How can the left deal with the BNP?


4:58 pm - October 22nd 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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The BNP’s appearance on Question Time has prompted a wave of revisionism on the political right – with some going as far as saying that the right is better at dealing with the BNP and apparently the left is to blame for the rise of the BNP. And then there are some who say we should not heap abuse on Nick Griffin and instead need to deal with the concerns of BNP sympathisers. Let’s address this head on.

It’s farcical to watch right-wingers now adopt anti-racist credentials and pretend they don’t have a deeply racist past. This isn’t the party of anti-racism, this is the party with a history of opposing Nelson Mandela and supporting apartheid, the party of ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Labour’, and the party of Enoch Powell (who is still widely revered).

There is a key difference between the left and right on anti-racism: the right actually believe and perpetuate many of the lies that have fulled the BNP’s rise. They may not be racist, or see themselves as racist, but they implicitly agree with the BNP’s concern that immigrants are “swamping” Britain, that they are getting preferential treatment, that most Muslims are dangerous etc.

The right is not only unwilling to take on the right-wing media which has created the conditions for the BNP to thrive, by pushing lies on immigration especially, but they support it. For example you won’t see them challenge the Daily Mail on the view that immigrants get special treatment.

In that sense the BNP has become a trojan horse for the right: they keep condemning the party while claiming hysterically that the concerns of those voters must be addressed. Funny, they never say that in relation to Muslim extremists, only white extremists.

So how should the left respond?

1. Stigmatisation. Many of the people who sneer at the abuse hurled upon Nick Griffin miss the point. The BNP has become stigmatised not because of a freak of nature but by work done by campaigners over years to expose them and fight fascists.

Rock Against Racism and Love Music Hate Racism are all part of that tradition to use popular culture against the BNP and keep them at bay. The right has never understood this and it’s frustrating to see many liberals miss the point too.

2. Economic issues Economic deprivation has undoubtedly helped fuel the rise of the BNP. There is more income equality across the UK, there are minimal rights for workers who are easily exploited by corporations, there is increasing competition from Chinese manufacturing and European workers. There is a shortage of housing and not enough has been invested in public services and transport – especially in deprived areas.

But the left is not to blame for this – the New Labour project is. They are the ones who continued the policies of Thatcher and went further with the neo-liberal economic consensus that continues to crush the (multi-racial) working classes.

To advocate more income equality, better public services and more protection for poor workers isn’t a right-wing priority. They are more worried about politicians targeting bankers and more interested in demonising single mothers than the left. They will never offer an answer to the concerns of the poor.

3. Cultural issues This is the left’s weak point.

It’s time we accepted that multiculturalism – in the form of viewing people as different ethnic minority groups and working with ‘community leaders’ – is dead. Well, I helped kill it, but it’s time to stop standing up for it even just as a reaction against the right. We are all British citizens now.

Secondly, any society that becomes racially and culturally diverse needs a stronger sense of national identity and social glue. I’ve always been for a stronger sense of ‘Britishness’ and I feel this needs to be developed further.

What differentiates the left from the right is that we have a more uplifting and aspirational story to tell about people’s lives. The right will whinge and moan about darkies coming in and changing their culture – but we need to offer a sense of national identity that is positive and makes people feel they have at least something in common with each other, despite their race or culture: they are from the same nation and they are proud of it.

This needs to be fleshed out further, but it means: encouraging a stronger sense of citizenship, developing a language about common identity and pride in our national institutions; finding ways to engage working classes into the political system and more.

Realpolitik

The Tories are screaming about immigration now but once they get into power they’ll realise the monster they’ve created. They won’t be able to control immigration any more than Labour can now, and will then have to start echoing BNP narratives instead of taking real action to placate the base.

At that point BNP support should start draining away. So the medium term outlook isn’t exactly that negative. The problem is that the economic root to this problem will not be resolved. For that, the left has to keep banging the drum to convince working class people and the political parties.

PS – We’ll be doing a live debate here on LC at 10:30pm on Question Time.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Article:: How can the left deal with the BNP? http://bit.ly/3linr8

I think you’re correct. For the right – the problem is UKIP. For the left – the BNP. I don’t hear the left give succour to UKIp so why should the right help with the BNP?

They won’t be able to control immigration any more than Labour can now

Is that true?

mobilise in bnp areas, work out what the voters need, make policy to achieve it, feed this back to the same voters and ask for feedback. Done, left has dealt with the problem. Should be simple, no?

“They won’t be able to control immigration any more than Labour can now

Is that true?”

Not without spending far more resources on border controls, administrative staff and new surveillance technology. Which means diverting resources from other areas or raising taxes.

