The left needs to confront the root causes of BNP support


9:50 am - June 11th 2009

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This article is by author Paul Kingsnorth

The response of the British ‘left’ to the depressing sight of Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons grinning like spoilt children on the election podium on Sunday night seems to be dividing into two broad approaches. The first is attack, the second denial.

The first approach was illustrated nicely by the egg-throwing, car-kicking, insult-chucking attack on Griffin yesterday by Unite Against Fascism. The left can’t agree on much, but it can always agree that it doesn’t like fascists, so it feels good and righteous and very simple to shout and throw things at them. But, entertaining though it is to see Nick Griffin pelted with yolks, he is no longer a fringe baddie; he is an MEP, and he represents people. It may be hard to stomach, but it is a fact that nearly a million Britons voted for his party last week.

Pelting elected representatives with eggs and shouting down their press conference has the effect of making the BNP look reasonable and the egg-throwers look, well, a bit fascistic in their keenness to silence by force the views of those they don’t agree with. Any approach which makes Nick Griffin look reasonable has to be judged a pretty dismal failure.

Approach two, which is currently panning out in any number of articles and blogs, is to deny that the BNP victory in the Euro elections matters very much. To convince yourself of this you need to say things like ‘well, their vote actually fell in the northwest, you know’, and ‘the BNP only won because the Labour voters stayed at home’ and ‘it was a protest vote against the political elite.’

This can then be followed up with a comforting lefty analysis of the BNP showing, which explains that the real reason that nearly a million people voted for them (and many more voted for UKIP) is that ‘the left’ (which in this context means the Labour party) has abandoned ‘the white working class’ and that what is needed now is some kind of ‘new left’ party or project to fill the gap. In other words, millions of people voted for right or far right parties because there weren’t any convincing lefties to vote for.

This curious analysis is simply a form of self-deception. For a start, the BNP vote increased markedly at this election: from just over 800,000 last time around to over 940,000 last week. Secondly, as Jon Cruddas explained succinctly this week in the Guardian, this was not just a ‘protest vote.’

Everyone knows the BNP are a racist party – that fact has been emblazoned on the front pages of every newspaper from the Sun to the Telegraph for weeks. People who vote BNP are not just sticking it to the The Man because of his expense claims – if they wanted to do that, they could vote UKIP or Green or some other non-mainstream but also non-racist party. People who vote BNP are saying something very specific about the state of the nation.

Judging from the response it seems that the left finds what they are saying too uncomfortable to talk about; hence the playing down of the vote or the attacks on the party itself.

Unfortunately, it’s not the BNP who are the problem; it’s the million people who voted for them. It seems pretty clear to me that those BNP votes were votes cast against immigration – or at least immigration at current levels – and the fracturing of communities and identities that immigration is causing, particularly in the northern English towns where the BNP vote is highest.

Some in the Labour party – Frank Field, for example, and Cruddas and a few others – have been warning high command, and the wider left, for years about the resentment and hardships caused by the unprecedentedly high levels of immigration over the last decade; about the crowded schools and hospitals, about the job market and about the cultural, almost existential, conflicts which result in some areas from communities with very very different values living uneasily side by side – and in many cases failing to mix.

Add to this a housing crisis, a recession and a growing hatred of the mainstream political process and what do you get? The former head of the National Front elected to office.

The BNP vote, to me, seems like a cry of anger from a significant section of Britain, which feels disenfranchised and ignored – but also feels that its very identity is under threat. In this sense, the BNp vote is not just an economic protest, as the left would have us believe, but a cultural one. The unfortunate rise and rise of ethnic and religious identity politics in Britain over recent years – the bastard child of an official ‘multicultural’ approach to community life which has focused on our cultural differences rather than our common citizenship – is now spreading to sections of the white English population. Those who live in economically distressed areas and/or areas where the various ethnicities are not mixing but ghettoising are starting to articulate their concerns in terms of a threat to their identity and culture – which the BNP is quite deliberately focusing upon, playing up and sometimes helping to create.

The left doesn’t like talking much about the downsides of mass immigration – especially its cultural aspects – because it fears playing to racists, and it assumes that providing opportunities for poorer people from elsewhere in the world is the duty of a rich nation like Britain. Both are perfectly reasonable positions in themselves, but ignoring the real resentment caused by mass population transfer over the last decade has been a disaster.

The last ten years have seen levels of inward migration probably unprecedented in British history. They have also seen the BNP’s vote rise tenfold. In my view, the UK is probably the least racist country in Europe, and the vast majority of people are not and never will be interested in the racial politics of the likes of Griffin and Brons, any more than they were convinced by the (much smarter) Oswald Mosley. But if that is true, it only makes the million BNP votes the more worrying.

We have two fascist MEPs in the UK today because the real world impacts of large-scale immigration on the British population have been ignored for too long. The left has a lot of responsibility to bear for this situation. I don’t think that most people in this country believe, as Griffin and co do, that there should be a ban on all immigration, and I certainly don’t believe that most people are racist.

But they do believe, rightly or wrongly, that immigration levels are too high, that too little attention is paid to the needs and feelings of communities hit by high immigration levels, and the multiculturalist approach has priveleged minority identities over the identity of the majority.

The solution? If you were to ask me I would say that dividing us into majorities and minorities is part of the problem, and that we need a new kind of cultural politics in this country which sees us all as one people – one nation – rather than an overlapping and often competing collection of ethnic interest groups. I would say that we should focus on cultural integration and a shared sense of our Englishness (and we are mainly talking about England) whatever that might mean to us.

I would also say that we need a national debate about immigration, and that immigration levels need to be broadly supported by the public.

The good news for the left is that a debate about immigration is also, at root, a debate about capitalism; mass immigration is a function of the neoliberal ‘flexible labour market’ which is excellent news for corporations and often very bad news both for migrants and settled populations. What we all need to agree on is that a policy of silence on the root causes of soaring BNP support is no longer an option.

—————–
Paul Kingsnorth is a writer, environmentalist and poet. He has written widely for publications worldwide. His new book, Real England, is published by Portobello. http://www.paulkingsnorth.net

Cartoon by Matt Buck.

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Reader comments


1. Mike Killingworth

A couple of initial thoughts.

First, you are quite right to say that this is a very serious problem indeed, as evidenced by the fact that a fascist party can get nearly a million votes without a charismatic leader, normally held to be the absolute precondition of such a party’s going anywhere. The reactions of denial and/or “let’s do better anti-racist sloganeering” are at least as dim as anything Gordon Brown has ever done. And we all know how dim that is.

In fact, the size of the problem is far greater than the million votes. In the recent Yougov megapoll, on issue after issue the UKIP voters were closer to the BNP than they were to either the Labour or Conservative voters. A leader who could detoxify the BNP brand and merge it with UKIP would be able to replace Labour as the opposition to the Cameron government. (There’s no doubt that the BNP wants an electoral pact with UKIP which, to its credit, is resisting the idea – so far.)

Second, I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk of this as a problem of Englishness. Sunny Hundal, Sunder Katwala (and I suspect most if not all our black and Asian MPs) identify themselves – indeed, the zeitgeist has complled them to do so – as Black/Asian British. The left has spent my adult lifetime promoting the idea of Black Britishness (whilst simultaneously dissing the Unionism without which there ain’t no Britishness) – without noticing that this necessarily has a corollary – White Englishness.

At the end of the day we have to have a debate about identity and integration, the latter of course being the elephant in the parlour. The Left has decided that integration is a purely personal matter for each non-white Brit individually, and we have taken a self-denying ordinance about seeking to influence their choice. Of course, neither the market-place nor the Right have taken a similar ordinance… just to start the ball rolling, I will tell (probably not for the first time on LC) my little story about the young Asian woman I met (on a creative writing course) about eight years ago, who was extolling to me the virtues of arranged marriages (done properly, of course) and how that cultural practice simplified her work-life balance. “You’ve sold me,” I said, “I can see what’s in it for you – if not for your mother – but tell me, will you do as much for your daughter when the time comes?” “That,” she replied, “is a very good question.”

At present our idea of anti-racism is that I, as a white, should by no means encourage her to answer that “very good” question one way or the other. None of my business… but perhaps it is, after all, if that million BNP votes aren’t to become two, three or even more.

2. the a&e charge nurse

‘I certainly don’t believe that most people are racist’ – I would modify that statement Paul, let me try and explain why.

If we go back to the UK of the recent past it WAS racist, openly racist, in fact.

Not only was racism commonplace on the street, and in the school playground, but there was tacit approval from the establishment, signified by programmes featuring the likes of Jim Davidson, or shows like “Love thy neighbour”, etc.

Over time these attitudes have changed, or at least been modified, although rather like an adult catholic who can never truly escape his religion these insidious, and nowadays unacceptable ideas still lurk deep within our the psyche.
Rationally we may have learnt to accept that racist thoughts are morally repugnant but at times of stress they can still surprise us, a la Ron Atkinson’s foul mouthed tirade against Marcelle Desailly.

In short, we have all been indoctrinated (to a greater or lesser extent) and racism will only have a chance to die out when the culture, or environmental conditions in which it flourishes dies out.

There is also another universal psychological mechanism which we see repeated time and time again – when the chips are down and we become angry (due t certain unfavourable social conditions) there is a tendency to externalise frustration, and we accomplish this by blaming other groups for our own misfortune.
The potency of such feelings are invariably magnified if the recipients are sufficiently different to ‘us’.

Otherwise I think you have produced a terrific item, one of the best in fact on the reasons why we are all talking about the BNP.

Shorter this article: “the first is attack; the second is denial; the thirds is to appease the bigots by kicking out foreigners”. Just because a small minority of arseholes are arseholes doesn’t behoove us to pay any attention at all to their arseholery.

Less sarcastically, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out to limited avail, the areas where the BNP perform well are not, as you’d expect if BNP voting was a reaction to high levels of immigration, areas with white majorities and large minority populations. They are areas with atypically low minority populations, well below 10% in all their top 5 constituencies this time round. In areas with 25% minority populations, the BNP perform badly among the 75% White British voters *because they know that immigration isn’t bad, isn’t threatening, and isn’t evil*.

The pattern driving BNP support is one of tabloid- and demagogue-driven ignorance, not genuine resentment in areas with high ethnic tensions.

i do wish people would stop making excuses for bnp voters. they don’t have to all be raving fascists calling for forced repatriation, but if they think race hate is a suitable tool for exercising their frustrations about immigration they have a perverse set of priorities. anyone with any respect for other ways of life wouldn’t dream of such a vote.

like you say its pretty much the same gang voting for them now as it was in the economic boom; people haven’t been pushed into this by circumstance they do it because they’ve always felt it. we don’t negotiate with terrorists and we shouldn’t chuck in a few token illiberal policies just to appease a fringe of lunatics; that would only be the most craven sort of electioneering.

5. Richard (the original)

“I don’t think that most people in this country believe, as Griffin and co do, that there should be a ban on all immigration, and I certainly don’t believe that most people are racist. ”

The Channel 4 poll put the figure at 61%.

It also highlighted that 27% supported with voluntary repatriation (and unless I’m mistaken, isn’t there already some sort of government scheme that pays immigrants to go “home”?)

Uncomfortable fact is that there’s a large number of people who, frankly, don’t like “foreigners” here. Question is, what’s the answer?

6. Richard (the original)

Superb post, Paul- at last someone on this site is getting it.

My wife is black and my children are therefore of mixed race. I always refuse to fill in the ethnicity form they bring home from school because I will not allow my children to become part of a statistical analysis that will then be used to shape social policy. The colour of their skin is irrelevant to me, to their friends and to the vast majority of our community.

Why is it important to the Government?

Racism only prospers when we allow emphasis on division based on superficial differences between us and when immigrants use evidence of such division to resist full integration into society. If we were truly non racist, we would have no one to positively discriminate in favour of.

But somehow I don’t think Sunny would like that.

“The BNP vote, to me, seems like a cry of anger from a significant section of Britain, which feels disenfranchised and ignored”

Precisely – and I don’t know why others don’t seem to get it – people from families which have been disenfranchised for generations and perceive that more help is given to others are bound be resentful. The BNP’s message of hate is, in these circumstances, likely to be extremely resonant.

However, I’m not so sure that immigration is as much of a problem as you suggest. Yes, people may feel threatened by immigration, but I suspect this particular strand of anti-immigration feeling is more a product of its role as an easy explanation for why people in our society have been left behind. The real reasons of course are highly complex social, cultural, economic and political factors.

http://petespolitics.wordpress.com

Its like a boomerang is,nt it.?
While your at it, the E.U.election results from Danmark and Holland should not be ignored. These countries have never been afflicted by nowhere near quiet the same percentage of poor ,disenfranchised whites as Britain ,but still a noticable shift to the right..
It seems that both the E.U. and Immigration were top of the agenda in both countries.
The Danes were not to happy about the European courts reversal of part of Denmarks immigration laws or. the nation wide street riots two years ago,after three Muslims were arrested,for attempting to assasinate,Westergaard,the “Mo” cartoonists.
As for Holland, being as it is–still Holland for the moment–well most of it,anyway, the crime statistic of extreme violent crimes among 15-25 year old Muslims being 32 times higher than the indigenous average ,does not bode well for social-cohesion.

Why just the left – don’t all non-fascists need to confront the causes of BNP support?

What the left needs to do is quit the economic illiteracy that is all about sharing the pie not growing the pie. BNP voters resent sharing the nation’s wealth with foreigners. They are thinking in the terms of left wing economics. In reality, the extra foreigners – when they are allowed to work – add to our prosperity. They create as many jobs as they fill.

I’m not saying there are no issues, or that borders should be thrown open. But I am against the suggestion in the article of capitulating to the anti-immigration hysterics.

How old is your average BNP voter? If it is a cohort that are not too far away from the grave anyway, and who only now appear because no-one else turned out, then we might be able to wait them out.

“if they think race hate is a suitable tool for exercising their frustrations about immigration they have a perverse set of priorities. anyone with any respect for other ways of life wouldn’t dream of such a vote.”

@ghoulardi
That may be so, but I don’t think that simply explaining away BNP votes as racist is adequate. In order to counter the threat, we need to understand – and I certainly do not mean condone – why people have racist tendencies in the first place. Their racism is unlikely to be a product of nothing and my guess is that it is a product of a poor education and entrenched social disadvantages.

http://petespolitics.wordpress.com

I dunno, Pete, I think racism is a fairly ordinary trait in most cultures. I am sure it had survival value at one time or another.

Nick, even if we assume that racism is an inherent part of being human, we would still have the question of why some people are able to overcome their racism while others aren’t. I also think it highly unlikely that racist voting would be so concentrated in specific areas if there were not more complex factors at play.

Of course, I don’t deny that there will be a hardcore of committed racists who are like that just because they are pretty dim.

http://petespolitics.wordpress.com

I think racism is a fairly ordinary trait in most cultures

Indeed – have you guys been to Japan?!

I don’t believe the “left” will be able to counter the BNP successfully because (in general) they appear to regard *any* opposition to immigration as de facto racism.

See the abuse that Frank Field often comes in for. Perhaps he is racist, but I doubt it.

If you go round telling people that their legitimate concerns are nothing more than “racism” then you can understand why they might not hold back from voting for a racist party.

And yes, you are generally talking about – hopefully talking TO – people who are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

16. journeyman

Nick@(11)
Taking just about every concievable news report ,book.article and analysis ever printed on the subject over the last 50 years–those not all that far from the grave,might just be the lucky ones , Nick.

I think what is “natural” is a human tendency to adopt tribally-based identities. This can be based on race, but just as easily based on any other factor.

It is touched on here in looking at the differences between what liberals and conservatives consider to be moral senses.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

Hi Paul,

What is “the shared sense of our Englishness” which both the minority who vote BNP and the majority who don’t could agree on? Just saying Englishness is “whatever it means to us” isn’t much help – supposing I think that a core part of being English is being anti-racist and tolerant of different religious faiths, and a BNP voter thinks that it is about being white and Christian – what’s the common ground?

19. Mr. Feathers

“Taking just about every concievable news report ,book.article and analysis ever printed on the subject over the last 50 years–those not all that far from the grave,might just be the lucky ones , Nick.”

Why not shoot yourself in the head, then, and give yourself release from the woes you supposedly have?

Thanks for all your comments here.

I think it is actually quite important to de-couple the issues of race and immigration. The left seems to have trouble distinguishing between race and culture these days (as, indeed, it does between race and religion). Many recent immigrants have been eastern Europeans – white caucasians, like most British people. Resentment against them has bred BNP votes too. It’s not the simple old 1960s ‘keep Britain white’ agenda.

