Recent Race relations Articles
“The revolution doesn’t start a thousand miles away, it starts with you.”
It could be a statement put out by ISIS, the group that has encouraged its sympathisers all over the world to take action in defense of the Caliphate. But actually that’s the strapline on the front page of National Action, a neo-Nazi group in the UK that is committed to “fighting to recapture our country in an increasingly hostile and foreign environment”.
Yesterday, Zack Davies was sentenced for the attempted murder of Dr Sarandar Bhambra, a man who was assaulted because he “looked Asian” according to Davies.
His family said after the sentencing:
We are in no doubt, given the racial and political motivations, that this should have been rightly defined as an act of terrorism. By his own admission, the defendant Zack Davies had extreme neo-Nazi views and is a member of a white supremacist organisation.
So why weren’t the actions of Zack Davies seen as an act of terrorism, when a similar attack by a Muslim man would have been?
And who are National Action, the white supremacist organisation that indoctrinated Zack Davies?
National Action, in their own words, a “National Socialist youth organisation” typically aimed at men “in their late teens or twenties”. They’re not an organised and hierarchical network and, in their own words, shun that sort of organising. It’s likely National Action choose a leaderless style of self-organising after the collapse of the EDL once Tommy Robinson left.
Their website states their mission:
Britain has become a nation of weak cowards who are hypersensitive and scared to say anything. Lying through fear is now considered normal – we have allowed hysterical twits to control how everything is done while our people limp towards rivers of blood. Where are the men who will tell the truth? Where are the men who will stand up and fight?
In June last year the Sunday Mirror ran an expose on them, calling them a Hitler-loving group that wanted to ‘ethnically cleanse’ the UK. Its not clear when the group started but its likely they were formed after the collapse of the BNP and EDL.
The Mirror revealed that they were trying to recruit students on university campuses and heaped praise on Norweigan terrorist Anders Breivik.
In a manifesto called ‘Attack‘ posted on their website, I found this paragraph:
A CASE FOR FASCISM
Nobody has ever gotten anywhere by being ‘moderate’. Nobody has ever gotten anywhere by being ‘nice’. Nobody has ever gotten anywhere by being ‘intellectual’. Nobody has ever gotten anywhere by being ‘respectable’. Men and movements got to where they did by one way and one way only. It is what the enemy calls Fascism, and so far as I have ever found it is the only thing that has ever worked. Just looking at it objectively the patriots in these two countries Germany and Italy used this method, this thing, and with it they kicked communism and took power all by themselves. Deep down isn’t that what we want? Only done right this time.
Done right this time. Hmmm. I wonder what that means. The emphasis in the text above is mine.
There are also comparisons to al-Qaeda inspired suicide bombers.
Fascism produced people who were willing to fight – who is really willing to fight for anything today? I mean really believe in anything enough to face hardship for it? Muslims are an example, they strap bombs to themselves. In our case though most of our people are for whatever reason unable commit perfectly legal acts like voting for nationalist parties – and nationalist activists are unable to hold open meetings and speak the truth. If the health of a people is judged by how vigorously they defend their right to existence then we need to find things that make them do that.
There is open support for Nazi style fascism and heavy implication that this should be achieved through violence or at least force. But these people are not harassed by the authorities.
On March 21st around a 100 National Action sympathisers turned out for a demonstration in Newcastle. There were no police attempts to arrest them of course.
Zack Davies, the extremist who tried to kill Dr Bhambra, posted an image of himself in a balaclava with a large knife and the National Action flag hours before he carried out his attack, reports Channel 4. A large amount of white-supremacist material was found at his house.
National Action regularly posts videos online showing themselves training to fight. C4 News reported yesterday that the group also helped to promote “Isis-inspired” neo-Nazi training camps inside the UK where members learned hand-to-hand combat and trained with knives.
So why aren’t they labelled as a terror group? And why wasn’t Zack Davies’s stabbing called the attack of a ‘terrorist’?
Top image taken from the National Action 2014 ‘review’ (PDF).
This came to my inbox last night, and I think the findings are worth sharing in full. Important to note, this was commissioned by a centre-right group, not a leftwing group.