What they will do is once in power claim credit for a decline in economic migrants from eastern europe that is largely due to the recession and changing exchange rates.

Without doubt, there are reasons to criticise the BNP.
However. can you deny that it is wrong to put your country first before any other allegiances? I am sure that majority of people in this country would agree, regardless of whatever particular ‘flavour’ they are.
This is the failure of not only the BNP but ALL of the main political parties too!
Furthermore, When I see perpetrators and apologists for the recent illegal wars, the majority of whom are unconstituted thieves speaking with all their ‘moral authority’, well, I actually find it laughable.

7. Edward Gaffney

Look at how effective the right wing is at dealing with the BNP:

http://www.nothingbritish.com/10/uaf-demos-aid-the-bnp/

On the night that fascism finally gets a platform on the BBC, the NothingBritish campaign, run by right-wing Conservative Party figures like Tim Montgomerie, finds the time to attack a fellow anti-fascist group. I agree with their criticism that ugly scenes aid the BNP, but that’s not the point – the point is that they should not use that vehicle, ostensibly aimed at people who are considering supporting the BNP, to criticise the UAF, a leading group in the fight against fascism. This attack makes little sense if you assume NB is primarily a right-wing anti-fascist campaign, but it makes perfect sense if you assume NB is primarily a pressure group within the Conservative Party sphere of debate that proposes reactionary policies as the “solution” to far-right activity:

“We believe in addressing the concerns of those people who feel alienated from their society by government failures on issues like immigration, Europe, religious extremism and job insecurity. This means campaigning for policies that work.”

Binky:

For starters, the slogan that was actually used in the 1964 Smethwick by-election was…

If you want a Nigger for a neighbour, Vote Liberal or Labour

…which would have made perfect sense to a racist at the time as the largest and most visible minority community in the area in the 60’s was the African-Caribbean community, many of whom I know very well including several old hands who were around in .64 and present when Malcolm X visited the town.

The UAF are completely counterproductive.

Was Livingstone there?
He was on R4 this morning saying that any violence “would be the BBC’s fault”.
This from the same noble anti-fascist who hugged Qaradawi.

10. Arthur Seaton

A free chocolate biscuit and plastic dinosaur to the first libertarian toss-pot wanker who turns up here claiming “the BNP are far-LEFT donthca know?!”

Sunny – the alternate title of your post could be:

How can the left deal with the BNP by addressing what we believe voter concerns *should be* rather than what they really *are*?

“the UAF, a leading group in the fight against fascism”

Well that explains the rise of the BNP. If the fight against fascism is led by a group that resorts to violent protests anytime fascism rears it’s head rather than, say, peaceful demonstrations and reasoned debate, then it’s little wonder the BNP picks up sympathy support.

You don’t beat extremists by being extreme in the opposite direction.

7 – Edward.
Just because NothingBritish criticises the UAF for being, frankly, useless and counterproductive, doesn’t mean they support the BNP.

@4

Yes, this. I’m sick of hearing how “evil” the BNP are (and I’ll state now, I have no time whatsoever for Griffin and his scumbags). We know this, and “demonstrations” like the one going on at Television Centre are frankly playing into Griffin’s hands.

Where is the positivity? By that I mean in trying to make things better, offering new ways of dealing with those who feel disenfranchised, making a better noise of debunking the various statements by the BNP with hard facts? Until we hear more of this, I’ve little confidence that we will see much change to the current situation.

My hope for tonight, by the way, is not to hear Griffin shouted down and booed every time he speaks, but to hear him flounder when a few intelligent questions expose him for what he and his party really stand for (asking him about rights for women under the BNP would be a start). I suspect come the end of the show I’ll still be hoping.

6. Yes, sometimes it is wrong to put this artificial construct of ‘country’ ahead of other issues. Thankfully for this debate however, aside from some annecdotal evidence, the problems that cause people to vote bnp aren’t issues on an international scale.

doesn’t question time do text comments btw, perhaps it’d be a good idea to expose their policies by texting in to get them scrolling by, especially the stuff they aren’t so public about

@ Lee Griffin
“Artificial construct of country”???
History has shown clearly that the only difference between Marxism and Fascism is spelling.

It’s time we accepted that multiculturalism – in the form of viewing people as different ethnic minority groups and working with ‘community leaders’ – is dead. Well, I helped kill it, but it’s time to stop standing up for it even just as a reaction against the right. We are all British citizens now.

You helped kill it, like you helped elect Obama, right?! 😉

Sorry, but multiculturalism was an invention of the left.
Most on the right opposed the idea.
But you wouldn’t hear of it.
Well, as you have sown, so shall you reap.

