Did I miss Hug-A-Racist Day?


5:17 pm - November 22nd 2008

by Alan Thomas    


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Hate Speech isn't Free Speech!!By far the most joyous and comical news in this past week has been the serial online publication of the BNP’s membership list. Fascists across the country have been crapping themselves at the prospect of being called to account for their views, especially if they work in “sensitive” jobs such as police, doctors or teachers. The list is now in the posession of all of the national media, as well as (one imagines) all of the major anti-fascist groups in the UK, as well as that of various people who’ve published it on the internet.

What has surprised me, has been some of the commentary about this from liberal and left-wing bloggers. I can obviously understand that there are legal concerns about publishing the list, and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to face prosecution for having revealed the list in public.

My own understanding is that publishing the entire list would breach data protection legislation, but that the public interest overrides data protection where the information revealed is something that people in general would need to know. Therefore partial publication where the BNP member concerned is in a job whose day-to-day practice affects the public, would be in the public interest. Nevertheless I can understand the legal concerns. People need to protect themselves.

Anyhow, you would think that overall the left should be welcoming the publication of the list, an event which has dealt a body blow to the fascist movement in the UK. But no, instead there has been an outbreak (amongst online commenters at least) of handwringing and concern for the BNP members’ “right to privacy” or the BNP’s rights as a “legal political party”. Some of the sources of said handwringing were predictable enough, but others ought to know better.

Do you people not get it? This isn’t some bastardised version of Pastor Niemoller’s famous speech, which as I recall did not in fact begin “first they came for the fascists”! The people whose rights you are so concerned to protect are the political inheritors of a tradition which runs from Kristallnacht, through the Holocaust, via the NF marches of the 1970s and random acts of violence against non-white people in the UK, through Nick Griffin’s anti-semitic rant “Who Are the Mind Benders”, to today’s “respectable nationalism” and the sick-making “Racism Cuts Both Ways” campaign. They are the ultimate enemy of socialists, liberals and democrats everywhere, and if you think they would have the slightest concern for your rights were the situation to be reversed then you are utterly deluded.

I would not endorse or encourage acts of physical violence against anyone on the BNP members’ list. But frankly if the publication of this list results in these sickos being driven out of politics completely then that would leave me unequivocally delighted. They are a poisonous presence on deprived estates across the nation, and they are a malignant parasite upon politics in the working class. I have none of the middle class, beltway liberal concerns about their destruction that have been written over the past few days, and neither should anyone else.

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About the author
Alan Thomas is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is a blogger, a political activist and a lay member of Unite-TGWU. His main interests outside of UK left politics are in Turkey, Kurdistan and the USA. And is also always delighted to write about wine and fine food when he's in less of an intellectual mood. Also at: Shiraz Socialist
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Reader comments


“If you think they would have the slightest concern for your rights were the situation to be reversed then you are utterly deluded.”

And here was me thinking that “rights for all, even if you disagree with me and are complete nutjobs” was something we subscribed to.

Look, the fact the BNP wouldn’t care about my rights doesn’t sway my mind here, we’re not supposed to just be different than the BNP and choose a different set of groups we think deserve protection – we’re supposed to be better than them. If we back down from universal standards on this and only oppose mob justice when it applies to people we like, how on earth can we be taken seriously? The idea that it’s to be encouraged or ignored when it happens to one group (even if they are fascists) just leaves us less ground to stand on later on and is exactly what Niemoller was getting at, you can’t just handwave away that bloody obvious parallel of the risks of a rolling double standard.

Depends whether you consider fascism to be an ideology, or fascist groups to be bodies, that will observe the same standards of mutual respect within the public sphere that you or I would. My view is that they will not. Rights are not absolute, they also carry reciprocal obligations. You may take the view that fascists will observe those obligations, but I don’t.

So… frankly I don’t care if the BNP falls to bits over this leak, and I simply fail to see why anyone else would.

Well said.

The BNP are not in the same category as other political parties; they are different and should be treated as different.

Furthermore the most effective way of dealing with fascists has always been to smash them. I won’t be going out beating up people on this list but I don’t condemn anyone who does.

And what is the author’s opinion of far-left parties that deny the crimes of Joseph Stalin? Surely this isn’t much better than denying the holocaust or glorifying Hitler? Even the Trotskyites are defenders of the deeply unpleasant Bolshevik regime.

Race hatred is unacceptable but it is strange that the sort of people who are most passionate about defeating racism are quite happy to turn a blind eye to class hatred.

Those on the moderate Right are quiet happy to conden the BNP, it’s a pity you don’t hear the same from the moderate Left about the far-left equivalents.

“Furthermore the most effective way of dealing with fascists has always been to smash them. I won’t be going out beating up people on this list but I don’t condemn anyone who does.”

I see, you approve of beating up people because they have different beliefs to you. Who does that remind you of?

6. douglas clark

Alan,

It would take someone with at heart of stone not to feel at least a degree of schadenfreude over this story. However, I’d always thought, correct me if I am wrong, that we are a bit better than they are.

When you say:

if you think they would have the slightest concern for your rights were the situation to be reversed then you are utterly deluded

,

my first reaction is to say, so what?

Their lack of concern for my rights, or your rights or anyone else’s for that matter is one of the reasons that they are on their side of the political fence and we are on ours.

It is vastly amusing to watch. Their sudden acknowledgement that the HRA might be quite a good bit of legislation is beyond satire.

Richard, you have missed the point entirely.

I don’t approve of beating up people because they have different beliefs to me. You have different beliefs to me and I don’t approve of beating you up.

Fascists are not merely people who have different beliefs to me. In some respect and to differing extents, everyone else in the world has different beliefs to me. That doesn’t put them in the same category as fascists.

Do you understand this simple point? Do you get that there is a qualitative difference between fascists and everyone else? Can you comprehend that fascism isn’t simply one of a series of competing ideological visions, but something different entirely?

If you disagree with that, at least accept that it is possible to believe that fascism is qualitatively different and that it is a consistent position to condemn people beating up Labour/Lib Dem/Tory/Green etc members, but not to give a crap when BNP members are attacked.

8. douglas clark

tim f,

Try substituting ‘Khymer Rouge’ for fascists.

Or ‘Shining Path’.

Or maybe even ‘Al Quaida’.

Oh, you probably get the idea by now. It is a simple matter to hang a label on someone and then demonise them. Think the US Army referring to the their enemies in Vietnam as ‘Gooks’. You are conducting a similar campaign.

Jaw jaw is probably better than breaking jaws. When there is a breakdown in law and order – like Kristallnacht say – then the gloves come off. We are nowhere near that.

The links posted to socialist unity and David Osler’s blog seemed to make pretty good points as far as I’m concerned. In particular: “But more importantly, I have myself had my name and address published on the Stormfront Nazi web-page, and it is an intimidating and disturbing experience.”

For me it’s fairly irrelevant whether we approve or not of the dissemination of this list. It’s out there and extremely easy to find, and there’s nothing that could be done to stop that. So arguing about whether or not that is a good thing or whether we approve of it is a complete waste of time.

All we can really say is that there are some good things that will come of this, and some bad (and some not so straightforward). The good: this is bad for the BNP. The bad: some relatively innocent people may get hurt by vigilante actions as a consequence. Not everyone who is a member of the BNP is automatically hateful and deserving of anything they get – many won’t even really understand what the BNP stands for, that’s one of their tactics.

I agree that we should be very careful about putting labels on people and demonising them. There are countless examples of when those labels have been thoroughly undeserved and used to justify a reactionary agenda.

But just occasionally there might be groups who deserve to be labelled and demonised. I submit that fascists qualify.

Debate with them just recognises them as a legitimate political party whose views are different but equal. We need to out-organise them, not out-debate them. Now that doesn’t have to mean violence – there are other ways to out-organise eg pressurising employers to sack employees who are members of the BNP. I would actually favour that kind of organisation to outright violence – partly because of the dangers of people who are not members being on the list.*

* although I think Nick Griffin probably overstated that in order to protect his members.

The BNP must be loving this. They are getting exactly what they want– lots of publicity and the chance to play the ‘victim.’

Remember the News of the World’s ‘paedo list’? What was the liberal/left reaction to that? An almost universal condemnation of a reckless and provocative violation of the right to privacy.