Survation, on behalf of Bright Blue the independent think tank & pressure group for liberal conservatism, conducted an in-depth study of ethnic minority voter’s attitudes to immigration to inform their new report: A balanced centre-right agenda on immigration: Understanding how ethnic minorities think about immigration.
The report has six main findings:
· Ethnic minorities, like the wider population, are more concerned with having a well-managed immigration system and admitting immigrants who will contribute to the UK than lowering the overall number of immigrants
40% of ethnic minorities think that an ideal immigration system is one that is well managed and keeps out illegal immigrants. 25% of ethnic minorities believe an ideal immigration system is one that includes only those who contribute. Only 10% of ethnic minorities think that an ideal immigration system is one with fewer immigrants or no new immigrants (7%).
· The most important policy relating to immigration for ethnic minorities, like the wider population, is restricting migrants’ access to benefits
The policy which ethnic minorities would most like to see introduced to improve the immigration system is increasing the time before new immigrants can claim benefits (43%). The second most popular policy is increasing border policing to cut down on illegal immigration (36%). These two policies are more popular than tightening the immigration cap on non-EU migrants (22%) or withdrawing from EU free movement of workers rules (16%).
· Ethnic minorities are more welcoming of different types of immigrants than the wider population
93% of ethnic minorities do not want a reduction in the number of international students coming to the UK. 92% do not want to see fewer professional workers coming to the UK and 84% do not want fewer skilled manual workers coming to the UK. Across all types of immigrants, ethnic minorities are more likely to say that their numbers should not be reduced than the wider population.
· Ethnic minorities are more positive about the economic and cultural impact of immigration than the wider population
72% of ethnic minorities agree that immigration has provided skills for our economy compared to 42% of the wider population. 65% agree that it has enriched British culture compared to 34% of the wider population. 52% agree that it has helped support our NHS compared to 40% of the wider population.
Ethnic minorities are also more likely to believe that immigrants are integrating. 73% of ethnic minorities think that most immigrants prefer to be in work than on benefits, compared to 46% of the wider population. 69% think that most immigrants contribute tax, compared to 40% of the wider population. 47% think that most immigrants speak fluent English, compared to 26% of the wider population.
· Immigrants themselves are positive about Britain and participate in local activities
An overwhelming majority of immigrants, 93%, are proud (either very proud or somewhat proud) to live in Britain. 87% of immigrants feel respect for the British political system. Moreover, in terms of social mixing, most immigrants participate in a range of local activities. 50% of immigrants go to the pub with friends or colleagues and 47% participate in local community organisations.
· Ethnic minority views of immigration represent a political opportunity for the centre-right
Changing the party’s immigration policy is one of the top changes (24%) which would encourage ethnic minority individuals not currently seriously considering voting for the Conservative Party to consider it, behind only changing NHS policy and changing economic policy. There is an opportunity for the centre-right, and the Conservative Party in particular, to develop a policy agenda on immigration that strengthens its appeal to ethnic minority voters. Rather than a narrow focus on caps and clampdown, the Conservative Party should have a balanced agenda on immigration. This should include the championing of the significant benefits from immigration, as well as practical policies to address the challenges, and ensuring the system prioritises immigrants who contribute and places competent management of the system at the forefront of debate.
There is no other minority group in the UK like Muslims that you can make crass and bigoted generalisations about, and get away with it. Perhaps Roma people, but they are rarely written about as much. Not even Poles get the treatment like they used to.
I want to illustrate this point through a recent article by the Telegraph’s Andrew Gillian, which screamed: Islamic ‘radicals’ at the heart of Whitehall.
Here’s what happened: the government set up a group to advise them on tackling anti-Muslim prejudice, in parallel to the one tackling anti-semitism. It includes representatives from most major departments.
It is a very inclusive like few others, including Ahmadis, Ismailis, Sunnis and Shia Muslims together, plus other campaigners like Nick Lowles (Hope Not Hate). This is worth keeping in mind, especially since its conveniently ignored by Andrew Gilligan, because any “extreme” views would very likely be challenged by others.
The central allegation of the article is against Mudassar Ahmad, a case which is so flimsy you have to wonder whether a different agenda was being served.
