So, Tory party peer Sayeeda Warsi gives an interview to the Independent on Sunday and says:
“The BNP will look at what issue it is locally that they can exploit and the other political parties are not seen to be dealing with and they will play to that,” she says. Far from ignoring the issue of immigration, she thinks it should be confronted head on. “I think we need to have the debate. One of the problems why the BNP has been allowed to grow is sometimes certainly the Labour Party took the view that if we ignore them they will just go away,” she says.
Indeed, she says, people who back the extreme-right party, criticised for its racist and homophobic agenda, may even have a point. “They have some very legitimate views. People who say ‘we are concerned about crime and justice in our communities â€“ we are concerned about immigration in our communities’,” she said.
Predictably, some people have gotten quite angry.
“Pandering to racist views peddled by the BNP and bought by BNP voters is grotesque,” said Simon Woolley of OBV. “This country would collapse if it wasn’t for migrant workers.”
But Spectator blogger Clive Davis (who is the only sensible one of that lot) says:
But the words themselves are surely just an honest attempt to grapple with a genuine problem. I can’t believe Operation Black Vote are in a rage. Yes, there’s always a risk that racist groups will try to exploit Warsi’s remarks, but if we accept she’s talking in good faith, there isn’t a problem.
I’ve said before we should be more intelligent in dealing with the BNP, so I don’t disagree.
But there’s several points that Sayeeda, Clive and everyone else is missing.
1) The Tories care about immigration because they don’t want poor non-white people arriving here, but working class voters actually care more about housing and public transport. Because WC voters believe immigrants are reponsible for declining social services, they vote BNP. But public transport and affordable housing aren’t Tory high priorities so it’s no use voting for them.
2) Sayeeda is using the BNP to play up the immigration debate but in the last elections they remained stagnant across the country. So there’s no electoral proof people are defecting to the BNP enmasse despite the right-wing media’s scaremongering. She just wants to talk immigration so David Cameron can avoid it at his party conference.
3) If the BNP do come to prominence in certain areas up north, it’s usually on a campaign against Muslims by using terrorism or paedophilia. I don’t expect she think those are “legitimate views”. So what the hell is she playing at?
4) “…we need to have the debate [on immigration]” is the silliest phrase bandied about these days. We are having a debate! The Tories haven’t stopped talking about it for 40 years! And it lost them the last two elections despite making it top priority. What they actually mean is that voters aren’t listening to them enough on the issue so they’ll continue to pretend that the debate on immigration is being supressed.
5) If people voting for a racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, nazi etc party should be listened to, even if we don’t like their views, then why not apply those standards to British Muslims who join the similarly racist and anti-semitic (but non-violent) group Hizb ut-Tahrir? Is it coz they iz brown?
Update: Chris Dillow is thinking along the same lines.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Race politics,The BNP