Compare this with the reaction to the current situation and you cannot fail to see the double standard.

The hardest thing about being a liberal is recognising that even the most unpleasant people– whether they be child molesters, religion-crazed terrorists or your local BNP skinhead– have some fundamental rights.

Two illegally published lists. Two unpleasant/very misguided groups of people. Two very different reactions. The BNP PR department’s wet dream. Britain’s nightmare. Too many people are playing right into their hands.

Dan – this is to some extent a devil’s advocate position but it’s possible that good could come out vigilante attacks against BNP members who don’t “even really understand what the BNP stands for”. Whilst it would be unfortunate, it might still destroy the BNP’s organisational capacity to recruit new members for some time. I am not personally convinced that the good that came out of it is greater than the harm it would do, and that’s one reason why I won’t be carrying out systematic attacks against those on the list. But I don’t necessarily condemn people who assess the relative good and harm differently.

@Alan Thomas: The whole Niemoller poem (not essay, we need to maintain the poetic voice) was about inclusion of rights. He was a priest but he defended non-theists. I despise the BNP but I will always defend privacy of their members.

tim, well maybe, but I’d be wary of weighing up the very nebulous good of making it more difficult for the BNP to recruit members against the very definite and concrete bad of having innocent people beaten up or otherwise threatened and menaced. If the overall political situation were more desperate and urgent I might be more inclined to agree with you, but not today. As an earlier comment put it: “When there is a breakdown in law and order – like Kristallnacht say – then the gloves come off. We are nowhere near that.”

Tim F

“Do you get that there is a qualitative difference between fascists and everyone else?”

As much as I admire your passion, you have to admit that this is one of the most deluded statements ever to sully a blog.

‘Don’t you get that there is a qualitative difference between lefty bloggers and everyone else?’

Get it?

All of my grandparents were involved in the British struggle against the Nazis in the Second World War, and my great uncle paid for it with his life. I would have stood with them given the chance.

But I don’t honestly believe they fought so that 60 years later friends of the communists could ‘not necessarily condemn’ violence against citizens for their political beliefs.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, Tim.

Fascists are not merely people who have different beliefs to me. In some respect and to differing extents, everyone else in the world has different beliefs to me. That doesn’t put them in the same category as fascists.

Then campaign to have their beliefs made illegal.

Ben

[troll]
The post seems to identify the BNP as so evil that normal concerns can be suspended. Why are fascists worse than Communists then ? Neither British versions profess a belief in slaughter and oppression but I cannot easily judge which is worst from the past. The SWP , for example , and the far left of the Labour Party advocate a “redistribution” of wealth that could only be accomplished by force and class warfare in a literal sense , as it always has been. The BNP advocate re-settlement of ethnic groups peacefully and we might well be just as cynical about their methods were they to achieve power
To some extent we all believe a country is an ethnically coherent entity or it is nothing . Certainly the Labour Party have been enthusiastically banging this drum . The BNP then are just extremists along a spectrum occupied by almost everyone in some sense . Similarly Communists are extreme version of all those who believe the state should intervene to a greater extent
What , then , is the unique evil of the BNP ? The problem is that by accepting there is such unique evil ,one is, by implication, accepting a taint of moral leperosy infects all and any Nationalist sentiment .
Furthermore the charge of “Racism” has now been applied so broadly that there can be no question that the odium reserved for the BNP will be used to attack entirely legitimate positions . That is the point of all this is it not ? The use of bogeyman to re-ignite the power of politically correct elite over allowable debate . Its all rather dishonest.

18. Susan Francis

I was inclined to agree with the post until tim f spoke up. Beating up the enemy can only play into their hands, besides being wicked in itself. The rest of this “debate” isn’t going anywhere but round in circles, but

To some extent we all believe a country is an ethnically coherent entity or it is nothing .

Absolute rubbish! England is defined by its history; ethnic coherence in the present day is irrelevant (and impossible). Many many places would be far better off if any attempt at “ethnic coherence” was abandoned right now, or sooner. Geographical and perhaps political coherence, sure. Ethnically coherent? What the hell century are you living in?

@douglas clark: What you’re saying in this thread makes perfect sense. What @tim f is saying indicates, as I see it, a really rather worrying mindset in which you justify to yourself violence or otherwise attacks against people because of their political beliefs.

@ac256: Well said.

Alan Thomas believes he has the right to designate specific people, identified by political belief, as less deserving of rights than others. It seems to me that makes him one of the bad guys.

21. douglas clark

ukliberty,

This is almost a classic CiF thread. Almost no-one, who are supposed to be the choir, agree with the author. Let’s see if Alan Thomas replies to the comments, beyond what he had to say at 2. Where he said this:

So… frankly I don’t care if the BNP falls to bits over this leak, and I simply fail to see why anyone else would.

Obviously we’d all be delighted if the BNP imploded. Which is a tad different from the frankly – what’s the phrase for it, oh yeah – passive aggressive approach in his original piece. Implosion is not explosion. Denying violence whilst writing about denying the possibility of it is an exquisite BNP tactic is it not?

So why did Alan Thomas say this:

I would not endorse or encourage acts of physical violence against anyone on the BNP members’ list.

Or, to paraphrase:

“I would not endorse or encourage acts of physical violence against Jews, homosexuals or asylum seekers.”

What could you , reasonably, accuse me of doing there?

And you would be exactly right.

Err, I’m not, obviously. The fact that I even need to apologise says it all.

Clever use of language, eh?

[troll]
Absolute rubbish! England is defined by its history; ethnic coherence in the present day is irrelevant (and impossible). Many many places would be far better off if any attempt at “ethnic coherence” was abandoned right now, or sooner. Geographical and perhaps political coherence, sure. Ethnically coherent? What the hell century are you living in?

I live in the 21st century not year zero. History is what defines the ethnicity of English , the Language we speak , has a history , the political assumptions we share have a history the religion music literature interior décor and breakfasting habits we share or do not have a history.
The past is not with us in any form other than carried by people . That is exactly what ethnicity is and without it a country is no more than geographical accident . .

Amway a ll I was saying is that the BNP are an extreme version of entirely typical and valid view albeit expressed in half digested pseudo science at times . The far left adopt a position with an equally bloody past . Why are the BNP , then so uniquely evil ?

23. douglas clark

Snny s tht y?

I have been heartened to see following this BNP business that there is more common sense and humanity in this country than I had thought.
I remember listening to Start the Week a while ago on which Alistair Campbell and Louis Theroux were guests. Theroux talked about a programme he’d made in which he met a white Afrikaans bloke, I forget his name, a dyed in the wool unreformed apartheid type. Despite this, Louis said, he liked this bloke and they got on well. Campbell remarked that it would have made him queasy to have to socialise with a person like this. Two personality types here. One sees human beings albeit as collections of varying traits, quirks, eccentricities, contradictions, inconsistencies, as whole human beings. Campbell’s is a polar, clear-cut, unambiguous world, where human beings are representatives of categories, principally two categories, People Like Me, and beyond the pale – the others, or should I tongue-in-cheek use that favourite faux-profound term so popular with the race obsessed – The Other – who is beyond the pale, and to whom, therefore, different rules apply. My diagnosis is that Alan Thomas is another representative of this type.

My principle concern over the legality of the list isn’t the data protection aspect. It’s the defamation aspect.

It’s an unsourced list, probably ‘leaked’ by a disgruntled BNP member. There have been a number of denials of those listed, including one person considering legal action. Publishing, or linking to the list opens you up for a libel action where you can be named as a co-respondent. The UK libel law is an arse, but a paperboy can be sued for delivering a libellous newspaper, a blogger can be sued for linking to it.

This list is of dubious heritage, we have no verification of its veracity, we know it to be at the very least out of date and some of the entries are doubtless erroneous. Pretty much anyone that’s in a position to lose their job over the publication could consider legal action.

Regardless of which, we are better than that and above such things. The way to defeat the BNP is to prove their fatuous arguments wrong and campaign against them at the ballot box. I went out doorstepping in a BNP held ward by election last month (they came 4th), that’s far more effective than linking to a dodgy document whose accuracy is disputed.

26. douglas clark

Trofim,

Well, you and I can see the distinction between whole people, wrong though we may be, and the cartoon comic book cut outs that other people wish us to be.

The word ‘correctible’ applies to the whole person but not, perhaps, to the comic cut.

