Tag Archives: far-right

England toilet paper

Have we reached peak flag?

There are some days when I couldn’t feel more alienated from UK politics, and today is one of them. While we are still struggling to comprehend why the people of Rochester and Strood just re-elected an MP who is a virtual caricature of every worst Westminster character trait imaginable in what they seem to think is a defiant anti-Westminster rebuff, Labour opted to lose it completely. They sacked Emily Thornberry from the front bench for posting a picture of a house with three England flags in the window alongside in a way that might be construed as mildly passive-aggressive. Sacked immediately by an apparently furious Ed Miliband, we’ve been bombarded today by pictures of the house’s occupant, nicknamed “White Van Dan” riding around Islington in his van, which has now been covered by Sun newspaper stickers. Meanwhile, asked what he thinks whenever he sees a white van, Ed Miliband came up with the ultimate Thick-Of-It-ism by replying “respect“.

Hanging over all this is the spectre of Gillian Duffy, the pensioner from Rochdale who Gordon Brown unwisely called a bigoted woman while wearing a live microphone during the 2010 general election campaign. In both cases, the response has seemed as out of touch if less authentic than the original offence. In fact, the only thing less authentic is the manufactured outrage whipped up by the media and Labour’s rivals which caused the apologies in the first place.

Labour aren’t just the victims of this. Just yesterday, Labour’s new anti-Green unit had managed to get the Evening Standard to publish a story attacking Green Party leader Natalie Bennett for the apparently egregious offence of travelling across Europe in a comfortable train instead of the indignity of squatting in one of those flying toilets that passes for a RyanAir plane. As someone who did something rather similar last month, albeit mostly out of a desire for comfort rather than wanting to minimise carbon emissions, I struggle to understand what the fuss is about. I certainly struggle to understand why Labour thinks this is going to alienate potential voters from the Green Party.

Much of what I wrote about Norman Baker’s treatment following his resignation earlier this month also applies to this latest debacle. I’m growing increasingly despairing of politicians’ craven need to indulge every reactionary twinge, as long as it emerges from a housing estate. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is genuine concern for the poor and marginalised in society however; I have no idea if White Van Dan receives benefits or not, but under different circumstances he is exactly the kind of bloke that the Sun typically vilifies for being a scrounger, with Labour cheerleading behind it. If you’re poor, the political class hate you; yet if you say something like “it’s not racist to want to kick brown people out of the country”, you are fêted and patronised as the authentic voice of the working classes. Meanwhile, the under-25s are looking at having their benefits slashed regardless of whether Labour or the Tories win a plurality at the next general election. And despite housing being one of the biggest single causes of poverty and social immobility, none of the parties appear to be interest in doing much about it.

The thing is, as a strategy for marginalising the far right, it doesn’t work, at all, as Ukip’s surge in recent years and the BNP’s upswing before that has repeatedly demonstrated. We are fortunate in this country in that most of our far right parties are so venal that they tend to turn in on themselves as soon as they get a whiff of success (helped along by organisations like Hope Not Hate). The BNP and English Defence League both spectacularly self-destructed, as indeed did Ukip 10 years ago following Robert Kilroy Silk’s attempts at a takeover. And looking at the oddballs which Ukip got elected as MEPs this year, there’s a good chance they will self-destruct again.

But by not challenging the very thing they stand for, all the main parties have achieved is to grow the reactionary core vote. As parties collapse, new ones rise up and quickly take their place. If Nigel Farage does self-immolate at some point, you can bet that there’s another smooth talking, slimy public former public schoolboy ready to take his place.

As it is, when people say idiotic things like immigration is a taboo subject in British politics, the main parties all nod their heads sagely, despite knowing that it’s all they ever talk about. I’m hardly the first person to notice that “Ukip are right, don’t vote for them” has spectacularly failed as a political message. And while politicians are falling over themselves to come up with ever harsher anti-immigration policies, whilst straining to appear non-racist, immigrants themselves meanwhile are shoring up the NHS, the treasury and our cultural life.

With the vast majority of the public not willing to even consider voting Ukip, is it really that inconceivable to actually challenge their bullshit? I don’t mean in a mealy mouthed, apologetic way as Labour currently practices, but in a robust and pro-active way. It did not, admittedly, work particularly well for the Lib Dems during the last European elections, but their credibility has been shot to pieces. Imagine if Ed Miliband had decided to take Ukip to task at his party conference this September, instead of spending the last couple of months indulging them? He certainly wouldn’t be in a worse position than he is at the moment. I suspect that his failure to do so has more to do with the rise in Green Party popularity than any newfound concern for the environment.

