The BNP

The BNP’s election to the European Parliament was met with nearly universal outrage. talks to Labour MP Ann Cryer, BNP Candidate Ken Booth and a BNP member at the University of York to find out how it happened

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“What are you going to do about all these Pakistanis Mrs Cryer?” Mrs Cryer, Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley and Ilkley in West Yorkshire, looked puzzled at the polite little Irishwoman asking this strange question. “Well I don’t know what you mean”, she replied. “Oh, they’re getting away with all sorts of things you know. They don’t approve of travelling on public transport, so the government gives them money in order to pay for a car, so they can take their families out”. Faint alarm bells ring. “Who told you that?”. Clearly embarrassed as she realised that Mrs Cryer knew exactly who had told her, the Irishwoman stuttered. “Oh, um, I think it was on the television last night”. “No, I don’t think it was,” said Mrs Cryer. “Do you know who I think it was? I think it was the BNP canvassers who were out last night.”

On Thursday 7th June, two British National Party candidates were elected to the European Parliament. The results, upon their announcement the following Sunday night, were met with a massive national outcry, media coverage, and the egging of Nick Griffin, the BNP party leader during a press conference outside Parliament. The major parties were united in their condemnation. The national media, which days earlier had still been preaching the evils of British MPs, the money-grabbing good-for-nothing expenses cheats wasting the taxpayer’s hard earned cash on duck houses and chandeliers made out of platinum (probably), were equally dismayed with the outcome. However for all the horror understandably expressed that an essentially racist party should be allowed representation in Europe, the fact remains that in order for this to have come about, someone, somewhere must have voted for them. The pertinent question therefore, is why.

I spoke to Ken Booth, North-East regional organiser of the BNP, a BNP member currently in his second year at York University, and Labour MP Ann Cryer (above), in whose constituency Nick Griffin is the BNP candidate. She offered her diagnosis of the situation. “I think people stayed at home because they were disenchanted about MPs. The Telegraph led the charge, and the others followed suit, trying to criminalise every MP that there is. The reports [on expenses] never said ‘some MPs’, they said ‘MPs’, so people think all 648 of us were at it. I think that that was the main problem for the European elections”.

This disenchantment with the status quo is crucial for the BNP. A glance at the YouGov poll taken in concordance with the European elections offers some key insights as to who backed them, and why. Nationally, professional workers outnumber manual by 20 per cent to 18 per cent. Among BNP voters the proportion is 11 per cent professional to 36 per cent manual workers. 61 per cent of BNP voters are male. A third read the Sun or Daily Star, compared with just a fifth of the country at large, and only 6 per cent read the upmarket Guardian, Times, Telegraph etc. The average BNP voter’s wage is slightly below the national average. They are, essentially, what once formed the backbone of traditional Labour support.

BNP voters are dissatisfied. Only 19 per cent believe that “My family will have the opportunities to prosper in the years ahead”, as opposed to 59 per cent of Labour and 42 per cent of Conservative voters. 70 per cent believe that white people face unfair discrimination nowadays; the national figure is 40 per cent. In a statement rather uncannily similar to the BNP’s official statement as outlined on their website, Greg, a BNP member currently attending York University said: “Many voters, predominantly white, working class, are absolutely fed up with current career politicians and the failure of their policy, particularly on jobs and immigration. That’s why they’ve turned to us, people willing to listen to their grievances and act on their behalf”.

Disturbingly however BNP voters, although not always in agreement with the BNP’s more obviously sectarian and intolerant beliefs, appear to either be ignorant of them, or willing to overlook them. Less than half take the BNP view that non-white citizens are less British than white citizens, and only half believe that immigration is one of the most pressing issues facing themselves and their families. This suggests that it is the disillusionment with the major parties which has proved so pivotal to the BNP in recent years. As Ann Cryer pointed out to me “Their vote didn’t increase at the last European elections, it was just that a lot of our people stayed at home

The papers were saying we’re all greedy, we’re all criminals, we’re not worth a vote. That’s why the BNP got seats they should never have got.”