The left has no answers here because the left, in my view, has rendered itself completely unable to discuss intelligently the cultural identity of the majority of the English population. The left is excellent at talking about and defending the identity politics of minorities, and is happy to cheer Celtic nationalism, but it sneers at or ignores the identity, history and meaning of the English. For decades the lefty response to talk of Englishness is to spit out the word ‘racism’, either as a fear or a direct accusation (as if Englishness were a racial identity.) As one poster on here has pointed out, ethnic minorities have been encouraged to see themselves as ‘British’, the corollary being that Englishness and whiteness are the same. Very good news for the BNP.

The reality is that just as many ethnic minoritiy communities, and Scottish and Welsh people, have a need for a sense of identity and historic culture, so do the English. This identity is currently being undermined at every turn, by the global economy and by mass migration. Many English people feel threatened, almost existentially. Who do they turn to? No one will talk to, or of, them. Only the BNP speak of the English people, who they are and what they feel they are losing. The BNP, it seems to me, have identified a universal need for culture, meaning, sense of place and history amongst the English, and have tacked onto it their own racial narrative. This is appealing not because millions of English people are neo-Nazis, but because nobody but the BNP speaks to them of who they are.

The left still doesn’t get this. It prefers to cruise along with its time-honoured arguments about race, multiculturalism and the evils of the (British) Empire without updating its ideas. The reality is that many English people feel their very identity is under threat. Denying or attacking that identity is not a solution, and is also fundamentally undemocratic. Until lefties can extend the same hand of cultural understanding to the English as they do to the Muslim community, black Britons or SNP voters, then they will get nowhere with the increasingly disenfranchised English, and the BNP will continue cleaning up.

When I was in a debate last week with someone from the BNP, I was told that British was a national political identity – while English was an ethnic identity.

I don’t see how a geographic region could become a national identity, but none of my Asian peers see themselves as English as in ‘I’m proud to be English’… but some do wear the St George’s top or fly the flag during football. So it can be half-appropriated into a shared cultural identity.

But given that being English has traditionally been defined as an ethnic identity, that is why I suspect many people like myself see ourselves as British than English (I’m not fussed either way, but I’m not Scottish).

On the subject of the article – I think there is a fair bit to agree with, but some to disagree with. I particularly agree with the point made by john b that many of the votes for the BNP have been in areas where the ethnic minority population isn’t that high.

I’ll respond to this article in about a week’s time when I’m back from my break. I need a break. heh.

“How old is your average BNP voter? If it is a cohort that are not too far away from the grave anyway, and who only now appear because no-one else turned out, then we might be able to wait them out.”

lol. At my sixth form there were about 10 BNP voters I could name off the top of my head, perhaps ten or so more I couldn’t. In fact, in the run-up for the London Mayoral that was basically the only party you heard people say they were going to vote for (the only person was Boris).

This post is a mixture of very strong stuff & questionable things. There’s definitely a problem: I can go from the area I live where you can walk through a park without seeing a non-white twenty minutes or so to one in the middle of a council estate where you can barely see a non-Somalian. Another twenty minutes & I’ll hit an Asian district, beyond that a Polish one. This is not a healthy development.

Self-segregation is better than state segregation, certainly, but it’s still leagues away from the ideal. We need to merge Britain.

We need to merge Britain

Indeed.
A task which would be made somewhat easier if the number of newcomers could now be kept down, wouldn’t it?

Sunny – enjoy your break and get some sleep.
No 3am blogging!

25. Rob Knight

Sunny @ 21:

But given that being English has traditionally been defined as an ethnic identity,

I’d like to see a source for that. Seriously, I think it’s nonsense. ‘English’ mostly means ‘from England’ and England is a place, not an ethnic tribe. It’s a cultural and civic identity, not an ethnic one.

The psychogeographic reasons for this are pretty straightforward. As the largest cultural unit in the British isles, the English culture has been relatively safe from external threat for its entire existence. The traditions of English culture mostly revolve around place rather than tribe, because there was never any great need to defend the ‘tribe’. The borders of England have been remarkably stable for centuries, in contrast to the borders of continental European countries. The European experience is one of constant danger of conquest and cultural extermination, simply because conquering [bits of] continental Europe was a lot easier than conquering England. For this reason, European cultures developed stronger ethnic identities as a means of cultural self-preservation, something never necessary here.

This is what so upsets me about the current state of English identity. It has largely been abandoned by what I’d see as ‘my kind of people’ and has been left to the racists and cranks. I suspect this is because most liberals/lefties/whatever bought into the post-WW2 idea that national identities were toxic, ignoring the fact that a positive national identity, based on place rather than ethnicity, was something worth maintaining. In the meantime, the national identity has basically been colonised by the racists, to the extent that we can’t seem to have a national conversation about identity without making everyone very uncomfortable.

26. journeyman

@ Mr.Feathers

” Why not shoot yourself in the head ,then, and give yourself release from the woes you suposedly have “.

Ha , well thats one of the hidden fringe benefits of Islamization–where I live there,s an extraordinarily good chance some “cultural enricher “, will do the same for me as several other people.
No only would that save me the price of a bullet,but also all the bother involved in trying to figure out a bolt hole ,on the way to the supermarket.

Sunny –

yes, this the the point. The BNP’s current line (updated, I suspect, to deal with the reality that even the most romantic neo-Nazi doesn’t believe any longer that ‘sending them all back’ is a realistic possibility) is that Englishness, Scottishness and Welshness are ethnic identities alone, and that ‘Britishness’ is a catch-all political identity which takes in everyone else in the country.

This is dangerous – but it has come about precisely because the Establishment line for decades has been pretty much the same. What you say of your Asian peers is interesting. I know people of Asian origin who consider themselves to be English, and the numbers are increasing over time, but the mainstream view still accords with that of the BNP – you can’t be English if you ain’t white.

This is dangerous and wrong. We need a civic English identity into which non-white English people can buy. I say ‘we need’ – we have one already, really, in the sense that Englishness is open to anyone who chooses to claim it. The question is why do many don’t. Create a multiracial sense of Englishness and the BNP is spiked. Look at how the Scots have done it; admittedly with a much lower ethnic minority population. It is possible. But it first requires us to discard the most separatist aspects of ‘multiculturalism’ and focus instead on integration.

DonPaskini –

for me, Englishness is here for the taking. Look at how the Scots have made Scottishness a cultural but not an exclusively ethnic identity. Englishness is our history, our language, our landscape and the sum total of what we do here. Above all it is a desire to feel English, and to belong to a culture which has a long history and deep roots. Why is it common to talk of Black Britons but not black English people? There are all sorts of historical reasons, but there’s no reason this can’t change. If it doesn’t change, non-whites in England will never truly feel they belong here, and whites in England will feel the same. We need to start focusing on unity instead of division.

the fracturing of communities and identities that immigration is causing, particularly in the northern English towns where the BNP vote is highest

With respect, and as someone who has been on the receiving end of the “very legitimate concerns” of these people about immigration – this article is pure tripe. It is not immigration that is fracturing communities and identities. Immigrants have strong senses of community and identity but this in itself does not cause white working class people to lose theirs.

This article is another “blame it on the immigrants” rant and it’s depressing that the author even calls himself left-wing. I know he is an English nationalist but somehow I don’t see that as translation into apologetics for British nationalism.

“It is not immigration that is fracturing communities and identities. Immigrants have strong senses of community and identity but this in itself does not cause white working class people to lose theirs.

This article is another “blame it on the immigrants” rant and it’s depressing that the author even calls himself left-wing. I know he is an English nationalist but somehow I don’t see that as translation into apologetics for British nationalism.”

Not a fair comment, Rayyan. In fact, precisely the kind of comment I was criticising.

I’m not blaming anything on immigrants. I’m pointing out that millions of people do, and that this narrative needs to change. I am also pointing out that immigration is a live issue, that its impacts are real and often unpopular and that if you can’t take people with you on an issue as big as this, you will see a reaction. We have seen that reaction now and it is dangerous.

To be honest, I don’t ‘call myself ‘left-wing’ much these days, because ‘the left’ is increasingly clueless on so many things. I prefer to call myself a radical, and I think we need a radical narrative about identity and belonging. I think we need unity rather than division. I have a lot of experience of ethnic minority communities as it happens, and I agree with you about their strong sense of identity; I also agree that this doesn’t make English people lose theirs. I think many English people lost theirs some time ago for many reasons (not just or even mainly immigration, as it happens.) Now a lot of them are angry and are lashing out.

I don’t have any sympathy with anyone who was stupid enough to vote BNP last week, but I do think we had better understand the reasons why they did. My question to you would be: what is your approach? Would you argue that immigration levels are not even an issue? Would you prefer to respond by throwing eggs? We have a lot of divisions growing in this country and we need to start talking about what we can do about them – without either ‘blaming the immigrants’ or pretending that very high immigration levels are not even an issue.

Standing happily outside of this, can I just ask how “united” your England is, anyway? How’s the old “North/South divide” coming along? Mocked any “brummies” lately? And how about the worzel-brigade in the south-west?

Just to flog some anecdotal stuff which in no way qualifies as data – I lived in Yorkshire for four years, and they certainly weren’t impressed with “poncey southern gets” – and I gather still aren’t.

And on the other hand I’ve met plenty of “Londonistas” who, although seemingly perfectly well educated, doing sensible, responsible jobs, were incredibly ignorant of life outside the M25.

[You wouldn’t believe the number of folk from the south-east you can still sell the “haggis run around on hillsides” myth 🙂 ]

If indeed, “Englishness is our history, our language, our landscape and the sum total of what we do here.”, then you’re going to have to sift through a lot of crud, and set aside several fish suppers’ worth of chips on shoulders to get to something ‘unfiying’.

And that’s not even starting to mention “class”…

(Quick digression, assuming we’re going to categorise, the Victorians – far more accurately, I reckons – recognised that there were “Working Classes”, rather than this giant, often inappropriate, catch-all [post-Marx?] “Working Class” label…so why do people persist with the simplification? Just wondering)

Cheers from a “what happened to the BNP & UKIP up here, eh?” Scotlandshire 🙂

Englishness *doesn’t* exist in the way Scottishness or Welshness do (even though in both cases, much of the culture is a recent creation based on invented 19th-century romanticism and bitterness about being ruled from England). There is a shared identity between people from Swansea and Holyhead that simply doesn’t exist between people from Cornwall, Yorkshire and London.

The kind of Englishness that English Nationalists talk about is a regional, suburban, southeastern-to-south-Midlands, identity. It’s Orwell’s stereotype of old maids, warm beer, cricket, etc. It has zero relevance to at least half the people in the country – including many of the BNP’s heartlands.

Scotland, Yorkshire, Cornwall, London, Merseyside, and old Lancashire are real places with real identities. The UK is defined by its common language, its experience with industrialisation and empire. But England just reflects the outcomes of some battles that some kings had a very long time ago.

Very high immigration levels – I know the Daily Mail has a wide readership, but the fact is that this government has never had stricter controls on immigration than it does now. How about those immigrants and asylum seekers who are detained? How about the children of immigrants who are also detained? The problem is that rather than challenging the dominant narrative of “immigrants running riot over our sweet land”, you’re buying into it. Based on what?

I think many English people lost theirs some time ago for many reasons (not just or even mainly immigration, as it happens.) Now a lot of them are angry and are lashing out.

This, for me, is the issue. Let’s start talking about this and either help immigrants achieve the sort of economic security many of them came to this country for, or leave them alone. Let’s disconnect that issue from the fact that lots of Somali/Polish/Asian people are now in the UK, with the fact that lots of ‘indigenous’ no longer have a cultural identity. It’s possible these ‘disconnected’ English could even learn from immigrant communities things they have forgotten all of their own accord, such as the value of community, the importance of cultural traditions, bilingualism and internationalism. Conflating these issues is precisely what the BNP do and it doesn’t help if others do it too.

As for the eggs, the BNP are racists. They would’ve got the air time and the coverage anyway. The actions of UAF deprived the BNP of using the backdrop of Parliament for their conference. The dominant message coming out of that episode, for most people (i.e. not the sorts who either vote for the BNP or claim not to be members/sympathisers but will still write comments in support of them on online forums), will be that the BNP are still despised and not everyone accepts them as mainstream.

There are many issues affecting ALL working class/poor people in the UK these days: housing, the NHS, jobs, services, and so on. It’s not just the white working class who suffer. So let’s deal with those issues and then we will take away any possible “legitimate” reasons the author is ascribing to those who voted for the BNP to have done so.

Andy and John –

I wouldn’t especially argue that England is ‘united’ if by united you mean homogenous. But what does someone from Galloway have in common with someone from the Hebrides? I can’t the division being much less than that between Devon and Lancashire.

All nation identities are to some extent constructed/imagined, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real. Modern Scottishness is indeed a 19th century confection, as is the whole ‘Celtic’ mythos, but it seems to work as a unifying identity.

Andy, you ask what happened to the BNP vote in Scotland. I would hazard a guess that it didn’t materialise for two reasons. One: very low levels of immigration into Scotland. Two: a mainstream party (the SNP) with a nationalist narrative which recognises peoples’ need for identity and is also anti-racist and left of centre. I would like the same for England, and maybe we will get there one day.

Rayyan – your response is both patronising and ignorant, and proves the point I was trying to make in this piece.

Immigration levels over the last ten years have been at historical highs: fact. You focus entirely on helping immigrants achieve their ‘economic potential’ and your only response to the feelings of the indigenous community is to tell them to ‘learn’ from migrants. If the BNP were to stick your words on one of their election leaflets I don’t doubt it would help them increase their vote significantly.

If the left can’t do better than this, expect more fascist MEPs next time around.

Absolutely spot on comments from John B and Andy G there – I’m perfectly at home in the multicultural milieu of London and in my own cultural identity of being a Londoner and by extension British, although the latter is a collection of different identities rather than one, which is how culture and identity work.

James –

There’s definitely a problem: I can go from the area I live where you can walk through a park without seeing a non-white twenty minutes or so to one in the middle of a council estate where you can barely see a non-Somalian. Another twenty minutes & I’ll hit an Asian district, beyond that a Polish one. This is not a healthy development.

What is wrong with a city full of people of different colours, languages and cultural backgrounds? As long as they aren’t all stabbing each other, surely cultural diversity is a good thing. Or should we put a limit on the number of Asian takeaways in any given square mile radius in case it leads to “self-segregation” and “a loss of white identity”? Maybe we should ban all further Asian takeaways until there are enough traditional local English pubs?

I wonder how many people in any of these “districts” you have spoken to. You just see people of colour and assume they are segregated. How about you actually speak to them, conduct some research, and get to know what you are talking about rather than express fear over the fact that there are lots of coloured people in the capital?

For the record, I see an increasing number of interracial couples these days. Does that count as evidence that racial segregation is on the decline? Not really, but it’s as much evidence as your “I see brown/polish people everywhere”. What matters to me is that these people have the same opportunities in life here in the UK, regardless of skin colour. Except, they just get victimised and told they are to blame for racists getting elected, and overcrowded schools, and queues at hospitals, packed buses, etc.

Newsflash: there was a problem with underfunding of public services and class sizes long before the last decade. Let’s deal with the issue – not say it’s the fault of people who are given very little agency in the UK as it is. If you want to see more people “integrate”, try bringing them on board rather than satisfying bigots.

Paul, I think you’re indulging in your well-known habit of caricaturing someone’s response because it fits a certain stereotype. Try reading what I said. I didn’t say we should ignore feelings of disconnection among the ‘indigenous’ community – although frankly, the fact that you would use such a term is qualification for inclusion on a BNP leaflet, because Paul, I consider myself as indigenous to this country as someone with whiter skin than mine. Is a boy born yesterday more indigenous than me because his parents are white? What about third or fourth generation Asians? Or are we still just immigrants?

What I said was that their feelings of disconnection are an issue that we should talk about but one that should not be conflated with the arrival of more non-whites. Otherwise, all you are saying is that SOME white communities are justifiably disillusioned because they find people of a different colour living on the street. Does that sound radical to you?

I am not saying we should ONLY focus on raising the economic potential of immigrants – I say this is something we should do because NO ONE, especially not yourself, has advocated it. I am not saying the disaffected BNP voters should ONLY learn from immigrants – there are other things we can do for them, and things they can do for themselves.

Why are you trying to misrepresent my words? So someone disagrees with you and suggests your analysis is flawed so you intentionally misrepresent what they say in order to make their response seem invalid and “ignorant”? I hope this isn’t part of the English nationalist identity you want to see flourish.

Hi Paul,

If “Englishness is our history, our language, our landscape and the sum total of what we do here” then I think two key features of Englishness are about welcoming immigrants (who have been coming to England for hundreds of years), about embracing the change which comes from new technologies (from the Industrial Revolution onwards) and about collective achievements like the NHS.

After all, the majority (and an increasingly majority) of English people live, love, work and study with people from all over the world, and a national pastime is shopping in the supermarkets and shopping complexes which, um, you detest.

