive his full term. One simple step would be to convenea conference of all those committed topresenting candidates representing working class interests at the next election. The SWP is prepared to help initiate such a gathering and to commit its forces to such a project. We look forward to your response.

    Yours fraternally,

    Socialist Workers Party”

  3. David T said,

    And why precisely would anybody have anything to do with the SWP again, given what happened last time?

  4. links for 2009-06-09 « Embololalia said,

    […] Northern Uproar « Shiraz Socialist 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. (tags: bnp eu09 class uk politics) […]

  5. Matt said,

    David T: the SWP is a lot smaller than it used to be but it’s still the biggest group on the far left in Britain with a sizeable grooup of activists, a large periphery and supporters in all the big trade unions. If you are serious about left unity and giving Labour supporters a socialist alternative to vote for rather than them staying at home and letting the BNP in then you have to include them in discussions around any project to stand working-class candidates in elections, despite the problems they have caused in the past and no doubt will in the future. What is there to lose, why notyou take them at their word and see what happens? The alternative is to say ‘I’m not playing, they didn’t play fair last time’, a recipe for continued disunity, with the disastrous results for our class we have just witnessed.

  6. Matt said,

    I’m pleased to say that the AWL has responded positively to the SWP’s open letter:

    http://www.workersliberty.org/newsocialistalliance#comment

  7. maxdunbar said,

    I couldn’t care less what the SWP says about anything.

  8. voltairespriest said,

    I’m not keen on the SWP, and frankly I don’t believe the “unity appeal” means anything else in their eyes other than a front which they can run with everyone else as window dressing. There’s too much precedent with Globalise Resistance, the later version of the ANL, Respect, the “Left List”, and the Socialist Alliance (and the rest), for me to think anything else.

    For chrissake AWL, will you never learn?

  9. maxdunbar said,

    It is a transparent attempt to get anti-BNP activism to coalesce entirely behind whatever nonsense front group that the SWP will be setting up in the next few weeks. Considering the hash that the SWP made of the antiwar movement and then the UAF campaign against the BNP then it’s safe to ignore this latest opportunist communique.

  10. Matt said,

    This may well be a stunt rather than a genuine attempt to create a left alliance to stand candidates, given the record of the SWP that has already been outlined that would not be too surprising. But I repeat what I said before: what have we got to lose by engaging with it? A few meetings with the SWP doesn’t seem that high a price, especially if it does lead to united left slate for workers to vote for in the next election, rather than staying at home and letting the Tories and BNP make gains. And if it turns out that it is just another SWP front with awful politics you leave, no worse off than when you started. I’m as ‘SWP-phobic’ as anyone but in these circumstances the alternative to attempting to unite the left is to do nothing except (vainly) calling on workers to vote Labour as the least bad option.

  11. maxdunbar said,

    Well, the SWP-led antiwar movement had at least a million on the streets in 2003. Now it would struggle to bring out a fraction of that. As one of our regulars said, it was like the Vietnam war protests in reverse. God knows what will happen if we let them take charge of the antifascist effort, they will probably get Nick Griffin elected Fuhrer-in-Chief of the entire universe.

    David has already made the point that the SWP-led UAF did jackshit during this year’s campaign against the BNP apart from creating loads of publicity and self-martyrdom opportunities for Nick Griffin by throwing eggs at him. As pretty much everyone in politics hates the BNP, it’s not like anti-fascists will struggle for alliances. But having the SWP at the head of this very important work is going to put off otherwise sane people who are against racism and fascism.

    A few meetings with the SWP doesn’t seem that high a price

    Ever been to one of their meetings?

  12. Matt said,

    Yes, many times. I am not a ‘let’s all hold hands and everything will be OK’ type. The SWP may hijack/derail/disband a new project at any time, we know this. You go in with that knowledge and without suspending your criticisms of them. And if a united left slate doesn’t come off for the next election, where does that leave us? In the situation we have now where the Labour vote has almost disappeared and two Nazis are MEP’s.

  13. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Hmm. If the SWP seemed to have come to this decision through a real period of self-criticism, I’d be more inclined to take them seriously. I see no evidence of that.

  14. Max Dunbar said,

    It would be a better offer if the SWP did not insist on leading and dictating in minute detail every project it gets involved with.

  15. Rayyan said,

    This is a brilliant article, and spot on. Paul Kingsnorth has been mouthing off on exactly the kind of BNP apologetics you’re criticising here:

    http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/06/11/the-left-needs-to-confront-the-root-causes-of-bnp-support/

    It’s amazing, the congruence between what you outline and what he suggests, right down to his ‘action point’ of ‘calling for a national debate on immigration.’

  16. Rayyan said,

    In fact, could you please suggest to the powers-that-be over at Liberal Conspiracy that this be published as an article there? It systematically blows the apologetics of the likes of Kingsnorth out of the water.