I’m not a fan of nationalism, but I will confess that some people seem to be capable of practising genuine civic nationalism, and I respect them for it. In the run up and aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum, I came across dozens of examples of it campaigning for Yes. As someone who has always been quite dismissive of SNP claims to be this generous form of nationalism, as opposed to the defensive, hateful kind, this has represented something of a challenge for me (for the avoidance of doubt, I’m not suggesting that all SNP supporters are twinkly civic nationalists; far from it).

The Anglo-British political class however seem to be reacting to the nationalist challenge by adopting an equally reactionary form of nationalism. Throughout the Scottish independence referendum campaign, my twitterfeed seemed to be dominated by No campaigners and English politicos talking about how a Yes vote would force them to erect a border between Scotland and England – not to keep the nationalists out, you understand, but all the dreadful immigrants that the SNP was going to be willing to accept into the country. Self-defined lefties, progressives and Europhiles were talking about Schengen in increasingly shrill tones. This seems to be all that British nationalism has to offer; togevverness in the face of the awful outside world, and nothing but spite for Scotland if it chose to go its own way. As someone who simply doesn’t understand why I should treat Scots as any more or less comradely than the French or Danes – or Liberians for that matter, I found it weirdly alienating.

The Ango-British are really bad at nationalism, not least of all because no-one seems to be able to decide whether to wrap themselves in the English or British flag. I don’t doubt the integrity of people like Billy Bragg wanting an English civic nationalism, but even he isn’t very good at articulating it, and no-one is really listening to him in any case. Instead of trying to invent something that isn’t there, the progressive, civic nationalist thing to do is to simply not worry too much about it, and instead focus on values such as mutual respect and solidarity. Those ought to be our starting points, not a concern about alienating people who have become intoxicated with nationalist lies.

There’s a possibility that Labour might actually realise this over the next couple of months and respond accordingly, but I’m not going to be holding my breath. If they don’t however, I suspect that all we’ll see is a further fragmentation of the Labour vote as haemorrhages between the Greens and Ukip. In many ways, this isn’t a bad thing – the collapse of the established political order is looking increasingly inevitable. But while it might be a positive thing in the long term, in the short term we are likely to just see British politics adrift on a tide of racist and hateful effluent.

Liberal Vision concede defeat

Godwin’s law strikes again:

What is more worrying, however, is that an appendage of the state is now a matter of national pride. Daniel Hannan has been called a “traitor”. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what national socialism looks like.

Sara goes on to insist that by “national socialism” she was not, of course, referring to Nazism. Surely any rational person would assume she was referring to all the other ideologies that espouse national socialism. You know, the ones which we refer to as “neo-Nazis.” So, not invoking Godwin’s law at all then, clearly.

UPDATE: I should make it clear that I am referring to the author of the above referred to Liberal Vision article, Sara Scarlett and not Sara Bedford or indeed any other Sara.

Karma Police and the fashion failure of fascism

Karma police, arrest this girl, her Hitler hairdo, is making me feel ill
And we have crashed her party
This is what you get, this is what you get
This is what you get, when you mess with us

Radiohead, Karma police

For reasons that may (or may not) become clear, the Daily Mail made me think of these lyrics today. As it has done through the years, thankfully a mite more critically this time, the paper has done a piece on the fascist du jour Richard “Dick” Barnbrook. The main revelation which I did not know was that he is in the final stages of divorcing a woman he met during his “Derek Jarman gay porn” years. Not terribly impressed with his politics, she says:

“In a way, I wanted to join the police to redress the karmic imbalance in the world caused by my husband’s views.”

Barnbrook has also been in the News of the World this week for two-timing his ballerina fiance with a nurse from Finland. I have to admit I am rather disappointed that NotW failed to use the headlines “a kick in the Balkans” or “Finns ain’t what they used to be”.

Possibly the most disappointing thing about the state of British fascism (apart from, of course, the fact that they are racist, violent thugs who are improbably gaining electoral support at the moment), is their sartorial inelegance. Oswald Mosley may have dressed his blackshirts up like Doctor Who villains, but at least they knew what a fucking iron was.

Oswald Mosley and his blackshirts

Richard Barnbrook as Adolf HitlerOne thing you can say about Barnbrook is that with his brown suit and already suggestive fringe, at least he makes it easy for people to caricature him.

Frankly though, I prefer these fellers.

Ham: Are You High?

Readers may recall me mocking the Ham and High a couple of years ago for condemning the Labour party’s “flying pigs” advert on the grounds of anti-semitism. Words therefore fail to learn that the same paper has allowed the BNP to take out paid advertising on their pages.

The paper appears to have confused the two concepts of “freedom of speech” and “suckee suckee – one dollar!” – to be fair, many people who lack a moral compass do. But does anyone seriously believe that if this advert had been anti-jewish as opposed to anti-muslim they would seriously go ahead with it? In that part of North London?