Cryer is impassioned in her reproach, “I mean Norman Tebitt? What the hell was he about, going on the radio a few days before the elections saying don’t vote for the major parties, vote for the minority parties. I mean he afterwards said he didn’t mean the BNP, but you could’ve fooled me!”

And the BNP are aware of this effect too. This is apparent as I talk to Ken Booth, North East regional organiser of the BNP and a candidate in the North East. He is sickeningly jubilant over the circumstances which have led to the BNP’s European presence: “Our playing field isn’t level, that’s enough for some people to vote. They want to vote for the underdog, even if they don’t necessarily agree with all the policies” It doesn’t seem to matter therefore whether or not the BNP actually reflect people’s interests, so long as the outcome is in line with the party’s aims. When I tell him that I’m a student he replies “How are the student population taking the election results then? Not well!” and laughs.

Incidences such as the egging of Nick Griffin can be equally helpful for the BNP. As Booth puts it “All those useless Communist indoctrination types, we find them very useful! We don’t need to campaign, thankfully the anti-fascists publicise us!” Ann Cryer offers a rather more coherent insight: “I avoid Griffin. I don’t think, like some groups, that you have to say stuff to them, to engage in battle with them, you’re simply playing into their hands by doing that. Throwing eggs at Griffin is just playing into their hands, you’ve got to be absolutely mad doing things like that. It gave him prime-time television; I mean that’s the last thing we want.”

The greatest danger when the BNP get this kind of coverage (free of charge) is that they can then play on popular ignorance. The example Ann Cryer gave me about free cars is one way; just “spreading lies, door to door”. However, Ken Booth claims that sometimes even this ‘canvassing’ is not necessary. “There was a local council election in Newcastle where the BNP candidate didn’t put any literature out at all. But a local anti-fascist group was campaigning, and our candidate beat the Tories with 340 votes. They don’t even know who the BNP candidate is, they just tick the box”

Booth dodges between various arguments, one minute crowing over the naivety which has apparently led to the ‘accidental’ success (relatively) of some candidates, to championing the democratic process. Of protesters, he says “They’ll have to keep the protest up for 5 years because that’s how long European seats last. They don’t acknowledge democracy, no-one held a gun to people’s heads and said ‘vote BNP’.” Then he oscillates back to the unfairness of the BNP’s situation: “This guy Tony Dowling said “We need to confront them.” That sounds like a physical threat to me”.

On the national media, he cannot seem to make up his mind. On the one hand he is keen to emphasise the obstacles which it has created for the BNP “Some media reports the BNP like any other party. Others, the Sun, the Mirror, say ridiculous things, that we’re Nazis, fascists. We’ve done it the hard way, not relying on national media”. On the other he boasts that this very censorship is good for the BNP because “They’re just alienating their readership, people will boycott them and subscribe to ‘Voice of Freedom [the BNP publication]. Perhaps he is unaware that his party are in fact more likely to be Sun readers than non-party members. I ask him whether readership of the Voice of Freedom has actually increased. It has not, but he says proudly “Our readership’s about 200,000, but we’re not in debt like the nationals”.

It is not true that the BNP “are not campaigning”. Their campaign methods are integral to the spread of their influence, as Greg argues: “The BNP campaign in a way that the two major political parties completely ignore. That is, knocking on people’s doors, listening to them and persuading them why you should vote for them. A simple and yet effective way to engage with people and convince them the BNP has the right policies for the future of Great Britain”.

“The status quo plays into the BNP’s hands. Nick Griffin doesn’t want change, integration. He wants polarisation apartheid”

Ann Cryer recognises the importance of this strategy. “His [Nick Griffin’s] strength is having people on the doorstep, spreading racist lies, because he can’t be criticised for that. The people on doorsteps aren’t going to challenge him, because they’re by and large apolitical. They’re not inclined to turn around and say ‘that’s absolute rubbish’” And appearances can be deceptive: “One or two nights I was in the same area and I thought they were Jehovah’s witnesses! They were terribly neat, very sort of respectable. It was only when I knocked on doors they’d knocked on or I saw their leaflets poking through the letterboxes that I realised it was them. They do put on a very good front “.