OTOH, better late than never!

Whether all the “diversity advisers” will go without a fight is another matter…

16. Did you have a point or are you diverting?

National Socialism – now, where’s my biscuit Arthur?

@10 you can keep you biscuit and dinosaur but I’ll happily accept an explanation for why the BNP weren’t elected as MEPs in the tory shires, or in fact Wales and Scotland (where unlike England left wing alternatives exist), rather both were elected in labour heartlands.

Suggests their voters think they are on the left.

21. Stephen Rouse

Quite right Sunny, the “addressing voters’ concerns” argument works only one way. It’s a ratchet effect, pulling the mainstream parties ever closer to the BNP agenda. No-one ever says after a G20 demonstration “Well, the trashing of McDonalds was unfortunate, but it reflects frustration that none of the mainstream parties are addressing genuine voter concern about unregulated global capitalism.” And G20 demos are generally better attended than your average BNP rally.

@Lee Giffin

“Artificial construct of country”

My worst fears have now been verified.Such a yawning ideological chasm wiil never be repaired.
I’d better nip off to Palestine,Tibet and Watusi-land to give them the bad news.

@Jay

“History has shown clearly that the only difference between Marxism and Fascism is spelling”

Yup,neither Hitler or Stalin had much respect for such artifical constructs such as countries, national sovereignity or culture,did they?

It’s time we accepted that multiculturalism – in the form of viewing people as different ethnic minority groups and working with ‘community leaders’ – is dead

Bravo!

We are all British citizens now.

Secondly, any society that becomes racially and culturally diverse needs a stronger sense of national identity and social glue. I’ve always been for a stronger sense of ‘Britishness’ and I feel this needs to be developed further.

Bravo II

Economic deprivation has undoubtedly helped fuel the rise of the BNP.

There is a shortage of housing and not enough has been invested in public services and transport – especially in deprived areas.

But the left is not to blame for this – the New Labour project is. They are the ones who continued the policies of Thatcher and went further with the neo-liberal economic consensus that continues to crush the (multi-racial) working classes.

Mr Hundal – I think you are getting it!

Well said that man!

journeyman, succinctly put. Chocolate biscuit to you and a copy of Animal Farm to Lee Griffin:
“Yup,neither Hitler or Stalin had much respect for such artifical constructs such as countries, national sovereignity or culture,did they?”

25. Luis Enrique

Take each of these 3 issues, each worthy in their own right, and think about, realistically, how much progress can be expected on them – I mean how much change. If there are dials, how far can we move the dials. Could we move them as far as in say, Sweden or Holland? Now, think about how much the actual popularity of the BNP will respond to these changes, put in context against other determinants of BNP popularity, such as the fact this country has lots of immigration and many people are stupid* and inherently racist; there are reasonable large far right parties even in social democratic countries like Sweden and Holland. I’d say the scope for changing the popularity of the BNP via these channels is modest – we won’t move the BNP dial very far.

I don’t have any better ideas … I think perhaps there’s not much the left can do about the BNP, and Sunny’s ideas are as good as anything and worth supporting.

Now, compare this with the effect on BNP popularity of this lot and similar. Don’t think about how you, good Liberal Conspirators, respond to these protests, think about how potential BNP supporters, people who are already broadly sympathetic, are going to respond. How helpful for the BNP is to for them to be able to say they are being censored, that the liberal elites are scared of their common sense truthiness etc. etc. I think this is a recruiting tool for the BNP. Do you think, for example, that support for the Republican loonies in the US is hampered by knowing that liberals and hippies hate them? No, they love that shit. You might as well expect a protest by pin-striped suited bankers to reduce support for the SWP.

If they undo just a fraction of the progress that could be made by Sunny’s suggestions, if they turn the dial back just a few notches in the other direction, that’s very costly. Think how hard it would be to actually make progress on the issues Sunny identifies – a great shame to have any of that given away so cheaply. Even if I’m wrong, and these protests don’t help the BNP by riling potential BNP supporters, they are certainly helping give Griffin publicity.

So maybe, along with Sunny’s 3 issues, we should add: don’t do anything counter productive, like staging a little fun riot.

* I know I know, they’re not stupid, they have “very real concerns” – only they are stupid enough to think supporting the BNP is a sensible way of addressing those concerns (unless the concern happens to be an excess of foreigners)

@10

But it all depends on what scale you look.

Economically (which is how we traditionally look at our politics) the BNP are left wing. They support nationalisation and high taxes.

Fascist/communist wise, yes they are far-Right. The problem, and the reason why Tories will often say the BNP is left-wing, is because Lefties like to try to blur the argument into “BNP are right wing, Tories are right wing, therefore Tories agree with the BNP” when everyone knows this is not the case.