But if Englishness is pro-immigration and pro-shopping, then presumably it excludes the BNP supporters and excludes you. So what are the common values and common shared identity which unite you, me and a supporter of the BNP?

This is a vile post and a great example of what has given the BNP its chance. BNP voters are disgusting racists. Their views are not acceptable. We need those in power to stop telling them its OK.

That means no more references from politicians to “British jobs for British workers” and no more references to “mass immigration”. We don’t have “mass immigration.”

There is no immigration problem. There is a problem in the insistence of some people on blaming their own failures on others, particularly on people who are different to them.

It says above the comment form on this site that “misogynist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments will be deleted.” It’s a pity that racist and xenophobic posts are allowed. Stick this drivel where the sun doesn’t shine.

39. Shatterface

If you want to defeat the BNP you should start with dropping comments about ‘people blaming THEIR OWN FAILURES on others’.

Blaming people unemployed for reasons beyond their own control for their situation is GUARANTEED to drive them into the arms of the far right.

Who the fuck are you to tell them they are failures?

Rayyan –

well, it sounds like we’re both misrepresenting each other, doesn’t it? I can assure that that on my part it is not intentional. Perhaps we both need to watch our language.

If you don’t like the word ‘indigenous’, use another one; it doesn’t bother me. As I have laid out many times elsewhere, as nauseum, Englishness to me is a civic identity. if you feel English you are English, and if you are born here you are as English as anyone else. I regard ethnicity, and certainly race, as pretty dubious concepts anyway, and certainly mutable ones, but I think we need and have a sense of shared culture – precisely the point I am making here. I don’t think this is a common assumption on the left.

Secondly, immigration is a problem in the minds of many people and you need to do something about that. I’m not against immigration – it would be tricky for me to take that position since half my family are immigrants and I am descended from a recent immigrant myself. I do think however that numbers, and speed of change, are important factors, and that people have a right to be consulted about such rapid changes to how they live. If people are not happy with what’s happening they will react. And yes, you can bet that the tabloid and the racists will whip them up into a fury. Perhaps you are in favour of open borders? That’s a perfectly honourable position, but I happen to believe it’s wrong, just as I believe that the ‘no more immigrants ever’ position is wrong. Migration is as natural as the sunrise, but neoliberalism is upending everything, and many people are in crisis as a result.

Secondly, you are conflating immigration and race,and they are not the same thing, as I pointed about above. I am not making a point about race, I am talking about cultural upheaval. I don’t accept the existence of ‘white communities’; I think this is dubious language also.

Thirdly, I don’t know where you got the idea that I don’t support economically uplifting immigrants. You seem to be making some very unpleasant assumptions about me. I am interested in people being treated equally and fairly and having a fair slice of the cake, and I don’t give a shit whether those people are recent immigrants or descendants of the beaker people.

Don –

Sadly, as other posters here have pointed out, it seems that ‘welcoming immigrants’ is not a key feature of Englishness. I would like it to be, but if immigration is tied up with neoliberalism and its brutalities then this is unlikely.

But yes, Englishness and Tescos are probably pretty synonymous now, sadly.

I suspect you are trying to draw me into the ‘there’s no such thing as national identity’ argument, which we have had before. I don’t agree, as you know.

Chris –

thanks for making my point for me.

@Chris,

If I understand your post correctly, you are basically saying that the way to combat the BNP is to shame its voters way from supporting it by telling them they are disgusting racists and their views are unacceptable. I have to say, that strikes me as a long shot.

Rayyan’s comment that the existence of immigrant communities does not in itself fracture inidigenous ones looks a more promising starting point to me.

@Paul Kingsnorth – Dress it up in a lot of words – racism is still racism and still vile.

@Shatterface – who the fuck are you to talk to anyone like that? Nobody has the right to be racist, even if they’re unemployed.

Rob Knight @25:

The psychogeographic reasons for this are pretty straightforward. As the largest cultural unit in the British isles, the English culture has been relatively safe from external threat for its entire existence. The traditions of English culture mostly revolve around place rather than tribe, because there was never any great need to defend the ‘tribe’.

I find this difficult to agree with, because it seems (to me) to start the analysis too late. The shift from People to Nation happens approximately in parallel with the shift from memory to written record, which also correlates with the Norman invasion. Specifically, Harold Godwineson was crowned at Winchester “King of the English”, as had all kings since Alfred been: and William the Bastard was crowned at Westminster as the “King of England”.

The “English” identity and tribal/collective political evolution is very heavily influenced by the fact that both our coherence and our security are relatively recent developments. During the period between Roman occupation and Norman conquest, we were anything between three and eight political entities, all of which were subject to constant and consistent invasion and raiding. This was true even of the political entities that had been founded by colonising raiders (Anglia, for example). The onslaught went on for nearly five hundred years before we started to haul together under Alfred, and the invaders were Germans, Danes, Swedes, Irish, Scots and so on. England’s character and geographic identity were both forged in response to armed incursion.

It’s only in very recent history, the last millennium or so, that we have enjoyed the coherence and security that you describe. It is much more recently that we started seeing tribal identities as less important; observe the dislike of northerners for southerners, which persists to this day, and whose local instantiation pretty much exactly mirrors the old kingdoms of Mercia versus Wessex versus Anglia versus Northumberland.

Chris-

Yes, I think we can all agree that racism is ‘vile’. The question is: what do you do about it? more specifically, what do you do about a million people voting BNP? I think that your approach is likely to result in another million or so votes for Nick Griffin.

You seem very much more interested in angry shouting than in listening or engaging.

Chris, well good luck in your approach.

BNP voter – I have some concerns about immigration
Chris – f*ck off you racist, there is no immigration problem

Like the idiotic SWP, all you have in your armoury is eggs.

I hope it’s not too extreme to point out that our granddads’ response to their generation’s Nazis was to bomb them and strafe them from the air; to shoot them with machine guns and rifles; torch them with flamethrowers, incendiaries and white phosphorus; to crush them with tanks, blow them up with grenades and high explosives and so on, and then march their supporters off to prison. I don’t know how people could’ve missed this, since we have well-publicised memorials at which we salute their courage for kicking Nazi arse so righteously, every single year.

Not that I think this would be a reasonable response to the BNP, of course, but it sure puts all this Oooo, we must understand the motivations of poor, misguided racists who consciously vote for Nazi organisations in perspective.

It’s particularly amusing when you consider that lots of the right wing commenters here spend much of their time grousing about a lack of chimpanzoid chest-thumping and ostentatious moral outrage in modern liberalism – yet suddenly, when we’re talking about an openly racist and fascist organisation, we have to understand.

Well, Bollocks

47. Rob Knight

John Q. Publican @ 43:

The shift from People to Nation happens approximately in parallel with the shift from memory to written record, which also correlates with the Norman invasion. Specifically, Harold Godwineson was crowned at Winchester “King of the English”, as had all kings since Alfred been: and William the Bastard was crowned at Westminster as the “King of England”.

It’s only in very recent history, the last millennium or so, that we have enjoyed the coherence and security that you describe.

Yes, but England did obtain that coherence and security long before most other European nations did. In general terms, ethnic identities are strongest in those places which obtained national security latest, or not at all. English civic nationalism, whilst still recent on a historical scale, is older than most (any? Saving perhaps the Icelandic?) other national culture. I hate to sound like an English exceptionalist, because I’m certainly not, but I do think that there are some reasons why it should be possible to a) forge a positive conception of modern England and b) root this in those positive traditions that do exist. Moreover, I think that we have an imperative to do this – I expect to see an independent Scotland in my lifetime and the likely breakup of the UK as a result. “What to do about England?” is a question we need to have an answer to.

Paul, I have a problem with this:

if you are born here you are as English as anyone else

So one has to be BORN in England to be English? What if they were born here then spent the rest of their lives elsewhere? Surely you mean if someone has lived here then they are English. There’s quite a simple definition to what you might refer to as “Englishness” in your long search for a civic identity: the English are made of people who came from many different places but now live here. They live in many different ways and exist in different cultures but are united by the belief that someone is not an outsider if they are different.

I suggest, if you think that’s a good way of looking at it, you promote that ideal among the people who you claim are suffering from “cultural upheaval” – a phrase which in itself is problematic because as I’ve established, and as you agreed, there is no reason why confident immigrant communities have to cause ‘indigenous’/white communities to lose their sense of cultural identity.

As to the conflation of race and immigration, it’s not me who does it: but that is what the media and the BNP and their voters do. As I’ve already said, the white communities who object to immigration cannot justifiably do so on the grounds that the immigrants are to blame for their own loss of cultural identity: so what is left? Oh, it might have something to do with the fact that immigrants are not white Anglo-Saxon. Just might.

Rob @47:

Yes, but England did obtain that coherence and security long before most other European nations did.

Hmmm. Depends what you mean. Greece, Italy, Spain, France *, Bohemia, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland are all at least as old as ‘England’: most are very considerably older. Security and coherence: that varies a bit. Italy had it in spades between 750BCE and 450AD; not so much thereafter until the 19th century. What they had that entire time was a consistent and coherent ethnic identity: you were still Italian if you were from Venice, or Florence, or Naples.

English civic nationalism, whilst still recent on a historical scale, is older than most (any? Saving perhaps the Icelandic?) other national culture

Er, really no. Greek, Italian, Irish, Icelandic, Danish, Welsh and Bohemian all predate English as coherent ethnic identities with nations attached. We start getting organised, as I said, circa Alfred: the Danes and the Bohemians (and the southern Germans, via the Henrician and Fredrichian reichs) all predate that by at least a couple of hundred years. Charlamegne would have managed the same trick for the Francs if he’d had more reliable inheritors.

What’s unique about us is that our identity has been ethnically diverse and composite for a very long time: people kept raiding then invading then settling then becoming victims of raids. Ultimately, those five or six tribal ethnicities (Briton, Scotii, Cornish, Angle, Saxon, Jute, Dane, and arguably Roman) started co-operating and seeing themselves as a single entity largely in response to continuing raids from the Norsemen and the Irish (and the Scots).

The Francs are still the Francs. The Italians are still the Italians, the Greeks are still the Greeks. The “English” weren’t perceived as existing until some time between 545 and 760 (hard to know for sure when) and that identity was from the start a composite of multiple pre-existing tribal stocks.

* France is the bugger to analyse, because while the King of the Francs was less powerful than many of his Counts and Dukes for much of the middle ages, the understanding that the descendents of the Francs formed one ethnic identity with multiple political identities was pretty secure.

News just in: the white supremacist who shot dead a guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington attended a meeting where Nick Griffin spoke. (h/t Sunny on Twitter)

It was well known that Nick Griffin is a holocaust denier and convicted racist. You want to confront the root causes of racism in this country, then you need to confront almost 1 million people who knowingly voted for a racist party. You need to confront racism.

There’s no need to stoke it any further by making some sort of connection between the fact that there are more non-white people in the country and the fact that some white communities have lost their cultural identity. Tying those two issues together is just playing into the BNP’s hands, because that is exactly the connection they make.

We can have a debate about immigration and whether or not it is the cause of so many of Britain’s social and economic problems. But that is a separate debate to why people vote BNP, because for the BNP and their voters there is no such debate: they’ve already decided to blame immigrants for our problems.

Am I alone in thinking that if you don’t throw eggs at Nick Griffin when he’s making speeches in front of parliament he starts to become part of the normal spectrum of politics in this country? I really don’t want that to happen but without extreme reaction I don’t see how we avoid it and god forbid that the BNP gain the status of UKIP.

Nina, you’re not alone. People can call it puerile but it deprived Griffin the opportunity to be filmed in front of the mother of all parliaments, and sent the message loud and clear to anyone sitting on the fence out there that he and his oiks are not seen as legitimate, however much they’d like. That is a good thing . Why has no one mentioned the fact that one of Griffin’s minders hit a woman in the throat?

If David Irving or Hitler himself came to give a press conference outside parliament, would these moaners just let them do so for fear of “legitimising” them? Whilst UAF aren’t always the most helpful of allies, they did the right thing in egging that Nazi twat.

53. Rob Knight

JQP@49:

Er, really no. Greek, Italian, Irish, Icelandic, Danish, Welsh and Bohemian all predate English as coherent ethnic identities with nations attached.

Sorry, I was being somewhat unclear. Obviously there are older ethnic national identities than English, but most of these remained simply that. These nations were held together by their ethnicity, whilst England was not (because it did not need ethnicity to secure a common bond between its people; geography did the job instead). What differentiates England is that it moved beyond ethnic identity earlier than anywhere else, and therefore has the longest tradition of civic nationalism (as opposed to ethnic nationalism).

What’s unique about us is that our identity has been ethnically diverse and composite for a very long time: people kept raiding then invading then settling then becoming victims of raids. Ultimately, those five or six tribal ethnicities (Briton, Scotii, Cornish, Angle, Saxon, Jute, Dane, and arguably Roman) started co-operating and seeing themselves as a single entity largely in response to continuing raids from the Norsemen and the Irish (and the Scots).

This is what I’m getting at. It’s almost entirely a quirk of geography; England could easily be defined as a place whose borders rarely changed from one century to the next, and has stayed that way for centuries. Most continental Europeans don’t have that. The Greeks may be a lot older as an ethnic identity, but in that time they’ve been ruled by the Romans (whose empire they inherited and re-made as a Greek empire) and latterly the Turks, only re-emerging as a nation some 400 years after the Turkish conquest. What kept them alive as a nation was their ethnic identity. As a result, and unsurprisingly, they’re a lot more ethnic-nationalist than we are, even now (and the Balkans provides an illustration of what that ethnic nationalism can do). It’s no surprise that fascism took hold most strongly in nation states that were relatively young (Germany, Italy), simply because the appeal of such ethnic nationalism was stronger there – their people had not always been secure in their nationhood and had cultivated strong ethnic nationalism to protect their identity. England hasn’t had that kind of ethnic nationalism since, as you pointed out, the era of the Norman conquest.

Present-day attempts to create an ethnic nationalism for England are, therefore, somewhat aberrant. Any appeal these ethnic-nationalists make to history is false. The only lesson our history can teach us is that England has mostly been a nation defined by place and geography, not by the genes of its people. It’s worth noting that even at the height of imperialism, national pride focused more on place (the ‘green and pleasant land‘) rather than the ethnic character of the people.

I have three points to add:

1. I think it is the culture of entitlement that has created a group of people who think that they are entitled to State benefits and don’t want to share it with others they don’t think deserve it. Why either should be entitled to any benefits is beyond me – and I blame Labour’s welfare state for these unintended consequences.

2. A group of people living in the same geographical area – does not make a community. A community – and therefore a nation share common goals, food, holidays, religion etc It is not only colour that the BNP have against immigrants – its that they don’t share any of the above. BNP members want to walk around England surrounded by English things – think of “when in Rome do as a Roman”

3. There are double standards when it comes to being indigenous. Here is a recent quote from New South African President Jacob Zuma:

“”Of all the white groups that are in South Africa, it is only the Afrikaners that are truly South Africans in the true sense of the word,”

What that means for the generations of English White South Africans – I don’t know?

55. the a&e charge nurse

There are quite a few accusations flying round on this thread – most precipitated by attempts to explain why a million souls voted for BNP.

It doesn’t take Einstein to work out that simply abusing BNP voters, irrespective of how outrageous their politics beliefs are, leads very rapidly to lots of shouting, with the odd omelette thrown in for good measure – in other words we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac.

BNP voters are wankers and wankers vote BNP – in effect a kind of political tautology?

Perhaps we just have to accept that some people are not particularly enlightened, and never will be?
And maybe the underlying reasons for this unpalatable reality are either too painful (or complex) for more well adjusted people to deal with?

56. Shatterface

Chris (42): There’s a big difference between telling someone that they are not unemployed because of immigrants, and telling someone they are unemployed because it’s THEIR OWN FAULT.

And I’d consider that difference to constitute the difference between a left-wing argument against racism motivated by genuine humanitarian concerns and an arogant fuckweasel looking for an excuse to kick people when they are down.

Rob Knight @53:

This is what I’m getting at. It’s almost entirely a quirk of geography; England could easily be defined as a place whose borders rarely changed from one century to the next, and has stayed that way for centuries.

To some extent, yes; but to another extent, really really no. Where Wales began and England ended was a matter of warfare and politics until well into Elizabeth’s reign. Ditto the Scots. Shortly thereafter the question became largely academic. I do take your point, though.

Most continental Europeans don’t have that. The Greeks may be a lot older as an ethnic identity, but in that time they’ve been ruled by the Romans (whose empire they inherited and re-made as a Greek empire) and latterly the Turks, only re-emerging as a nation some 400 years after the Turkish conquest.

You’re characterising the Byzantine empire as Greek in nature, inheriting the Romans Empire? Because all three clauses of that are pretty flawed. Greek identity predates Roman identity by several hundred years, and the Greek administrative entity existed under Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule as a self-governing ethnocracy: all three Empires used that model for distributed rule. Bear in mind that Byzantium was not in Greece, nor were Greeks the main ethnic group in either the city or the Imperial aristocracy.