27. douglas clark

MatGB,

I suppose neither you nor I ‘know’ that it is not just a function of a random number generator, or some such. I suspect, given that the BNP is not in denial about the list, that it accurately reflects their members or erstwhile members. Still, what you are doing is more to the point.

Regardless of which, we are better than that and above such things. The way to defeat the BNP is to prove their fatuous arguments wrong and campaign against them at the ballot box. I went out doorstepping in a BNP held ward by election last month (they came 4th), that’s far more effective than linking to a dodgy document whose accuracy is disputed.

Hurrah!

But the fight goes on here too. What are we to make of it? What are we to do about it? Maybe, join you on the doorstep?

Perhaps. But, these days, you can fight on the internet too. Was that not what the Democratic party taught us?

Was that not what the Democratic party taught us?

No. Obama taught us you can mobilise through the internet. The campaign was won through knocking on doors, telephoning people and delivering leaflets. The web got the volunteers in in order to do it.

By talking through our differences here (and highlighting our agreements), we’re moving closer to being able to campaign for something. But when the time comes, it’s coordinating the volunteers on the ground that’ll matter, and keeping them informed.

Nowt’ll ever be won through online work alone.

Douglas;

Bless you,I’ll come back to you properly tomorrow but rest assured that I agree with the Khmer Rouge no more than I agree with the BNP. Now don’t you be worrying about any encroachments upon those Fascists’ civil rights overnight, ok? 🙂

I think Alan’s point is – which I would agree with – is that we’re not taking their rights away or banging them up against legal process. We’re not Redwatch (and we dont come near it) and we don’t terrorise BNP supporters. But neither do they deserve any respect or leniency.

31. douglas clark

Voltaire’s Priest,

Bless you too. After checking my post code, I checked under my bed too. There wasn’t a fascist to be found. Slept the sleep of the just, so I did.

My challenge to you, should you wish to accept it, is that you are playing fast and loose with McCarthyite ideology and language. Which is not something I’m ever going to be comfortable with.

You’ll be aware of witches, I assume? It’s an easy thing to accuse them of being the spawn of Satan or somesuch. Makes you quite popular and right on. Doesn’t make you correct and neither does it, usually, come from liberals. Adopting the tactics of your enemy has the unfortunate side effect of making you more like them. As Nietzsche said:

When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

Could I suggest that a bit of nuance would do you well on a Sunday morning?

Millers’ “The Crucible” is a good primer.

Sunny

I don’t think anyone is saying that the BNP deserve respect or leniency, but, in the same way that Muslim fundamentalist terrorists deserve neither respect nor leniency, they do deserve the rule of law. The law has to apply to everyone or else it is not the law. If we don’t have a law that applies to everyone then we might as well all pack up and go home.

Also as I said on another thread, if this results in over all good publicity or sympathy for the BNP the, regardless of whether they all deserve to be outed (and whether they deserve and whether they should are two different things) it will overall be a goal to them and a kick in the teeth to the likes of me and you.

33. Alexis Kennedy

One of the problems is that there is no way to distinguish, by looking at the list, between

– fascists
– racists who aren’t fascists
– uninformed people who’ve bought into the ‘something must be done’ rhetoric
– people whose grip on reality is tenuous
– people who were one of the above but have since sincerely regretted their association with the BNP
– people who are on the list entirely by mistake
– any of the above who happen to be under eighteen

For that reason alone “beating up people on this list” is a bad idea. I think it’d be wrong, inconsistent and massively counterproductive, but the possibility of beating up some elderly ex-fascist or a teenager whose parents bought a family membership should make anyone sick to their stomach.

Douglas Clark 8.34

witches the spawn of Satan? I thought that was Daily Mail readers.

MatGB:
how effective was your doorstepping? Any data?

[troll]
Well in view of Sunny`s Nazi comments policy I am not sure he is a position to criticise the illiberality of any poltical group. He would say “Its my blog if you don`t like it fuck off”
They would say “Its our country if you don`t like it fuck off” . I `m pretty sure they say exactly that all the time actually .All of which proves , as we have always suspected, that the venomous authoritarian streak in the progressive element is one to be feared and resisted . Free to do what we tell you sums it up.

Personally I find that sort of intolerance abhorrent on all sides although it leaves me a pleasing sense of superiority and vindication.. 🙂 Yummy

Akela;

This is highly unlikely to result in good publicity for the BNP; when shoved into the public eye they invariably make fools of themselves and this occasion appears not to have been an exception thus far.

As for “the rule of law”, they’re not being shoved into Guantanamo Bay, you know… I really find it quite odd how so many usually diffident online liberals (I’m not necessarily referring to yourself here), usually concerned with Westminster tittle tattle or carbon emissions policy, seem to have become exercised over someone pulling a mean trick on the BNP. Personally I can’t somehow bring myself to care if the fascists are upset, and yes it’s because they’re fascists. And yes, that political label does mean, imo, that they do not merit the same standards of respect that other political ideologies or parties do. Sorry, it’s just that I’ve got a thing about fascism… I think it’s really bad…

“Do you people not get it”
I can understand the why some people consider BNP members so beyond the pale that they don’t deserve basic rights, even if I consider them to be dangerously wrong.

But how, on a self-consciously ‘liberal’ site, do you not see that the joy of seeing the bastards get their comeuppance conflicts with the liberal ideal that everybody should be free to hold their own views, and group together in parties to propagate them?

The advantage that we have over the far right isn’t that we’re stronger or more vicious than them, but that we’re in the right. If we abandon that, we may as well give up politics too, and join a street gang instead.

[and that’s the last you’ll hear from me on this. I’m going to step away from the LC for a few days, because I’m feeling more frustrated and inarticulate each time I look, and I’d rather spend my day doing something more productive than muttering obscenities at the screen]

Sorry to be blunt Dan but the difference is that whilst you’re concerned to feel that you’re doing the right thing, were the situations reversed they’d be shipping you to a labour camp. And no, I don’t consider active anti-fascism to be “the same as a street gang”. Unless you’re an outright pacifist who would never (on principle) fight over anything, then I’m sure you do actually believe that some conflicts are just and right. I personally believe that the sheer poisonous nature of fascism means that it must be stopped.

And again I’m sorry but it takes a certain ivory-tower loftiness to think that the BNP and those who actively oppose them are essentially the same (“street gangs”). One group are fascists, with all the attendant political history of race baiting and genocide, the others are not. That is a real and qualitative difference.

Douglas, it’s hardly a matter of “nuance” to distinguish the BNP from Jews, gay people or any other oppressed minority. One set of people are a collection of groups that are oppressed and marginalised because of who they are, the others are the political heirs of the National Front. A subtle difference I grant you, but one that’s key to my point.

The BNP are not an oppressed minority, they despise oppressed minorities. Therefore I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t get all teary at their predicament.

As for the book, I daresay it’s fascinating. However it evidently doesn’t help one to perceive the obvious when it’s staring one in the face, so I’ll pass for the time being.

40. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs)

You can either spend your life oscillating between nervous introspective freakouts and smugness as you attempt to never demonstrate “double standards” and keep your oh-so-precious liberalism pure.

Or you can decided what your ideology actually comes down to, in terms of political philosophy and ethics and then decide whose side you’re actually on.

Double standards are occasionally inevitable, and never more so when you are fighting fucking fascism.

Beware of becoming what you fight, but do not let the fear of this prevent you from fighting at all.

“Unless you’re an outright pacifist who would never (on principle) fight over anything, then I’m sure you do actually believe that some conflicts are just and right. I personally believe that the sheer poisonous nature of fascism means that it must be stopped.”

Exactly. I’ve nothing against pacifists, but they would have let the BUF pass in Cable Street, as would many of the wimpy libs – and of late the blustering reactionaries – who post on this site.

#33 (Alexis): yes, the list would likely include those people. However there’s nothing to stop people treating the list as a starting point and doing a bit more research, and only attacking a subset of people within the list that doesn’t include teenagers, people who’ve publicly renounced the BNP etc.

#8 & #14: “When there is a breakdown in law and order – like Kristallnacht say – then the gloves come off. We are nowhere near that.”

Where do you draw the line? When is it enough like Kristallnacht to merit action?

