Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What does the BNP's popularity mean for Britain?

There's a country-wide caterwaul emerging from Britain, in response to the British Nationalist Party making substantial inroads into legitimate British politics.

[The British Nationalist Party, for the benefit of foreign readers, are a populist movement that emerged from the World War II era British Union of Fascists. They're unashamedly neo-Nazi in policy and practice, barring membership to all but 'ethnically British' Christians and pledging a populist manifesto that includes banning non-white immigration, reintroducing the death penalty and reincorporating Ireland into the United Kingdom. - Editorial Bear]

Thanks to intense dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties, the British Nationalist Party managed to secure two seats in the recent European Parliamentary elections - and found positions on local councils for former MEP Andrew Brons and party chairman Nick Griffin.

Labor and the Conservatives joined together in solemn head-shaking at the news, issuing statements that the BNP's victory was a 'sad moment.' Meanwhile, activists pelted Griffin and Brons with eggs as they attempted to hold their first press conference.

But, for the most part, the British public has been united in blaming the people who didn't vote for what happened. (This rather petulantly ignores the ones who did vote, for the BNP, who are really to blame for this debacle.)

One political pundit on Facebook declared: "This emotional response to their election is right and proper, but it needs to be directed at those who didn't vote. It's largely their fault that the BNP got elected. When only one in three vote this sort of thing will happen."

Unfortunately, when it came to the pathetic state of British politics, not voting in this election might have been a legitimate political statement. Politics should be about choosing leaders, not sifting through the pile to pick the 'least unelectable.'

But blaming poor voter turnout ignores the obvious. Take a look at recent history - the 2006 and 2007 local elections in the UK - as far back as early 1997. The BNP have continued to make consistent gains across the country for over a decade now; something you can't blame on a single turnout in a single election.

In truth is this: In twelve years, the BNP have doubled the number of votes they receive three times over. It appears the British Nationalist Party - racist, fascist, populist movement that they are - give out a message that resonates with a growing number of people.

That terrifies me, but it doesn't surprise me.

In 2006, Sky News held of survey of British voters and found that 59% of people agreed with BNP's general policies - as long as, that is, they weren't told beforehand that the policies they were considering were those of the BNP.

The British Nationalist Party's biggest obstacle, it appears, isn't their racist rhetoric or fascist policies. People are already on board with all that. The BNP does dismally in elections simply because they're them. It's a branding problem. They need to hire Saatchi and Saatchi!

That branding issue aside, it means the ideological battle has already been won. If Sky News is right, people apparently support many of the BNP's aims already. The only reason they're not a legitimate political presence is because people are still too ashamed to tick the 'BNP' box on the voting slip.

Thank Goodness.

But if the elections were any indication, that might be changing.

There's a reason for this, of course: People in Britain are quite simply getting pissed off.

It's a certain class of 'person' who's upset - and they're upset for reasons that us polite, politically correct middle-class types don't want to talk about:

'Reasons' like how two Christian church workers handing out leaflets in a Muslim district of Birmingham were recently accused of hate speech by a 'Community Support Officer' - while our government simultaneously condoned an Islamic school in Acton that used textbooks referring to Jews as 'apes' and Christians as 'pigs.'

'Reasons' like a London council erecting roadsigns in Polish to cater to the influx of immigrants.

As far as people like me are concerned, it's not polite to talk about 'reasons' like these, because criticizing Islam is 'Islamophobic' and picking on Polish people is 'Xenophobic.'

However, people who haven't bought into the middle-class, BBC-watching, politically correct mindset like I have are upset at the disparity between how 'us' (the white, English speaking Christian) and 'them' (anybody with an accent and a beard) are treated.

The BNP successfully tap into popular opinion that I would diplomatically label as 'unevolved' - the simmering, lager-fueled resentment at those who come to this country and 'don't speak English,' or don't celebrate Christmas (a holiday that they already claim is 'under attack.)

The BNP thrives on tackling these issues because the rest of us simply don't want to acknowledge them. We 'civilized' people, who support the Labor Party, the Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives, consider ourselves above pandering to populist opinion that's arguably racist and ignorant - but that ignores the fact that this opinion still exists.

The longer the mainstream political parties ignore these 'problems,' the more supporters the likes of the BNP are going to pick up.

The fact is, the only way the mainstream parties in Britain are going to stop the gradual build up of support for the BNP is by opening a dialogue with the people who are tempted to support them. Talk on their level, about issues that matter to them.

Maybe then, we can engage them as voters - and steal them away from the BNP.

I don't think that's impossible. Deep down, I still have faith that British people don't want an 'all-white England' or a country in which immigrants and foreigners aren't welcome. Britain's rich multicultural heritage is a beautiful thing and I believe most British people are proud of it. Their votes for the BNP were a protest, not an endorsement.

Think about it... Some of our most indisputably, quintessentially British celebrities (like newsreader Trevor MacDonald, Conservative politician Derek Laud and dreadlocked show-jumper Oliver Skeete) are people the BNP would condemn as 'not ethnically British.' Hell, our national dish has become curry, not fish and chips!

So we shouldn't misinterpret the BNPs success as 'the shape of things to come.' But nor should we do what the British press and pundits have been doing - trying to downplay the significance of the fascist's growing popularity and ignore the 'uncomfortable' issues.

But eclipsing even the smoldering nationalism of the BNPs supporters is a bigger problem - and one Labor and Conservatives are equally inadequate in tackling: How British people feel like they simply don't have a voice any more.

It seems opinions polls and government policy have never been more disjointed. To a huge extent, the mainstream parties simply don't offer a choice between them any more. That's why extremists like the BNP are winning favor.

Just look at the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Back then, Prime Minister Tony Blair ignored public opinion (and more than 2 million protesters) to support the American-led invasion of Iraq. In contrast (or rather, not) the opposition party, the Conservatives, supported exactly the same thing.

It's a similar situation with the European Union. If we held a referendum tomorrow, the British people would probably vote to sever ties with the continent immediately. That means when the government rubber stamps European dictates - like supporting the adoption of the so-called 'European Constitution' - it's understandable for voters are going to feel disenfranchised.

Britain's politicians sit within the vaulted walls of the Houses of Parliament and decide 'what's best' for Britain without ever asking what Britain actually wants.

The BNP's success in the elections is nothing less than a harsh wake up call. It's a message to our representatives in Parliament that they're simply not doing their job.

They've got to stop thinking about what's 'best' for Britain and start thinking about what Britain wants. Because, after all, that is supposed to be how democracy works.

We shouldn't misinterpret the BNPs success as 'the shape of things to come.' But nor should we do what the British press and pundits have been doing - trying to downplay the significance of the fascist's growing popularity. The increasing number of votes the British Nationalists are receiving isn't the problem. It's a symptom.

Unless we address what's really wrong with Britain, it's a 'symptom' that's going to be more and more prevalent on the ballot rolls.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The UK is becoming increasingly ghettoised through white flight and the rise of the BNP is now unstoppable. They will never run the country but it won't be long before they have a presence in the House of Commons.