It’s no surprise that fascism took hold most strongly in nation states that were relatively young (Germany, Italy), simply because the appeal of such ethnic nationalism was stronger there –

I can’t really agree with that. Italian nationalism has a long and distinguished history (called the Roman Empire) which went into abeyance and was then stitched back together out of principalities. If that had happened under the rule of a despot you’d not have seen the instability; the problem was that Italian democracy was young, not the idea of an Italian nation-state. They had been colonised, remember; large parts of their land were occupied by Austro-Hungary.

Germany you’re absolutely right about.

England hasn’t had that kind of ethnic nationalism since, as you pointed out, the era of the Norman conquest.

That’s not entirely what I intended to say… We definitely have had that kind of ethnic nationalism. Our attitude to all of the Scots, the French and the Welsh illustrate that; have a look at Shakespeare’s portrayals of ethnic immigrants. What’s different with us, again, is that our ethnic identity started out composite and then became coherent but geographically oriented.

The only lesson our history can teach us is that England has mostly been a nation defined by place and geography, not by the genes of its people. It’s worth noting that even at the height of imperialism, national pride focused more on place (the ‘green and pleasant land‘) rather than the ethnic character of the people.

England has mostly been a nation defined by a series of despotic rulers, who defined it as “whatever I can grab”. The identity of the English, which is different, has been created out of suffering invasion, then perpetrating invasion, then being the first nation to industrialise. Is how I would describe it.

At the height of imperialism, there was an immense amount of literary verbiage about concepts like manifest destiny and the entire political doctrine of paternalism. British fiction is full of the sentiment that any foreigner is just damned unlucky he weren’t born English, doncherknow. That kind of ethnic supremacist thinking was systemic and unquestioned in that era; not absent.

What JPQ said about the Byzantine Empire is entirely correct. It was linguistically Greek from roughly mid-Justinian’s reign onwards. Ethnically it was a mix that only got more churned as things went along (the lost Asia Minor, gained the Slavs…) For more on this check out Baynes’ Byzantine Studies & Other Essays, especially the chapter on Eastern survival and Western failure.

Really worth a read.

Rayyan –

What is wrong with a city full of people of different colours, languages and cultural backgrounds? As long as they aren’t all stabbing each other, surely cultural diversity is a good thing. Or should we put a limit on the number of Asian takeaways in any given square mile radius in case it leads to “self-segregation” and “a loss of white identity”? Maybe we should ban all further Asian takeaways until there are enough traditional local English pubs?

Well, it’s not the optimum. The optimum would be everyone merging into an indistinguishable mess, thus rendering racism a total impossibility. If people aren’t interbreeding then that suggests to me that race does matter to them. Perhaps this is something which a few generations will sort out, idk. But I don’t think having blocs of colour next to each other is ideal.

I wonder how many people in any of these “districts” you have spoken to. You just see people of colour and assume they are segregated. How about you actually speak to them, conduct some research, and get to know what you are talking about rather than express fear over the fact that there are lots of coloured people in the capital?

lol…I went to school in one of the areas I mentioned, mate. That school got taken over by some Polish community organisers on Saturdays so that they could hold “Pole School”, in fact. I did took a look around & spoke to them about what was going on, upon one occasion. I certainly haven’t been cloistering myself away from all the coloureds.

& if you read my post, it’s certainly not their being non-white people here. It’s that there are non-whites, whites, other kinds of whites & so on all next to each other in self-segregated clusters of “purity”. I don’t like that. It’s a collaborative effort, of course, & most likely to do with house prices more than anything. But causes aside, the outcome is unquestionably undesirable.

For the record, I see an increasing number of interracial couples these days.

Yep! & there’s certainly a chance I am being overly pessimistic. But anyone who knows London will almost certainly agree I’m right: to the south of where I live there’s an area where almost everyone is an Asian (largely Indian subcontinent, I believe), a little way to the north there’s an area where a totally disproportionate number of Hasidics live. Where a friend of mine lives you can get on a bus without somebody who isn’t black. I really don’t admire these clusters, I think that the city should be more evenly mixed. That would lead to the pretty rapid disintegration of race, which would be a big improvement.

I guess that makes me a dastardly “social engineer”, but oh well.

Newsflash: there was a problem with underfunding of public services and class sizes long before the last decade. Let’s deal with the issue – not say it’s the fault of people who are given very little agency in the UK as it is. If you want to see more people “integrate”, try bringing them on board rather than satisfying bigots.

I’m sure there are plenty of economic causes. I’m saying they need to be dealt with, as well. I don’t really see where we agree here.

Rayyan –

“We can have a debate about immigration and whether or not it is the cause of so many of Britain’s social and economic problems. But that is a separate debate to why people vote BNP”

I don’t agree, and I don’t see how it can be. And besides, you don;t actually seem to want that debate at all – you seem to be arguing that the very act of having it is a bad thing.

I also note that once again you confuse race and immigration. Most recent immigrants have been white. English people primarily do not identify themselves as ‘white’. I certainly don’t. Maybe your race is important to you; fine, but to most people of all colours it’s not and shouldn’t be an issue. The BNP vote , in my view, is not about race but is part of a wider crisis of identity in this country which needs to be addressed. it should be addressed by neither blaming immigrants nor by denying that immigration causes any problems at all.

Alternatively, the left can stick its head in the sand, throw eggs at Nick Griffin and shout ‘racist’ at anyone who has any concerns about the impacts of rapid, large-scale migration or other cultural changes brought about by neoliberalism. The result of this, I suspect, will be more BNP votes and more MEPs for you to throw eggs at.

Incidentally, I didn’t mean to suggest that you necessarily have to be born in England to be or to feel English. I don’t believe that you do; but you need to feel part of a shared English cultural identity; one which is ever changing but still has fixed reference points

Nina and Rayan –

If you want to stop the BNP becoming ‘part of the normal spectrum of politics in this country’ you need to take on their arguments, not attack them. Their arguments are mostly drivel, so it shouldn’t be too hard. That only makes you look aggressive and stupid. It is fundamentally illiberal and anti-democratic to try and silence people whose views you don’t like, especially when they are elected. Personally I would probably enjoy seeing both Nick Griffin and George Galloway dripping with dairy produce, but I keep this desire out of the public arena. Like I said in the piece, throwing eggs at Griffin may make you feel good but it achieves bugger all. It’s those million voters you need to deal with. Are you going to throw eggs at them all until they agree with you?

The left is going to have to grit its teeth and start listening. Let me ask you what your response to Islamic extremist preachers in the UK has been? Have you lined up to throw eggs at Abu Hamza? If not, why not ?What do you think the response should be to the many young men in the UK who are convinced by Islamist arguments for violent attacks on the West? Do you think we should throw eggs at them as well – or should we try and understand why they feel that way so we can tackle the root causes? The latter response seems the better on to me – and the same applies to the BNP.

Paul – Do the words “Cable” & “Street” ring any bells, mate?

James – Mosley’s BUF never won a single seat. They never got a million people to vote for them.

But go ahead – do the fascist bootboy thing. Have a big fight in the streets if that’s your thing. Maybe it will work. Maybe you will hospitalise Andrew Vrons. But do you think that will stop the people in the voting booths? I don’t.

62. the a&e charge nurse

[60] James if you want to cite the past then surely (until we reach the point of all out war) dialogue and diplomatic means are far more likely to achieve rapprochement than eggs, which in the context of the BNP is nothing less than a slippery slope toward violent confrontation?

Paul – It just strikes me that most people who argue along your lines have a top notch grasp of the thought & writings of John Stuart Mill and a very poor grasp of the history of anti-fascism.

The BUF never obtained an MEP seat because the European Union did not exist at that time. At present the BNP have no seats in the House of Commons, whereas Mosley’s New Party for a time held a handful. What anti-fascists found in the past is that attempting to beat the fascists via the debating hall is ineffective as fascists rarely tend to hang around there. Where you’ll find fascists is on the streets & on the streets the phrase: “I think you’ll find, sir, that that is an argumentum ad baculem” does not get you that far.

I’m not advocating going out and beating up fascists, ala the Red Party, but you are being moronic if you believe that they can be defeated with reason alone. This is not a reasonable outfit. See here: http://leninology.blogspot.com/2009/06/look-who-wants-free-speech.html for a very brief & entirely partial dossier.

Do you know how the anti-fascists managed to succeed in breaking British fascism? Disrupting meetings. The work of historian Martin Pugh on this topic has demonstrated that rather than the tabloids somehow “turning” on the fascists after the Olympia incident (they didn’t, it was seen amongst the press as a standard issue beating which was well deserved by the saboteurs) instead it was a systematic campaign of meeting disruption targeted at Mosley wherever he went that succeeded in preventing his successes.

You need to read up on anti-fascist history, as well as the nature of the premier British fascist organisation of the present, before you offer anti-fascists advice.

a&e – I don’t quite understand you, I’m afraid. Could you please elaborate?

James – how do you become an ‘anti-fascist’? Do I have to sign something, or can I just brim with self-righteousness and get a free pass?

I’m not sure I’ve ever read Mill, but I do see what those UAF demonstrators look like on the telly: self-righteous, unrepresentative and violent. Unlikely to change any minds; and this is about minds, not fists.

If you can’t take apart the BNP’s arguments, you must be pretty lacking in self-confidence. And if you can’t persuade people of your views without using violence, then you have a big problem.

You are suggesting that the views of a million people can be changed by street fighting. I think that’s bullshit. No doubt you’ll try and prove me wrong.

I think you’ll find that I actually said “I’m not advocating going out and beating up fascists, ala the Red Party”.

Is it really to much to expect you to read my posts before you reply to them?

(Let alone some Martin Pugh!)

James – disruption was what the UAF claimed they were doing the other day, but it soon turned into a fight.

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to your arguments, and I don’t think the BNP should be given a free ride. Neither do I think the Mosley comparison is quite accurate. But I am very queasy indeed about the idea of preventing elected representatives from speaking because you don’t like their views. It seems to be in line with the kind of view that suggests banning the BNP or other extreme parties. I don’t believe in banning any points of view, and I can’t see a democratic argument for preventing an MEP from addressing the public or the media.

How would you feel about the same approach being applied to Respect or SWP meetings? What is your view on how this approach squares with free speech and democracy? Or are these things we only apply to those whose views we share?

69. the a&e charge nurse

[64] I’ll try, James.

If I have understood your position correctly you are advocating a policy of non-engagement with BNP voters (since such a softly, softly approach is wasted on them)?

But I believe that history teaches us that dialogue (except in conditions of all out war) is almost always the best approach, no matter how far apart each camp is to begin with.

Once politics become irrevocably polarised due to a breakdown in communication then two things will follow as sure as eggs are eggs (sorry, there’s that word again)
[1] we end up with increasing levels of intimidation followed by,
[2] a state of cultural attrition (see Northern Ireland and Palestine).

The challenges of dealing with such people are great but not insurmountable if more attractive alternatives are put on the table.

disruption was what the UAF claimed they were doing the other day, but it soon turned into a fight.

Yes, one of Griffin’s minders punched someone in the throat. That’s how a fight begins.

But I am very queasy indeed about the idea of preventing elected representatives from speaking because you don’t like their views.

Again: Mosley was elected. He was an MP. The way we stopped him was via meeting disruption. A fascist in office is a more dangerous fascist, not less of a fascist.

I’m certainly not in favour of banning them (that’s what they’d relish above all, really, food for their raging victim complex). As for it happening to SWP/Respect meetings: I do not agree with either of those groups (I disagree with them less than I disagree with the BNP, but that’s not the same thing), & as it happened Galloway has been egged (they showed the footage on HIGNFY once & everyone laughed, me included) but you seem to be somewhat missing the hammer for the anvil, here.

If we don’t stop the BNP far-lefty meetings probably are going to end up disrupted, by fascist thugs. That’s something fascists enjoy doing more than anything else. Lefties who distribute anti-fascist material in BNP areas are already getting the shit kicked out of them.

The BNP haven’t reached the scale where they can spare the manpower for that sort of activity on any major scale, indeed they’re far smaller than peak ear BUF (which was 50,000 strong, although it’s unlikely that all of them were activists). But they’re headed that way, & shall continued to proceed unless they are prevented. Thanks, recession.

What we need to do to make sure they don’t get that large is keep up the tactics which are time-tested & ensure that at all costs they aren’t seen as a legitimate organisation. Which they aren’t. The only difference between Mosley & Griffin is that the former is a bit more openly keen on the use of force before power seizure & the latter at least puts up the facade of waiting for it.

But if either had/does took state force we can guess what it would be used for. Coppers beating up the blacks. That’s something which needs to be prevented, & I’m afraid that I can’t shed any tears for Griffin getting egged if it’s part of the preventative (hell, I couldn’t muster up any for Prescott).

If you are squeamish about the prospect then fine, I can appreciate that. But don’t try and make a utilitarian case against the application of a history proven method. You’re arguing against reality, there.

a&e – Disrupting meetings held by BNP activists & what tone to take during engagement with potential BNP voters are two distinct things.

The overlap is that the outcome of disrupting a meeting is potential BNP voters observing it via the media, but there is still a dichotomy. If we are talking about the egging of Nick Griffin then yes, I am in favour. I wouldn’t be in favour of rolling around Manchester asking people if they’d voted BNP & egging them if they said yet (what the Red Party get up to is basically that with fists and boots instead of eggs, & that isn’t wise).

I’m not saying don’t engage with BNP prospectives (I spent the evening before the London Mayorals trying to convince someone who wants to be a doctor that a Race War wouldn’t be a good idea, especially for the NHS), I’m saying that don’t ignore the fact that in the past meeting disruption has proven to be an effective anti-fascist method.

James –

My problem with your argument is a very simple one: your focus is entirely on ‘stopping the BNP’ and not on stopping its voters.

The BNP’s advance, if that’s what it is (and I think your scenarios are a bit hysterical, btw) will be stopped when people stop voting BNP. People will stop voting BNP when the concerns which make them vote BNP are addressed, and not when lots of well-meaning lefties shout at Nick Griffin every time he turns up somewhere.

What you need to think about is how to drain the poison; and that’s an issue of addressing changing identities in this country and the fears that inspire people to vote for the BNP.

James, as a Londoner myself I can see where you are coming from – it is true that immigrant communities can often be clustered in small areas. But I would suggest that a lot of that has to do with education, employment and housing opportunities: the more educated people from any given community become, the more likely they are to move out of that area or estate, especially if it is to look for work. Free English lessons would be of huge benefit to the communities of London: indeed, they might even benefit many among the ‘indigenous’ population. More English = more access to services = more education and employment = a greater sense of belonging to this country than at present. If you can have a good conversation with others, you can become friends with them. You’d be amazed at the demand among the Somalian community, especially the women, for English lessons. Providing them free would cost a lot but the social benefits would be huge. Also James, you’re totally right about tactics. Brits didn’t beat the Nazis in WWII by seeking to understand why they were racist scum: it required confrontation.

People often ask why they see so many women wearing veils: I’d wager that if those people felt the ‘indigenous’ culture was a bit more welcoming to them, rather than seeing headlines like “Migrants Take ALL New Jobs In Britain”, “They’ve Stolen ALL Our Jobs”, “BBC Put Muslims Before YOU” (all real) and then hearing people across the political spectrum say we should sympathise and appease those who vote for fucking Nazi racists, maybe they’d feel more like integrating.

Paul:

“We can have a debate about immigration and whether or not it is the cause of so many of Britain’s social and economic problems. But that is a separate debate to why people vote BNP”

I don’t agree, and I don’t see how it can be.

Simple reason: people vote BNP because they are racist and don’t like immigrants with different skin colours or languages to them (and if you are going to try and say they are not racist and object to others purely on cultural grounds – pull the other one mate!). They might be having a tough time and they stupidly think they can blame that all on immigrants who are having as tough or an even worse time. The BNP and fascists and Nazis existed long before the last decade, and they’ve always enjoyed support. Immigration just provides an excuse and someone to blame. Even if immigration was the cause of so many of Britain’s social and economic problems (which it is not), that would not justify nor translate into supporting racist oiks who deny the holocaust and want a repeat of it.

And I’m not saying we shouldn’t have either debate: Paul, you’ve got to stop just reading a few words from what people say and placing them into neat little boxes you’ve drawn up, like “UAF/SWP egg-pelting violent scum”, “proud defenders of Voltairian free speech/English nationalists”, “dumb but forgivable racist BNP voters with whom we must sympathise” and “evil BNP overlords who somehow trick otherwise good English folk into voting for a racist party.”