Among its most prominent non-government members is Muddassar Ahmed, a former senior activist in the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC), an extremist and anti-Semitic militant body which is banned from many universities as a hate group
In fact Mudassar left MPAC years ago and was never involved in any of the main activities it was criticised for (and I was a frequent critics of MPAC). The article admits that later on too.
The main quotes come from Fiyaz Mughal from Tell MAMA, who is said to have left the group over “concerns”. But Fiyaz actually left earlier last year. He is referred to by Gilligan as a “senior Muslim leader” even though he earlier undermined and attacked Tell MAMA’s work (which led to a complaint to the PCC from Tell MAMA). One minute Gilligan thinks TM is dodgy and then he’s a senior leader? What does that say about Gilligan’s journalism?
When the article came out, I said maybe Fiyaz was justified if any in the group had made inflammatory statements.
But Hope Not Hate’s Nick Lowles said to me in response: “This is the first time the antisemtic charge has been levelled on the group or its members. It is a complete red herring and an insult to everyone on the group.” I trust his judgement.
And yet, by implication, people in the group are being smeared as ‘entryists’ (Fiyaz Mughal has conspicuously declined to fully justify his claims).
These kind of generalisations about Muslims are rare now, but still remain despicable. The Telegraph would never (any more) run headlines like ‘secret plan by gays to take over Whitehall‘ – so why is this kind of language acceptable regarding Muslims?
We are back to the news cycle whereby Westminster freaks out over how to deal with the threat from UKIP. The political parties will respond with the same promises, soundbites and narratives. Then they’ll go back to existing plans until the next ‘crisis’.
Thrown in this debate are two academics – Rob Ford and Matthew Goodwin – who have written about UKIP in a book and therefore invited regularly to offer their opinions. I’m reading it now and it contains some great research. But I have a problem with their political analysis, which I find increasingly simplistic. Here is why:
Rob Ford and Matthew Goodwin (RF+MG) have a narrative that goes like this:
Working class voters are natural Labour territory. But the party is complacent about the danger they face from UKIP and that’s why UKIP is doing so well in the north. Why, for example, didn’t Labour increase their share of the vote in Middleton last night? Why are poorer voters struggling with austerity not going to Labour?
"Its a by-election". Yes, in a core seat, where Lab won 58% in 2001 and is running as oppo to unpopular austerity govt. Shld be 60% not 40%
— Rob Ford (Britain) (@robfordmancs) October 10, 2014
And other tweets where I’m accused of having my head “in the sand”.
To be fair it isn’t just RF+MG saying this – I’ve seen similar questions by others on Twitter too. But there are vast assumptions in each of those sentences that don’t stack up.
1. Working class people are not natural Labour voters. Poorer voters are not always motivated by money or economic concerns; many working class people have always been culturally conservative. As Labour has become more socially liberal (rightly, in my view), they have flocked to the Tories. In the US and UK this happened during the Reagan & Thatcher era on the issue of race / immigration, and (more recently) on issues like homosexuality and gender equality. This is why Cameron wanted to challenge his own party on gay-marriage (to ‘modernise’ it) and faced a bigger backlash than Labour did. This is also why Farage doesn’t back gay marriage despite his supposedly libertarian outlook.
More working class people have voted Labour traditionally, for economic reasons, but that doesn’t mean working class people are “naturally” Labour. Nor should Labour go for every last working class vote, unless it wants to alienate its middle class voters.
2. The Labour leadership is not complacent about the threat from UKIP. I’ve heard directly from Ed Miliband in a private meeting that he thought UKIP were a “significant” threat to the party. There is no sign whatsoever that the Labour party is complacent about UKIP, though their main focus has always remained the Tories. Quite rightly too. This oft-repeated claim that Labour is “complacent” is outright rubbish.
3. Why didn’t Labour do massively better last week in Middleton? Various reasons. Many were ex-Tory or ex-LibDem voters who disliked Labour and found a vibrant, new vehicle to register their support. Secondly, in most metropolitan areas in the Midlands or further north, Labour isn’t the opposition – they are the incumbent. All politics is local, remember? Third, it takes a while for voters to forgive Labour for their mistakes of the past (Iraq, financial crash, immigration), and they won’t just flock back quickly like some commentators think they should. It takes long, grinding contact with voters and mobiling around their issues to win back trust. Even four years is not enough.