The reason in this country we look at economic policies is because all the major parties are in around the same place on the fascist/communist scale.

Sunny
It’s time we accepted that multiculturalism – in the form of viewing people as different ethnic minority groups and working with ‘community leaders’ – is dead. Well, I helped kill it, but it’s time to stop standing up for it even just as a reaction against the right. We are all British citizens now.

Secondly, any society that becomes racially and culturally diverse needs a stronger sense of national identity and social glue. I’ve always been for a stronger sense of ‘Britishness’ and I feel this needs to be developed further.
————————————
Bravo. There doesn’t seem to be much dissent to these points either. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who disagrees with these paragraphs from Sunny.

@26 – well, I think there would have been quite a bit of disagreement not so long ago…

And I’m sure there has been quite a bit of sneering here (or at PP or both) recently along the lines of “tell us what your so-called ‘Britishness’ is then”…

The left’s U-turn has been so sharp you can smell the burning rubber!

jay et al. It is quite an intellectual somersault to take my statement, one that was of global community and abandonment of the principle of heritage and to manipulate it in to an accusation of nazism. *Applause*

Stephen Rouse – spot on. Funny that no one wants to hear the concerns on angry environmentalists but as soon as someone from an estate says “I’m not racist but…” these people fall over themselves to “understand their concerns”.

The left cannot and should not buy into the bigotry that underpins much right-wing thinking. And the lives f those working class voters will certainly not be improved thanks to Cameron and Osborne.

26 – “I’d be interested to hear from anyone who disagrees with these paragraphs from Sunny”

I think that “viewing people as different ethnic minority groups and working with ‘community leaders’” is a pretty strange definition of multiculturalism.

The alternative to multiculturalism is presumably monoculturalism, where everyone has to sign up to the same cultural values. Since there is absolutely no consensus about what those cultural values would or should be even amongst the people who have contributed to this comments thread, let alone the wider public, I don’t think it is right to say that multiculturalism is ‘dead’. Mori found in 2005 after the 7/7 bombings that 62% agreed that ‘multiculturalism makes Britain a better place’.

Yes, this. I’m sick of hearing how “evil” the BNP are (and I’ll state now, I have no time whatsoever for Griffin and his scumbags).

it’s hilarious when ppl write stuff like this. I’m sorry we called them evil. So should I just call them scumbags instead? Would that make you feel better?

Best article I’ve seen out of Sunny in a while.

Agree with a lot of your points. Its all too easy to decry the BNP while at the same time spouting nonsense which the BNP will later use in a Press Release.

Here we go again. The Left trying to suppress free speech. We don’t agree with what you represent so you should not be allowed. What is the difference between a Fascist ( name of the Italian Socialist Party ), A Nazi ( name of the Nationalist Socialist party of Germany ) New Labour, or old for that matter and The Communist Party. Nothing actually. They all take power to the center. They all believe that the Center knows best. When losing the vote they all take to streets and accuse their opponents of being morally bereft.
When we lose the right to free speech we are on the slippery slope to Totalitarianism.

It’s time we accepted that multiculturalism – in the form of viewing people as different ethnic minority groups and working with ‘community leaders’ – is dead.

This is the absolute key to defeating racism- though I have to say I am a little surprised to hear you say it.

I believe most people are not so stupid as to think that someone of a different colour is inferior in some way to them- that just defies all logic. No, racism is founded in fear- fear that one’s well-being is threatened by change. The multi-cultural experiment has fostered that fear and, further, has aroused anger by allowing the (usually false) perception to be created that immigrant groups have been advantaged by public policy.

The onus is on immigrant communities to integrate into British society, not on the indigenous community to accommodate the culture of the immigrant and it is those that have encouraged such a multi-cultural vision who are responsible for Griffin being on the BBC tonight.

So well said, Sunny. Now all we need is a ban on anyone calling anyone else a racist on this site because they disagree with an expressed opinion.

That will be further progress.

Sunny in OP: “In that sense the BNP has become a trojan horse for the right: they keep condemning the party while claiming hysterically that the concerns of those voters must be addressed. Funny, they never say that in relation to Muslim extremists, only white extremists.”

I’ll ignore the reference to Muslim extremists in order to focus the argument. However I don’t think that it is productive to use terms like white extremist to describe BNP voters. They are misguided, their sense of discrimination is almost certainly unfounded and they are definitely alienated. But outside the activist core of the BNP, they are not 100% extremist. My argument is supported by the high turnover of BNP members and the poor record of the BNP at holding council seats. The more people know about the BNP, the less likely they are to support them.