The title of this article is “the left needs to confront the root causes of BNP support.” Root causes? A historic racial intolerance that is by no means exclusive to England, and has only been defeated in the past when people stood up to it. If you really think the best way to beat the BNP is to let them on Question Time where they can throw a few nationalist/standing-up-for-the-little-man giblets to the crowd so people think “Hmm, they aren’t racist really!”, by all means – lobby for it. Or better yet, invite the BNP into your house. Go on – you think the best way to expose them is to let them speak, invite them into your house, film the event, put it on YouTube.

Insert your coin into your noisebox.

My problem with your argument is a very simple one: your focus is entirely on ’stopping the BNP’ and not on stopping its voters.

Events are a key part in expanding their voter base. If you can arrange an event where you look like the biggest party on the planet and the only organisation which is going to drive through change then you can sign up dozens of new members in a day, perhaps more. Not all of those will become proper activists, but those that do can arrange further meetings, which then…etc.

Prevent the meetings happening, you prevent the process from continuing. It’s true of all small parties.

The BNP’s advance, if that’s what it is (and I think your scenarios are a bit hysterical, btw)

Which “scenarios”? Coppers beating up black people? Here’s a quote from NG himself:

“As long as our own cadres understand the full implications of our struggle, then there is no need for us to do anything to give the public cause for concern … we must at all times present them with an image of moderate reasonableness….

Of course, we must teach the truth to the hardcore, for, like you, I do not intend this movement to lose its way. But when it comes to influencing the public, forget about racial differences, genetics, Zionism, historical revisionism [i.e. Holocaust denial] 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…

…Politics is always the art of the possible, so we must judge every policy by one simple criterion: Is it realistically possible that a decisive proportion of the British people will support it? If not, then to scale down our short-term ambitions to a point at which the answer becomes ‘yes’ is not a sell-out, but the only possible step closer to our eventual goal.”

Yeah, he’s just a standard issue right-populist, right? Total softie.

will be stopped when people stop voting BNP. People will stop voting BNP when the concerns which make them vote BNP are addressed, and not when lots of well-meaning lefties shout at Nick Griffin every time he turns up somewhere.

Well meaning lefties stopped Mosley. Mosley was a far brighter man, functioning in a time before fascism had been discredited. You shouldn’t underestimate the power of a few self-righteous left-wingers. Mock away, but they get stuff done.

It would be great if we could address the root causes, but if we have to mop up symptoms before pus starts leaking everywhere then I propose we do. & that’s what the egg-chuckers were doing, just as anti-fascists had done before them. It’s not the whole answer, but it’s a start.

What you need to think about is how to drain the poison; and that’s an issue of addressing changing identities in this country and the fears that inspire people to vote for the BNP.

Well what is your suggestion?

(That quote was from The Patriot in 1999, btw. In the same year and paper Griffin admitted to writing BNP pamphlet Who Are The Mindbenders? You can read more about it here: http://alassmithandgraham.blogspot.com/2008/01/nick-griffins-anti-semitic-mindbenders.html )

“Yeah, he’s just a standard issue right-populist, right? Total softie.”

Er, James, I don’t think Paul’s defending Griffin, but suggesting that he won’t take state power.

Well that depends upon how many liberals decide that all BNP activists need is a cuddle…

The problem with what Paul is saying is that root causes for the BNP’s support = immigration and the loss of identity.

He himself has said that the strong sense of identity among SOME immigrant communities (many of them, including ones I’ve grown up around, have a severe identity crisis that stems precisely from the fact that the current generation identifies more with Britain/England/London than their parents) is no justifiable reason for the loss of identity among white communities.

What he wants to ignore is that immigration is not to blame for the problems faced by underfunded schools, a mishandling of the NHS, rubbish public transport and climate change. Yes, that’s right. Immigrants are also to blame for climate change!

So if immigration is not the cause of loss of identity nor the cause of social problems, what are the root causes of BNP support? Perhaps it is the perception that immigrants are to blame for all of these things that then justifies the already existing racism in those who support the BNP, the two become conflated, and voila, we have 2 BNP MEPs, with no doubt plenty more to come.

So confronting the root causes of BNP support would involve correcting that perception – and then arguing loud and clear that racism is not acceptable, no matter how aggrieved and stupid you might be. It’s supposedly the role of progressives to stand up for the oppressed – and whatever the Daily Mail might tell you, it’s not the white English majority who are the oppressed here. It would be nice if the likes of Paul and other “please let the BNP speak!” liberals/radicals/nationalists/whatever actually wrote something about why racism was wrong and how we confront it rather than excuse it by saying immigration issues are responsible for racism.

Well that depends upon how many liberals decide that all BNP activists need is a cuddle…</blockquote

Lol, precisely. I repeat my suggestion to Paul: get a video camera, ask a few BNP suited “spokesmen” to come round your flat/house and have a debate with them, then put it on YouTube. EXPOSE their STUPIDITY – go on!

80. Shatterface

I’ve always struggled with my belief in freedom of speech – which is, to be honest, the main reason why I became interested in politics beyond a theoretical level in the first place – and the desire to punch someone in the throat as soon as they start defending the BNP.

It’s HARD, but sometimes you have to admit that chucking eggs at people you would rather drop a piano on is counter productive. This HAS to be fought on the level of debate and anyone who thinks otherwise is guilty of believing rational argument is not enough.

Sometimes we’ll lose a battle but it’s better than losing the war.

Frankly I have a suspicion that Paul is one of the legion of critics who lambast the “left” for what they’re up to yet propose no concrete alternatives. I’d very much like to be being cynical here & be shown to be entirely incorrect, so I await eagerly some firm, implementable proposals of how to assuage the English identity crisis from Paul.

“This HAS to be fought on the level of debate and anyone who thinks otherwise is guilty of believing rational argument is not enough.”

…It isn’t.

If we had some fantasy fascists who only argued rationally in debating chambers, then using logic alone would be fine & ample. Unfortunately, if they thought things through then…They probably wouldn’t be fascists. With the fascists who exist within reality, their conduct is characterised by the use of force against opponents, their membership is largely criminal in some way or other.

See the link I posted above. These are terrorists & thugs, not debating adversaries.

Sorry, should have been “The Left”.

Oops, forgot to close the blockquote tag.

I wonder if we’d take the same approach to debating rapists, murderers, arsonists and white supremacists as Paul is suggesting here. Hold on… the BNP are/advocate all of those things. Put them on TV – give them free air time. If people decide to vote for them, after exposing what they believe in, then we shouldn’t be asking how to deal with immigrants, but WHY THE FUCK DO PEOPLE VOTE FOR RACIST SCUM when there was the option of UKIP, who also push the same anti-immigration/nationalist buttons that the BNP do.

One possible answer to that question could be… hmm, I dunno, maybe they’re racist? Maybe that is what needs confronting.

86. Mike Killingworth

[84][85] I have an article in the works (probably for next week) which will hopefully shed some light on your questions.

In the meantime, I’ll tell you a story. A little over twenty years ago I very foolishly took a job which involved, among other things, attempting to do the impossible, i.e. manage local authority race advisers. The only time we ever saw eye to eye was when I told them that I could abolish racism in 48 hours… and would do so, just as soon as I could persuade the Martians to invade Earth…

Ah, the “Ronald Reagan Option”.

Paul,

My problem with your argument is a very simple one: your focus is entirely on ’stopping the BNP’ and not on stopping its voters.

The BNP’s advance, if that’s what it is (and I think your scenarios are a bit hysterical, btw) will be stopped when people stop voting BNP. People will stop voting BNP when the concerns which make them vote BNP are addressed, and not when lots of well-meaning lefties shout at Nick Griffin every time he turns up somewhere.

What you need to think about is how to drain the poison; and that’s an issue of addressing changing identities in this country and the fears that inspire people to vote for the BNP.

Here’s the key premise: people will stop voting BNP when the concerns which make them vote BNP are addressed. I think what you mean is that concessions ought to be made to BNP voters, and those concessions ought to be made by the left.

But the most extensive analysis I’ve seen is unequivocal: BNP voters are working-class Tories. It’s unlikely they have time for the left anyway. Their reasons for voting BNP can hardly be guessed at; you’ve made a good go of displaying them, but I’ll admit I’m unconvinced. Any serious analysis of the motivation for a BNP vote will have to start with the actual opinions expressed by BNP voters; yours doesn’t, and in general, it’s hard to see the connection between the actually-expressed views of BNP voters and your analysis of English nationhood. If anything, a look at their at their opinions suggests that concessions to the BNP would be concessions to a familiar form of racial nationalism:

The majority of every other party’s voters agreed with the statement that “Non-white British citizens who were born in this country are just as ‘British’ as white citizens born in this country”, only 35% of BNP voters did, with 44% disagreeing. Large majorities of every party’s supporters agreed that there was no difference in intelligence between black and white people…except for BNP supporters, where only 41% agreed. Almost half (49%) of BNP supporters thought employers should discriminate on grounds of race in favour of white people (compared to 11% in the general population), and 58% thought most crime was committed by immigrants (22% in the general population). 72% of BNP supporters wanted the government to encourage voluntary repatriation, compared to 27% of the country as a whole.

At the extremes of conspiracy theory, BNP voters are more likely to believe in a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, or that the Holocaust didn’t happen, but not to a great extent – the overwhelming majority reject them. 3% of British people apparently believe it completely true that “there is a major international conspiracy led by Jews and Communists to undermine traditional Christian values in Britain”, compared to 9% of BNP supporters. 9% of British people think the Holocaust is exaggerated, with 1% denying it entirely – the figures amongst BNP supporters are 18% and 2%.

Those statistics tell against your view that what’s animating BNP voters is immigration per se. What’s driving the vote is non-white immigration; your persistent attempt to distinguish immigration and race vis a vis BNP support is a non-starter.

James –

Firstly, you don’t have to explain to me what the BNP are about. I am quite aware of all this. Do you think I’m defending these people? Give me a break.

Secondly, there are two suggestions about how to deal with some of the root causes of this problem at the end of this article. If you want more you could read my book or any of the many articles I’ve written on the subject.

Where are yours? Apart from ‘disrupting meetings’, I mean.

Thirdly, how about you and Rayyan stop SHOUTING and strutting about flashing your anti-racist credentials, and start thinking these things through. I think we can take it for granted that we all hate the BNP and fascism and that we all think racism is bad. How about we grant each other at least that level of respect and take it from there?

Rayyan –

“we shouldn’t be asking how to deal with immigrants, but WHY THE FUCK DO PEOPLE VOTE FOR RACIST SCUM”

Quite. Which is the question this article is asking, and the point of writing it in the first place.

Your position appears to be that immigration presents no problems for anybody unless they are RACIST SCUM. That is precisely the attitude that has created a million BNP votes.

(Still not sure how being bothered about the impact of a large and rapid influx of WHITE Polish people on local services is anything to do with RACISM, by the way, but you obviously know more about these things than I do.)

Still, I’m sure that if concerns about school and hospital overcrowding, the overheated housing market, rapid cultural change and competition for jobs in a recession are simply met by cries of RACIST SCUM then no-one will ever vote for FASCISTS again. Well done. That’s bound to work.

Nobody is suggesting having a polite chat with Nick Griffin, and nobody is suggesting the BNP are ‘reasonable’. You are still missing the point I am making. You don’t debate with the BNP in order to change the minds of the BNP; you debate with them, vigorously and publicly, and in doing so you destroy their arguments, because their arguments are crap. In doing that, you persuade those who voted or might vote for them that their arguments are crap.

Try listening to Nick Griffin’s recent interview with Nicky Campbell for an example of this approach. He was given enough rope and he promptly hung himself. The best weapon against the BNP, if you ask me, it to put Nick Griffin on TV at every opportunity. It won’t take people long to see what a hateful moron he is.

Your alternative is to close them down. Unfortunately for you, the BNP thrive on their assumed victim status. People vote for them because they are afraid and feel they are being ignored. Your proposals for dealing with this problem will feed those feelings and provide more fascist votes.

Secondly, there are two suggestions about how to deal with some of the root causes of this problem at the end of this article. If you want more you could read my book or any of the many articles I’ve written on the subject.

You mean the “National Debate”? LOL. That’s something politicians say when they’ve run out of talking points.

Where are yours? Apart from ‘disrupting meetings’, I mean.

Do you want what a good left wing government could do or what we can do as an out of power faction?

Thirdly, how about you and Rayyan stop SHOUTING and strutting about flashing your anti-racist credentials, and start thinking these things through. I think we can take it for granted that we all hate the BNP and fascism and that we all think racism is bad. How about we grant each other at least that level of respect and take it from there?

I haven’t flashed anything. I haven’t been involved in any anti-fascist activity recently, nor do I claim to be. I’ve thought things through & concluded that history demonstrates meeting disruption is a crucial tactic in combating the rise of the far-right.

Emmanuel – I am not suggesting anyone makes any ‘concessions’ about anything.

Talk to a BNP voter and they will usually say they voted BNP ‘cos of immigrants coming here and taking our jobs.’ They might also mention Islam (sigh) and various other things they have read about in the Mail. A good proportion of them will be unthinking racists; though actually what surprises me about what you just quoted is how many BNP supporters (a third) think you don’t have to be white to be British.

This narrative about ‘concessions’, aggression, destruction and beating enemies is increasingly unhelpful, I think. I am not talking about ‘concessions’. This isn’t the middle east. I am talking about democracy. If most people in this country think immigration levels are too high, that is a real problem for the political establishment. If elements of the left want to propose that the majority’s views are ignored because they don’t accord with their political ideology, then this is the result we will all get.

More widely, I think, as I have said elsewhere many times, that we need to provide English people with a positive narrative about Englishness which respects their need for identity and belonging and channels it in multiracial and civic directions. This gets easier with every generation because the best antidote to racism is people of all races mixing with each other. One look at any English school will confirm that this is happening daily, as will the very heartening statistics on the increasing numbers of mixed race marriages.

There’s always be a hardcore of people likely to vote BNP because they are hardcore racists. But I am not convinced that a million people in this country share the BNP’s horrible, extreme views on this stuff. I think something else is happening, and I don’t think we should ignore it.

James – you asked me for suggestions as to how to deal with this problem. I’ve presented you with a number of them.

So what would you suggest – starting from where we are and with a dose of political realism (so we can forget that ‘good left wing government, for a start!)

93. Matt Munro

“immigration is not to blame for the problems faced by underfunded schools, a mishandling of the NHS, rubbish public transport and climate change. Yes, that’s right. Immigrants are also to blame for climate change!”

That’s exactly the sort of twaddle that makes BNP voters feel their concerns aren’t being adressed. If your kids weren’t learning anything at school becuse the teacher spends all day trying to explain things to non-english speakers, who would you say was to blame ? If you can’t get hospital treatment because the budget has been used up treating a recent influx of migrants who would you blame ?

Educated people will blame the government, less educated people will blame the migrants themselves.

Immigrants, like anyone else, take up space, they drive cars, they use public services, they live in houses, they go to the docors, they send their kids to school, those are all limited resources, so obviously the more people that use them, the less each person will get. Why do the left never seem to graps this simple economic fact ?

Let me run it by you in really simple terms.

School has 100 pupils and £100,000 budget. That means ecah pupil gets £1,000 worth of education.

Next year , school now has 1000 pupils and the same £100,000 budget, each pupil gets £100 worth of education

Instead of denying the problem, the left needs to be honest and admit that if you allow unmanaged immigration you also need to either raise taxes or stop providing public services on a free for all basis.

On that last point, Matt, Salma Yaqoob has another terrible piece on CiF today about beating the BNP by building new houses.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/11/housing-immigration-bnp?commentpage=2

I think this sort of thing is a wilful missing of the point, and I think people have had enough of it. If people are not going to start being honest about the state of the nation and the perceptions of that state, then we are in for a very rough ride.

95. Mr. Feathers

“If your kids weren’t learning anything at school becuse the teacher spends all day trying to explain things to non-english speakers, who would you say was to blame”

Actually, children from immigrant families outperform the white underclass because they are naturally cleverer and their culture is more favourable towards education.

I can show you schools that are all white and are still completely shit, because the “parents” in those areas are thick, useless fucking chavs who have no idea how to raise their kids.

But you wouldn’t send your fucking kids there, would you Matt Munro?

James – you asked me for suggestions as to how to deal with this problem. I’ve presented you with a number of them.

A “National Debate” isn’t going to do it. TBH my “english identity” doesn’t really mean that much to me, indeed it doesn’t particularly mean anything specific at all, as far as I can tell. I like tea, I guess.

So what would you suggest – starting from where we are and with a dose of political realism (so we can forget that ‘good left wing government, for a start!)

The anti-fascist movement of the 1970s onwards did an amazing job of making racism less publically acceptable. Whereas previously racism was just a feature of British living it’s now even been purged from football. However the victory looked more impressive than it was owing to the organisational collapse of the National Front, which died from a combination of anti-fascist campaigning choking them through making public displays problematic/impossible (sound familiar?), absurd over-ambition (they thought that a big electoral breakthrough would occur & it didn’t, leaving them with a lot of lost deposists) & a positively Trotskyite scale set of schisms & counter-schisms.

