Richard Barnbrook: The Great White Dope


9:03 am - May 6th 2008

by Adam Bienkov    


      Share on Tumblr

When the BNP’s Richard Barnbrook stooped forward to give his victory speech this weekend, both the main candidates and the news channels left the stage. Which was a shame. Because a better demonstration of the real man’s character and party could not have been found.

Now I have always thought that the ‘no-platform’ approach is wrong. To deny the far-right a voice is to give them a status that they do not deserve.

But as it is, the vast majority of the almost 200,000 people that gave Barnbrook a first or second preference vote, have never seen him speak in public. For these voters, the fact that their man has seemingly been hidden by the media, will only have hardened his appeal.

Now if over the past few months Barnbrook had instead occupied the seat of Lindsey German at the various hustings and TV appearances, then his appeal could have been dramatically reduced. Rather than being seen as the maverick outsider speaking for the ‘silent majority,’ Barnbrook would have been exposed as the racist loudmouth that he is.

Unfortunately, the media enabled Barnbrook and the BNP to pose as victims of a vast conspiracy intent on hiding and destroying them. And the more they were kept out of the the public eye, then the more they could then dismiss any revelations brought against them.

Because during the course of the campaign there were two major revelations about Barnbrook and his party. The first was that BNP candidate Nick Eriksen had written condoning rape and the assault of women and the second was that Barnbrook had been having an affair with an immigrant.

Now quite what effect these revelations had is far from clear, (although there had been predictions that the BNP would return three assembly seats). However, what is clear is that when Barnbrook stepped forward for his victory speech, he was easily able to dismiss those allegations as part of a left-wing conspiracy.

The fact that these revelations came from the Daily Mail and the News of the World were conveniently ignored. For his army of supporters, he could pose as Richard the Lionheart battling against an army of media Saladins, and as the great white martyr fighting the dark dark arts of the press.

Now if instead of being hidden from us throughout the campaign, Barnbrook had been given his fair share of media scrutiny, then he would never have been able to adopt these martyr poses. Stripped of his lion suit, London would have seen the dark heart that lurked within. And forced into the heat of the spotlight, we could have seen the sweaty berk that he is.

So as Richard Barnbrook takes his seat on the London Assembly this Friday, the British press must take their responsibilties much more seriously. The complacent ‘no platform’ approach has delivered the BNP their biggest victory yet. It is now time that Richard Barnbrook and the BNP get the media attention that they really deserve.

Related
Sunny: Lessons on how to take on the BNP

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Adam Bienkov is a regular contributor and also blogs at Tory Troll, Guardian CIF, Greenwich.co.uk and New Statesman
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Media ,Race relations

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


I fully agree. The “No Platform” stance has outlived its purpose and is counterproductive. That said, once the BNP are given their platform, they need to be rippred into far more assuredly than is ever the case when they do slither on. Whennever Griffin has appeared on TV for instance, which has been quite a few times after all, I have never once seen him be asked the straightforward question “So Nick – did the Holocaust happen or didn’t it? Have you changed your mind on this issue? Wetre six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazi regime, or not? And if they were, would you like to apologise for your continued previous denial of the fact?” That would be far more effective than just not letting him on. Would be fascinating to see the answer too.

Sounds just like any other left-wing special interest group, just a little more “growly”:)

Agreed 100% – I posted along similar lines about this yesterday.

Hopefully QuestionThat there is a new consensus about how to deal with the BNP. Barnbrook, like their ‘director of communications’ Mark Collett is a great asset to those who oppose them.

Because try as they might, the BNP just can’t find any frontmen who aren’t an embarrassment to their party in one way or another. Even Griffin who is probably the most intelligent of the lot, can’t help the fact that he just looks evil. Barnbrook is something special though. It’s going to be interesting to see how he copes on the assembly.

Essentially what I got from that speech was “I will not be politically correct”. Since I basically equate political correctness with good manners when referring to large groups of people Richard Barnbrook has informed me that he’s rude and ill mannered. Another reason not to vote BNP, as if I needed anymore.

Agreed.

I completely agree. They should be faced down, head on.

