Dealing with the rise of the BNP


by Sunny
17th April, 2006 at 8:02 pm    

Is the BNP on the rise? Today’s Guardian certainly seems to think so. But, taking this simply as ‘people are becoming more racist’ or ‘this is unsurprising given unchecked immigration’ is being lazy. There are lots of reasons that the BNP has prospered in local elections rather than national elections, and I want to use this thread to formulate a more considered response. Peter Black for e.g. says:

In many ways that is fortunate as I am still having difficulty getting past my anger at [Margaret Hodge's] stupidity. I do not know if eight out of ten of voters in Barking and Dagenham were thinking of voting for the BNP before, but after this outburst it is almost certain that they are now.

It seems that Mrs Hodge has been talking to her electors but not listening. If many of them are considering voting for the BNP then it is because they are disillusioned with the Labour Government and the local Council. The BNP may be racists but it is not racists who they appeal to. Instead, they latch onto dissatisfaction and apply a simplistic and popularist solution to local problems. Often this can involve finding scapegoats, in all cases it involves casting themselves as an anti-establishment force who local people can identify with.

That’s hit the nail on the head. But there’s another problem. The traditional Asian response to the BNP has been to rush into the arms of the government and want some sort of censorship. Not only that, Labour has been comprehensively rubbish in putting forward the case for immigration (another area that needs dealing with).

We need to get more intelligent than that. More strategic. I plan to use this thread to gather some ideas and links of my own to formulate a more detailed response a bit later. Comments and ideas are welcome.

Update: Written an article for Comment Is Free to the same effect – drew a huge response.


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  1. Bikhair — on 17th April, 2006 at 9:31 pm  

    Sunny,

    Not knowing much about British politics, I would have to say that this is in fact a sign of people becoming more racist and white supremacist. Similarly, the Palestinian Arabs have now voted in their desire to destroy Isreal by making Hamas their leaders. Its quite simple Sunny. Very very simple.

    In light of all this, I hope Muslims are no longer accused of not assimilating/intergrating and accpeted British values because it is very clear, judging by the popularity of the BNP that Muslims or any other minority group, dont accept British values either. Either that or they are very willing to throw them out when the crap hits the fan. Or is it true that the BNP do indeed represent real British values and you guys are just blind or ignorant?

  2. Old Pickler — on 17th April, 2006 at 9:34 pm  

    It would help if your average taxpayer was not having to chuck so much money at that black hole they call the EU. £20 billion over budget. And for what? That’s £2 billion from the British taxpayer to have French and German apparatchiks telling us what to do.

    An anti-EU party would be good in itself. Also it would take the pressure off the race issue, which is a red herring. The BNP are evil, but clever. They will get in where they see gaps.

    Pity UKIP were so stupid, and pity David Cameron didn’t capitalise on the perfectly understandable Euro scepticism that is the only way forward for this country.

  3. Sunny — on 17th April, 2006 at 9:38 pm  

    Bikhair – Though I try and ignore you most of time, I’m feeling generous today. I think the rise of the BNP is a result of Labour (left wing politicians) not having the balls to stand up to them intellectually. And it’s also a result of the far right exploiting recent controversies such as the Danish Cartoons to say that Muslims don’t want to integrate.

    To say Muslims are justified in blaming the BNP for why they “don’t integrate” is a stupid argument. The far right has been against every previous immigrant group too, including Jews and African-Caribbeans who seem to have survived. I don’t need lessons from the BNP on what I should do.

  4. Sunny — on 17th April, 2006 at 9:42 pm  

    [This below is for me]
    Anyway, David T has highlighted the same issue here:
    http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2006/04/17/fascists_on_the_rise.php

    He links to this Searchlight article.
    http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/index.php?link=template&story=161

    He also says:
    Margaret Hodge gives an interview reminiscent of Thatcher’s 1978 “swamping” speech: a moment which was widely regarded as having taken the wind out of the National Front’s sails, by courting its voters:

    I don’t buy that. Labour does not need to court far-right votes by appeasing them with garbage. It needs to fight those arguments about immigration intellecually otherwise it will forever be branded as “soft on immigration” and have no adequate way of challenging that.

    This must be one of our main aims.

  5. Old Pickler — on 17th April, 2006 at 9:45 pm  

    And it’s also a result of the far right exploiting recent controversies such as the Danish Cartoons to say that Muslims don’t want to integrate.

    The BNP have certainly exploited this, but nevertheless, the silence on the matter of free speech from mainstream Muslims has been deafening.