The present organisation is unifying the far-right very effectively, making itself very well known & despite a promosing looking kerfuffle quite recently over some Yorkshire activists is seemingly united.

In electoral terms (which are what you seem to care about most) what we need is an alternative. Not neccessarily to lure would-be BNP voters to, but to give a place for disenfrancised voters who would otherwise stay at home. There are a number of promising candidates in small party terms, the Greens spring to mind and they came only a thousand or so votes away from beating Griffin to that MEP seat, but what would be even better would be if Labour became worth voting for or the LibDems improved, but that’s a mission in itself.

Naturally, your tactics are going to have to vary depending upon what type of an election we’re talking about. FPTP will require a different approach to PR, etc.

Mr Feathers –

“children from immigrant families outperform the white underclass because they are naturally cleverer ”

Let’s try and reverse those terms, shall we, and see how it reads:

“children from white families outperform the immigrant underclass because they are naturally cleverer ”

Oh look, it reads like it’s come from the BNP’s website.

Racist arsehole.

James – again, you’re ignoring all the root causes.

You’re ignoring the housing crisis, the rising population, the economic problems, the cultural difficulties caused by immigration, the competition for jobs in a recession, the lack of focus on integration of migrants and the refusal of the political classes to understand the cultural needs of those who are at the sharp end of immigration. Bully for you if your English identity means nothing to you; that’s scarcely the issue, is it?

Despite what people like Rayya think, this country is not full of mad racists. But it does contain increasing numbers of people, it would seem, who are sick of being ignored and having their concerns dismissed by those who think they know better, and who are apparently willing to vote for fascists to make their point.

I’m very much in support of anti-racist activism, and I agree with you about the seventies and how and why things improved. But this is not the seventies, or the thirties. And tackling the BNP themselves is not an alternative to tackling what is making them thrive.

Well yes, I am ignoring the housing crisis. If I had state power behind me then I’d be dealing with it, but you said to deal with reality. Am I expected to start laying bricks to combat the BNP?

100. the a&e charge nurse

[95] you’re analysis of the chav schools might be correct, Mr Feathers, but that still does not address the affect on public services by immigration.

If we look at the overall balance sheet some argue that immigration has had a positive effect on the economy (to cite just one indicator) – and while this may be true if we apply measurement to a population it still doesn’t mean that a school place (say) will be lost to somebody, somewhere,because of the increased competition for places.
That’s a simple fact of life as far as I can tell?

Now these individual hard luck might be dismissed as a price worth paying in the great scheme of things, and others might actually prefer to have their children educated in a school where there is cultural diversity including multiple languages – in other words I don’t think there is any single or correct answer to many of these conundrums.

Even so, rhetoric is one thing, but loss of a job, or a school place is a serious matter in the current climate – I think there is also a perception that public services are literally groaning under the weight of demand/expectation.

In the interest of fairness I think we have to hear the voices of ALL the protagonists, including voters who have had their head turned by Griffin’s blather – the danger (if we don’t) is that even more voters might be persuaded to throw in with the BNP on the grounds that nobody else is listening to them nowadays?

Actually, children from immigrant families outperform the white underclass because they are naturally cleverer….

No more of this, please.

Paul,

This narrative about ‘concessions’, aggression, destruction and beating enemies is increasingly unhelpful, I think. I am not talking about ‘concessions’. This isn’t the middle east. I am talking about democracy. If most people in this country think immigration levels are too high, that is a real problem for the political establishment. If elements of the left want to propose that the majority’s views are ignored because they don’t accord with their political ideology, then this is the result we will all get.

More widely, I think, as I have said elsewhere many times, that we need to provide English people with a positive narrative about Englishness which respects their need for identity and belonging and channels it in multiracial and civic directions. This gets easier with every generation because the best antidote to racism is people of all races mixing with each other. One look at any English school will confirm that this is happening daily, as will the very heartening statistics on the increasing numbers of mixed race marriages.

You’re slightly mixing up things, I think. There’s concern about immigration and all the rest of it. At least some of that concern isn’t motivated by the usual racist nonsense. But that concern, along with all the other stuff you mention, thoroughly underdetermines a vote for the BNP: a voter could believe all that stuff — that there are too many immigrants, that there’s not a positive English identity — without voting for the BNP. They coudl have voted UKIP, and many did. There’s something additional motivating the BNP vote. It may be that all the things you suggest should be done anyway, but I doubt that they’re going to have any strong effect on the BNP vote.

You’ve also, I think, missed something about the connection between racism and nationalism. It’s fair to say that you think the BNP have succeeded because they’re the revivers of a lost English nationalism. That’s not quite how the racist vote works. The BNP are quite happy to have white non-English members; they mean the British part of their name; they’re patriotic to (what they take to be) a race, rather than a country. And their voters know this, by and large. Your apparent assumption that BNP voters are motivated by a sense of lost English nationalism may be true, but it’s very hard to see why they would vote for the BNP, because the BNP really aren’t the English National Party.

A question as needs to be asked, what immigration policy do you propose, Paul Kingsnorth?

I admit to being confused- I agree with you that the levels need to be reduced, so I advocate some form of points-based system. But I take the view that, with the Home Office as shite at making decisions as it is, there will always be cases whereby people who don’t contribute to society are admitted, whereas people who could make a very strong contribution aren’t.

I think you are like me. I know a lot of immigrants & like most of them. But I just don’t think we can suddenly take in the milllions who would come here if they could, so I (reluctantly) support immigration controls. I’ll always remember one young lady of my acquaintance who was sent back to her country of origin, which I was very upset by, as I not only liked her personally but thought she would have been an asset to this country.

Also, many immigrants are very glad of what this country has to offer & are more patriotic than a lot of people who were born here as they can see how shite life is where they originate from & are glad, for example, to have escaped from theocracies (unless the Rowan Williamses of this world get their way!)

Those who support immigration restrictions, & I am one of them, must decide what criteria they want to use & be prepared to upset some people. I think whatever system we devise will end up making mistakes because, well, this is the state we’re talking about!

I’m interested in knowing how you think immigration should be managed. The same goes for all others such as a & e.

“I’ll always remember one young lady of my acquaintance”

I disagreed strongly with the Home Office’s verdict & still do. It was the wrong decision. If we are going to have immigrants, & I have no objection so long as it is at a low level, it should be people like this.

Of course the problem is that the “points” are rather crude as a measure. But we cannot admit everyone.

Despite what people like Rayya think, this country is not full of mad racists.

Paul, I never said anything along these lines and the fact that you would imply otherwise suggests you are not interested in rational debate but simply smearing those who you disagree with and projecting/displaying whatever hatred you have of the likes of the SWP/UAF/whoever onto them. Trying to convince you that your suggested approach, of conflating whatever apparent problems immigration might have caused with the reasons people vote for racists and then saying the way we stop people voting for racists is to restrict immigration, might have some flaws has been a pointless waste of time. If I wanted to be smeared by someone who has no grasp of the fact that where the BNP are allowed to organise, racist attacks increase, I’d go elsewhere.

Your “national debate” is a meaningless platitude we’ve heard from New Labour for over a decade now. Anyone remember “The Big Conversation”? Of course, when people try to stick up for immigrant communities, you shout them down and smear them as ignoring the problems associated with immigration. I’m not ignoring the problem: I’m disagreeing with your analysis of it. Can you respond to this in a way that doesn’t involve moaning about how the evil left ignore the problems associated with immigration? You’ve shown here that you can’t. Your quest for an English national identity is also pointless: you don’t need to unite people under an artificial banner to combat racism. It’s a bit like suggesting Esperanto could’ve stopped the Second World War from starting.

That’s all I’m going to say on the matter because you’re proven you aren’t interested in debate about how to make things better: only in criticising those who care about racism and caricaturing them as being “ignorant”, whilst offering two very weak and tokenistic alternatives. Well done.

Why did a million people vote BNP? Its easy really. Labour did not do enough for the working classes, they stopped caring, they let affordable housing become virtually non existent, full time permanent jobs becoming less at the expense of temping jobs, classes grow bigger and NHS dentists rare. They just continued with a srt of Tory Light agenda as far as business is concerned, while stoaking up the whole terrorist paranoia thing. All this with the whole immigration furore bubbling along nicely, and finaly the expenses row.

So sections of the population feel no one is listening and start to get swayed by the seductions of the BNP. Again, just like the 70s and 80s I start to hear that England is for WHITE English people.

This country has always had a racist streak through it and it has only been in the last 20yrs that most, public at least, attitudes have changed. I haven’t been called ‘nigger’ on the street for a long long time and thankfully we don’t have a modern equivalent of the tv programme ‘Mind Your Language’.
But lets get one thing straight – working class people were just as fucking racist as Lord Racist of Racistshire was back then. Go and watch Alf Garnet, who wasn’t really fictional in most that he espoused, for a good indicator. The fact that working class people voted BNP is really nothing new or unusual.
The funny thing is, if the BNP had changed their stance to say ‘anyone born here is English, and therefore ok to join – they would have got even more votes (hey, black ex labour supporters have also been wondering who the hell to vote for now!) The things that those working class people who voted BNP have concerns about, are pretty much the same concerns as all working class people irrespective of colour. And it is colour that is the main distinguishing factor for the BNP – it always is.
And that’s what maddens me about all this. The talk is about ‘immigration’ yet the BNP is for ‘white people’, but the biggest influx of recent immgrants has been eastern europeans – whites.’Immigration’ once again becomes short hand for colour.

The BNP were actually putting out a line last year that if you were born here yet black you were english and could join. I was even told that on this site by a BNP activist when the members list was published. I was told by another member the same thing not long after. Yet as soon as the expenses scandal hit, Griffin changed tack and we were back to their default whites only mode – obviously because he knew he was going to get votes now without the need for such changes, however superficial they were going to be.

The only way you will stop people voting BNP is to show that their concerns are being taken serious but also to keep on pointing out they are racist. I think we do have to throw eggs, we do have to run counter demos, we do have to shame people for voting racists. Some BNP voters are already trying to say that they are not racist, just as the activist did on these pages, so we have to make them make a conscious choice that they are siding with racists, that racism is not a ‘policy’ they can just simply opt out of. The BNP voters and activists must be drawn into a postion where they have to publicly stand as openly against all non whites. Wte also have to do a similar thing as regards their Nazi jew hating ‘policy’.
Sure some will have no problem, but I do think some will find that a little too much to bare and the more people are afraid to espounse such views in public the better.
Yes they were democratically voted in BUT they preach hate on the most base of things – skin colour. I do believe that this country has moved too far for it to go back to the dark days of race relations that were the 70s. However, we cannot afford to give the BNP one iota of respect, just because they were voted in, or we risk allowing racism to become acceptable as it was 30 odd years ago.
So political parties, activists etc can by all means debate with the BNP as much as they want, and they should. But I will throw eggs, I will berate, and I will fight, because I was born here, I am British and I happen to have a skin colour that is not white. Whether they have been democratically elected or not, they are the same racists (Griffin/Brons) that made our lives fucking difficult back then. Thing is, my generation will never stand for that degree of open racism again so don’t judge me or anyone else that follows this line unless the BNP/NF have impacted on your life as they have ours.

“It’s a bit like suggesting Esperanto could’ve stopped the Second World War from starting.”

Ouch.

Ace – amen to all you say, brother.

Rayyan – keep up the good fight because it is a good fight.

I’m half white and half black and my white grandfather fought against the Nazis in the war. It sickens me (the white half – lol) that we have two Nazis as MEPS, but I don’ think those white voters really take even that into account.
What do they say, a spade is a spade? Well a racist is a racist. And Griffin/Brons are just Nazi loving racists.

Ace – cheers for the story. It sickens me that this all transpired almost sixty years since Britain stood up to fascism in World War Two. Whilst I believe we should confront the BNP themselves, and that their voters are either racist or have no problem with racism because if they were concerned about immigration they could’ve voted for UKIP, I still think we need to engage with those people in some way – by not beating around the bush and telling them that racism isn’t going to solve their problems, and that their problems are the same faced by working class people of all colours. What these people want is a bit of honesty and courage: not more dissembling pols who think they know what these people want and how to suck up to them best. This blog has it about right and the parallels between what it is criticising and what this article is proposing are quite uncanny:

We will hear the usual useful idiots arguing that the BNP gain is a result of mainstream politicians not listening to the suffering martyrs of the white working class when they talk about immigration, housing, expenses, political correctness, multiculturalism, the decline of the family, the neglect of Labour’s heartlands – take your pick.

Forget that a working class person can sometimes be wrong. Forget that BNP support also comes from the bourgeois professional classes who are probably not that affected by the recession. The Times found that the leaked BNP membership list ‘describes the occupations of some members that are deemed to be sensitive or of use to the BNP, such as NHS doctor, teacher, journalist, vicar, company director, scientist, engineer or construction manager. Others are listed as public speakers. The list appears to include several former police officers.’

and

No, sorry to break it to you, but there is a harsh truth that people are going to have to face up to – the BNP vote is a racist vote, pure and simple. The BNP know that and they have devised their strategy around addressing the concerns of racists and making an appeal to them. Mainstream politicians insist on saying that not all BNP voters are racists. Perhaps, but the vast majority of them are.

The people who vote for the BNP do so for reasons of race and little else – because they believe the BNP will ’sort out the Pakis’ or ’stick up for us’ or because they have had enough of the ‘Paki lovers’ on the council. The BNP’s ‘respectable turn’ in replacing bomber jackets with badly fitting suits hasn’t changed the message it has just made it easier for people to vote BNP.

From http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2009/06/08/northern-uproar/

Harry Hatchet is a hawkish cunt, but he’s right.

Is that his real name? The Mail should give him a column called “The Hatchet Job”.

I was amazed to find such sense on HP, I’ll admit.

@95 is a twat, but the point that the schools which do worst are the ones in all-white working class areas (or ‘BNP heartlands’), not the ones in mixed areas, is worth making, because it exposes the nonsense, bullshit lie that the reason for white-working-class kids’ low educational attainment is too much time spent dealing with illiterate Banglas.

The reason why the emergence of the BNP is so pernicious is because it makes well-meaning people like Paul focus on immigration as *a source of* rather than *a scapegoat for* the white working class’s problems. It *just fucking isn’t*. People stuck in that situation might believe that it’s a source of their problems, but they’re wrong.

They’re wrong because they went to crap schools, didn’t learn anything, can barely read, and hence believe any old shite they’re told (have you been to any BNP forums? ‘king hell, the levels of educational attainment on display make Terry Kelly sound like Terry Eagleton). But we did learn something, can read, and don’t – so we’re *fucking right* when we say that they’re either bigots or voting for other people’s lies.

*How we get that message out to BNP voters* is another question. Maybe we can’t, this generation. Maybe we need to fix education among the least academic quartile of the population – it’s the one thing that British people across all four nations have always been crap at compared to our neighbours, but perhaps it’s time to give it ago. And maybe rigging the system so they’re just ignored is the right thing to do, this generation. Or maybe we can change the current BNP voters’ minds, in which case awesome, but I’m fairly sure we don’t do it by telling them the lying shite they’ve fallen for is fine, true and jolly and we’re doing Real Things to address it.

113. KB Player

Good stuff, Ace. I recall people muttering to me about immigration, and I would protest, “But I’m an immigrant.” “Oh, we don’t mean you.” (me being white, native English speaker). “Immigration” is code word for non-white.

I saw a letter in the Guardian:- “I’m not a fascist or a racist but I voted BNP.” Well, Occam’s razor says that when someone votes for an openly racist party, they approve of its racist policies. It’s not as if those policies are way down in the small print somewhere. They’re the raison d’etre for the party.

As for cajoling the 950,000 who voted for them, a possible strategy might be to persuade the x millions who didn’t vote at all to get out and vote and minimise the impact of that number.

@111 he’s actually the original Harry whose Place it was – unfortunately, he selected a bunch of co-bloggers who went progressively Melanier and Melanier…

@113 “As for cajoling the 950,000 who voted for them, a possible strategy might be to persuade the x millions who didn’t vote at all to get out and vote and minimise the impact of that number.”

Precisely. Their support barely rose so why it’s suddenly a huge issue for the likes of Paul, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because they have an axe to grind anyway about immigration and the loss of their oh so precious non-existent English identity, that they thought this is a decent opportunity to pull out their old jibes about “teachers spending time explaining things to non-English speaking students”.

I think the millions who didn’t vote have bigger reasons than immigration for staying away.

@114 I wonder if Mel’s been bigging up the BNP gains recently, or at the very least painting them as “far left” (chortle chortle). Didn’t know that about HP. Odd that.

Is that his real name? The Mail should give him a column called “The Hatchet Job”.