Similarly, what I have never understood is why the main parties don’t constantly quote from the BNP’s past to make the point that they are still a neo-Nazi party. All they do is constantly whinge that they’re a racist party which, given that their policies have moved away from presenting that openly, they can just deny and present as further evidence that they’re an oppressed minority bravely speaking the truth. Just saying “DON’T VOTE FOR THE BNP” is only going to increase their support among people who distrust the main parties. The media’s willingness to peddle this line while rarely providing any evidence is similarly lamentable.

Why don’t they quote Griffin from when he was pushing for the leadership? Quotes like these (Griffin in 1999) prove that the facade of respectability is a tactic:

“What message and image should we be aiming to get across in those elections? For the public as a whole we must keep it simple and put things across in the least controversial way possible. Of course, we must teach the truth to the hardcore, for, like you, I do not intend to allow this movement to lose its way. But when it comes to influencing the public, forget about racial differences, genetics, Zionism, historical revisionism and so on – all ordinary people want to know is what we can do for them that the other parties can’t or won’t.”

There’s plenty of evidence from the party’s past and present to suggest that they remain a neo-Nazi party. Griffin co-wrote a pamphlet in 1998 accusing Jews of running the media. Every undercover report of a meeting returns reports of pro-Nazi, racist rhetoric and singing. Surely this is precisely what the main parties should be hammering home, rather than the empty stuff they come out with.

Another example: in my hometown (Sunderland), two candidates who stood for the November 9th Society (classily named after Kristallnacht/Beer Hall Putsch and whose website talks of “having observed what the Fuhrer said would come true”, contains praise for the Nazis, denies the Holocaust and spreads Jewish conspiracy theories like the Protocols) in 2007 stood for the BNP in 2008. The party stood them in their two strongest wards (Redhill and St Anne’s). The local media didn’t find this out – I did, by accident, when looking at the list of candidates in my area. Neither the media nor the parties mentioned it, preferring instead to just shout “DON’T VOTE BNP”.

“I basically equate political correctness with good manners when referring to large groups of people”.

I try to be polite and well mannered as a personal choice, but should being rude be illegal? That is what political correctness seems to imply and that is why I oppose it. It also implies rather a lot of other things, including the assumption of prejudice on the basis of statistical abnormality, when no actual prejudice might be present.

That is what political correctness seems to imply and that is why I oppose it.

This is rubbish. political correctness has never been about using the law to silence ‘rudeness’ and this is a strawman that the right and the far-right always use.

It tickles me to see Barnbrook essentially rail on about political correctness. You might as well be watching a Tory MP because they sound the same.

Political correctness does not imply that being rude should be illegal, limiting the abuse that one group can throw at another however does strike me as sensible. In fact if you could highlight an instance of the phrase being used in the media in the sense of a descriptor rather than by someone who is opposed to political correctness I would be very interested. I don’t see a problem in attempting to address offense to identity groups. We don’t require abusive language to enter into discussion, most ideas are expressed more effectively in other ways and frankly if you don’t see that people are more able to be abused when they differ from the rest of mainstream society than you need to pay a little bit more attention to your environment. Most people who go to school in western society learn about human response to difference there.

Perhaps you would like to outline what else it implies?

Barnbrook seems to be attempting a bit of political correctness here himself, with his claims to represent ‘every colour and creed.’ It’s interesting too to hear him talking about ‘this great city.’ Here is what his boss had to say about Londoners ten years ago:

“The people who have the brains and ability got out (of London) years ago, one way or another. The people who are left are either the 15 per cent of the population who are happy to put up with it, they’re so decadent they actually like it, or they are too stupid to do anything about it. They will vote BNP, but you can’t build a movement on those people.” (Nick Griffin on The Cook Report)

“This is rubbish. political correctness has never been about using the law to silence ‘rudeness’ and this is a strawman that the right and the far-right always use.”

Sunny – a man has been arrested in this country for saying that a horse was gay. Two pensioners have been interrogated by the police for asking (just ASKING) the council if they could put some Christian leaflets out alongside some gay literature (these are the examples that come to my mind). Now I know those laws were (probably) being misapplied but the fact that the new body of law allows for such overreach should demonstrate that it is now indeed being used to silence “rudeness” (as defined according to various group identities). It is not a strawman and I am not of the far-right.