4. Why aren’t angry voters flocking to Labour on austerity? The fact that Rob Ford seriously asks me this question reinforces my broader point about the simplistic analysis. First, a lot of voters think they haven’t been affected by austerity, or aren’t motivated against it.
Second, Labour isn’t vehemently anti-austerity anyway, the leadership has partly accepted the need for it! Those people have gone to the Greens
Third, many voters blame Labour for the austerity they’ve had to face, because they were in charge when the economy crashed.
For all these reasons, and more, Labour didn’t see a big rise in support in Heywood. Labour is not on the verge of a landslide next year, and we knew this all along.
I have no doubt I’m going to be called “complacent” for writing this, which has become the standard non-response these days.
There is a final example of how this narrative is too simplistic. In almost interview given by RF+MG, they will get a nudge from the presenter to talk about how immigration is the biggest issue for Britons right now. So they will dutifully repeat the polling in interviews.
But again this is too simplistic. Douglas Carswell was vehemently pro-immigration and open about it, and yet won with a stonking majority. Locals gave all sorts of reasons for voting for him, including street lights, not having seen their Tory MP and much more. Plus, in places like Manchester or London, Labour cannot run with an anti-immigration or anti-multiculturalism message as it will repel more of their voters than it will attract.
I will only say this. A lot of Labour seem to be under the impression that their party should be doing much better now, without recognising it takes much longer to turn around people’s indifference to Labour. This is why no party in British history has turned around a stunning defeat by the next election.
Its unfashionable to say this, but a Labour panic over UKIP (in the way Gordon Brown panicked over immigration after the Gillian Duffy incident) could hurt its own prospects far more than responding more calmly and carefully.
In the Observer today, I debate Nick Cohen on whether the Tricycle Theatre in London was right to ask the UK Jewish film festival to ‘reconsider’ its funding from the Israeli government.
There are two additional points I want to make that I didn’t have the space for.
The slippery slope
Nick Cohen ends by writing:
From George Galloway declaring Bradford an “Israel-free zone” to Islamists in the East End of London raising jihadist flags, a dangerous antisemitic mood is growing. By defending worthless bureaucrats who intimidate a Jewish – not an Israeli but a Jewish – festival because it won’t accept their double standards, you are adding to it – thoughtlessly, I am sure.
My response to him is this:
I think the slippery slope argument is worth keeping in mind, but I don’t think we are there yet. You have been criticised plenty of times for demonising Muslims and contributing towards an Islamophobic atmosphere too, and I’m sure you’ll appreciate the irony.
We can all stand up against racism while rejecting tainted money. I fully condemn Galloway and his ilk, and I believe my voice carries more weight because I also condemn the attacks in Gaza. If the slippery slope argument was carried towards its full logical conclusion every time, then you (Nick Cohen) and others (including myself), would not be allowed to criticise Islamists for fear it would further inflame Islamophobia.
Nick Cohen applies this standard to Jews but not Muslims
‘Asking Jews to take a stance on Israel’
The other key point made by critics of Tricycle is that by asking the UKJFF to reject Israeli funding, Jews as a whole are being take a stance on Israel.
But let’s flip this around. That stance implies we can’t ask Muslim groups to reject Saudi money because that’s asking them all to state their allegiance regarding the Saudis.
It would also mean no Hindu or Indian group could be criticised for taking Indian government money, even though there may be several good reasons in certain circumstances for doing so. Persian groups wouldn’t have to account for Iranian money… and so on.
That would make it near impossible to debate the influence of foreign money because this charge could be raised by almost any ethnic group at any time.
I don’t think Tricycle raised the issue because they wanted all Jews to take a side. It was a legitimate response to the pressure they had given the ongoing conflict.
Suzanne Moore has written a column in the Guardian today that I whole-heartedly agree with.
Here’s her key argument:
Clarkson is not stupid. Nor is he a maverick or outlier. He is a central part of the establishment. He parties with Cameron. Just as Ukip is not a maverick party, but made up of disgruntled Tories; just as Boris Johnson is not a maverick but a born-to-rule chancer; just as bloggers such as Guido Fawkes pretend to be anti-politics mavericks but are hard-rightwingers – this section of the right deludes itself that it is somehow “outside” the establishment rather than its pumping heart.