Fairly interesting story there, actually. A pseudonym with an interesting story behind it. It is now Harry Hatchet, it used to be “Harry Steele”. Harry in reference to Harry Pollit, long-time leader of the (original) CPGB. Steele in reference to the Man of Steel, Comrade Jo Stalin.

Yep, the spearhead of the “Anti-Fascist Left” (as opposed to the Pro-Fascist Left, who think that Israel is capable of war crimes) is a former Stalinist. Hence all the Trot hate which fills his site (I don’t exactly love the Trots, but they basically treat them like Procopius treated Justinian, which is made especially strange given that the Trots have spent the entire decade a million miles from power…).

@ 113 “As for cajoling the 950,000 who voted for them, a possible strategy might be to persuade the x millions who didn’t vote at all to get out and vote and minimise the impact of that number.”

Yeah you are right on this but until there is a party for working class voters then that also may be a problem. And if Labour don’t get their act together pretty sharpish then expect to see BNP MPs in parliament real soon. Unless BNP voters realise they are going to be called racists/fascists at every opportunity and that they piss on the graves of every white Brit that fought in WW2.
I really believe its time to reclaim the Union Jack, St.George, pride in England and everything else that the BNP try to take for themselves.
I will be making my own Tshirt with the slogan ‘I am England’, please feel free to do like wise!

& yes, that isn’t too big a shift. Stalinists used to defend the Soviet Union occupying Afghanistan & now they’ve moved on to…Defending New Labour occupying Afghanistan. The strangest of the bunch is John Reid: considering his Stalinist past put his bizarre rhetoric when he became Defence Secretary (“pacified without a shot being fired”, et al…) into a rather grisly perspective.

In fact, understanding New Labour & its apologists (Aaronovitch esp.) is helped immensely when you bear in mind that this is a pack of former-commies. Don’t make the Old Holborn error of imagining they are still commies, mind…

119. Chris Williams

Has anyone here read Nigel Copsey’s history of anti-fascism in Britain? It argues pretty coherently that the fascist movements were disrupted by the fact that some of their enemies were arguing against them at the same time as other of their enemies were throwing bricks. This was hard to cope with – and the effectiveness of the strategy was not compromised by the fact that both lots of anti-fascists genuinely despised each other.

120. John Band

(FWIW, I’ve done some *shock horror* actual research and expanded @112 into a post above. Which is annoying, as I’d planned to get an early-ish night…)

Chris W – Hadn’t heard of that, thank you very much for the tip-off! Shall check out shortly.

JB – Much appreciated! & don’t worry: there’s enough sun in these summer months that you’re sure to still catch some. 😀

Hi there.

Paul, I know that things got a little heated yesterday. I was trying to stay dispassionate, but I perhaps got a tad carried away with myself. I think that your analysis is a far from shoddy one, & I’m especially happy with you bringing it to the fore that the BNP is in fact an English nationalist party (you don’t see any support for them in Scotland at all, the far more benign SNP presides over nationalist politics & the fact that there aren’t really any Scot Tories means that the working class Tory base the BNP relies upon just isn’t there. Wales & NI don’t have any interest in them either, but that’s an article in itself.)

However it strikes me that you’re perhaps going for the whole Nick Cohen thing with your rather hectoring tone towards “The Left” (hint: there are a lot of lefts, not just on). I don’t think it’s particularly fair to attack the side of the political spectrum as a unified bloc, but if we’re going to go down that road I’d suggest you go for the side that birthed the Monday Club, rather than the one that came up with Love Music Hate Racism.

It also seems a bit like you’re trying to advance anti-immigration arguments on the sly. If you are anti-immigration then just say so, then explain why.

Above all, please drop that “National Debate” stuff. It makes you sound like a New Labour robot. Otherwise, there’s some sound and valuable stuff here. Let’s get working on solutions.

“the levels of educational attainment on display make Terry Kelly sound like Terry Eagleton”

Hold it, Terry Eagleton is still a fuckwit though, however “educated” he is.

He thinks being totally incomprehensible equates to being profound, whereas in fact it just means that he hasn’t got any coherent ideas.

http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/notesarchive.php?id=2732 (etc, etc, etc)

BTW, I am genuinely curious & such as to what Paul Kingsnorth et al will say to #102.

“Hold it, Terry Eagleton is still a fuckwit though, however “educated” he is.”

I was going to point this out, but felt generous.

NG went to Downing College, Cambridge, please do remember…

I’m going to be away for a while now so won’t be able to come back to this. Let me just try and sum up a few things.

Firstly, obviously a BNP vote is a racist vote. Obviously the BNP are a fascist party. read my article again. I have not suggested otherwise. If I wasn’t very worried indeed by having two BNP MEPs I wouldn’t bother writing about it.

My interest is in trying to explore why this has happened. BNP support has increased tenfold in ten years. I don;t think playing this down will work, and I don’t think chucking eggs will work either. That’s not because I don’t think the likes of Griffin don’t deserve to have eggs thrown at them. I think Ace’s observations are quite right in most ways, and I quite understand why he feels like that. My wife is a British Asian and she spent her childhood getting beaten up in the playground by people whose brothers were in the NF. I don’t need to be told how pernicious racism is.

But this is about more than just racism. Ace said what I have said before: most recent immigration has been white. What nobody has said is that opposition to immigration, which runs at around 70% nationally, cuts across all ethnic groups. The last survey I saw had more British Asians objecting to immigration than British whites. 70% of the country objecting to something is a big deal. It needs to be responded to.

Immigration is not the only reason people vote BNP, and immigrants are scapegoated by that party for wider social ills. They prey on people who are unquestioning and often stupid enough to buy that line. But those people are suffering from a crisis of identity which we would do well to understand. Immigration for them is the most visible reason for that crisis, and it’s a universal human tendency to scapegoat The Other, so that’s what they do. Ace has it right: we need to address their concerns whilst also pointing out forcefully that the BNP are a racist party who should not be an option for anyone in the voting booth.

People do not vote BNP because they are ‘English nationalists’, but increasing numbers of English people vote for them and this should worry all of us. If we had a party or a movement which presented a positive English identity, taking their concerns seriously and at the same time carrying an anti-racist message, we would have a good chance of combating BNP poison. This is a key reason why the BNP vote is small in Scotland and Wales. The reason I focus on the left here is that the left has been terrible at this. Rayyan’s comment about peoples’ ‘non-existent English identity’ is a typical example of this horrible and dismissive tendency, as has been his line in general: attack, smear, insult and if that doesn’t work, shout ‘RACIST.’

Immigration is not the main reason why people feel disenfranchised; it is a part of the reason, and that reason is neoliberal capitalism. The global economy turns peoples lives upside down and they need reassurance. The Labour movement used to provide it for some; who offers it now to the disenfranchised English in the northern towns? The bloody BNP.

We should not be allowing a fascist party to represent English people and to parade their whites-only version of England as if it were the only one. The way – to at least one way – to combat this is to show we have a positive, alternative, multi-racial English vision. I would like more people on the left to think about how to do this.

Finally, and as I have said ad nauseum, I am not ‘anti-immigration.’ Being anti-immigration is rather like being anti-the sun coming up every day. People have always moved around. But I am in favour of controlling immigration at levels which ensure that unnecessary hardship does not arise as a result of it; hardship such as competition for housing and services, and rapid cultural changes which are hard to deal with. I’m not yet decided on how I favour doing this, but personally I lean towards Frank Field’s proposing for balancing immigration and emigration levels, for environmental as well as social reasons. At present around 250,000 people leave the country every year, so there’s still plenty of scope for useful movement there. but I am open to new ideas on this.

Everyone her has an interest in ensuring that Griffin and Brons lose their seats at the next election and that this is the high watermark of BNP support. To do that, we need to take people seriously – not the BNP themselves, who are beyond the pale, but those people who have been gulled into voting for them.

Paul, do fuck off. You’re accusing me of smears but you haven’t actually engaged with anything I’ve been saying all along, whereas I’ve posted a lot of stuff, including from other blogs, that engages your points and shows them to be pathetic stupid wishy washy liberal crap of the highest order.

“The Labour movement used to provide it for some; who offers it now to the disenfranchised English in the northern towns? The bloody BNP.”

Actually – no. The vast majority of Labour voters in these “northern towns” either stayed at home, voted Labour, or voted someone else. And as the blogs I’ve linked to show, not all BNP support comes strictly from the “disenfranchised” white working class. But you didn’t read what I wrote. As soon as I started questioning your all powerful logic, you just put me into a category of someone who lines up with UAF. Rather them than you, mate.

You can wave whatever “I know Asians” at me but I am one so I don’t need to be spoken down to by some Oxford-dwelling wanker about how we should “understand” the concerns of BNP voters. As long as you are in this country you will *never* fully understand or know what it is like to be abused and discriminated against because of your skin colour. I’m not saying this to close down debate: I just object to you waving around your “I’m down with the ethnics” credentials to booster your argument, so if you want to play that stupid game, let’s play.

I also don’t need you to tell me that I’m letting white English people down by not embracing this multicultural vision of England – I live it every fucking day so don’t you fucking tell me I’m wrong just because you’re talking bollocks and I don’t agree with you.

If people are worried about immigration, vote Tory or UKIP. No excuse for BNP voters. The only thing that needs addressing is why people vote for racists, and – you know what, it *might* just have something to do with the fact that they are racists or they at least have no problem with it. Immigrants haven’t caused the loss of identity of these racist voters, but they are being blamed for it. So your solution is to blame immigration… how about we tell those voters what the cause of their loss of identity is? And tell them to stay the fuck away from demonising immigrants. Treat them like we should hope to treat working class people of all colours and cultures in this country: deal with their material concerns, raise their aspirations, give them the opportunity to improve their lot if they so wish. No special treatment just because they vote racist.

Thanks for that Rayyan. I like engaging, and am happy to change my mind on things if I’m wrong about them. But I don’t like being insulted or patronised or abused or lectured by someone who doesn’t know me, hasn’t met me and prefers abuse to discussion.
You know what: it’s actually OK to disagree with people. Others on this thread manage to do that without acting like petulant children, or using the word ‘fuck’ every three sentences or parading their wretcheder-than-thou credentials. Maybe you should direct your righteous anger in a more useful direction. A therapist, say.

Three more suggestions for Paul:

If he thinks putting Nick Griffin on TV endlessly so the man can “embarrass himself” is a great idea, why not start a fund? Get Griffin on TV! I hear there are 950,000 willing sponsors out there. Buy some air time. Go on. Put your money where your mouth is! I mean it.

Failing that, invite Griffin or your friendly local neighbourhood BNP spokesman around to your flat/house, allow them to talk, “expose their views”, film it, put it online.

Then, how about visiting a detention centre for failed asylum seekers? Maybe the ones where they keep kids? Or being present at a dawn deportation raid when “illegal” immigrants are forcibly removed from their homes, separated from their families? Take along a “disgruntled, disenfranchised, disillusioned” white BNP voter or two. Tell ’em to bring their kids. Then they can see how “soft” the UK is on immigration.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbAKUdEWzq8

Oh and finally Rayyan, and just in case it makes you think rather than rant, how about you consider that when you say this:

“how about we tell those voters what the cause of their loss of identity is? And tell them to stay the fuck away from demonising immigrants. Treat them like we should hope to treat working class people of all colours and cultures in this country: deal with their material concerns, raise their aspirations, give them the opportunity to improve their lot if they so wish. No special treatment just because they vote racist.”

You are saying pretty much what I have been saying all the way through this debate. And that when you say this:

“your solution is to blame immigration”

you are talking bollocks, because you would rather make assumption about what evil, Oxford-dwelling (wtf does that have to do with anything? have you even fucking been to Oxford? It’s not like it is on Inspector Morse, you know) English and therefore obviously racist and overpriveleged white boys think than actually listen to what their saying.

Anyway, this is a dialogue of the deaf and I have to go. I’ve got an appointment in da ghetto with Ali G.

PPS: where did I say the UK was ‘soft on immigration’? Or that BNP people were ‘friendly’?

Oh. I didn’t. Looks like you made it up.

parading their wretcheder-than-thou credentials

Who was it who brought up the fact that they knew someone who had been the victim of racist abuse to make their own “I know all about the pain of immigrants”? A silly, pointless insulting game to play, but don’t start playing a game then complain it’s too hot to handle.

Despite what people like Rayya think, this country is not full of mad racists.

And that’s not insulting someone or patronising them or acting petulantly, is it? Totally misrepresenting what I said to discredit the fact that I think your argument is woefully weak? I said the people who voted for the BNP were either racist or had no problem with racism. That’s a lot of people but that doesn’t mean Britain is full of them. The problem is that you’re saying there’s many people out there who are aggrieved about immigration. I’m saying there is a problem but it’s one about perception.

Not a swearword in there. But if you want to play the game of “ooh you swear a lot so I will totally disregard everything else you say because swearing is for dummies” then there’s plenty more where that came from. Is this how they teach debating down at the Oxford Union then?

Yes, I have been to Oxford. You’re saying you agree with me (and I hope you do) that we shouldn’t treat white working class concerns any differently to non-white working class concerns, then you say, hmm but immigrants coming into the UK at such a rate is a really big concern – and one that needs dealing with over and above the actual concerns of all working class people, most of whom, unlike BNP voters, are not racist.

You’re just changing the goalposts because you don’t like the fact someone disagrees with you so vehemently, and because they’ve pointed out that the way you write/debate shows you to be a total arse!

Editors note, this comment has been edited in line with our policy – AMH

Rayyan. You obviously have a lot of issues. You are misrepresenting me, insulting me and caricaturing me. You are inventing positions which you then ascribe to me, so that you can fit me into some racial and political template you have. I’m not interested.

You don’t speak for Britain’s Asians, any more than I speak for Britain’s white people. You, like me, are just a bloke with an opinion, and it’s as valid as mine and if you want to argue about it why don’t you do so without insulting me. Do you think that will persuade me to change my mind?

I don’t have some agenda to push here. I am as interested in stopping the BNP as you are, so why don’t you stop shouting and ranting and foaming and seeing me as the enemy. If you did, you might notice that a lot of our positions are actually not very far apart at all.

And I really do have to go now.

#30 Andy Gilmour

I applaude your comment 🙂

This thread contains about a million points but:

I will ask this question:

has it occured to you all that in the past few years New Labour repeatedly try and ‘appease’ some of the BNP-related concerns?

Shall I remind you of recent dog-whistle quotes by Hazel Blears, Phil Whoolas, et al?
The tighter immigration policies.

Where exactly did that take NL in electoral terms?

So what exactly is this language that would magically win people back from the BNP? Do they mean we have to go down the Daily Star route with its GIVE THE JOBS TO WHITES headline? Do those politicians and columnists really think that if they all decided to write elegies to Enoch Powell, the BNP-voting oik would suddenly go: “hang on, fuck this, I’m Labour through and through”? Does it mean that if all local Councils were persuaded to start advertising for “WHITES ONLY” jobs, the BNP would die a natural death? Or would “No Somali for council homes, we’ve had it up to here” do the trick? I mean, really?

As if at the height of the tax-dodging non-dom controversy you got politician after politician going: “Let’s stop alienating our working class voters. Let’s stop licking the arses of Abramovich & co, otherwise we’re gonna hand all our voters to the Communist Party of Great Britain at the next council elections”. Do you hear Tory and Labour MPs alike wailing that if we don’t double cycle lanes pronto the Green Party will clear the tab at the next elections? Or, does anyone ever say, “we’d better not bail those banks out otherwise we’re gonna get our own British version of the Red Brigades”? No, something tells me you don’t. And that’s because for decades now the left and centre-left, both in Britain and in continental Europe, have instinctively felt they had to fight a rearguard battle against the (far) right and its ugly rhetoric.

Today’s new obsession that we’ve got to speak the same language as the BNP if we want to defeat them is, frankly, pathetic. If there ever was one way of vindicating the BNP and its ignorant, racist, nazi, hate-soaked policies, it’d be exactly it: appealing to race resentment -as if your job, your house, your life, were really all about your skin tone, no less, like in apartheid South Africa. A Britain like that would be truly, very, little.

Rayyan,

It doesn’t need saying that you stepped over the line with this comment. It has been edited and the very offensive word removed.

We’re all adults here, and foul language is usually tolerated, but a direct insult towards another contributor – in that way – isn’t.

Dep. Ed

Yeah doods, chill the fuck out.

139. Chris Williams

Claude nails it, at 136 above, I think.

Paul and (slightly more) Rayyan, you both have something to say to one another and you would almost certainly learn more (and do us all a favour) if you dropped the verbal aggression.

What a good idea. Let’s take a deep breath.

What I hate about the internet is the encouragement is seems to give, on forums like this, to intensely insulting and abusive language, which people would never use if they were debating face to face. There are also a lot of suggestions of hidden intentions and nasty agendas going round, which are unfair and unnecessary.