Nina – “Political correctness does not imply that being rude should be illegal, limiting the abuse that one group can throw at another however does strike me as sensible”

You risk being inconsistent with yourself in this statement. Do you think people should be arrested for being (verbally) abusive or not? When you say “limiting the abuse”, do you mean by law, or by people choosing to be polite?

“a man has been arrested in this country for saying that a horse was gay.”

He was issued with a fixed penalty for the traditional, if not entirely statutory, offence of “mocking a police officer”. There was no suggestion in the charge sheet or anywhere else that the penalty was homophobia-related.

“Two pensioners have been interrogated by the police for asking (just ASKING) the council if they could put some Christian leaflets out alongside some gay literature”

My arse they were.

It’s not inconsistent to express my own opinion, I personally believe that if you attack someone from a stage or in the street because they are gay or of a different ethnicity then you should be arrested. I believe that it is possible to attack people with words. That isn’t being politically correct though, being politically correct means that you exercise the ability to use viable alternative language and it doesn’t imply my opinion or logically lead to it. A very large number of people on the left would presumably disagree with me but laws should protect people and I don’t think it hurts not to verbally attack other human beings.

“I personally believe that if you attack someone from a stage or in the street because they are gay or of a different ethnicity then you should be arrested.”

I am assuming by “attack” you mean verbally since physical aggression is already illegal no matter what your reason for initiating it. If you believe people should be arrested for saying things that you or even the majority disapprove of, then your beliefs are authoritarian, rather than liberal. Which I suppose is fair enough – I happen to think that liberal societies are better places to live in as they waste less time “re-educating” people who are guilty of expressing opinions that the state disapproves of. It also allows people to disagree amicably, just as we are now. But you are welcome to your own opinion.

Decent people, right wing or not, would not dispute the value of using polite language. The reason people rally against political correctness is because of its pernicious impact on the law (in other words, on what grounds people can have their liberties deprived). This is what I think the core of political correctness is and it is why I am opposed to it.

It is for parallel reasons that I am opposed to drug criminalization (i.e. not because I approve of all drugs, but because I think the consequences of making them illegal is far worse than the consequences of the drugs themselves). I think introducing laws to regulate speech has far worse consequences than the impact of abusive and rude speech itself – which I think is best combated with scorn, contempt and alternative information rather than the criminal law. The only odd thing is that the “liberal-left” (who are good at pointing out civil liberties ordinariliy) seem to equivocate on this sort of question. To endorse regulations on speech, even of the politically correct kind, cannot be considered “liberal” in any meaningful sense.

I made it clear that I was talking about verbal attacks, you do not need to assume that since I stated it. I find this quite interesting “I happen to think that liberal societies are better places to live in as they waste less time “re-educating” people who are guilty of expressing opinions that the state disapproves of”. So you don’t distinguish between a verbal attack and a person expressing their opinion? Someone abusing someone because of their race or sexuality is simply expressing a thought? Then you go on to say that “Decent people, right wing or not, would not dispute the value of using polite language” but you just indicated that you see no difference between attack and expression, isn’t that disputing the value of language, polite or otherwise?

Additionally it’s as much a civil liberty to walk down the street and feel safe from attack as it is to be able to say whatever you like to anyone at any time.

“So you don’t distinguish between a verbal attack and a person expressing their opinion?”

It depends what you now mean by a “verbal attack” because sometimes someone expressing an opinion will be viewed as a “verbal attack” by someone else. If it is a threat to harm, then it is covered under other laws. If it disrupts people as they go about their business, then it can be covered by other laws that do not deal with the content of someone’s speech or beliefs.

You suggest that people need the freedom to walk safely down the street as if that somehow competes with freedom of speech. Speech, unless it is being used to issue threats, does not infringe on people’s ability to walk anywhere. If you want people to be given the freedom to walk any street safely, you should have a closer look at the criminal justice system which continues to allow genuine violent criminals to walk the streets (see this just today: http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/couldnt-prosecute-satan/ ). That would do more good that inventing new categories of criminals, and arresting and locking people up just for expressing unpopular beliefs, on a stage or wherever else.