    Unless Muslims tackle some of the backward aspects of their religion, the BNP will use them to point the finger for racist purposes. For a while they will get Hindus, Sikhs and Jews as allies. Then they will turn against those too. And against blacks, Irish and where will it end?

    For the BNP, all that matters is a white face.

  6. Katy Newton — on 17th April, 2006 at 10:17 pm  

    There may have been a rise in extremism of all flavours to a certain extent over the last few years, but I think – or perhaps hope – that the majority of people now considering voting for the BNP are not doing so because of what they stand for, but out of deep disillusionment with Labour, exacerbated by the complete lack of any viable Opposition alternative. It’s the political equivalent of breaking something to get people to listen to you. This ought to be a wake-up call to all three main parties.

    Personally, I’d rather nail my tongue to the floor than vote for the BNP, no matter how bad things seemed. (Mind you, I’m Jewish, so it wouldn’t exactly be a vote for my future in Britain.)

  7. El Cid — on 17th April, 2006 at 10:22 pm  

    I think a good start would be not to demonise the white working class and to recognise that their grievances need addressing.

  8. Jay Singh — on 17th April, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

    This is another reason why events of the last few years and the stupidity of minority group leadership, from the MCB and MAB to Sikh Federation to groups like Ligali have been disastrous – and why the sectarian communalism promoted by some on the Left, and the government, especially investing authority in religious ‘leaders’ has led to the politics of identity and minorityism and in its most twisted form abetted the culture of extremism that has led to 7/7 – this is the reason I have been saying for so long that this would lead to a groundswell for the BNP. The politics of resentment cuts all ways.

    So, take them on head on and refute them. Listen to white working class voters. And stop pandering to communalists and race ideologues.

  9. Sunny — on 17th April, 2006 at 10:47 pm  

    Also need to break down specifi local instances that apply to the constituency that the BNP have been successful in.

    In Barking for example, I’m pretty sure the BNP sent around a leaflet claiming that asylum seekers or immigrants were being given about 25,000 to settle in or something. Read it somewhere. Need. To. Research. This.

    I think a good start would be not to demonise the white working class and to recognise that their grievances need addressing.

    Well this is the point made above El Cid, and Katy – that it isn’t racist people who vote for them, but people pissed off.

    But I think its rather presumptous that just because there is immigration, people will become hostile.

    Which reminds me – dig up suitable examples of local communties rallying for asylum seekers. Have seen this too.

  10. Katy Newton — on 17th April, 2006 at 10:54 pm  

    The Barking thing that you’re thinking about was the BNP spreading rumours that there was a conspiracy to give recently arrived African immigrants £50,000 to buy property, but I can’t remember where I read that. Sorry.

  11. Katy Newton — on 17th April, 2006 at 10:56 pm  
  12. Siddhartha Sinatra — on 17th April, 2006 at 10:57 pm  

    What El Cid said (in #7).

  13. Sunny — on 17th April, 2006 at 10:58 pm  

    You’re a star Katy. That’s what I was referring to.

    There are examples for Keighley too, when the BNP used the furore over ‘Pakistani boys after young white girls’ story to spread their rubbish. Thankfully Ann Cryer managed to deal with most of it.

  14. Clairwil — on 17th April, 2006 at 11:03 pm  

    I think you’re referring to the ‘Africans For Essex’ scheme which is so secret that everyone except the BNP know about. Apparently the BNP have uncovered a ‘secret’ plan to give every African a lump sum to settle in Essex. As far as I understand it, the BNPs election strategy seems to involve tacking a fairly ‘old labour’ manifesto on to either a total lie or exploit some racial incident or another. They certainly did their best to exploit the Kriss Donald murder in Glasgow, with thankfully very little success.

  15. Clairwil — on 17th April, 2006 at 11:07 pm  

    On a slightly different subject. Can the BNP actually point to anything that their already or previously elected councillors have done to improve the lot of white communities?

  16. Sunny — on 17th April, 2006 at 11:11 pm  

    And while we’re at it… I also need a section on welfare scroungers from our community. The Afghanis, the Bangladeshi boys in east London (yes, I know, gross exaggerations) – and the people who make excuses for them. Am sick of excuses.

    Hmmmm… maybe some documentary or interviews on this would be good…

  17. Jay Singh — on 17th April, 2006 at 11:22 pm  

    Sunny – you don’t need things like that. The sheer repetitiveness of the identity politics crowd, the usual suspects, the communalists – they have helped to foster an atmosphere in which these issues becoming defining points of issue – this has led to divisiveness and led to a situation in which a discourse of WHITES against the Muslims, WHITES against the blacks, WHITES against the Sikhs, etc etc etc becomes the norm.