Saying the unsayable is actually dully conformist. Pick on anyone different and mock them. Endeavour to take away not just their rights but the concept that they ever had rights in the first place. All this is done preeningly, while a white middle-aged man pretends he is downtrodden and now some kind of freedom fighter.
[I hate to point this out but its the Guardian that has twice published fawning profiles on Guido Fawkes emphasising his anti-establishment schtick.]
I broadly agree with what Suzanne says. But there’s a point here that follows on but isn’t quite addressed: so why are Clarkson and Farage still popular? Saying this is because their followers are just racist doesn’t quite hit the mark, despite the obviously racist remarks made by both.
There’s something else going on here.
Supporters of Farage and Clarkson do think its right that people speak truth to power. They do want someone who is anti-establishment. But don’t see themselves as the establishment.
Imagine a world that is rapidly becoming more sexist and homophobic. Attacks on women and LGBTs are on the rise and the younger generation have even worse attitudes. You can see your world crumbling in front of you and you want out. You’ll support anyone who stands up to this rising tide of hatred. Even if they’re rich, white and well-connected.
This is the world that Nigel Farage and Jeremy Clarkson fans are in. They hate progressive politics and they hate the march of political correctness. Their entire world is falling apart and they hate the future. They hate ‘political correctness’ and they see it going from the Left all the way to the Tory leadership.
Whether we on the Left think this is silly or not is irrelevant, this is the world they are in. For them, the likes of Clarkson and Farage are speaking truth to power. If your world looks full of political correctness and green politics gone mad, then you’ll support Clarkson and Farage for railing against it.
We are in the middle of a culture war.
Globalisation and immigration have made this generation (mostly older and less well-off) feel like the world is slipping beyond their control. This is why there’s no puzzle as to why Farage and Clarkson are popular despite being rich, powerful and part of the establishment: their supporters see them as on side in this cultural war.
I know where I stand as an unapologetic social liberal, and I’m comfortable with that. My side is winning, after all.
But the socially conservative classes know they’re losing badly, so the culture war is intensifying. They want their world back and they think Clarkson and Farage are the last holdouts.
In other words, there’s little point in asking why supporters of Farage and Clarkson don’t want to speak truth to power. They do. But they have a point – times have changed. They are no longer the establishment… we are.
The rallying cry that “we should call out racism when we see it” is an easy one to make on the Left.
It is up there with “Tories are heartless, evil bastards” and “we should set up a political party that really represents the working class” – in making us feel all fuzzy and perhaps even mobilised to take on the world. Especially when these days you can call out racism with just an ill-tempered and carefully worded tweet. Doing it when Nigel Farage is on BBC Question Time gets you bonus retweets.
But there are several problems with this cry, especially defining what exactly constitutes racism. Furthermore, such accusations don’t always help those its intended to.
You may think this is semantics and tactics, but its not. It has real impact.
A few years ago I was invited to a round-table on the imminent launch of British Future, and a group of American campaigners on immigration had come over. They issued a stark warning: “Most of what we’ve been saying about immigration for the last 40 years has backfired, and not worked for us.”
They explained that the pro-immigration lobby had spent millions of dollars and years of campaigning to defend immigration, but had failed until recently. I wrote earlier about what they said.
For many on the Left this sounds like ‘playing politics’ than taking a ‘principled position’. This sort of knee-jerk thinking has infected our thinking, with little regard for outcomes or whether the rhetoric helps the very people it is meant to.
I’ve already explained why calling all of UKIP racist isn’t just futile but also counter-productive. That doesn’t mean we ignore specific incidents.
I have two simple rules on race-related controversies:
1) Does being outraged over it help the cause? If not, its just empty posturing.
2) Criticise the action itself as ‘racist’ (if and when it happens) rather than offering up blanket accusations of racism.
This is the definitive word on talking about racism. HEED IT
In summary: if someone is saying “we should call out racism when we see it and anyone who disagrees with is an apologist” – we should ask them if they’re doing it to actually help victims of racism, or just make themselves feel better.
The European/Local Elections are coming up next month and the establishment is in full panic. For the first time in British history there is a chance neither the Conservatives nor Labour come first in local elections.
