For anyone who’s been asleep or under a particularly soundproofed rock for the last few weeks, here’s a quick ‘catch up’. Nick Griffin, leader of the UK’s Far Right British National Party, was invited on to BBC Television’s flagship political debate programme, ‘Question Time’. This generated a great deal of fuss and bother. Anti-Fascist groups demonstrated, Griffin himself objected about the format of the show, and it was one of the least edifying sights I’ve seen on TV for some years. A survey today reveals that after Griffin’s appearance on the show, support for the party has increased. Peter Hain is saying that this was exactly the sort of thing that led to Nazi Germany…sorry…that was Basil Fawlty…Peter Hain is saying that this was exactly the sort of thing he was afraid of. And even insiders at the BBC are stating that the way the program was handled was a farce and that Griffin was subjected to ‘attack dogs’.
Woooo…..serious stuff. Let’s just stop for a moment shall we? First of all, let’s make it clear to all and sundry that I’m no BNP supporter or fellow traveller. I say that now because I know from experience on certain Internet Forums any attempt to look at the phenomena that is the BNP or any aspect of multicultural politics in Britain tends to result in you being called a Nazi, racist, sympathiser, etc. So let’s nail that one first and now discuss the issue like grown-ups.
In terms of voting intention for an election tomorrow, the proportion who said they’d vote BNP was 3%. Last month, it was 2%. So, oodles of free publicity, massive TV coverage, the sort of profile that Griffin might have only gotten by leading a Wetherspoons Putsch and all that happens is an extra 1% of firm vote support. Pardon me, Peter, if I don’t get too panicky just yet? Yes, 22% of voters suggested that they might seriously consider voting BNP, but there’s many a slip between poll and ballot box.
What was obvious from the furore surrounding this edition of ‘Question Time’ is that :
- A large number of protesters attempted to prevent the leader of a legal UK political party – how represehensible we might find the opinions of that party is irrelevant – from taking part in a debate on UK television.
- Various high ranking political figures appeared to apply pressure to the BBC to not allow the broadcast to take place.
- The format of the broadcast DID appear to be different to usual – it had all the hallmarks of a bear baiting session and I venture to suggest that the chairing of the programme could have been better.
The overall result of this has been to allow Griffin to be able to call ‘foul’ and play the ‘Martyr’ card – that well beloved ploy of all political extremists who know that their chances at the ballot box are pretty slim in any other circumstances. Griffin performed incredibly poorly on QT – despite the possibly loaded deck, which to be honest he and his advisers might have expected – his answers were not brilliant and he made teh error of getting a few cheap shots in at his political opponents. But, the overall impression that his supporters will take away and propagate through their publicity machine is that ‘We were censored and muzzled by the political establishment, the BBC and the far left’ – the very last impression that this appearance SHOULD have been allowed to give. The UAF, Government and BBC have managed by their total cack-handed handling of this issue to give the BNP the origin of their very own ‘stab in the back’ myth.
The ‘No Platform’ issue is a well worn one. Basically, it’s a policy by the left to attempt to remove any possible platform for Far Right parties in the media – or on Internet Forums, discussion groups, public venues, etc. Short for ‘No platform for Fascists’ it is supposed to starve the Far Right of the ability to publicise themselves and gain recruits. There’s one problem with this approach – it doesn’t work. It simply allows the sort of nonsense we’ve encountered over the last week to play out, gaining the Far Right more recruits and support than if they’d been allowed to quietly get on with making total arses of themselves in public.
To me, ‘No platform’ is simply a censorship operation by the Left, in the style that Stalin and Mao would recognise. Totalitarianism is alive and well on both sides of the political fence. But it is counter productive and dangerous in a wider sense than that of stifling political debate. By permitting teh right to say that they are being censored, their words are heard by more and more people. The British people are not getting more racist; but many are now perceiving that the country is changing it’s cultural make up in a way that doesn’t benefit them:
- The Government and main political parties are thought by many people – particularly working class and those in the poorer economic groups – to be totally out of touch with people’s fears and concerns about immigration. Until very recently it’s been difficult to discuss these issues without being howled down in ‘Islington Circles’ as a racist monster who eats babies for breakfast and kicks small dogs.
- People have seen the economy got to hell in a basket, and in many cases are now experiencing real pain. They also start noticing immigration – note I said NOTICING – for the first time. Even with no proven factual, causal link between their decrease in standard in living and the number of immigrants that they feel are coming in to the country, they irrationally believe and fear that there IS a causal link.
- When the Government produces statistics that disprove any link between immigration and economic well being, or even suggest that there is a positive link, people are not believing it. This is partially because there are often other reports and statistics that prove the other point of view. Debating the issue then turns in to a game of ‘URL Tennis’ as participants fling references around like intellectual hand-grenades, attempting to trip up the logic or mathematics in the report and, if that fails, the credentials of the authors.
- The Government is seen as being a bunch of lying bastards. The Government have been seen to lie on numerous issues – the 2003 Iraq War being a biggie, for example. If they’ll lie to take us to war, folks quite rightly believe they’ll lie on other policies. And as if by magic…in today’s Daily Mail there is a story of how Jack Straw and Tony Blair planned to pull an immigration ‘fast one’ on the people of Britain.
- People wonder why the main parties are unwilling to discuss immigration and multiculturalism. People perceive an ‘elephant in the living room’ event taking place. The lack of debate or willingness to debate makes people fear the worst.
- Media stories and programs bolster peopel’s fear of immigration and multiculturalism, especially in the absence of open, factual debate. For example, we get the ongoing ‘No Christmas Decorations’ sort of bollocks every year, programs like UK Border Patrol that show the efforts of the UK’s Border Agencies to keep undesirables out, etc.
In other words, there is an overwhelming perception for many people that this country is changing – no, is BEING changed by the Government – to a multicultural wonderland in which the views of the indiginous majority are being ignored. And the only people who’re paying attention to this is the BNP. And when these folks feel and fear that the BNP is being censored – and the BNP themselves can point to violent demonstrations to attempt to stop their leader speaking on TV – then people may well start thinking ‘What are these bastards trying to hide from me?‘
So, what’s to be done?
- First of all, there needs to be an open discussion on all aspects of immigration and multicularal policies in the UK. It needs to be wideranging and it will involve engaging with very unplesant people on all sides of the argument. there can be no ‘No Platform’ nonsesne.
- It must be possible for people to think and say the currently unthinkable in discourse without being howled down. You don’t destroy ideas by stopping them being expressed. You destroy them by exposing them to teh light of reasoned and factual analysis.
- Government, opposition and opinion formers MUST realise that they are first of all dealing with perception and belief – in other words, irrational feelings that must be addressed before people can engage in this sort of debate. This will not be easy but is essential. The first stage is to simply say to people ‘We appreciate you’re a bit worried; we’re hear to listen. And then feckin’ LISTEN and don’t hear just what you want to hear.
Put bluntly, we have a fine campaigining season ahead for the bigots, the true racists, the thugs and the idealogues of both political extremes; economic recession, out of touch and dishonest Government, a few instances of corrupt and dishonest politicians stealing public money in their expenses, bankers bonuses getting stupidly high again, increasing unemployment, unpopular wars.
It’s time for Government and the political and media establishments of the UK to do soemthing before it all goes pear shaped. Censoring and demonstrating is not enough – it’s time to engage and defeat the ideas of extremists of both political colours.
Thanks for reading – go forth and get defeating.