This “front” is not always successful. A third year politics student at York described her experience to me: “When I was at home I received a BNP leaflet through the post which had a Muslim woman who was wearing a burkah sticking two fingers up in the air, alongside a dirty hospital bed and it said something along the lines of “This is why we have MRSA in our hospitals”. It was a ridiculous accusation which made me furious. I actually ran down the road to give the leaflet back to them”.

It would obviously be overreaching surely to suppose that all BNP voters don’t know what they’re voting for, that they’ve been ‘fooled’ in some way. Some might even agree that legal immigrants should be encouraged to go “back to their land of ethnic origin”, as stated on the BNP website. However as the YouGov polls show, many may merely be disenchanted with current politics, and therefore choose to pay attention to the more savory of the BNP’s declared aims. Greg highlights: “The re-introduction of grammar schools, once a lifeline for children from poor households to break the stranglehold of an otherwise destined future for mediocrity”, as an example of BNP policy. Not everyone might agree, but this is certainly more digestible than another which Greg approves of: “The re-introduction of the death penalty.

This would be a real deterrent to the gun and knife crime enthusiasts who would think twice of their actions if they knew the outcome would be the noose and not a few years in a comfortable room surrounded by an array of drugs, Sky TV, X-Box and a free gym.”

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The BNP occasionally manage to conceal the dark underbelly of their thinking with claims and policies which tap into points of public disenchantment, be they true or not. One is the belief purportedly held by 56 per cent of the public as a whole that local councils “normally allow immigrant families to jump the queue in allocating council homes”- 87 per cent of BNP voters think this. Less than a fifth of the British public believe that Labour cares about their concerns. And so when a party appears to be concerned for their welfare, a people are prepared to listen, and a few are willing go further. The Independent reported that the BNP website not only attracts more visitors to its website than “any of the other major parties”, but these visitors spend more time “checking the BNP’s ideas out”, 6.3 minutes as opposed to 2.7 minutes on the Conservative website.

This is naturally deeply worrying for the other parties. Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham, is particularly vocal on the problems faced by his party, declaring on his website that it “is time that we are honest about the state of the party. We are currently not fit for purpose. Membership has halved, organiser jobs have been cut, the activist base is in steep decline and the finances are in trouble.” He is open about the fact that “In my own borough voters have turned to the racist BNP not because they are racist but out of fear and a sense of vulnerability and insecurity. Many are simply protesting against mainstream politics”.

And Ann Cryer is at pains to emphasise that for all the BNP take advantage of the difficulties faced by the country, they do not offer solutions. One issue which she has been deeply involved in is that of forced marriages, formerly a pressing concern in her own constituency. She relentlessly championed the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act, which came into effect in September 2008, giving women the right to apply for an injunction in court and prevent a ceremony going ahead. Her campaigning was also a key element in the Government raising the minimum age for a marriage visa from 18 to 21. Her attitude is therefore totally at odds with that of the BNP:

“A BNP leaflet had a Muslim woman on it… It said something along the lines of ‘This is why we have MRSA in our hospitals’”

“The BNP don’t give a damn about forced marriages, they really don’t. I challenge Muslim fundamentalists about their behaviour towards women. The BNP don’t do that because they actually want the fundamentalists to continue to behave that way in the future. If fundamentalists continue to force girls into marriage and to say, wear the burkha, it’s playing into their hands, that’s what they want. So they don’t ever go into detail about how we can stop this behaviour, how we can defend women, they’re not interested in that. I am”.