Adam

I fully agree with your article, namely that the “No Platform” tactic no longer serves its purpose and is now counter-productive. Needless and utterly undeserved martyrdom.

The fash need to be confronted head on. That said, when they do appear on programmes, they need a far harsher line of questioning then they’ve received of late. Nick Griffin has never been asked the straight question when he appears:-
“So Nick, did the Holocaust happen or not? Were six million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime, or not? If you now believe they were, would you like to apologise for your previous continued denial of this fact?” I would LOVE to see him answer that one.

Spot on, Adam. The BNP is the apex of a political problem and as such it should be addressed politically, rather than by trying to suppress or evade it.

Political correctness, by the conventional definition of a pernicious left wing campaign against Decent Ordinary People, doesn’t friggin’ exist, because (as john b points out) most cases where it is brought up are the media distorting an event with an entirely different and often quite rational basis (which includes over-zealous policing, which ironically is something the media repeatedly call for – ‘one arm tied behind their back’ and all that). In any case, you may have noticed that the left hasn’t exactly been overwhelmingly united and powerful in this country, which would seem to be an essential pre-requisite of a ‘politically correct brigade’. A brigade requires organisation, after all. Therefore left wing PC falls foul of my magic rule; Never trust any political statement which implies an intermediate stage of magic for its effect.

Right wing political correctness, however, is extremely prevalent – from the ritual Eustonista call for mass denunciation of whomever has annoyed them this week to the smearing and denigration of people like Liberty or the Howard League who suggest that locking up more and more people might not be a sensible or effective justice policy. A moment’s thought should bring numerous other examples to mind. So powerful and pervasive is it, in fact, that it’s actually undifferentiable from mainstream political opinion, which has followed it for decades. In fact it’s possibly the most powerful ideology of our age.

In short: it’s much harder to get yourself heard suggesting heterodox left wing or liberal opinions than right wing ones. I call as my first witness every Daily Express front page of the last five years.

Even shorter: Richard Barnbrook is a clueless berk. Let’s hear more from him, let’s put his flaming torch of White nationalism to the 100% oxygen tank of publicity. I’d suggest standing back a bit at that point.

“To endorse regulations on speech, even of the politically correct kind, cannot be considered “liberal” in any meaningful sense.”

Actually it can, depending on if you see liberty in the positive or negative sense. obviously you see it in the negative sense but most social/modern liberalshave seen liberty in a positive sense since the beggining of the 20th century. positive meaning the right not to be abused and feel equal, in the liberal sense means that freedom of speech which is harmful or offensive in any sense can in this light be regulated. not the i support the idea that no one should be able to speak badly of another person but speaking badly of another person just because theiy’re gay or have a different colour skin certainly interferes with positive rights.

On the ‘clueless berk’ front, just imagine if this clip had been on BBC London before the election:

http://torytroll.blogspot.com/2008/05/richard-barnbrook-making-fascism-funny.html

Sunny – a man has been arrested in this country for saying that a horse was gay. Two pensioners have been interrogated by the police for asking (just ASKING) the council if they could put some Christian leaflets out alongside some gay literature (these are the examples that come to my mind).

Bloody hell, you really are clutching at straws aren’t you? First, don’t believe what the Daily Mail tells you. Secondly, what the law, is sometimes different to how policemen behave or what newspapers report. I thought you’d be a bit more intelligent to differentiate betyween the two.

So I stand by my original claim – political correctness has never been about using the law to silence ‘rudeness’, because no such laws exist. Get yourself a serious newspaper to read.

Old-fashioned ettiquette and good manners always get you further – political correctness is just a modern evolution of this universal truth by those biased by politicised illusions of relative benefit.

Sometimes it is important to listen to what isn’t said as much as what is and thence draw conclusions without making judgemental pronouncements: if the BNP is elected to office and maintains the support of the electorate by not acting out of its bounds or outside of the law then it has, by definition and practice, made the transition away from being an incoherent reactionary force – which should then (and only then) be worthy of our applause (I would, however, be surprised if it their preferred electoral vehicle could survive this metamorphosis as a political force, based on their current list of candidates and the way they present themselves – tan suits, pleeease, will red armbands and moustaches be next?!).