Reducing white working class alienation is a political imperative, but it won’t be achieved by stunt events in poor white areas. The solution is about honest communication (a problem for all parties), plus authentic community politics in which faith leaders, school teachers, youth workers, business owners and citizens work together; political parties that try to hijack that effort should get a big raspberry.

#34 I couldn’t (no I really couldn’t) have put it better.

and a bravo to sunny

@20 Stephen Rouse @29 Sunny H

Exactly.

I’ve been saying this for a while. It really does my head in when you hear people (from both New Labour and Tories) saying that we need to address the concerns of BNP voters.The G20 example nails it. Imagine if mainstream Spanish politicians said the same about ETA…

Also, the poisonous role of tabloids has been so far underestimated in this (very interesting) discussion. For all their “official” denials, as it stands, the BNP and “its concerns”, are echoed daily by up to 5 million copies (if you count the Mail, the Express, the Star and , though not as consistently, the Sun).

That makes our task a touch more complicated. I agree about New Labour’s responsibility and bad policies and the Tories’ long history of complicity with certain ideas. But when you have the most popular dailies in the country perpetrating BNP fodder everyday, then that shifts the dynamic of the debate completely.

It poisons at the very foundations the left (by which I don’t mean New Labour)’s task to highlight today’s poor and deteriorating working conditions and the race to the bottom in employment relations. Rant about the Muslims and the immigrants, stick weekly headlines that “THEY ARE TAKING OUR JOBS” and the whole thing is turned on its head.

Trouble is. How do you tackle the immense power of British tabloids? What do people think?

PS: I also think Luis Enrique @24 makes a really good point.

However I don’t think that it is productive to use terms like white extremist to describe BNP voters. They are misguided, their sense of discrimination is almost certainly unfounded and they are definitely alienated.

Same goes for a lot of Muslim kids who support extremist groups..

Don agnew – come back when you’ve learned to read.

donpaskini – well that’s the version of multiculturalism we can all oppose. The one where ppl are forced to sign up to the same culture isn’t on the cards.

LO – oi! what you saying about my previous articles? 😛

Right now as we type the UAF are providing Nick Griffin with a blessing or publicity where he gets to look like a politician under fire from violent left wing thugs injuring police and attacking the BBC buildings.

What the **** are they doing! They are doing so much harm to proving Griffin wrong it’s untrue.

@34 Pagar: “The onus is on immigrant communities to integrate into British society, not on the indigenous community to accommodate the culture of the immigrant…”

There is something wrong with this argument… Fair enough, immigrants will find it easier to live in the UK if they understand customs and (vernacular) language; immigrants have to live by our legal code and adjust to our manners (eg respect for women and homosexuals) even if that is not the practice in their household.

I’m just unclear about how we are supposed to treat indigenous Christian whites with a family history dating back 1,000 years when a person chooses to adopt a different faith. Do I accommodate a white Muslim or Hindu differently from a brown one? Should I even accommodate?

@Lee Griffin

“artificial construct of country”

“jay et al. it is quiet an intellectual somersault to take my statement,one that was of global community and “ABANDONMENT OF THE PRINCIPLES OF HERITAGE”.
and to manipulate it into an accusation of nazism”Applause.

The concept that ” countries are artificial constructs” and we should abandon principles of heritage does sound somewhat marxist /fascistic totalitarian.
And if this abandonment of such naturally evolved mechanisms is ( unillateral )it would be even more of an abomination.
No global commúnity academic utopian indulgence,should be accepted as a negation of the hard-wiring of human nature.,and the evolution of nationhood that springs from it.Whether based on race,culture ,religion or all three.
There is absolutely no advantage in such tyrannical destabilizing and oppressive millenialism

43. Arthur Seaton

And that’s a plastic dinosaur and choclate biscuit for Mr Don Agnew! Well done that man!

Oh, you deleted my post.

We don’t do that at Old Holborn

We believe in freedom of speech, democracy and liberty. So we don’t moderate or delete ANY posts.

Could you let us know what you believe in?

Oh, you deleted my post.

We don’t do that at Old Holborn

That’s nice, but this isn’t your blog and there are different rules that apply here. I didn’t delete it but another moderator might have. *shrugs*

Could you let us know what you believe in?

drinking tea at least once a day

The BNP website claims that they are inundated with applications for membership.

Yeah? Have you ever thought they might be lying? Or do you go to the BNP website for accurate statistics and objective analysis?

Griffin may be a slimeball, but his voters are not necessarily either stupid or racist. A bright working class friend of mine with a black wife voted for the BNP because, in the east end of London, people feel that new arrivals to this country should benefit demonstrably less from social provision than those whose families have been part of the community there for decades.