In the Observer on Sunday, Nick Cohen is the latest one to sound the alarm, blaming the media for giving UKIP an easy ride.
This isn’t just lazy, but simply untrue. In fact over the last year the national press has ferociously attacked UKIP over their policies, the cranks that run it and the fruitcakes that are its activists.
None of the negative publicity has hurt UKIP’s support. According to YouGov today UKIP have moved to first place in EU election polls.
Are we surprised that people who express support for an anti-establishment party aren’t bothered by establishment criticism of that party?
That’s just naive. Plus, this attitude is compounded by attacking the UKIP posters are racist, thereby 1) giving those billboards even more publicity and general coverage; 2) feeding into UKIP’s narrative that the establishment thinks any restriction of immigration is racist and will attack it as such.
This plays straight into UKIP’s hands and they, despite the odd mishap, are laughing because it helps them connect with more people.
Blaming the media for the rise of UKIP is absurd. Some Britons have latched on to UKIP as a way to express their discontent with the political system – but the problem is the disconnected and unrepresentative political establishment, not the media. Without the rising anger at Westminster politics, no amount of media coverage would have given UKIP 20%+ in the polls.
The uncomfortable fact is that negative media coverage doesn’t hurt UKIP’s support. It helps them because it cements their place as the anti-establishment party.
Feeling helpless at the rise and rise of UKIP, lefties have taken the easy option and started calling them racist at every opportunity. Its amusing and even I admit to poking fun at them, but this won’t work.
These people hate the national media and mainstream politicians. Why in the world do people think they’ll listen to criticisms of UKIP from the very people they hate?
Some people also think that pointing out Nigel Farage’s City-broker background, or the craziness of UKIP policies, will undermine UKIP’s claim to be anti-establishment.
Nick Cohen sums this up:
He says he represents “ordinary people”. But he is a public school-educated former banker, whose policies will help him and his kind. He claims he is the voice of “common sense”, while allying with every variety of gay-hater, conspiracy crackpot, racist, chauvinist and pillock. The only sense he and his followers have in common is a fear of anyone who is not like them.
But these attacks misunderstand the nature of UKIP’s anti-establishment positioning.
People who hate the establishment vote UKIP because they want to shake it up. They don’t want UKIP to run the country; they are using it as a proxy to express their anger. Just saying UKIP isn’t anti-establishment doesn’t bother them, because they can see how the rise of UKIP bothers the establishment.
UKIP say: ‘if we aren’t the anti-establishment party, why does the establishment hate us so much?’ – and people think, fair enough.
So how do we undermine UKIP?
The key to undermining UKIP is the Left doing a better job of engaging and understanding the voters who vote UKIP. That’s the boring answer but it happens to be the only one constantly proven to work. And we not going to engage UKIP support by constantly sneering at them and calling them racists for voting UKIP.
That does not mean that Labour and the Left try and outflank UKIP from the right. The Tories are trying that but it won’t work. It means better engagement at a community level, making our politics more open and making it less unrepresentative. It means having more MPs who can connect people rather than great at sounding polished on Newsnight.
Once we get better at engaging people, then calling out UKIP racism can have resonance and impact because people trust your judgement. Only when they think you have something substantial to offer will they think you’re not calling UKIP racist to deflect from your own troubles.
An attack on UKIP has to resonate with people who support it. But none of the attacks on UKIP, whether in the national media or by lefties on Twitter, resonate with those people.
If a ‘metropolitan liberal’ like me can detect the sneering attitude a mile off, don’t you think UKIP supporters can too? And why in the world would they listen to people who have so much contempt for them?
by Colin Ethelson
Some anti-fascists have claimed that we should be ‘cautiously optimistic’ about EDL leader Tommy Robinson’s and Co-leader Kevin Carroll’s leaving the organisation today. Some have greeted this as the defeat of the EDL. Forget Tommy’s whining about this being the most “most difficult day” of his life. It might just be his greatest victory.
For all their chants of ‘no surrender’ Nazis tend not to be particularly steadfast. It was recently reported that Europe’s most hard-line far-right leader, Nikos Michaloliakos of Golden Dawn, was in the past extremely quick to betray his fellow Nazis to police and prosecutors.