I really am going now, as I am off on holiday . But I would just reiterate what I said in what was my last, deliberately calm, summary of this argument. We’re all against racism, and we all want to stop the BNP. You wouldn’t know it from some of the muck on here, but pretty much everyone seems to be pulling in the same direction. All I would say if that issues like this can’t be debated intelligently and fairly on forums like this, then there is a big problem.

141. the a&e charge nurse

[140] Awww, c’mon ………. the internet is the playground of our inner, and usually rather naughty child, surely?

142. Matt Munro

@ 95

“Actually, children from immigrant families outperform the white underclass because they are naturally cleverer and their culture is more favourable towards education.

I can show you schools that are all white and are still completely shit, because the “parents” in those areas are thick, useless fucking chavs who have no idea how to raise their kids.

But you wouldn’t send your fucking kids there, would you Matt Munro?”

The question is not whether migrants children do better at school but whether everyone is getting a fair slice of the eductaional cake. And your second point is both deeply racist (would you make the same remark with the word black in place of white or say that whites were naturally cleverer than non whites ?) and sophistry – you can also pick schools in deprived areas that are largely non-white and are still “completely shit” and you can look at almost completely white public/private school that do very well – it proves nothing.

And no I wouldn’t send my kids there – I’ve had to move to get my kids into a decent school thanks to the joke that is the – grammar school education for all, my arse – comprehensive system that has never, and will never, work.

141 – GB24ailChan

144. Mr. Feathers

I wasn’t talking about all whites, I was talking about some whites. Actually bu “underclass” I didn’t mean all of those on low incomes, I meant those who refuse to improve their lot or help their children but instead blame immigrants for their lot in life rather than bettering themselves.

They expect the state to provide for them. I understand the frustration that immigrants get free housing whereas whites don’t. But if we removed restrictions on asylum seekers working and contributing, most would, often in good jobs. We wouldn’t need to house them. And if we didn’t have welfarism and a welfarist mentality, the white underclass might just actually acquire an interest in the workplace and a bit of self-respect.

One thing’s for sure, immigrants aren’t to blame for anyone’s predicament, the problems are statism and the sink culture amongst the underclass.

I advocate that there should be voluntary repatriation for immigrants who can’t prosper. But if they do prosper without the state giving them anything, who the fuck would begrudge them their success?

I am married to a Zimbabwean who, after a massive struggle to get asylum, has managed to get a good job, and in fact earns more than me. So I take it personally when some BNP dickhead starts berating immigrants and talking utter wank about how taxpayers should give them everything on a plate.

145. Mr. Feathers

Children are only in school for a fraction of their lives. If parents read to their children and encouraged them to do well, as people such as Jews and Indians generally do, they would thrive. If they don’t, you can’t blame schools.

Teachers are meant to do do teaching work, they shouldn’t have to do parenting work too. This is what you sign up for when you have unprotected sex.

Me and my wife are not having children for the foreseeable future and may never bother.

146. Shatterface

I’d like to add my voice to those who have said Terry Eagleton’s a fuckwit: he was insufferable enough when he discovered Lacan but now he believes Jesus was a Marxist it’s time to have him committed.

147. Shatterface

Feathers, you are just a bigot, plain and simple.

148. Mr. Feathers

No I’m not, I just hate the whole mentality that drives the BNP.

149. Shatterface

You are a bigot because you simply reverse arguments used against Black people and turn them on Whites. You accept the LOGIC behind racism, you just swap the ethnicities around.

And frankly I look forward to the day using the word ‘chav’ is as unnacceptable as the word ‘ni*gg*r’.

Shatterface @149:

But chav doesn’t mean white person. Chav means ‘unemployed, under-educated, randomly violent drunkard who likes to advertise those facts’ (and yes, my description here is both facetious and deliberately playing to the worst stereotype of the term). As far as I’m aware, it’s not a racial term. If anything, it’s a class-war term, not a race-war one. Negro, and it’s Confederate colloquial form, are simply the word “black” in Spanish; there’s no way to distinguish those words from their racial meanings.

I don’t disagree that Mr. Feathers has what a Californian might call ‘issues’. But chav still isn’t a racial term.

151. Mr. Feathers

Chav is a way of life, it doesn’t refer to income levels, socioeconomic position (I know single parents, for example, who do an excellent job), least of all race. It refers to those who blight the lives of blameless people and refuse to do anything to help themselves or their children.

There is a black underclass as well as a white underclass, I’m sure there are also Asians. I am merely pointing out that immigrants and asylum seekers outperform BNP supporters because they make more of an effort to do things for themselves rather than expecting the state to provide. Also if we didn’t have the government dishing out houses full stop, there’d be no one saying “X gets housed by the state but we don’t”. And we might see personal responsibility and self-respect restored.

I see that a lot of immigrants hold conservative values, so I support their efforts to make something of themselves. Do you deny that some children lag behind at school because their parents don’t pull their weight and refuse to read to them, engage them in conversation (screaming abuse doesn’t really count as conversation), and encourage them in their schoolwork?

Like I said, teachers are not surrogate parents and it is unfair to expect hard-working teachers to do what parents are supposed to do but too many times cannot be fucking bothered.

152. Mr. Feathers

Besides which, the great majority of whites aren’t chavs, so I don’t see how I’m prejudiced against a race which I belong to and the majority of whose members I have nothing against!?

@150 indeed, surely nobody’s seriously claiming there aren’t Asian chavs and black chavs…? I’ll happily take them on a tour of southeast London if they are.

154. Shatterface

I wasn’t claiming ‘chav’ was a racist term, my objection is on class terms: it’s hate speech, just directed at the working class. I’m sure Featherbrain hates the Black working class as much as he hates the WWC.

And I note that middle-class comedians like Marcus Brigstock invariably mock the appropriation of Black slang by working class whites because cross fertilization of popular cultures gonna lead to mongrelisation, innit?

Alright sticking a few tribal masks around the dinner table but we don’t want the oiks ganging up.

155. Matt Munro

“am merely pointing out that immigrants and asylum seekers outperform BNP supporters because they make more of an effort to do things for themselves rather than expecting the state to provide. ”

Er isn’t Nick Griffin an Oxford graduate ??

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that all racists are overt, or that racism is confined to a particular class, it isn’t. The middle class will move house “to get the kids into a good school”, not because the area has been taken over by migrants.

156. Mr. Feathers

Yes, prosperous blacks and Asians will do the exact same thing.

Let’s face it, people of all races would leave certain areas if they could, including white council estates. We have class segregation by house price, so some people are stuck. It’s why I live in a fairly drab area rather than a mansion in the New Forest with its own grounds.

I do laugh though, because the whitest area I know is a really God-awful council estate. I was once imagining a racist looking at statistics data trying to find the area with least ethnic minorities in the district, and settling on there, then realising there’s actually a huge price to be paid for his mysteriously cheap 3-bedroom semi!

157. Shatterface

Matt (155): They are also less likely to inter-marry, whereas the ‘chavs’ in the ‘racist heartlands’ of the council estates are more likely to have mixed race children. That’s what will ultimately consign the BNP to history. Hard to whip up hatred for your own grandchildren.

I just read Rod Liddle’s article on the unsurprising BNP election results – and it was the best take the event I’ve readso far.
So, putting aside any personal dislike of him or his general views, could any one here explain to me if his analysis is wrong? (please resist the temptation of telling me I must be a vile racist merely by looking at the Spectator on the web).
Thanks.

157 – Once again, Shatterface, we are in total and absolute agreement. Defeating the BNP is, above all else, a waiting game.

I recall the ringleader of the BNP at my sixth form, who expressed very vocally a desire for Race War, yet ten minutes later was commenting upon how “buff” he found a half-Indian girl of his acquaintance. When I inquired he informed me that no, he would not kill her in a race war.

*ahem*

157 – Once again, Shatterface, we are in total and absolute agreement. Defeating the BNP is, above all else, a waiting game.

I recall the ringleader of the BNP at my sixth form, who expressed very vocally a desire for Race War, yet ten minutes later was commenting upon how “buff” he found a half-Indian girl of his acquaintance. When I inquired he informed me that no, he would not kill her in a race war

161. the a&e charge nurse

Thanks for highlighting the article, Kojak
http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/features/3689038/if-anything-this-result-understates-the-support-for-the-bnp.thtml

A very entertaining piece that can be summarised with a single sentence: neither the political class, nor liberal elite understand the man (or, since it’s LC. woman) on the street.

I must admit I did find this observation (by Liddell) very funny.
“Nick Griffin campaigned against a backdrop of continual sniping from even more fabulously whacko right-wing opponents — some of whom set up a website called Griffinwatch dedicated to undermining his leadership. He only recently won a challenge to his leadership from people who considered him ‘too dictatorial’ (an odd complaint, you might think, from a bunch of fascists)”.

162. Shatterface

Griffinwatch sounds like a quidditch team.

163. the a&e charge nurse

He hee, shatterface [161] – I needed wiki to help me with that one
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quidditch

The Comments on here should tell any white working class voter that the Left hates them, are they going to vote for parties that clearly hate them.

Judging from the comments on here I have to ask, are there any other Cultures that you Hate as much as British culture.
Are there any other races you hate ( read the comments on this article ) as much as you clearly hate the British people.

Have a read sometime of the comments you make about British People, these are your fellow countrymen and quite clearly you despise them and want them gone.

And you want your fellow Britons to vote for Parties that share your views !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ0Z5i0M4-0&feature=channel_page

And after all European Countries have lost their unique Identities and the EU is simply a huge morass of sameness, what then, will we crosspolinate all the flowers to create a single species of flower, to eliminate unfair favouritism amongst bees.

What the Hell is wrong with having countries and National Identities and Cultures and a unique heritage, this is part of the Beauty of life, this is what makes traveling abroad attractive, to see different culture, money, to try different foods.
By the time you lot have finished there will be no point, we will be left with a dull boring sameness throughout the world.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ0Z5i0M4-0&feature=channel_page

If there was as much Violence advocated on the BNP Website as there is here, I’m pretty sure it would be closed down.

Let’s suppose there was another Group of people that wanted to protect their Identity, or just look after their own, would you hate them as much, would you want to drop pianos on them.

You see the point I’m trying to make is that does your hatred and Violence only extend to Indigenous British people.
Why is it that you want to kill people ( dropping a piano on someone would very probably kill them ) who may not share your point of view and do you think this is healthy.

Why not debate with the BNP, then the Million voters will decide if they will continue voting for them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxvqBT2aJnc

Compare and contrast…

“The solution? If you were to ask me I would say that dividing us into majorities and minorities is part of the problem, and that we need a new kind of cultural politics in this country which sees us all as one people – one nation – rather than an overlapping and often competing collection of ethnic interest groups.

“The good news for the left is that a debate about immigration is also, at root, a debate about capitalism; mass immigration is a function of the neoliberal ‘flexible labour market’ which is excellent news for corporations and often very bad news both for migrants and settled populations.”—Paul Kingsnorth

“Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups.

“By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called “diversity” actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist. The true antidote to racism is liberty. Liberty means having a limited, constitutional government devoted to the protection of individual rights rather than group claims.

“Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence, not skin color, gender, or ethnicity.”—Ron Paul

It seems to me that both Pauls are blaming the identity culture for some racism, and I suspect that there is a certain amount of truth in that (humans are still instinctively tribal animals and anything different is suspicious—this will change with familiarity, of course, as it has over the last few decades).

However, the role of capitalism in each is ascribed a rather different role. I find it odd that someone on Liberal Conspiracy would deny people the opportunity to live and work here (as Kingsnorth seems to prescribe—even if in a limited manner) and to improve their lives; whereas, of course, Ron Paul represents a country in which it is very difficult to get into at all.

If one is worried about immigration, then it seems to me that one needs to deal with all immigrants equally—thanks to the strictures of the EU, we cannot treat citizens of Europe any differently from the “indigenous” population.

To compensate, we are making it harder and harder for those from countries outwith the EU—even skilled and, to British society, profitable ones (some may know that I have an interest here, by the way)—which, to my mind, seems inherently unfair (and stupid).

Anyway, I’m not making a particular point really, just thought that it was an interesting comparison.

For what it is worth, however, my fix is relatively simple. Remove most Benefits, and remove the marginal benefit deduction. This would be best done via a Citizens’ Basic Income, which everyone would receive whether they work or not: this would be pretty low (low enough to encourage as many people as possible to work) and would not be withdrawn if a person gets a job.

Couple this with a high tax allowance—£12,000 would ensure that those working full-time on the minimum wage would not have to pay income tax—and you have a model that will encourage British people to work.

In this way, you would reduce the number of jobs available to immigrants and thus fewer would come here—lower benefits and fewer available jobs would mean less incentive to settle—thus easing the problem (if problem there is).

This would mean that the Border Agency would not need penalise, deeply unfairly, those who want to come here and work and support themselves, whilst also easing the immigration problem and strain on public services.

In other words, make the market as free as possible—especially by removing the disincentives to work—and let the market sort out the immigration problem. Incidentally, all of this would sort out the problem of those who will never get work, and who will, therefore, never be able to get better work, etc. etc.

DK

Right DK, because there are so many jobs that if all “Britons” were to try and get one, they could manage that.

Sure.

171. david brough

“Couple this with a high tax allowance—£12,000 would ensure that those working full-time on the minimum wage would not have to pay income tax—and you have a model that will encourage British people to work.”

Is this the same minimum wage that you think should be scrapped?

James,

Right DK, because there are so many jobs that if all “Britons” were to try and get one, they could manage that.

If there are fewer jobs than people applying, then there should be no jobs for immigrants. Right? Er…

David,

Is this the same minimum wage that you think should be scrapped?

Yep, that’s the one. However, I was trying not to open that particular can of worms by talking about additions to the situation that we currently find ourselves in.

DK

If there are fewer jobs than people applying, then there should be no jobs for immigrants. Right? Er…

Legal jobs or illegal ones?

I am still attracted to the idea of a CBI, however much I worry that it may not gain enough political support to become reality.

At times, I’ve been on means-tested benefits & I’ve encountered people claiming them. It is a deeply fucking shite system which discourages people from saving money (as they then lose their benefits) & pretty much encourages people to stay out of work.

It should be made easier for people to drift in & out of work & extend or contract their hours. The past 30 years have seen a massive expansion in part-time & temporary work, but too many fuckers won’t take up such work as it wouldn’t earn them enough to be worth it.

It seems to me that the means test is what stands in the way of, for example, the long-term unemployed finding work.

Not to mention the fact that most people entitled to tax credits don’t bother because it’s bad news. I am 24, so I get nothing in this regard, but if I’m on the same income next year I will magically start qualifying for tax credits. I will not bother though, having seen too many overpayments.

James,

Legal jobs or illegal ones?

Sorry, but could you define an “illegal job” for me?

Taking the situation as it is however…

Let us look at bar work. It is an unskilled job (in the main); in London, it is mostly done by Eastern European workers.

The conclusion could be—given that it is unskilled work but that the ability to speak English fluently is an advantage—that British workers have no interest in working in a pub for minimum wage. Given that there are fewer job vacancies than there are unemployed (at present), the conclusion is further moved towards the idea that British workers are not applying for bar jobs.

Why?

Because either they are skilled and can get higher pay or, if unskilled, it is better to live on benefits since pub work will not pay much more or, in fact, less (after withdrawal of benefits plus tax) plus they will have to work for 40 hours a week.

Incentives do actually matter (although, as Chris Dillow often points out, people are rather bad at assessing long term benefits, e.g. if one is in employment for some time, even as a lowly barman, this increases the chance of better employment down the line).

Hence, as asquith quite rightly notes, the withdrawal of benefits that comes with earning (marginal deduction rate) discourages “indigenous” people from working. quod erat demonstrandum.

DK

in London, it is mostly done by Eastern European workers.

Support.

Eh?

DK

179. Dekka Draper

Real bunch of silver-tongued charmers visiting your blog, aren’t they Chris?

“I see hard-working contributors with many achievements, people who are qualified and intelligent and will add to our society, being spat upon while asylum-seeking scum get houses, benefits and free handjobs from the British taxpayer”

“Nor will I point out that, in the seven plus years we’ve been dealing with the immigration office, there has been exactly one occasion on which we dealt with a person who had actually been born in this country, exactly one occasion on which an immigration-related letter was signed by someone with any approximating a British name. (Yes, yes, I’m obviously a racist – but you try playing with the Immigration “Service” for years at a time; see how much you like being milked for thousands upon thousands of pounds under threat that your wife can be exiled to another country on the whim of some Sri Lankan immigrant who barely speaks English and then lecture me on the struggle for racial equality”

This is the sort of person you quote approvingly, eh?

Well, which one of Hayek’s or Rothbard’s books turned that one into a libertarian?

Or is it just that this is the sort of person your “blog” attracts?


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