  17. voltairespriest said,

    Max: if you fancy taking up Rayyan’s suggestion then email Sunny Hundal (or I will if you’d prefer).

  18. maxdunbar said,

    That Paul Kingsnorth article is pretty good but falls apart at the end.

    The last few paras repeat the claim made by mainstream politicians that people perceive there is a problem with immigration, without saying whether the problem exists outside that perception.

    But perceptions mean nothing. What Kingsnorth needs to do is to say clearly whether immigration has a bad impact on working class communities or not. If it does then let’s address these problems, if it doesn’t then let’s admit that the 900,000 who voted BNP this week are wrong.

    Kingsnorth also dances around the contention that ‘mass immigration is a function of the neoliberal ‘flexible labour market’ which is excellent news for corporations and often very bad news both for migrants and settled populations’ – i.e. migration is part of the globalisation order and therefore a bad thing. In fact the truth is the reverse – we need a global freedom of movement for labour as well as capital.

    Other than that though, it is a good piece, worth reading.

    I would be delighted to have the above post printed on LibCon. Voltaire can you do the email?

  19. maxdunbar said,

    Oh and one more point on the SWP open letter. This is what I said a few comments up:

    It is a transparent attempt to get anti-BNP activism to coalesce entirely behind whatever nonsense front group that the SWP will be setting up in the next few weeks. Considering the hash that the SWP made of the antiwar movement and then the UAF campaign against the BNP then it’s safe to ignore this latest opportunist communique.

    And lo it has come to pass!

    The Democracy Commission was set up at the recent Socialist Workers Party (SWP) annual conference. It is made up of ten elected members and four members appointed by the SWP’s Central Committee. Its first meeting will be on Saturday 7 February.

    Since the 1999 Seattle protests sparked a new wave of global resistance to capitalism, party members have thrown themselves into building the movements – particularly those against globalisation and war – as well as developing an alternative to New Labour.

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=17008

    The SWP – so predictable even I can predict them.

  20. Matt said,

    The SWP’s root idea – the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by socialism – is one we share. That it has a undemocratic internal regime, bureaucratically dominates and manipulates broader campaigns and has or adapts to awful, reactionary politics on many questions is self-evidently a bad thing but does not change that root idea. That is why we stood with them in the Socialist Alliance.

    I’d be more impressed with the ‘wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole’ brigade if you actually posed an alternative rather than sitting on our hands and watching the Tories and BNP march through the electoral void left by the collapse of Labour’s working-class base.

  21. maxdunbar said,

    That SWP info is via Modernity and David T by the way.

    Matt – it’s not like the SWP are the only people willing to fight the BNP! Searchlight did most of the hard work during this last campaign and most political activists are antifascist too. There are Labour activists up for the fight. We don’t need the SWP especially as a) it insists on leading everything it touches and b) everything it touches turns to shit.

  22. voltairespriest said,

    I don’t actually think that the SWP should be excluded from campaigns: I just don’t want them having proprietorial control over them. There’s too much past evidence of their control-freakery and willingness to fuck people over in the interests of narrow sectarian gain, for me to ignore.

    It’s noticeable to me that there’s a very different atmosphere on the left in Coventry where, unusually, the Socialist Party are the dominant left-wing force, as compared to other parts of the country where the SWP are the largest group. Meetings are more inclusive, the SP make an effort to keep them broad, and there’s an emphasis on pushing politics whilst also engaging local communities, which is a walking-and-chewing-gum-at-the-same-time skill that the SWP appear not to have.

  23. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Matt-

    I’d be more impressed with the ‘wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole’ brigade if you actually posed an alternative rather than sitting on our hands and watching the Tories and BNP march through the electoral void left by the collapse of Labour’s working-class base.

    Community based activism and supporting working class opposition to Labour. While I don’t agree with them on everything, the IWCA talk a fair bit of sense on this.

    Max-

    ! Searchlight did most of the hard work during this last campaign

    They decided to pose with Gordon Brown just before the vote. Not the greatest tactical move.

    There are Labour activists up for the fight.

    There’s a problem there. I don’t doubt the intentions of some Labour activists. But when the BNP are getting votes by presenting themselves as anti-establishment, lining ourselves up with the political establishment (whether through Hope Not Hate’s open support for New Labour or the UAF’s more subtle ‘anybody but Nazi”) plays right into their hands.

  24. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Speaking of the IWCA, their analysis is easily the best I’ve seen of the election results- http://www.iwca.info/?p=10141

  25. Bob said,

    The YouGov poll stuff:
    http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/domestic_politics/who+voted+bnp+and+why/3200557

    Some snippets:
    Not surprisingly, BNP voters regard immigration as the top issue facing Britain. Fully 87 per cent of them told us it was one of their top three or four concerns. (This compares with a still-high 49 per cent among the public as a whole.)