Until this demand is met – as it is just about everywhere else in Europe – the BNP will attract support.

Just ask the mayor of Calais what she thinks about the effects of how British welfare provision obligations are conceptualized.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x90kqv_migrants-a-calais-natacha-bouchart_news

It’s the elephant in the room that lefties who still feel that need should be the main criterion for allocation of benefits can’t acknowledge, even when it starts stinking the place up.

@50
“A bright working class friend of mine with a black wife voted for the BNP because, in the east end of London, people feel that new arrivals to this country should benefit demonstrably less from social provision than those whose families have been part of the community there for decades.”

Aside from the new spin on “some of my best friends are…”, the questions I have to ask are:

1) Why should they deserve less if they end up working the same hours (usually more) and paying the same taxes as everybody else? The central fallacy here is that it’s a zero-sum game – it’s not, because we have a welfare system rather than a hypothetical “unemployment insurance”, where those who have paid in for longer get more out.

which leads me on to

2) Right, so they usually end up working the jobs that few British nationals want to do, invariably get paid lousy wages, get given the social housing that’s at the bottom of the pile and are subject to the same queues and income checks as everyone else. On top of that, if they’re claiming asylum they’re banned from working and given a meagre subsistence benfit in the meantime. The question therefore is – how on *earth* is this *not* demonstrably less social provision than those who were born here, have all their paperwork handy, can claim benefit form the second they’re out of work and (theoretically) have no problem getting a job if they apply themselves?

Of course, the best defence against economic migrants (if the desire is there) is simply to have robust employment law that specifies a living wage in UK terms – (i.e. significantly more than JSA level, the lack of which is a scandal in itself), and removes the stigma from low-paid jobs. But of course if you suggest that, the CBI and our other masters will pitch the hissy fit to end all hissy fits, because it would eat into their profit/bonus margins.

Otherwise a good article – but…

Sunny H: “It’s time we accepted that multiculturalism – in the form of viewing people as different ethnic minority groups and working with ‘community leaders’ – is dead. … We are all British citizens now.”

I appreciate the intention here, but I can’t help thinking that – as some of the comments on here from the usual right wing trolls suggest – this phrase means very different things to different people. To the left, it just means relatively minor things like ending state funding for ‘ethnic’ charities and festivals, stopping taking minority organisations so seriously, dropping the analysing by ethnic group all the time, maybe a bit of feel-good patriotism.

Meanwhile to the right, “ending multiculturalism” means things like the government actually trying to enforce British culture by making laws against Islamic dress, mandating that all radio/TV should be in English, counting being non-Christian as a black mark on an immigration application, compulsory Christian prayer and anthem-singing in schools, banning mosque-building, laws restricting foreign festivals etc etc. To the right, It doesn’t mean supporting British culture at all, it means ending the existence of other cultures in the UK. Among UKIP’s methods of finishing off “multiculturalism” in their manifesto (at the time of the local elections) was a proposal to end teaching in Welsh in large parts of Wales.

The whole reason “ending multiculturalism” was trotted out as a talking point by characters like Hazel Blears was to do exactly what you criticise for most of your article: so New Labour could signal to would-be far right supporters that they are all in favour of cracking down on uppity migrants “destroying our way of life”.

“Ending multiculturalism” was simply a method of saying to people “We share the your concerns about the invasive and barbaric conduct of immigrants and Muslims you read about in the Mail, these are real problems, and we will tackle them. But we won’t be racist and uncivilised while doing it, like the BNP would. We’ll play by the EU rules.”

I am all in favour of promotion of traditional British (and local) culture, and policies that maintain the health of communities. These things are far more critical than most recognise and not enough is spent on them, while a vast array of market forces try to squeeze them out of existance. But really, when you applaud the impending death of multiculturalism, you’ll find you’re taken by many as having endorsed something a lot authoritarian more than that.

@51

Still in denial?

What Madame Bouchart is objecting to is the fact that the moment a migrant sets foot on British soil, he is entitled to health care support, accomodation subsidies and welfare payments. She feels that Calais is suffering economically because it lies across the access route to a (relative) pot of gold, offered only by Britain. There is no Sangate in Alsace or the Ardennes – and not just because we haven’t joined Schengen.

You’re the one who’s framing this in terms of what people deserve, not me. I’m simply pointing out, from my admittedly very limited experience, that BNP voters think that too much is done for refugees and other migrants. I am told that they feel that such entitlements are not just earnt by individual wage-labourers but are also something that membership of a family that has been part of a community for many years confers, rather like respect. It’s a form of acknowledgement of who they are.