In 2010/2011 the EDL were a successful violent fascist street gang which terrorized non-whites and wreaked havoc on our streets. But they are no longer that political force .The last few EDL events hardly drew enough goons to fill even a smaller pub. The hopes of some of the EDL’s grief vultures to turn outrage Lee Rigby’s terrorist murder into a long term resurgence of violent street fascism have not materialised.
Even the tiny number of EDL supporters who remain are riven by infighting and ideological differences. Law enforcement too is starting to close in on the EDL: Robinson and Carol themselves are due to stand trial soon and one his their top EDL-colleagues is to hand himself to the police after a violent robbery.
Thus, by leaving the EDL Robinson is not really losing anything. In admitting that he can no longer restrain ‘extremist elements’ of the EDL, he is effectively conceding that he no longer held any real power as leader anyway. As he too seems to have realised, the EDL is finished as a political force; He stated “though street demonstrations have brought us to this point, they are no longer productive”.
On the other hand Robinson’s gains through todays manoeuvre are massive.
He effectively rewrites his own political history and that of the EDL before his exit. He can portray himself as a hero of conscience; A man who risked his political future to oppose outrageous politically Islamist extremists like Anjem Choudhury. A man who was unjustly misunderstood and maligned as far-right only because of the actions of small number of extremists in the EDL.
The empathy circus has already begun. Robinson whined to the media about how he was unjustly demonised. He and Kevin Carroll even told a press conference his heroic fairy tale; “We had fought for three and a half years to keep racists out of the EDL”.
Since when is a bunch of racists getting drunk and shouting “whose streets, our streets “ a critique of Islamism. Since when is addressing a known terrorist, racist and mafia group an act of keeping racism out? Or what about the speaker at that prominent 2010 EDL demo who said “We’re still waiting for the Muslims to make peace with each other? They eat each other alive, like the dogs that they are”.
A real exit from the far-right feels and looks different. Andreas Molau, Germany’s top far-right ideologue and the most significant ‘exiter’ in past years gradually progressed from the overtly Nazi NPD to slightly more moderate far-right organizations before eventually quitting the far-right, rather than staging a glamorous one day shock maneuver. In interviews Molau makes clear that he is ‘no victim’, that his hateful views were “wrong at heart” and he has serious questions to answer over his lack of empathy for victims of the Nazi regime. He does not hide behind far-fetched self-justifications.
The test of democracy and of the rule of law, both here and in Greece, is not how it treats the best of us but how it treats the worst.
That doesn’t mean we should be complacent. There are real threats to justice in Britain, such as cuts to legal aid. However the battle is clearly not yet lost here.
Meanwhile in Greece the authorities have moved to arrest members of the Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, including its leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and four other Golden Dawn MPs. They’ve been charged with belonging to a criminal organisation and it’s claimed that guns and ammunition were found in Michaloliakos’ home.
Recent posts by reservists belonging to elite Greek military units calling for a coup, the killing of a prominent leftist musician, sustained attacks on immigrants and left wing protesters, had all brought things to a point where the state seems to have felt obliged to act.
I feel obliged to say two things. Firstly that I believe in muscular democracy; in other words I do not believe that a democracy, in the name of democracy, should hand the means of its own destruction to non-democratic forces.
When Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared at one point that he saw democracy as a bus, you use it to get to your destination and then get off, he associated himself with autocrats everywhere who have exploited democracy from Hitler onwards.
The minimum qualification for seeking power democracy must be a commitment to surrender power democratically when citizens demand it. For that reason it’s hard to justify allowing Golden Dawn or any other anti-democratic group an electoral platform.
The other thing I would say is this; however odious Golden Dawn the party and its members may be they must get due process and a fair trial. It’s not so much a concern about creating martyrs. Most knuckle dragging far right thugs would fetishise a rotting dog’s carcass if it served their warped cause. Nope, it’s because the damage done to Greek democracy by further degrading its already damaged institutions would be almost as bad as letting Golden Dawn damage them.
There’s a passage in A Man For All Seasons, where Sir Thomas More is debating with his son-in-law Wiolliam Roper, that puts it better than I could.
Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
Bang ‘em up, throw away the key and all that, but do it proper and do it so a better, more confident, more self respecting, more honest, more democratic Greece can come out of this.
this blog was originally posted here.
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