There is an element of personal interest in this. “I have three grandchildren who are half Indian and another who is half African. If we get to polarisation between the white communities and the black or Asian communities, it’s long-term going to have an adverse effect on my grandchildren. That’s a very narrow point of view, but it goes much wider. So if I see problems occurring I try to address them. I try, systematically to address problems that I think are going to have an impact on the most disadvantaged and most vulnerable members of the community. No-one has been more vociferous in arguing against the BNP than I have because I have a greater interest in it than most, personally.”

The BNP’s increased publicity in recent weeks has led to a threat of an injunction from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. On Tuesday 23rd July the Commission sent the BNP a letter highlighting three counts under which they appear to be in breach of the Race Relations act. These relate to the BNP’s constitution and membership criteria, recruitment and employment policies, and the provision of services by elected officers to their constituents. This marks the beginning of possible legal action following the European Elections, however many are astonished that it has taken this long. Comments under the letter where it has been posted on the BNP Chronicle, a non-official party website, include “Let’s call them! Let them know our feelings”, and “We are all equal as long as we are not white”.

Unfortunately on a local level there are limits to what can be done by one MP. “The status quo plays into the BNP’s hands. Nick Griffin doesn’t want change, he doesn’t want integration. He wants polarisation apartheid, and in some parts of Keighley, that’s what we have. The white community and the Asian community are playing into the hands of the BNP by having this polarised position where never the twain shall meet. I’m afraid there’s very little communication between the two communities and I can’t change that. I mean I can do my best, and I have done my best for Asian women and successfully, but to change the hearts and minds so that you get the two communities coming together, that’s a tall order.”

18 comments

  1. Hi;

    Just to let you know, you printed a large part of the article above twice. Other than that, it was an interesting read.

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  2. Apologies, was perhaps a bit keen on the old copy and paste, this has been fixed.

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  3. Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham
    In my own borough voters have turned to the racist BNP
    That makes just under a million voters (and counting) in this country racists. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. This is what the UAF (United and Fascist) would crowd would tell him. Don’t tell me, I know that’s not the name but it’s more in line with what they do.
    Anyway keep up the good work, as they say “There is no such thing as bad publicity, just make sure you spell the name right.”

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  4. Why is Nouse interviewing Nazi scum like Ken Booth? This is someone who is an ex member of the Nazi National Front who was recently arrested for racial assault:
    http://uafnortheast.blogspot.com/2009/03/newcastle-bnp-organiser-arrested-over.html

    And also Ken Booth has compared the death camp at Auschwitz to Disneyland: http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/index.php?link=template&story=211

    A quick google search told me this – and yet Nouse apparently still thought it appropriate to allow the Nazi Booth to promote the myth of BNP ‘respectability’ in their paper – why?

    Also if Booth is a second year at York Uni – isn’t Nouse at all worried that the BNP regional organiser for the North East around on campus? How might Jewish, black, asian or international students feel about their safety now – given racist attacks have already gone up after the BNP breakthrough?
    See here: http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=18366

    Finally, why does Nouse allow BNP members like ‘BNP man’ and others above to comment on stories like this – fascists should be banned from student sites like this. If Booth is a student at York University, I also hope the student union and University take appropriate action to ensure that the safety of jewish, black and asian students on our multicultural campus come first – there is no place for Nazi scum like Booth at a place like York University.

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  5. The reason we allow pro-BNP comments on this site is that we don’t believe in censorship, unless we are forced to due to legal issues or SU issues. This paper is anti-BNP, but we do believe that allowing them to air their views in order for them to be challenged and discredited in reasonable debate is better than hiding them and therefore letting their propaganda be the only voice the BNP has, with no response in the article.

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  6. UAF by your own admission you have shown the students of York that you are in fact FACISTS.

    Quoting a few loony-left fascist web links, including your own and one, which is run by a convicted burglar and fraudster is proof of your naivety. You should give the York students more credibility, as they will not be fooled by you or any other SWP front group.