Currently migrants are forced to endure an apartheid welfare system, dragged from their homes at dawn, locked up, abused & forcibly deported because of their nationality. This came about because fascists agitated for it, were able to get their ideas accepted by the mainstream.

That’s the context. They’ve already made serious gains to their agenda that cause very real and very serious hurt. Debating with them didn’t stop them. If anything it just accepted their viewpoints as legitimate differences of opinion and served to integrate fascists into mainstream politics.

So just arguing against them didn’t work – we need to organise against them. For me the primary means of doing that is by supporting migrants’ struggles directly, but if someone else is going to do that by attacking the BNP members who agitated for this situation in the first place then I won’t stand in their way.

Newmania- you really are an idiot aren’t you! Authoritarian to boot- especially with this demand that you and your mates be allowed to do whatever you want on someone else’s property (their website). Incidentally what do you think of Messrs Guido and Dale when they argue exactly the same case about their websites- are they totalitarians or are you just an incoherent prat with spaghetti for brains?

On the main point are there not two questions here:

one is theoretical. If I beleive in the right to privacy- then I have to beleive in that right for everyone. I think that the comparison to Al Quaeda is a good one- I would not support the publication of a list of Al Quaeda members in the UK, nor would I support their condemnation on the internet or a newspaper. I would want court actions where they have done something illegal- the same applies to the BNP. Beating up the BNP on the street is about as sensible as beating up Al Quaeda on the street- it risks confusing the guilty and the innocent and also puts in jeapordy one of the main principles of our state- that it is better to punish people with a court and a judicial process than via a moment of mob fuelled hysteria.

the other is practical. What else would publishing the list or going round beating up the BNP do but confirm that they are under attack. Forget them- the real issue is getting those who support them to realise what a pathetic bunch of idiots and criminals the fascists really are. The issue is getting into Burnley and Blackpool and all sorts of other areas and changing the lives of the people who live there and convincing those who vote BNP that a vote for the BNP is a vote for hopelessness. I’d like for instance us to run exposes on how BNP councillers have done when they have actually governed things- how ineffective they have been- that would hit the BNP far more. Imagine a leaflet about the BNP’s record in the councils they have got close to running or even a leaflet about the BNP’s pernicious ideology. This seems to raise the problem that Hitler profitted on in the thirties- that you could have a society where the BNP are hunting the left and the left the BNP, the extremists win with the offer of a violent solution to restore peace- and whether that’s Hitler or stalin- the result is a disaster.

Alan I understand your argument that the BNP are different- and Sunny is right, we have to argue with them and show no quarter- but the reason I suspect that argument is that whilst I think the BNP are different, I’m unsure where the principle of this takes us- for instance if the BNP are bad, what about the Monday club, should we beat up them? is there a case to go round doing vigilante things to paedophiles, to radical Muslims (members of Hizb ut Tahrir for example) or radical Sikhs- where does this principle stop? As someone said above- I’ve been told I would be killed under a regime led by various leftwing organisations that would ‘rub out the bourgeoise’- should they be beaten up? The test should be a legal one- and its for us to argue (not with the BNP but with their supporters) until we are blue in the face- we do have the advantage of being right and to prosecute them when they have done something illegal. Anything else I think undermines our central cause (which is the central anti-fascist cause) of equality before the law.

I was going to write a longer comment but Steve, above, has covered most of the main points I was intending to raise in response to Alan and tim f.

I’m not a thoroughgoing pacifist, I agree that sometimes direct action is called for (and, re. Col. Richard, Cable Street was probably one of those times). However, I can’t see what beating up people on this list would achieve except making militant anti-fascists appear just as thuggish if not more so than BNP members.

Following up Steve’s post, I’d also like to ask “where does this stop?”. Is it just the BNP that are so evil that their members are fair game for attacks, or does it move on to the Monday Club, UKIP members, Tory activists, Right-wing libertarians etc etc? In response to tim f‘s post in particular, do you consider anyone not in favour of uncontrolled immigration an enemy?

@38. You keep coming back to the point that “well, the BNP would do the same to you and worse.” Liberals are meant to be better than fascists, and this is no more than a schoolboy logical fallacy.

45. douglas clark

OK.

Alan Thomas @ 39,

The point you chose to argue against isn’t even the point I bloody well made. You are using the language of the right, with a clearly different agenda. But is still their language, not ours. As you don’t read books I recommend to you let me put it this way. In 1950s America fear of Communists reached fever pitch and folk were marginalised, impoverished and forced into exile by a Senator McCarthy. This was, for a while, seen as an acceptable way of dealing with dissent. It was a cause celebre for the left and I am a tad surprised that you hadn’t heard of Arthur Millers’ The Crucible, but there you go. In other words witch hunts are not a route I wish to pursue.

Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs) @ 40,

Double standards are occasionally inevitable, and never more so when you are fighting fucking fascism.

Really? If you’ve completely lost any moral compass, sense of perspective or faith in the democratic process then fine. Akela answered your points pretty concisely:

“I don’t think anyone is saying that the BNP deserve respect or leniency, but, in the same way that Muslim fundamentalist terrorists deserve neither respect nor leniency, they do deserve the rule of law. The law has to apply to everyone or else it is not the law. If we don’t have a law that applies to everyone then we might as well all pack up and go home.”

I have little to add to that. If they break the law, throw the book at them. But what applies to them, applies to you too.

And then:

tim f @ 41,

Frankly, it is difficult to know where to start. Perhaps no-one should proceed on the basis of your ill thought out ideas whatsoever. Yes, that seems to me to be the best answer. Otherwise they are simply consenting to vigilantism, which is never a good idea. It’s a bit like seeing Judge Dread as a role model.

Douglas – on an earlier thread Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs.) described him/herself as a “revolutionary socialist” not averse to violence.

So I assume s/he is a student.

And you also have your answer.

“Following up Steve’s post, I’d also like to ask “where does this stop?”. Is it just the BNP that are so evil that their members are fair game for attacks, or does it move on to the Monday Club, UKIP members, Tory activists, Right-wing libertarians etc etc? In response to tim f’s post in particular, do you consider anyone not in favour of uncontrolled immigration an enemy?”

Sigh.

I have consistently.said that fascists are entirely different from Tories, UKIP members etc. That’s been the very kernel of my argument and it’s a point several other people have made too. The whole point of what we’ve been saying is that fascism isn’t just a difference of opinion – it’s a whole thing in its own right. It’s not part of a sliding scale of political opinions.

I think anyone in favour of restricting immigration is wrong. I’m happy to accept that at the moment I’m in a minority – only 2% of the population agree with me. But it’s fairly clear that there’s a difference between being in favour of some restrictions on immigration and being a fascist.

48. Alexis Kennedy

@timf: “owever there’s nothing to stop people treating the list as a starting point and doing a bit more research, and only attacking a subset of people within the list that doesn’t include teenagers, people who’ve publicly renounced the BNP etc.”

Even were that possible, I don’t think it’s acceptable to commit physical violence against (for instance) a dyed-in-the-wool fascist who keeps portraits of Nazis in his living room. But I don’t see how it’s possible to distinguish with ‘a bit more research’ between

the classic BNP Burnley ‘asylum seekers go straight to the top of the council house list’ voter

from

a teenager flirting with fascist chic for shock value

from

an enthusiastic BNP supporter who’d like to see anti-war and pro-Islamic campaigners beaten up for ‘treason’.

I suppose if the research went as far as interviewing the listies, interviewing their neighbours, requiring them to repudiate their beliefs publicly and so forth then you could; but I imagine you’d strongly oppose that kind of deliberate and systematic invasion of the privacy of the potentially innocent…wouldn’t you?

@Steve: “What else would publishing the list or going round beating up the BNP do but confirm that they are under attack”.

I couldn’t agree more. It is our great good fortune that we’re dealing with a small number of basically incompetent home-grown fascists. We’re not fighting Hitler or Mussolini or even Jorge Haider. We should continue to let them discredit themselves, not allow them to distract potential supporters by ceding them territory in the civil liberties backlash.

“and if you think they would have the slightest concern for your rights were the situation to be reversed then you are utterly deluded.”

If they were in power they would no doubt be rounding up people and without any trial sticking them into labour camps. They might get into gassing and medical experiments as well.

So of course it follows we should do exactly the same to them, in as much as it lies in our power to do so. (That was said with heavy sarcasm).