In terms of housing, British people can sometimes wait to get a council subsidised place to live, precisely because their need is less, because they usually already have some sort of home and access to social security. Immigrants to Britain have to be housed immediately, if only in a bed and breakfast – or often, in a sold-off and now rented out ex-council flat. Hence the perception that they’re getting preferential treatment.

Again, as far as I can ascertain, this obligation to house new arrivals independently is not one that France, Germany or Spain have taken on.

So .. please spare us the ad-hominem slurs and never-never land anti-capitalist rhetoric, and tell us how we can alter the perception that prevails in our worst white working-class estates, of being disadvantaged and denied respect by arrogant state bureaucrats.

Can we be honest here?

The rise of the BNP has gone hand in hand with the rise of Islamic nutjobs demanding we change our lives to suit theirs – or die.

Instead of simply telling them to bugger off, Labour is capitulating to an ever growing list of demands.

Big Dave from Dagenham doesn’t like anyone telling him what to do, especially in Urdu. That doesn’t make him a racist. He just knows that of the 48 Islamic countries on the planet, not a single one is at peace.

“Big Dave from Dagenham doesn’t like anyone telling him what to do”

Although he probably knows better than to tell someone with an American accent to fuck off.

“Nick Griffin may well be a horrid racist but at least he is not black”

Big Dave

@56

That statement, however, would make Big Dave a racist.

Depends.

Big Dave is black.

Discuss

oh my, 54, care to back up that audacious claim, either on numbers of radicals or capitulation?

And journeyman, you’re entirely confused. I did not say abandon our heritage, i said the principle of heritage. Our heritage is hugely important for the reasons you state, and for learning from our civilisation’s past mistakes.

The concept though that i, as an british man of many generations in to my ancestry, have more rights than another person solely based on this ‘heritage’ is out of date. I don’t deny that people feel this first come first serve patriotism in a way that makes them feel more deserving but it is a completely false and case viewpoint.

Almost more disappointing than nick griffin on question time was the main three parties squabbling over immigration cars. ‘we’ll only let the best in’ said straw. Why? Why does britain deserve the ‘best’ while other countries need to deal with the rest? What makes our country so special?

Nothing, i say, that warrants us being so arrogant. Not when families of asian immigrants that came here to open corner shops in the 60s now help our economy by great levels, by becoming the ‘best’ naturally.

We, this current population, have done nothing to deserve ownership of this country other than to be born within arbitrary lines on maps. Our grandfathers and theirs helped share this country, usually with huge help from those in other countries too, expertise from europe, or even just warriors to help fight our wars from africa and asia. What have we done?

In the past, in our heritage, hundreds, if not thousands, of people fought for one thing, and it wasn’t patriotism, nor was it for a shared belief. It was purely money and getting fed. Patriotism as we practice it today is a relatively new and vile thing.

Hi , just heard Sonny on sky news re question time . I am a christian tory and childish reactions to the bnp as Sonny exhibited shows how politically naive most folk are in the uk . I too watched qt and the mainstream politicians were clearly out of their depth……….Sonny (and all qt panel menbers) have unwittingly given the bnp more support for their bullying playground rantings than they can possibly imagine (ukip will also gain more support) . Rewad some books & come up with facts.
Yours ,

Mark Howard Ernest Pemberton

“The concept though that i, as an british man of many generations in to my ancestry, have more rights than another person solely based on this ‘heritage’ is out of date.”

This.

Plus the comparative wealth and protections that we as citizens of the UK have came from over a century of making money from the raw resources of our former colonies and imperial outposts – it’s only fair that we give something back.

Also, I’m pretty sure from gathering figures from across Europe, the migration patterns match far more closely to the formation of communities from those countries within European nations than the amount of welfare provided – hence the UK has a large settled community of Indian/Pakistani heritage, as well as Kenyan and Caribbean heritage, whilst France has the majority of settlers from the Ivory Coast and Algeria, for example. The decision of where one migrates to seems far more complex than a question of welfare and benefits, but the right-wing tabloids (and political parties) tend to downplay the complexity in order to push the buttons of those against immigration.

Big black Dave from Dagenham HATES Somalis.

Discuss

I wonder if one of you guys could ask the UAF whether they’ll be supporting Islam4UK or British Muslims for Secular Democracy at next weekends Muslim versus Muslim protest.

What fun

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/6418456/Labour-wanted-mass-immigration-to-make-UK-more-multicultural-says-former-adviser.html

Oooh – and here’s the same former adviser, now columnist arguing in favour of immigration for London in the Evening Standard:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23760073-dont-listen-to-the-whingers—london-needs-immigrants.do

What fun – we could keep this up all night!