    The answer to their bogus claim can be found here:

    http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/4405043.BNP_organiser_may_sue_over____racism____arrest/

    http://www.civilliberty.org.uk/newsdetail.php?newsid=626

    Interesting the Northern Echo and Phil Wilson, Labour MP for Sedgefield were the perpetrators of the Auschwitz misquote and hurriedly copied by reiterated and distorted by the useful idiots.

    The real quote was, “The present-day Auschwitz Memorial Museum is run and marketed more on the lines of a theme park”, and in no way refers to the terrible suffering of the inmates by the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the 1930s and 40s until liberation.

    But then, Tony Dowling and the North East UAF will never let the truth get in their way.

    Listen to Tony Dowling at a North East UAF meeting here: http://www.civilliberty.org.uk/resources/uaf_newcastle_20090609.wav

    Back to the Nouse article – Even though the paper is sickeningly anti-BNP by your own admission and blatantly obvious by the various adjectives etc thrown in. However, you still offered us the courtesy of our viewpoint, though biased and selectively edited. Still it was a small positive sign in keeping with democracy and the individuals right to decide when making their own choices.

    With reference to sectarianism, did you forget to mention that I am a Catholic or did the dark underbelly of your thinking get in the way? Perhaps the overzealous cut and paste effort suffered to many cuts in the remedial edit.

    On a brighter note now I have the updated figures, the BNP newspaper, The Voice of Freedom circulation and subscription figures are at an all time high and so is the party’s popularity.

    Having two elected MEPs should see a knock-on effect in the next round of local elections and general election, as it has definitely boosted our voter credibility.

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  7. I skimmed through the above 3,000 word article: about the most boring 3,000 words I’ve ever skimmed through. The author must be a sociology student – or a student of some other subject that requires zero brain.

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  8. What a pathetic response to an article. You are audacious enough to comment on an article you confess you didn’t read and slag off students and certain degrees all in two and a half lines. Loser.

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  9. Up the BNP… I see the UAF dont want Ken to be interviewed… They’d rather just egg him and hit him with a hammer.

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  10. I am not going to debate with Nazis, not least about the Holocaust and about violence, but it is worth replying to the accusation that UAF’s strategy and tactics against the fascist BNP is just to ‘egg and hit members with hammers’ as the BNP’s Fuhrer Nick Griffin shamelessly made the same deeply hypocritical accusation in the European Parliament.

    This response to that attack from the latest UAF mailing:
    http://www.uaf.org.uk/news.asp?choice=90717

    BNP leader Nick Griffin used his first speech in the European parliament this week to attack Unite Against Fascism.

    In a bizarre and paranoid rant he described UAF as a “militia” that “routinely deploys intimidation and violence against nationalist dissidents against Britain”.

    Strangely enough Griffin didn’t find time to mention the BNP membership card that was picked up recently during police raids on suspected neo-Nazi terrorists – raids that netted rocket launchers, grenades, pipe bombs and dozens of firearms.

    Neither did he mention Simon Sheppard, the former BNP organiser jailed last week for whipping up race hatred over the web, nor Robert Cottage, the former BNP candidate jailed in 2007 for bomb-making.

    The truth is that it is Griffin’s BNP that “routinely deploys intimidation and violence” against its opponents, black people, Muslims, gays – and anyone it doesn’t like the look of.

    But Griffin was right about one thing: UAF is completely dedicated to driving him and his gang of Nazi thugs out of our lives.

    That’s why we’re calling everyone who opposes the BNP to come to our Stop Britain’s Nazis conference on Saturday in Manchester – and to get down to Codnor, Derbyshire, on Saturday 15 August to protest against the BNP’s fascist rally being held there that weekend.