Look, I think part of the problem is that we’re dealing in abstracts here, which makes it all the more difficult to figure out where the line is being drawn.

I end up reading some people arguing against Alan and agreeing with them, and then agreeing with Alan. We’re vague and general enough so it all makes sense to either side.

Unless we put specifics on the table this conversation could go on for ever. Would I deny BNP members the right to due course of the law even if (in their utopian world) they could deny it to me – no I wouldn’t. That’s why I like living in a liberal democracy and they don’t. Dan, I don’t think there’s any need for you to get disappointed or sad. I still see that we’re all on the same side.

Alan: “whilst you’re concerned to feel that you’re doing the right thing, were the situations reversed they’d be shipping you to a labour camp.”

This is completely irrelevant (and possibly false depending on what you mean by ‘were the situations reversed’).

It seems to me that the whole thing is pretty straightforward:

1. the law is and ought to be that it is illegal to publish the list, I think everyone would agree with that?

2. whether or not we approve of people publishing the list is irrelevant, the list is unavoidably out there for anyone who wants to see. (Which makes the law fairly irrelevant as it happens.)

3. violent acts are sometimes justified, for example if the BNP were close to power, but at the present moment we’re far from that. There is a genuine question of where do you draw the line, and the historical success of fascist takeovers of government suggests that most people would act only when it was too late, but regardless we’re far from that time right now.

tim f: “Currently migrants are forced to endure an apartheid welfare system, dragged from their homes at dawn, locked up, abused & forcibly deported because of their nationality. This came about because fascists agitated for it, were able to get their ideas accepted by the mainstream.”

I agree that the system is very bad, shockingly bad in fact. But beating up BNP activists won’t change that. They didn’t cause this state of affairs, they’re not a significant enough force for that. Standard right wing racism and parochialism was enough to do that.

So here’s a question for everyone: how do you feel about using the list for focussed non-violent anti-fascist actions? For example, just going round to the houses of people on the list and talking to them. As long as it’s non-violent, I don’t see any objection to that. Indeed, it seems like an excellent idea.

No Dan it isn’t “irrelevant”, it’s central to the point. Sorry to be blunt (and apologies in advance if I’ve made the wrong underlying assumption here), I always find that it’s very easy to take pure and entirely abstract political positions from the comfort of a safe distance. That’s not particularly a criticism of you, it’s an observation that would also apply to me in many situations.

The reason I say that is to emphasise the point that these people are a real threat to the welfare of vulnerable individuals and families nationwide, and especially in deprived working-class areas. It’s those people whose rights primarily concern me, not fascists’ “right” to operate in secret.

I’ve explicitly refused to endorse violence, that’s a red herring, nuff said on that point.

Finally, actually no I don’t happen to think it’s an absolute principle that political parties’ membership lists should not be matters of public record. I think there are arguments both ways, and especially so in the case of ones such as the BNP. Imagine if you will that the Green Party’s membership list had been published instead of the BNP’s. I don’t agree with the Greens, I’m not a member of theirs. Nevertheless they’re a legitimate political party, with legitimate contributions to make to political debate in the public sphere. What would their reaction have been if their membership list leaked? They might have been pissed off. People might have discovered that the local mobile phone salesman is a Green, or whatever. But… I can’t really picture Derek Wall going on national TV raging about “acts of treachery”, Caroline Lewis making dark and vengeful threats against whoever published the list, nor indeed petrified hippies fretting that the disclosure of their Green Party membership might get them the sack. Why is that, ask yourself?

Political affiliation is not a private affair like religious belief or sexual preference. It is something that exists precisely to enable the individual who takes that affiliation to be able to affect the world around them. And if someone chooses to become a fascist I think that means that they have chosen to affect the world in a deeply malevolent way. So I won’t be getting all upset on the BNP membership’s behalf at the publication of this list.

Gas chambers and medical experiments KB? Jeez that’s a bit radical innit? 😉

Douglas, ok so you think it’s McCarthyite not to be upset by the appearance of this list. The whole point you’ve missed about McCarthyism was that there wasn’t really a Communist plot to take over the nation. The BNP really are in operation on estates in the UK. And actually yes I would also make a distinction between even a Stalinist organisation like the CPUSA (even were they in a position to win a US election, which they aren’t), and fascists.

If you’re comparing my stance to that of McCarthy, then you surely should look at yourself in the context of 1930s liberals who wobbled and compromised whilst fascism advanced. Put like that, neither picture is very attractive, is it? Ergo, I’d suggest that it might be an idea to look at the issue of fascism itself rather than making spurious historical comparisons.

No.

these people are a real threat

Some of these people are alleged to be members of an organisation, some of them are a possible threat.

Not all the thugs on estates are BNP activists, and not all BNP activists are thugs. In addition, not all of those listed are members, let alone activists, and not all actiivists will actually be members.

You are asserting that this list is accurate and thus all the people on it should be condemned, fired from positions of responsibility, etc. I’m summarising, feel free to correct me on what you’re trying to say.

I am asserting that you have no way of validating this list or testing its veracity. In addition, some will be dupes, some will be unwilling members, some may have been signed up against their will or without their knowledge.

Assuming accuracy is insane. Assuming all listed, even if members, are active thugs, is an interesting position (most party members, in most political parties, are inactive, armchair members after all).

I look at the issue—some of the addresses on the list are within 5 minutes walk of where I live, the next town up the road is one with one of the highest concentrations per capita in the country, and we’re active there fighting them.

We are better than them. If we descend to their level, they have won.

Can’t you see that?

The BNP say the list is valid and more or less up to date, Matt. It’s a matter of public record.

Actually you’ll find a remarkable correlation between “fascist” and “thug”. I’ll grant you the terms are not synonymous, although I have yet to meet a nice fascist whom I fancied going for a curry with. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky though.

If we do nothing, sit and wring our hands, they will continue to grow and salami-slice away those very civil rights that we hold so dear.

Can’t you see that?

Alan, The BBC says

Nick Griffin did confirm the list was largely accurate but gave himself a get-out clause. He said some non-members’ names had been added to create mischief.

Which concurs with other reports I’ve read. “largely accurate” is not “100% correct” and there are definite cases of non-members on the list.

And of course I see that we can’t do nothing. That’s why I’m actively involved in politics in an area where they’re very strong. We have to effectively fight them. That doesn’t mean “do anything that damages them” as you seem to think, as that isn’t effective overall.

The list is out there, it shouldn’t be, but it is. It may or may not be accurate (it definitely isn’t 100% accurate), and there are better, more effective, methods of fighting them.

Like actually campaigning, on the ground, which is why the ward of Dewsbury East elected a BNP councillor in 2006, but they were reduced to less than a third of that vote in the recent by-election when that councillor resigned. And a lot of that is to the credit of both the Labour and Lib Dem candidates fighting them hard on the real issues in a ward that had previously felt neglected.

I can only claim a teeny amount of credit for that, but I was there campaigning on election day. And I’ll be doing more to fight them and fellow travellers like the English Democrats next time around.

Don’t try to lecture me about the dangers of doing nothing. Instead take on board the point that not everything we can do either should be done or would be effective.

I want to defeat them by showing the voters that we’re better than them, and they’re a bunch of useless incompetents. I don’t want to defeat them by forcing them, and their views, into hiding where it festers and comes back worse in a few years.

They gain ground in areas that feel neglected. The best way of stopping them is to make sure that no area is neglected. That’s one of the reasons I’m involved in electoral politics, one of the reasons we need to change the system.

Listing them on the internet achieves a lot less than fighting them at the ballot box and showing how useless they are. Welcoming a breaching of several laws because it makes them look bad makes you look just as bad.

And I won’t be a party to it. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of contributors to this site and commenters seem to get it—what’s actually causing you to not?

58. douglas clark

Alan,

No. I think you are using right wing tropes and language to argue a left wing case. And as several other people have said to you we are better than that. When did I ever say I was upset about this list becoming public? I think it’s hilarious. Neither did I imply that you should be upset either. A pox on them. Try reading my post at 6 again.

To summarise, throughout this thread you have argued that because the BNP are a bunch of bastards who would have little or no compunction about treating us Conspirators in an awful way then we should treat them that way too. Frankly, that is more likely to damage our side than it is theirs. We tend to stand for things like equal treatment under the law, and annoying as it might be to some of us, that actually means what it says.