Lee Griffin

“oh my, 54, care to back up that audacious claim, either on numbers of radicals or capitulation?”

Nope. Do your own research.

I am SO looking forward to you guys facing a generation in the wilderness.

64. This could be fun.

Real fun.

I do love Labourites

“the migration patterns match far more closely to the formation of communities from those countries within European nations than the amount of welfare provided – hence the UK has a large settled community of Indian/Pakistani heritage, as well as Kenyan and Caribbean heritage, whilst France has the majority of settlers from the Ivory Coast and Algeria, for example. ”

Of course, that’s right … up to a point. But it doesn’t explain why so many Eritreans and Somalis and Afghans and Kurds and Kosovars have crossed the whole of Europe to get to Britain, specifically. It doesn’t explain why Britain grants more migrants citizenship, per 1000 inhabitants, than France, Germany, Italy or Spain. It doesn’t explain, in short, why Britain is so attractive to the formation of new ethnic communities, which in turn will attract more migrants.

It’s not the amount of welfare that’s at issue here, by the way, it’s the immediacy with which it’s available, and the fact that Britain provides an independent, individual and readily abused pattern of support rather than relying on housing centres and suchlike.

Our welfare system is offering exceptional inducements to migrants and our poor, dignity-deficient underclass, along with the good burghers of Calais, resent that.

@ previous commenter To start with this. But I’m off to the UNHCR cause I’ve got a hunch.

http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/practice/basics/facts.htm#factone

In 2008 the number of Somalis in these countries was:

France 686
Germany 2,190
Italy 5,251
Spain 116
UK 31,665

Wow pretty convincing… oh wait a sec:

Ethiopia 33,625
Kenya 259,121
Yemen 132,275

Hmmm… Those countries mus have some pretty attractive welfare systems.

Afghanistan:

France 1,345
Germany 25,108
Italy 2,315
Spain 69
UK 23,079

Pakistan 1,780,150
Iran 935,595

The glorious generosity of Islam shows itself again.

Now I know that comparison is a unfair, they are after all much closer to the refugee producing countries. Bur in perspective they’re hardly mad numbers in the UK are they? It almost looks as though we’re not pulling our weight…

@65
“I am SO looking forward to you guys facing a generation in the wilderness.”

Ah – that’d make you one of those Tories who doesn’t care how badly the country gets screwed as long as there’s someone, preferably less advantaged, that you can kick around and blame for it.

And for the record I’m not a “Labourite” (whatever the hell that is) per se, I’m just happy voting for whoever can keep the Tories out.

And I do know you from CIF, and it’s delightful to know that you make about as much sense here as there.

@69

Yep … and 40% of migrants from Egypt go to Saudi Arabia, 17% of those from Senegal go to the Gambia, und so weiter …. Your examples are not of much closer countries, they are of effectively contiguous countries, the easiest, sometimes the only country for a group of refugees to flee to. I don’t see the bearing on the case of those migrants who choose to cross frontier after frontier in order to get into a particular country.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of (controlled) immigration, it keeps inflation down by depressing wage demands and in the end, everybody benefits. But describing BNP voters as either misguided morons or repulsive racists is inaccurate. There are reasons they perceive they way immigrants are processed as a devalorisation of their own communities, even if they’re only seeing part of the picture. How much should we attend to the delicate sensibilities of the long-term unemployed, who know a soft touch being exploited when they see one ? (Never mind the straight racists, they can go screw themselves) I think we could reorient a bit, more in line with the rest of the big EU countries.

Meanwhile, BluePill, assuming we could curb economic migrant numbers by making sure that the lowest wages were high enough to attract the Brit “won’t work for peanuts” brigade is really missing the point. Our worst level of social security payments is several times what the average enterprising Eritrean can earn by hard graft in his own country … and under the present system he’d still need to be housed, independently and as a matter of urgency, the moment he got here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of (controlled) immigration, it keeps inflation down by depressing wage demands and in the end, everybody benefits.

Only if *everyone’s* wages are held down.
Of course that is not the case…

Meanwhile

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/6418456/Labour-wanted-mass-immigration-to-make-UK-more-multicultural-says-former-adviser.html

Was it really a conspiracy?

It was certainly a deliberate decision.

And now we face the consequences.

There were clearly some in New Labour who were big fans of migration and “diversity” however exactly thats defined.

But the point is that the restrictions on migration became stricter under Labour, not looser.

Now you can argue that transport costs, geopolitical instability, endemic worldwide poverty and the increased relative restrictiveness of other countries mean Labour should have adopted more restrictive more quickly but its fairly hard to make the case from one old advisers comments there was an organised conspiracy.


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