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  11. Although I am 60 years of age and up to now have always been fairly moderate in my political views, I think that the time has come when we need to stand up and stick our heads above the parapits and to at least try to change the way that Britain has become over the last few decades. I used to be all for ‘equality’ amongst races that for one reason or another decided to live and work in Britain, but it seems to me that immigrants are not content with equality, that want that and a little bit more … they are not so much interested in integration as they are in changing our way of life to suit theirs, and in my experience succesive governments and government departments (local and national), are bending over backwards to encourage forfeiting the British identity and way of life for fear of upsetting and offending ethnic races and religions.
    I have worked all my life since leaving school, paying all the taxes and other dues that working life demands, but in 2007 I suffered a heart attack which needed surgery and I was ordered by my consultant not to work for several months, being self employed I did not have the luxury of sick pay from an employer, so I applied for Incapacity allowance, which I had thought was my rightful entitlement, but because I was a few contributions short on my National Insurance (which was due to an error of the contributions agency and not by my doing), I could not claim for a penny and my claim was rejected.
    Although not happy with this rejection of my claim, I accepted it philisophically and tried to struggle on, however due in some part to my having to take so much time off of work, I finally went bust in November 2007. I was fortunate enough to find a job starting in December 2007 for the railways, albeit a poorly paid one and continued with this untill January 2009, when due to the ecconomic crisis my services were no longer required, being employed by an agency I received no severance pay and only 2 days notice …. so it was off to the Job Centre to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance …. and guess what? My claim was rejected! Because I had been self employed for the tax year 2006-2007, and paying self employed national Insurance contributions for that period, I was not eligable as the rules state that one has to have 2 consecutive years of full contributions or to have never been working …….. because I had paid off my mortgage and my wife had a part time job I am not entitled to ANY benefits whatsover (except a bus pass and maybe heating allowance … both because of my age). Is this right that as someone who has contributed into the system for 40 odd years, I can get no benefits for health problems or unemployment, when immigrants, illegal or otherwise, can get free housing, healthcare, social security benefits etc?
    Evidently the mainstream political parties cannot see that by treating people of ethnic origin differently and more favourably than born and bred native British people, they are the ones responsible for creating racial hatred and tension …… not the BNP!

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  12. Col – it sounds like you should take up your issue regarding alleged non-payment of national insurance with either your local councillor or your mp. But scapegoating migrant workers for your problems is no solution to them. Immigrants are not to blame for the fact you are out of work – bankers and politicians caused the economic crisis. Immigrants contribute far more in taxes that they pay working here than they take out through benefits etc – in fact, who is going to pay for your state pension if not in part working immigrants? You mention immigrants getting free healthcare here – but look at the cleaners, nurses and doctors next time you go into a hospital – many of them will be immigrants to Britain – immigrants we cannot do without.
    Indeed, if the BNP had their way with respect to ‘repatriation’ the NHS would collapse overnight.

    Surely what is good about what you call ‘the British way of life’ are things that ordinary working people in Britain – black and white – immigrants and what you call ‘British born and bred’ – have fought for and built up together – like the NHS – or the right to vote which had to be fought and won by ordinary people against the governments of the day. No wonder the BNP hates the NHS – precisely it is a symbolic reminder that different ‘races’ can live and work side by side together day after day and so provides living proof of the fallacy of their racist ideology.

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  13. Christ, a little less bandying about of this whole fascist / Nazi terminoglogy please. “loony-left fascist” (CO Ken Booth) certainly ranks high for being enjoyably contradictory, but I get the impression the terms nazi / fascist are being used to mean either oppresive, intollerent, or just plain nasty.
    Maybe I’m being pedantic, but it particluarly gets on my nerves when I hear anti-BNP campaigners calling them fascists. They’re not. They’re either a) incoherently rascist and reactionary, and ascociating them with any ideology is more credit than they deserve, or b) conservative nationalists, to be technical. Having read the manifesto, I reckon it’s the latter, really, but that’s open to debate.
    Ideological correction over,
    cheers

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  14. Fresher – I guess it is a good job you are going to university – you might learn never to take politicians – and particularly fascist politicians – at face value.