The vast majority of voters remain completely isolated from the BNPs prescriptions and arguing that we should, even at a tactical level, be more like them, is absurd. And would alienate sensible people. Christ, even the BNP realised that it’s streetfighting image was holding it back. Fortunately they can’t seem to overcome their own incompetence.

I got to the second paragrah and I read:

“Fascists across the country have been crapping themselves at the prospect of being called to account for their views, especially if they work in “sensitive” jobs such as police, doctors or teachers.”

Evidence please. Defecation might be how a scaredy cat liberal would respond, but I would expect a true racist thug to flex his muscles and go and thump someone.

I note an interesting comment in the Sunday Times. I quote:

“The Home Office attests that membership of the BNP and other racist groups is a singularity in that it brings officers into direct conflict with the Race Relations Act.”

I would like the Home Office to state their position regardng membership of the NBPA (National Black Police Association).

J Bell, Manchester, United Kingdom

It would seem fair that this organisation should be balanced by a National White Police Association, but I know what the response would be to this logical suggestion.

Douglas – I wish you were right, I reallly do. However this is politics and not a medieval chivalraic tale. It’s a dirty business, and not everyone plays by the rules: the far right have proven this time and again, in examples that you and I could cite to each other well into the middle of next week.

I think part of the problem here is, as Tim pointed out, that several people seem to misunderstand the difference between fascism and mainstream politics, seeing the BNP et al as simply residing on the end of a right-wing landscape running in linear fashion from the Orange Book Lib Dems, through the Tories and UKIP, and ending up on the far right. That simply isn’t the case; fascists are not just another group with whom decent progressives (or indeed indecent Tories) would disagree – they represent a qualitatively different, and more dangerous, political tradition. There isn’t room in the public sphere to have a reasonable debate with them, because when push comes to shove they don’t do reasonable.

I’m glad to hear by the way Douglas that you too were tickled by the release of the BNP membership list. What’s exercised me is the sheer idiocy of the responses (and this has not been exclusively from people who would describe themselves as “liberals”) whereby people seem to have had an outbreak of heart-warming concern for the civil rights of racists, whilst simultaneously forgetting every face and name whose life has been ruined or ended by the far right or its influence over the past seven decades. I think people need to remember that we are not neutral arbitrators sat balancing the scales of justice over politics, but actually active participants in the political process. That means picking sides.

Alan, I don’t see how it can possibly be relevant. You keep saying that it is but I don’t see the connection between how they would treat us if they were in power and how we should treat them given that neither they nor we are in power. As others pointed out, if you apply the same logic to other scenarios it’s obviously wrong.

About the legal thing, isn’t it illegal to publish because of the data protection act rather than because party political membership is secret? So the legal question is about the data protection act and whether it’s acceptable to publish data about people which they had assumed would be private.

I would like the Home Office to state their position regardng membership of the NBPA (National Black Police Association).

AFAIK – the NBPA doesn’t have a ban on white people being part of their org. But their aim is to represent the interests of black officers. The RRA prohibits orgs to deny people the right to join based on their race. The BNP doesn’t comply with that….

Dan I’d refer you to the comment immediately above yours. Fascism is a unique political phenomenon which necessitates action on the part of democratic political activists to prevent its rise. It’s also the case that we’re not (as you seem to be trying to be) neutral arbitrators isolated from the body politic – we’re within it. That necessitates taking a decisive stand against fascism, as well as realising that fascist groups are not just political groups which happen to be slightly to the right of the Tories or UKIP.

I’m trying to phrase this next point carefully and non-pejoratively, but I really don’t see how much more explaining I can do about why we shouldn’t extend democratic courtesies and considerations to those who don’t respect them for others, still less about forces likes fascism which are anathema to democracy.

Can Sunny give any examples of the BNP being prosecuted for “being racist”? Which actual section of the RRA would be used? My understanding is that the RRA originally gave people rights at work, and through the activities of public bodies. It was later amended to include making most if not all public bodies responsible for promoting inclusive policies. I’d like to see examples of the kind of show trial which would inevitably ensue if a political party was prosecuted for the crime of “holding views”.

AFAIK – the NBPA doesn’t have a ban on white people being part of their org.

That’s brilliant! I wonder how many non-black people are in it. Any stats? I must say that the conjunction of “Black ” and “Police” is somewhat suggestive. I’m sure they didn’t intend it to be. Might it be a good idea to give it a more representative title?

“That simply isn’t the case; fascists are not just another group with whom decent progressives (or indeed indecent Tories) would disagree – they represent a qualitatively different, and more dangerous, political tradition.”

You keep saying this (and you keep using “fascists” to describe BNP members) but repeating it over and over again doesn’t make it true.

I’d wager (as Alexis at #48 suggested) that only a small proportion of the BNP members on that list are true fascists, and a lot more of them are the old “they’re coming over here, taking our jobs and council houses” types. Racists, maybe – but not Fascists. Or are the two inseperable according to your definition of ‘fascist’?

68. Alexis Kennedy

If we do nothing, sit and wring our hands, they will continue to grow and salami-slice away those very civil rights that we hold so dear.

Alan – what specifically is it that you propose that we do? You say “I’ve explicitly refused to endorse violence” so we’re not talking about that. You say “I can obviously understand that there are legal concerns about publishing the list, and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to face prosecution for having revealed the list in public.”… so I *think* you’re not arguing for publication of the list.

As per #50, without specifics this thread is punching mist.

Trofim – the reason why the NBPA was set up was because of the level of institionalised racism within the organisation that they worked for. They needed something that would help help them specifically. Perhaps in time to come this organisation wont be needed because there will be a level playing field within the police forces. Keep in mind that it was not that long ago that being a young black man in this country meant that you would be stopped by the police. My friends and I were ALL stopped and questioned many times for no other reason than our colour – none of us have police records. Now being a BME and joining an organisation like that is a big deal and I can understand them wanting an organisation that would look after their interests.

But just because we have the NBPA doesn’t make it right that we have the racist organisation that is the BNP. BME’s are a minority in this country, a minority in all political groups, and have for a long time felt disenfranchised from government and politics, but there isn’t a black equivalent to the BNP.

This arguement about the NBPA has been trotted out as a regular arguement for the BNP by the BNP and its supporters. But it completely fails to take into account the institutionalised racism that was prevalent within the forces. If the Police are there to protect the community then surely the least we can ask is that this organisation does not harbour racism – which is another arguement for not allowing membership of the BNP for those serving.

The BNP is still an organisation of racism – they have a colour bar on membership – they have tried to soften that image but they remain a nazi party. If their members get prank calls, threatening letters in the post etc then good. I don’t want to see the rise of these nazis from the skinhead scum they used to be to suit wearing respectable nationalists that they are trying for. I have seen this happen in parts of europe and so far we are not at their levels, and so I’m happy for their members to now think a little bit more about what membership of the BNP really means.
The list is out, released by one of their own, so there is no point in argueing over the merits of privacy. Now its just a cse of what to do with the lists.

’d wager (as Alexis at #48 suggested) that only a small proportion of the BNP members on that list are true fascists, and a lot more of them are the old “they’re coming over here, taking our jobs and council houses” types.

Like Phil Woolas you mean?

No, Phil Woolas is an opportunist.

Given he is actually in a position of power, is that any better?

Well you give me a better explanation for how politics actually works then. Any reference to Dr Who is an instant fail.

Sorry, but invoking the “that’s how politics works” clause to justify unprincipled and opportunistic behaviour by our politicians is a “fail” in itself. He didn’t have to say those things – it was his choice and he deserves to get called on it.

A moment ago you implied he was a racist. Now you agree he’s an opportunist. Do you really know what you think, or are you just another time-waster?

” I would not endorse or encourage acts of physical violence against anyone on the BNP members’ list. But frankly if the publication of this list results in these sickos being driven out of politics completely then that would leave me unequivocally delighted. They are a poisonous presence on deprived estates across the nation, and they are a malignant parasite upon politics in the working class. ”

Dreadful, simply dreadful. ‘I wouldnt support violence but if others did it I wouldnt really mind an awful lot’. This is not a strategy for political engagement, it’s a strategy to promote lynch-law to the point where it is an acceptable political strategy. The more the BNP are persecuted the more credibility they gain in the communities you are concerned about which feel alientated from the mainstream in the first place. Simply put your strategy of ‘driving the BNP underground’ would suit Nick Griffin down to the ground….