They come over ‘ere and ban our abattoirs…

Via Lynne Featherstone and Natalie Hayne‘s article in the Times today about the teaching unions’ attempts to ban YouTube, I came across this press release on the BNP’s website:

“Pork rain” complaints from pushy Muslims

More evidence that Muslims haven’t settled in Britain to adopt to our ways, but instead continue to push their own agenda, comes after it was announced that Muslims have objected to plans to build a pet food factory on the grounds that it could rain down pork!

Butchers Pet Care, who planned to build a factory in Coton Park near Rugby, now may have to back down after the Muslims complained to the residents association about the potential for pork smells to drift into their gardens and thus violate their religious rights. The Muslims also claim that the chimney of the proposed factory would “rain down” pork onto their homes and gardens after meat extracts are pumped into the atmosphere.

The local are saying that a large proportion of meats used in pet foods are pig meats, and that they would, in effect, be consuming pork by inhalation if it were to “rain down” on them from the factory chimney.

It’s a disgrace. Britain has a proud tradition of industrial pollution which those pushy Islamists want to ban! Whatever next? They’ll be moaning about good old British asbestos next!

Just because Johnny Foreigner is sensitive about things like the Bhopal disaster, they think they can impose their ways on us!

BNP plan to run away

Hilarious story in the Observer:

A few miles from the historic southern Croatian town of Knin lie 1,100 hectares of farmland and a couple of abandoned buildings. A tributary from the river Krka runs through the lush countryside nestled close to the sun-drenched Adriatic coast.

It is a tranquil place, one that would make an ideal spot for a campsite or a clutch of holiday homes. But instead the land is destined for a rather more bizarre sort of retreat. It is here that a small cabal, comprising senior members of the British National Party, plans to hole up once, as they expect, the world’s supply of oil runs out, triggering anarchy.

Croatia is welcome to them. Bye Nick!

Darlo Dunce and Metrosexual Maude (UPDATED)

I wasn’t going to comment about this story, but I’m afraid Francis Maude has got me riled up:

There can be no excuse for a mainstream political party promoting extremism and racism. The evidence is there for all to see. Menzies Campbell must get off the fence and sack Steve Jones. He must send a clear message to the rest of his Party that racism will not be tolerated by expelling this councillor from the Liberal Democrats. It’s also alarming that, of the three main political parties, the Liberal Democrats have the worst record in local elections of fielding candidates against the BNP. It is time that they woke up to the danger posed by this extremist party.

Bottom line, the Tories are in no position to start smearing about the BNP and they know it.

You don’t need an elephantine memory to recall that the Tory links with the BNP go right to the top with Nick Griffin’s father who Iain Duncan Smith made a Vice President of his leadership campaign. Only last week, Iain Dale was hailing a frankly bigoted post by Nadine Dorries MP about travellers in which she condemned gypsies and travellers for not ‘settling down’ while simultaneously saying they shouldn’t be allowed to (her blog has been designed by a gibbon and you don’t appear to be able to link to specific posts – scroll down to the post titled ‘She was born in the wagon of a travellin’ show’). Here’s the deal Francis: expel her from the party, and then let’s start talking about which party has the biggest problem with racism and the extreme right.

It’s clear that Stephen Jones has been a bit of an idiot, but it is equally clear that the first person this has undermined is himself, by nominating someone to stand against himself. It isn’t as cut and dried as, say, the situation a few months ago in Burnley where the local Lib Dems really were flirting with the BNP in a way that I find unacceptable.

Francis Maude’s comments will come back to haunt him because as night follows day another Tory is always just days away from getting into a race row. In the ward neighbouring mine here in Barnet, a local councillor – whose idea of fun is to black up and impersonate Nelson Mandela – appears to believe that we should stop immigration to stop Britain from becoming the ‘dustbin of the world‘. Throw a stone anywhere in this country and you have a pretty good chance of hitting a racist Tory.

I’m not saying the Tories are fundamentally racist. I’m not saying the Lib Dems, like all parties, don’t have their own problems with racist elements from time to time. I am saying that if they want to start playing this zero-sum game, they can’t possibly win. Bring it on Francis, bring it on. If you want to drag political discourse down into the gutter, you are going a textbook way about doing so.

You would have thought that Maude would have rather more sympathy for Stephen Jones’ situation given that, less than 24 hours ago, he was mistakenly nominating a Lib Dem to be the Tory candidate for London Mayor. We all make mistakes, but Maude has made bigger ones than most. Perhaps it’s time Cameron came off the fence and sacked him?

UPDATE: I’ve been asked to link to this story about Tory candidate Luke MacKenzie who Francis Maude has mysteriously failed to disown. Happy to oblige.