    ‘Having read the manifesto’ – dear lord – if you think you know about the BNP because you have read their website then…well. Did Hitler’s Nazi party say ‘we are going to crush all democracy and build concentration camps for anyone who disagrees with us and try and murder the entire Jewish population’ when they were running for election before 1933? No. Just as the BNP today don’t say ‘we admire Hitler and his Nazis and we want to be like them’ in their manifesto either.

    When anti-fascists call the BNP fascist or neo-Nazi it is not because we think they are just racist or nasty. There are lots of racists and nasty people in society – indeed you can find individuals like this in all the mainstream political parties. No, we call them fascists because the BNP is led by hardcore fascists who admire the Nazis, deny the Holocaust and hate black, asian and particularly Jewish people with as much venom as Adolf Hitler. That distinguishes them quite considerably from ‘conservative nationalists’:

    ‘Griffin, one of two BNP candidates narrowly elected to the European parliament in June, denies six million Jews were murdered by Hitler’s Nazi regime in the Holocaust.

    He has a conviction for this.

    One of Griffin’s best friends is the hard-line Italian fascist Roberto Fiore, who was a member of the terrorist group that carried out the 1980 bombing of Bologna rail station killing 85 people.

    Fiore was welcomed by the BNP at last month’s “Red, White and Blue festival”.

    Andrew Brons, the BNP MEP for Yorkshire and Humberside, was convicted in 1983 after attending a march in Leeds where Nazis were chanting “white power” and “death to Jews”.’

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=19009

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  15. UAF
    a) I’m a little rusty on my German history, it being a year since I covered it, but to the best of my knowledge, yes that is actually what Hitler and the Nazis said. There was a lot of anti-Jewish, anti-democratic feeling around at the time in Germany, a result of experiences in WW1 and Germany’s general political history. A quote springs to mind of stringing up Jews in the streets till they rot as far as the bounds of hygene allow….
    b) please don’t patronise me and imply I have a lack of political awareness when dealing with parties. I’m aware to excercise prudence when dealing with any propaganda. The way I see it, it is hardly out of expediancy that the BNP supports policies like the death penalty and beatings in schools. Supporting things that this gain you no popularity, in confining you to the fringe of British politics.
    c) just because they praise Nazis and deny the holocaust doesn’t make them facsist. It makes them ignorant and racist. If the BNP started supporting policies involving the corporate state for example, then I’d call them facsists.
    d) the term conservative nationalist is a technical name for an ideology. I surmise from your reply that you’re not familar with this, so I would refer you to Heywood, Introduction to Political Ideology. Good job you’re returning to uni soon, you’ll be able to find it in the library.
    I wasn’t making that much of a serious comment tbh, but since you decided to respond so strongly, I felt the need to clarify.
    tara

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  16. UAF, I understand your point, and I’m not trying to be rude. But this is the bottom line of it:

    To ban freedom of speech – as essentially you are proposing – would remove the point of our democracy. We can not fly that flag over the BNP if we do not uphold that simple value.

    Secondly, I think that we should let the BNP talk. They’ll make fools enough of themselves when they open their mouths. We don’t have to do that for them. Plus, if they are an elected party, the only way to hold them to account is to allow them to speak.

    Thirdly, I don’t care if the BNP deny the Holocaust: EVERY child in Europe knows that it happened. It’s just not something that could be faked and the BNP have not presented one single convincing argument as to why they believe the Holocaust never happened, just as they do not present convincing arguments about their own policies.

    Fourthly, to ‘Freshers’ comment. He is right. Your name, UAF, is technically incorrect, thus making your patronising remarks towards “Fresher” rather funny, really. Perhaps you should rethink your name if you want people to take you seriously. Perhaps you should also stop throwing eggs at elected politicians in one moment, and then in the next waving the flag of democracy.

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  17. Tory, much as I agree with you about freedom of speech, I have to point out a flaw in your argument. You seem to assume that everyone is as rational as yourself. You seem to think that current and prospective BNP supporters are somehow unaware of the horrific policies that this party proposes and so if we just let Griffin and his gang to propagandise freely (which they already do of course) then everyone will sooner or later realise how stupid they really are.