It is both shocking and amusing for me to listen to the self-denying accusations projected and transfered by the half-correct on both sides of any argument – we all have our own prejudices and preferences; the human struggle is all about not letting these personal biases have any detrimental influence on our communal existence.

For liberals ‘thought crime’ is an unprovable misnomer – we judge deeds, and non-liberals know we are watching them, subjecting them to scrutiny and ready to defend our liberty.

Sunny Hundal:

Police Horse – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/4606022.stm

Pensioners & Leaflets – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/6205223.stm

Care to withdraw your previous comment?

“positive meaning the right not to be abused and feel equal, in the liberal sense means that freedom of speech which is harmful or offensive in any sense can in this light be regulated.”

That is a misconception of positive liberty, but one often used by authoritarians to justify illiberal interventions under the guise of liberalism.

Negative liberty deals with external threats to liberty, i.e. other people, what libertarians are most concerned be contained within the political realm.

Positive liberty deals with internal threats to liberty, i.e. an individuals capacity to make decisions autonomously.

The distinction is explained well in this Stanford article, note it is not an immediate passport to “group rights” to equality and respect (that has been smuggled in from other ideologies): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/

Of course, libertarians tend not to deal with either the problem of positive liberty. Perhaps not enough but it is not because we don’t have our own theory about how to provide it. It is because we tend to hold that the best way to create greater individual autonomy is within the sphere allowed by the rule of law and negative liberty. In other words, negative liberty is the pre-requisite of all other forms of liberty.

Sunny – I don’t usually read the Daily Mail. Try the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/6205223.stm

I admit my other example looks dodgy and might be more to do with police overreach generally than political correctness specifically.

But hey, as John suggests: other people’s liberty, my arse. Perhaps left liberals reckon that people who think homosexuals are immoral “sort of” deserve to be hassled by the police.

Apologies for double post!

No, the “my arse” was w.r.t. the factual accuracy of your claim; I partially retract it, although given that you completely misrepresented the story I knew about I don’t think it was unreasonable of me to assume you’d done the same again.

My guess is that the conversation with the council employee was slightly different from how they’re letting on – I can’t imagine anyone calling the police for saying “homosexuality is wrong”, but if they were a bit more invective-y and sex-obsessed (in the way that homophobic groups occasionally tend to do) then I could imagine a thin-skinned gay council-ist perceiving it as harrassment…

If the story is actually as the Christians say, then whoever called the police is stark raving mad.

Or totally imbued with a politically correct mentality, perhaps? A friend of mine used to work at a council office (I don’t remember which) briefly and found the atmosphere poisonous due to the formal (and informal) speech codes that people had to comply with. It actually made small talk for them quite difficult for fear of saying something wrong and causing offence. So “thin-skin” can be socially constructed as well as a personal mentality. She is now working in China where she finds the atmosphere is most area much less oppressive:)

We won’t know for sure about this case because of this out of court settlement. But I came across one of those gay sex-obsessed homophobes at a free speech discussion last year on pornography and art at the Barbican. So I understand what you mean: they are intensely irritating and obviously have, shall we say, “personal issues” with homosexuality rather than just ordinary distaste for it. But the police are the last people you would want to call on them. It just reinforces their paranoia (and probably adds a few more forbidden sexual fantasies to their dreams!).

This documents the libertarian perspective on political correctness in a little more detail than I am able to provide: http://www.candidlist.demon.co.uk/hampden/culturewar2.pdf

Good article, I found yours on accident. I just thought I would let you know that you can make money now for your articles. At SayItAloud you can post your articles like you already do, but you can get better exposure and make some decent money in the process when companies sponsor your article. I bookmarked your page and I look forward to your future articles.%d%a%d%aYou can check out our site by clicking on my name.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. A platform for the BNP « Amused Cynicism

    […] by cabalamat on 2008-May-06 Adam Bienkov thinks that the policy of “no platform for the BNP” is a mistaken one, because when […]

  2. Pickled Politics » Re-evaluating the ‘no-platform’ policy

    […] (most of the political parties) vote for it in protest. Adam Bienkov argued the same on Liberal Conspiracy a few days ago, regarding Richard Barnbrook – the BNP’s London Assembly […]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.