    But when people are shown the same list and asked which three or four issues “are the most important facing you and your family”, the figure falls to 58 per cent. True, this is three times the national average of 20 per cent, yet it means that for almost half of BNP voters, immigration is NOT among the worries of day-to-day life.

    We also find that most BNP voters do NOT subscribe to what might be described as “normal racist views”. Just 44 per cent agreed with the party in rejecting the view that non-white citizens are just as British as white citizens.

    They also say that BNP voters are tablioid readers, nearly as rich as Tory voters, and that they are overwhelmingly people who think of Labour as their old party but that it’s abandoned them. The leaked membership list Max mentions showed that the party membership was mostly petit bourgeois: small businessmen, retired soldiers, construction contractors. But it seems that their voters are from slightly lower down the class pile (indeed, BNP votes in places like Stoke and Swanley are too big in such solidly working class areas to be petit bourgeouis votes). But the income figure in the YouGov data suggests that maybe it’s the aspirational working class vote rather than the wretched of the earth.

    Oh, and Paul Kingsnorth. Diametric opposite of Max’s post: good, except that he ends up endorsing the same anti-immigraion lies.

    And one more thing. A party that needs a democracy commission cannot be a democratic party to start with now really can it?

  26. Bob said,

    My long comment at 25 was meant to be a follow up to another long comment that I typed but somehow lost. I’ll try and re-write it now, but it won’t, of course, be the miniature masterpiece the first version was.

    1. Max, great post. In particular, I completely agree with you about the immigration issue. The mainstream press and politicians are constantly telling us immigration is a taboo issue – and then don’t seem to have a problem spewing out anti-immigrant hatred. This has fed the rise of the BNP more than any single thing. We urgently need to get the pro-immigrant argument into the real world. (That’s why, to refer back to an older debate here, I was so positive about Strangers Into Citizens, depsite their limitations.)

    2. However, where I disagree (and this is why I put all that YouGov stuff in what was meant to be a footnote to this comment) is in the way you condemn the 900,000 as racist. Yes, of course most or all of them were in some way racist. But so are most people – most Labour voters, most trade unionists. I don’t think that the majority of BNP voters are hard, ideologically committed racists. They can be reached, but only by a campaign that treats them with respect, that takes them seriously, that doesn’t moralistically hector them like naughty children.

    3. On the whole SWP/SA thing. Matt’s comments here assume that the people who might get involved in a new Socialist Alliance are all savvy been-around-the-block types like us here. In fact, if it gets off the ground, it will draw in people who have no experience of how the SWP works. The tragedy of the last SA was the number of good people who got involved, saw the manipulative shit the SWP pulled, got burnt out from endlessly going around in circles, and eventually walked away from activism, probably forever. Most people don’t have the time or energy that someone like Matt does for going to meetings and fighting the fight.

    In short, an SWP-initiated coalition can never be anything other than a short-lived, opportunistic recruitment front that will be wound up or wrecked after all the new energy has been sucked out of it. We cannot afford to let this happen. (And an SWP-initiated coalition endorsed by the AWL, however well-meaning they might be, is no better: they cannot be anything other than a figleaf for the SWP’s anti-democratic politics, and they will lose credibility because of it.)

    We can work with SWP members and branches, but we need to start with what is here, on the ground, in the communities. This might mean building on the anti-BNP coalitions that have done good work in some localities (some involving the SWP, some based in Hope Not Hate, some involving both, some involving neither). It might mean working in some areas, believe it or not, with people who don’t even see themselves as part of the left!

    To sum up, we need another top-down electoralist fake unity front like we need a hole in the head.

  27. maxdunbar said,

    Waterloo

    I don’t doubt the intentions of some Labour activists. But when the BNP are getting votes by presenting themselves as anti-establishment, lining ourselves up with the political establishment (whether through Hope Not Hate’s open support for New Labour or the UAF’s more subtle ‘anybody but Nazi”) plays right into their hands.

    I don’t understand this ‘lining up with the establishment’ bullshit.

    Most of the hard work will take place at local level with Labour activists that don’t have a great deal of power and are way to the left of the Labour leadership. You don’t have to vote Labour, just to work with them against the common enemy. I’d take the establishment over fringe fascism any day.

    ! Searchlight did most of the hard work during this last campaign

    They decided to pose with Gordon Brown just before the vote. Not the greatest tactical move.

    The Gordon Brown photo may have been silly but it is far less silly than allowing Nick Griffin to pose as a free speech martyr by throwing eggs at him every time he attempts to speak.