    Well, that doesn’t seem to work. It doesn’t work because first of all people are not perfectly rational and because racism is not a set of ‘misguided policies’, it is a collective psychological need that results from certain social circumstances. When facing hardship, people will always need to rationalise and the easier way to do that is to find a scapegoat to blame for their problems. No logical argument can stand against this psychological defense mechanism; it would be a great mistake to underestimate people’s ability to fool themselves.

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  18. One real problem in this debate is that those who are most in favour of giving fascist parties freedom of speech are generally those who have had least contact with the BNP and BNP members.

    It is easy to quote ‘I disagree with what you say but I defend your right to say it to the death’ as a principle if you only think about it in an abstract manner and never in any concrete situation.

    If people such as Tory had ever tried systematically campaigning against the BNP they would soon realise the BNP are not like any other democratic political party – they aim in fact to be – to quote Nick Griffin himself, ‘a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan ‘Defend Rights for Whites’ with well-directed boots and fists. When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate.’
    http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/the-real-bnp/the-BNP-in-their-own-words.php

    If Tory or fresher has themselves been on the recieving end of such fists and boots of BNP thugs for arguing against the BNP then I of course apologise. But that is why seasoned anti-racist campaigners tend to understand the BNP do not deserve the ‘right to free speech’ because they do not win arguments and persuade people through rational argument normally – but rather through intimidation of any opponent. Take for example the death threats and violence meted out to members of UAF recently for example.

    The tragedy of course is that giving Hitler a free platform to try and counter him was a strategy that was tried in Weimar Germany itself – and it failed. There were people who went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps still arguing fascists should have the right to free speech.

    But ‘the right to free speech’ does not exist in a vacuum – it exists alongside other ‘rights’ – such as the ‘right to be free from racial harassment and intimidation’. Wherever the BNP organise and operate racial attacks go up in that area. That is in part why NUS – the National Union of Students – has as policy the no platform policy which has kept the BNP’s presence on university campuses in britain to a minimum. It has also meant that university campuses are generally safe places to be – places where black asian and jewish students can walk around without fear of violence.

    No one is in favour of absolute free speech when they really think about it. If you were in a crowded cinema or lecture theatre would you have the right to shout out ‘fire – everyone out’ if there actually was no fire? Would your right to shout out an untruth override everyone else’s convenience and feelings? No.

    Or if I went around putting up posters around campus saying ‘The head of the Tory society on campus is a paedophile’ would ‘Tory’ say – ‘those posters are fine – leave them up there – you may not agree with the view expressed but lets tolerate it being up there as it is only a point of view’? I suspect not – I suspect indeed those posters would be taken down immediately as they would be blatantly untrue. And rightly so – because in any civilised society we have a modicum of respect for the truth and a sense of common decency.

    And yet Tory would apparently be willing for a BNP member to stand up in a debate or be on question time and spout out racist untruths for example ‘All Muslims are paedophiles’ or ‘all Muslims are terrorists’ or some other blatant untruth while people should just all sit and listen in silence and respect for the speaker? Please.

    In a society where racism is on the increase and people are looking around for scapegoats in the midst of the economic crisis as ‘Anon’ says above, many people are going to be sympathetic to the BNP because of their anti-immigrant policies. The BNP are desperate to try and portray themselves as just a respectable anti-immigrant party that has nothing to do with fascism but is instead say ‘conservative nationalist’ or something – the BNP would love to be thought of as ‘conservative nationalist’ rather than fascist – and would be very pleased some people like fresher have been taken in by their propaganda.

    Lets try and learn from history though – we know now what people did not know in the 1920s – about where fascism leads and what fascism is about. Lets not give modern apologists for fascism and fascists like the BNP the credibility and respectability and publicity they so desperately crave – lets instead work to expose and unmask their attempts to portray themselves as a ‘political party’ instead of a bunch of racist thugs and Hitler lovers.

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