Fundamental rights for everyone unless they have been convicted, or are reasonably suspected of committing, a criminal offence. It’s quite simple, and it’s one of the things that makes me one of the good guys. It doesn’t matter whether ‘the BNP’ would extend the same courtesy to me or not.

And if you’re talking about actual dangers, on a national scale, there is an organisation more dangerous to our rights and freedoms than the BNP.

UKLiberty, you live in a very scary world, but I think most of the scariness is in your head. I fear the ones who are certain they are the good guys. I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.

I’m trying to phrase this next point carefully and non-pejoratively, but I really don’t see how much more explaining I can do about why we shouldn’t extend democratic courtesies and considerations to those who don’t respect them for others, still less about forces likes fascism which are anathema to democracy.

Alan, I do agree that fascism or racism is not simply a difference of opinion. My objection to the publication of the list would be due to concern for those names on it who were not actually BNP members, not for the privacy of those who were and I think the point you made about the Green Party was a fair one.

The question arises then of whether we should, as you say extend democratic courtesies and considerations to those who don’t respect them for others. It’s a question that has not just arisen in the context of the BNP – it arose previously in respect of the efforts to silence Sinn Fein and arguments about the use “shoot to kill” tactics against the Irish paramilitaries. It’s an argument I often see nowadays in relation to Islamic terrorists, suspected terrorists, and their sympathisers.

My view is that if you have a strong democracy then it can withstand the existence of those who want to destroy it without denying them the benefits of democracy itself. If they try to overthrow democracy, or subvert its operation, by force or other illegitimate means then we rightly have laws against this and can punish them accordingly. Likewise if they try to put into practice their more repugnant beliefs they will find themselves outside the law.

The question then arises of what if they actually gain support and try to put their anti-democratic ideas into practice through the medium of democracy itself, ie does allowing fascists to be elected give them the right to enact fascist policies? Well no, because in a democracy there are still constraints on the actions of those who are elected to positons of power. Personally I would like to see a new constitution and bill of rights so those constraints are clearer and better defined but it would still be virtually impossible for the BNP to put its fascist agenda into practice even if it somehow managed to get into power. I’m also confident that their ideas will always be sufficiently marginal to prevent this ever happening at a significant level.

That doesn’t mean we should be dismissive of the threat they pose – even if they don’t get into power they can influence the agenda of our mainstream politics in a way which is poisonous to our society. I wasn’t entirely joking with my reference to Phil Woolas above. Therefore it’s right that we should fight them, ridicule them, ensure they are marginalised. By all means ensure there are laws in place to make sure they abide by democratic norms themselves. But let’s not take the law into our own hands.

A moment ago you implied he was a racist. Now you agree he’s an opportunist. Do you really know what you think, or are you just another time-waster

I don’t think it makes any difference whether he made those remarks because he’s a racist or because he’s an opportunist. FWIW I’m sure it was the latter but that doesn’t make it ok.

Martin, fair point.

Martin,

UKLiberty, you live in a very scary world, but I think most of the scariness is in your head.

What’s scary about my world?

Then I am entitled to ask Andrew, why you went for the slur, in order to score a point in a debate. Woolas is not here to defend himself. Your motive was questionable to say the least.

UKLiberty, you’re growing on me.

Martin, he’s a government minister – his public pronouncements are fair game and he has plenty of platforms to defend them. Don’t try to portray him as some kind of victim. His comments were a disgrace and he knew what he was doing when he made them.

DArrel: Simply put your strategy of ‘driving the BNP underground’ would suit Nick Griffin down to the ground….

No I don’t think it would as he has been striving to market the BNP as a non racist nationalist organisation. Hence a lot of people on various message boards saying that some BNP members don’t really understand their core beliefs.

On the list on of their members said he would not be renewing because he didn’t like being told not to wear his bomber jacket. Absolute proof that the leaders of the BNP have been trying hard to rid themselves of the old skinhead image. Griffin wants them mainstream with a softer image to be able to gain more members – he doesn’t want the old Oi Skinhead thug image and he doesn’t want to have to go ‘underground’.

Ace,

He would simple potray the BNP as ‘victims’ and get more traction that way…in fact, because one of the USP’s of the BNP is being ‘anti-establishment’ what could be better from Griffin’s point of view than to come under sustained attack from the establishment??

“Currently migrants are forced to endure an apartheid welfare system, dragged from their homes at dawn, locked up, abused & forcibly deported because of their nationality. This came about because fascists agitated for it, were able to get their ideas accepted by the mainstream”

Tim F – then you should be condemning the party that implemented such policies. That’s right – the Labour Party. The idea that they were bullied into it by fascists is laughable. We have seen the Labour party stoke up fear of immigration to defend its ID Card scheme and to appease the Murdoch press. I would discrimiate against Labour party members for helping to sustain a party that behaves in such a fashion. They can hardly plead ignorance, can they? I wouln’t employ a Labourite and if it came to light that one of my employees were a card carrying Labourite he would be out the door in the double quick time. Fortunately it is not illegal to discriminate against people for holding disgusting political beliefs.

Darrell – I understand where you are coming from but there will be some on that list who think twice before renewing membership and some who will not now join because of all the publicity. Hell, even the scummy Sun newspaper kind of came out against them.
Obviously there will be hard core supporters who will see the outcry as an attack and it will bring them closer together. But those types will always hold those views.
Its the newer members, the ones that have been seduced by the softer image and nationalistic rhetoric that I think Griffin will not want to lose. And I honestly think the outing of the list will most affect them.
Griffin can cry victim all he likes, but he will not be sitting with all those outed members holding their hands telling hem not to worry about a possible knock on the door or dodgy phone calls. And I think a bit of good political manouvering on the part of Lab/Con etc may sway them back. I think its hard to say you are not a racist when you are a BNP member, and some havd done just that on messageboards, and who wants to have to keep justifying that position to friends, family, work mates etc.

Forgive me, I have to pop out now and buy an Evening Standard, to celebrate Mr Gilligan’s stunning victory.

I will try to come back here when I get the chance, but you must remember I’m not here for you just to try out your pet theories on. I have a much more serious job just now, running the internet …

“UKLiberty, you live in a very scary world”

I would have thought that UKLiberty was expressing a truism, that fundamental rights are for everyone. If they are not then they can scarcely be called fundamental, can they? The indifference to political violence expressed by some posters here I find very disturbing and may even constitute indirect incitement to commit criminal acts.

Ace,

The fact is that how individuals react will be down to them; some will react in the way you suggest but others, offsetting this trend, will react in the way I suggest. I would suggest that initial reaction will tend your way then, when the inevitable backlash begins, it will swing mine. People who are not necessarily ‘hard-core’ will develop a toughness and actually go out their to advocate their politics, so in the long run it could create more ‘hard-core’ activists.

The winning back you take place is only going to take place if a dialogue is actually opened and any meaningful dialogue will not be opened by people who want to ‘drive the BNP underground’. We have to say fine; these are your ideas, this is the party you support; that is your right but we think you are wrong for x, x and x reason.

“I’m trying to phrase this next point carefully and non-pejoratively, but I really don’t see how much more explaining I can do about why we shouldn’t extend democratic courtesies and considerations to those who don’t respect them for others, still less about forces likes fascism which are anathema to democracy”

I am struggling to see why we should extend democratic courtesies to a thug like you Alan.

so really its kind of a good thing that the list is out there as it means the BNP now have to defend their core beliefs as well as the newer softcore policies that they are putting about.
I just find it hard that we are expected to have a dialogue with people who were literally chasing me down the street, ready to cave my head in, not that long ago.
I do think this country has taken great strides in dealing with racism over the last 20yrs and I think it is as much to do with that than anything else that has resulted in the BNP coming up with a new softer image. People know that in the main, out and out racism such as there was in the 70s/80s will not be tolerated like it once was.
The problem arises when the far right get that nice new softer image and begin to get more and more votes. And you can see that across europe. Then it becomes even more difficult to fight.
Sometimes I think you have to call out people on their core beliefs just so that everyone is completely clear about what they really stand for. Now no BNP member can say that they didn’t know what those core beliefs are. I don’t think anyone wants to drive them underground, I think its more a case of making clear to all what they are really about. If they feel the need to be a bit more covert then I really don’t think we should worry too much as they are even less likely to pick up many new members acting in that fashion.