    Bob

    However, where I disagree (and this is why I put all that YouGov stuff in what was meant to be a footnote to this comment) is in the way you condemn the 900,000 as racist. Yes, of course most or all of them were in some way racist. But so are most people – most Labour voters, most trade unionists. I don’t think that the majority of BNP voters are hard, ideologically committed racists. They can be reached, but only by a campaign that treats them with respect, that takes them seriously, that doesn’t moralistically hector them like naughty children.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Let’s not forget that the BNP vote is dropping. I don’t see how we can respect a minority that will happily walk into a polling station and vote fascist. But I’ll give BNP voters the respect of recognising that they can make a conscious decision to vote fascist, of their own free will, rather than maintaining that BNP voters are making some kind of unconscious statement about multiculturalism or housing or whatever the commentariat are going on about this week.

    Why is it that, whenever someone votes BNP, it’s always the fault of someone other than the voter?

  28. Waterloo Sunset said,

    I don’t understand this ‘lining up with the establishment’ bullshit.

    Most of the hard work will take place at local level with Labour activists that don’t have a great deal of power and are way to the left of the Labour leadership. You don’t have to vote Labour, just to work with them against the common enemy. I’d take the establishment over fringe fascism any day.

    The problem is that it’s the very same establishment that have created the conditions for BNP growth in the first place. That’s why it’s imperative that any anti-fascist strategy is not merely seen by potential BNP voters as an extraparlimentary version of the political establishment. And, to do that, we need to operate entirely independently of the Labour Party.

    The Gordon Brown photo may have been silly but it is far less silly than allowing Nick Griffin to pose as a free speech martyr by throwing eggs at him every time he attempts to speak.

    Presenting antifascism as a front for New Labour is infinitely more counterproductive than chucking eggs.

    I also don’t understand how you can argue that the SWP’s tactics make it impossible to work with them, yet call for us to work with Searchlight of all fucking people.

    Start with the AFA statement here- http://www.hughdenman.com/oldsites/bogeypage/anarchy7 And then get a more detailed overview here- http://www.redaction.org/anti-fascism/secrets.html

    One extract that, by itself, shows why Searchlight are beyond the pale:

    Lowles (or Knowles) had indeed been ‘active’ in anti-fascist circles in the Yorkshire area in the early 1990’s as alleged. However following a public confrontation with an AFA organiser over tactics, which to his evident chagrin he lost, he named and identified the organiser as a fascist in an article in Searchlight and slipped away in the night.

  29. maxdunbar said,

    I’m not arguing that antifascism should be a front for New Labour – I’m arguing for the exact reverse.

    I’m also not that interested in what Nick Lowles was up to in Yorkshire fifteen or twenty years ago. The fact is, Hope not Hate provided the bulk of mobilisation against the BNP in this year’s campaign. UAF have done nothing but chuck eggs and give incoherent interviews in prolier-than-thou Cockernee accents on Channel 4 News. How Griffin must be laughing at us.

    The BNP got in because of low turnout and undoubtedly this is due to the actions of governments over the last few decades. But I’m not arguing that we work with government, but with antifascists on the ground who operate in mainstream parties as well as parties like Green and Socialist Labour.

  30. Bob said,

    I’m trying to keep an open mind about Hope Not Hate, despite Searchlight’s shameful past: Lowles has generally been sound in his actions and statements in recent years and, more importantly, some of the local groups have managed to create a genuine grassroots energy that goes beyond the politics of Searchlight. (SWP, on the other hand, have quite obviously NOT changed their MO since the ANL days, and therefore would not give them the benefit of the the doubt again.)

    On the racism issue. I am not trying to excuse or defend or respect anyone for voting fascist. Anti-immigrant racism was definitely one of the biggest factors in the mix. But the Tories, Labour and other parties also play to anti-immigrant racism, and we don’t condemn their voters out of hand for that reason. I don’t believe that the majority of BNP voters consciously thought ‘I’ll vote for a fascist party’ (some did, but they’re not the ones I’m talking about). I believe the public discourse around what constitutes racism and what constitutes fascism is so mucked up that the messages don’t work any more. The McPherson report made racism into something so diffuse and subjective that it is everywhere and nowhere; the little England identification of Nazism with something from out of black and white war movies blunts the impact of the anti-fascist message; the tabloids and middle markets churn out so many lies about “political correctness” and banning Xmas and so on that people don’t believe it when they hear the word racist any more. So, all I am saying is we have to be smarter than simply saying “they’re racist” and writing them off as forever beyond the pale.

  31. maxdunbar said,

    I just don’t see the point in engaging with people who are a ) in a falling minority (the BNP vote has gone down) and b) willing to vote for a fascist party. Your point about the government’s anti-immigration rhetoric just illustrates the fact that we have tried to get racists back into democratic politics and it hasn’t worked. Time to forget accommodation and concentrate on the fight.

  32. Kkwicnlg said,

    pwlbbP comment1 ,

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