I have no doubt that this episode will increase the BNP member numbers.

I’m just wondering why noone here is talking about why people join the BNP? Pretending it doesn’t exist will not make it go away.

Ace:

I just find it hard that we are expected to have a dialogue with people who were literally chasing me down the street

You’re not. Directly. There are undoubtedly always going to be a few thuggish morons about, just as there are still SWPers and similar—extremism has an appeal to the young and stupid.

The important thing is to ensure they never get (or keep) electoral power. To do that you have to rebut their claims and dispute their policies, openly, to the electorate that are tempted to vote for them (frequently sucked into believing their lies that they’re not racists, etc).

That idiots go out and campaign for the crap is bad, but that they gain votes from people that believe their lies is worse. Make sure that people in the area they’re campaigning know the truth, and highlight their incompetence when they do get elected, and you can stop them getting anywhere—which frequently means they go away and lose impetus, monentum and members in the areas they’ve been strong.

They’ve managed to get Cllrs elected in a number of wards around here in the past. To my knowledge, not a single one has been re-elected. The one they did have they managed to expel as he went against party policy.

Lilliput – they join the BNP because they are A) the racist England for the white English types or B) becuase they have listened to the immigrant/nationalist arguement, but don’t consider themselves or the BNP racist – the I’m not racist but……..variety.

Will their membership increase? I think maybe not after the list outing. Its not like the listed have been saying en masse ‘so what, I’m not bothered’.

I had a chap I know tell me a few months back that the BNP aren’t against black people anymore just ‘those muslims’ which he believed, and he used to be NF back in the day. Now he’s saying he’s glad he didn’t join as he wouldn’t have wanted to be on the list as he’s not racist?! Will he vote BNP – maybe. Will he become a member and pay his subscription – no. Less members means less income and that alone has to be a good thing.

MatGB – I have never had to run from SWP/Commies/Greens or any other ‘political party’, other than to sign some petition or other, and then that’s more of a body swerve than an outright sprint! In fact, I have never even heard of any other political party doing the things that the NF/BNP have been guilty of.

I am struggling to see why we should extend democratic courtesies to a thug like you Alan.

Yes Stephen, I’m clearly a thug and a dangerous man because of my unwillingness to speak up loudly and passionately for fascists’ rights…

I am struggling to see why we should extend democratic courtesies to a thug like you Alan.

Yes Stephen, I’m clearly a thug and a dangerous man because of my unwillingness to speak up loudly and passionately for fascists’ rights…

Is sarcasm.

100. the A&E Charge Nurse

Couldn’t agree more, Lilliput.

The aftermath of the list debacle will not alter (to any great extent) the reasons why a certain percentage are drawn to political extremism – same goes for religious fundamentalists, of course.

It seems one or two commentators here think that PRINCIPLES can simply be treated as a matter of convenience (to be abandoned whenever it suits).

By all means have one set of rules for one group and another set for others but the cost I’m afraid is that you make yourself a laughing stock, exemplified by risible claims that the data should be made available in “the public interest” – presumably, once the embarrasing “public interest” argument is found wanting, then another fig leaf will have to invented, won’t it.

Of course there are many other unpleasant elements in our society but the law is there for a reason – a law moulded by the dominant political affiliation of the day (either left or right) would be an umitigated disaster in my opinion.

Those that attach such great importance to the list remind me of catholic parents who think their kids won’t be shagging if they avoid talking about sex, or switch of racey films on channel 4.

Essentially there will always be a tension between principles and practice. The key is to moderate both.

102. the A&E Charge Nurse

Moderation – a bit of weasel phrase, isn’t it ?

Can we not simply call a spade a spade ?

In this case it would simply entail drawing up a list of those political or religious groups that WE find undesireable – surely it would be easy enough (for us) to decide who amongst them has trangressed the unwritten law ?

Hey presto, we can then publicise any data we like while invoking the scumbag line of defence if any of the extremists complain.

What is there not to like about such a righteous scheme ?

the A&E Charge Nurse, do I know you? I used to be called Weasel at school.

104. Alexis Kennedy

I’d like to know exactly what other rights a confirmed fascist is supposed to have forfeited besides the right to privacy. The right to fair trial? The franchise?

Are there different degrees of fascist, or is this a political version of the one-drop rule?

Alexis, questions like yours shouldn’t be aired here. They are too difficult for a Lib Dem blog.

106. the A&E Charge Nurse

If you went to a Grammar school in the north, then quite possibly, Martin.

No, comprehensive school in Bushey, Herts. Just wondering because I hadn’t heard the word in years.

I see the imbecile failed at reading comprehension as well. “Martin”, for the umpteenth time, this isn’t a Lib Dem blog. Why don’t you climb back underneath the bridge?

Beyond that, what Alexis, the Charge Nurse et al have been saying.

*clicks the manage subscriptions links to unsub*

“Yes Stephen, I’m clearly a thug and a dangerous man because of my unwillingness to speak up loudly and passionately for fascists’ rights…”

Yes, you are. Your tacit support for violence against BNP members is truly shocking and you should be ashamed of yourself. This is a liberal democracy in case you had forgotten. That means we are governed by the rule of law, which also extends to fascists. The irony is that there are people on the extreme right who care as little as you for the rights of their political opponents.

Lilliput – they join the BNP because they are A) the racist England for the white English types or B) becuase they have listened to the immigrant/nationalist arguement, but don’t consider themselves or the BNP racist – the I’m not racist but……..variety.

Ace, as good as that statement makes you feel by saying it, is as bad as the effect it has on what you are trying to achieve. I believe that people join the BNP because they are scared of losing their country, their culture and their genes (if you like) to a host of international immigrants through time. They unite to strengthen their ideology and to fight for a culture they believe is being eradicated. Its not a matter of racism but of survival. Sorry I’m not familiar with the immigrant/nationalist argument but if you try and tell BNP members that they have been fed lies and nothing is changing – they will laugh you off the pulpit. There are concrete facts to support both the positive and negative aspects of immigration.

It might be ok for you for the face on Britain to change but there are obviously people who are quite proud and happy with what it used to be. Unless you can really understand their feeling and make them feel secure in their place in Britain, they will only get more fearful and therefore more dangerous.

Your tacit support for violence against BNP members is truly shocking and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Presumably Stephen you decided that I offer “tacit support” for violent acts against BNP members on the basis of… my explicit and repeatedly stated opposition to violent acts against BNP members? I refer you once again to my initial post:

“I would not endorse or encourage acts of physical violence against anyone on the BNP members’ list.”

Put more simply, I’m firmly against violent acts being perpetrated against BNP members because of their political views. I fail to see how much more plainly I could put it. I am though in favour of the political demise of the BNP. They contribute nothing to the liberal democracy that you profess to love, and indeed in my view are an actual bar to both liberalism and democracy in whatever form I, at least, would understand them. That and, I have a thing where I’m more concerned for the victims of racism than for its perpetrators. I’m quirky like that.

112. Alan Thomas

A & E – all laws are moulded by the political affiliation of the day, they’re passed by a political body of political actors. We may agree or disagree with them but that’s a fact.

Alan, I am glad that you are firmly against the use of political violence. Perhaps if you had said that unequivocally in your piece in the first place, I and others would not have needed to pick you up on it. Given the tone of your piece, your profession not to ‘endorse or encourage’ rather implied that you wouldn’t be too bothered if a few fascists were beaten up. As for being concerned about the victims of racism, would not that involve actuall being concerned for the victims of racism, rather than pontificating about the BNP. This Labour government has been quite happy to exploit race and immigration concerns to push its authoritarian agenda. Such concessions to racism have strengthened the BNP. Labourites bleating about Labour having deserted the ‘white working class’ are rather more of a threat than the BNP, as they legitimise far more than the BNP ever could, a climate of racial division, when we should be talking about class division.

I think the argument you’re making is a red herring to be honest, Stephen. It’s quite clear that I was never advocating violence. I think actually trying to retrospectively justify an unsustainable claim that I’m a “thug”.

You didn’t advocate it but it did look like you wouldn’t mind if it happened.


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