    When this is the case, the ground is ripe for a party to step into the breach and claim to speak for the marginalised white working class, who as El Cid has said, already feel demonised to a greater or lesser extent.

  18. Refresh — on 17th April, 2006 at 11:35 pm  

    Sorry Sunny not sure what you are asking here. Do you need stories how the BNP are spinning stories about Afghani and Bangladeshi ‘welfare scroungers’ ?

    If not then I would suggest you stick to the original scope of your intention.

  19. Old Pickler — on 17th April, 2006 at 11:40 pm  

    That “Africans for Essex” thing is just a blatant lie from the BNP. How difficult can it be to expose that lie?

    And what constructive policies have the BNP got to offer? Nothing. That is what the Conservatives, yes and OK Labour should be asking these potential BNP voters.

    Mind you, any party that opposed the EU and all its evil works would get plenty of votes.

  20. leon — on 17th April, 2006 at 11:57 pm  

    “I think a good start would be not to demonise the white working class and to recognise that their grievances need addressing.”

    That assumes alot (aside from whether the wwc actually share any grievances) one of which is whether those “grievances” are justified let alone real.

  21. Refresh — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:08 am  

    There is a real danger that we miss the issue altogether.

    Jay touches on it – but may be pointing in the wrong direction.

    The marginalistion of the working class and demonisation of the ‘underclass’ has been the work of New Labour – often represented as missed opportunities in the first and second term of a Blair leadership.

    This , it seems, has become mainstream and here is an example.

    A morning phone-in on BBC Five Live left me seething. A guest speaking about her article (published in the Prospect Magazine I believe) about educated women less likely to have children, in turn having a negative impact on the economy. Why? Because the underclass was going to outbreed. Of course it wasn’t put in those terms.

    Fortunately for the less educated a caller insisted on re-phrasing the discussion less the ‘political correctness’. To paraphrase – he was a professional on £100K and deserved as he had had to work hard to get there. But don’t get him wrong he had nothing against the working class – those were his roots. He had respect for the working class, but not for those with nothing to offer – the underclass. The ‘educated’ women must start having more children before we are swamped by ‘them’.

    Shocking enough to hear from an ‘intelligent, educated professional’ – but what was more shocking was there was no challenge from any other caller or worse from the phone-in host.

    With unchallenged attitudes like that – harboured by some who probably would be happy to be termed middle England – the problem is much more than a race thing when it comes to the BNP.

    The poor are pissed off. Taken for granted and boxed-in. What they are not, in general, is racist.

  22. Refresh — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:15 am  

    With regards Margaret Hodge, a minister with presumably some influence has clearly failed her constituency if its correct that there was a vote of 17% for the BNP at the last election.

    She should seriously consider her position, but not before she has done everything she can to help reverse the situation at the local and national level.

  23. david c — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:25 am  

    interesting debate. I think it is worth thinking about how the following have an impact on white working class BNP support.
    An education system that is becoming a barrier to social mobility. Lack of social housing, stupid house prices. A media that protrays the working class in a uniformly negative way. You can chuck the word chav about as much as you like. Racist abuse in the same way would lead to prosecution. The lack of local and media role models other than drug dealers and footballers. The lack of well paid skilled jobs in industry. But the worst thing is the actions of the labour party leadership chasing the middle ground, middle england middle class. Meanwhile the working class are offered on international markets as cheap flexible labour. The strongest argument i have heard has been that this will get attention in a way that voting labour will not. The race issue is marginal. We need an inclusive society as one based on competition with winners and losers is going to produce a reaction.

  24. Old Pickler — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:32 am  

    Educated women would have more children if they didn’t have to pay such huge taxes to support fast breeding layabouts.

  25. Old Pickler — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:33 am  

    Equally, fast breeding layabouts would not breed so fast if they had to pay their way.

  26. Old Pickler — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:34 am  

    QED. Cut taxes. Cut benefits. Take responsibility.

  27. Refresh — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:36 am  

    Sunny, here is something for you:

    Great big poster at a bus stop spotted by Ms Refresh as we drive past –

    Join Social Services – £5.10 rising to £5.70 after probation.

    Get stuffed!

  28. Bonnie Prince Vickie — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:44 am  

    Equally, fast breeding layabouts would not breed so fast if they had to pay their way.
    Daily mail once ran a story about 3 teenaged moms from same family who raked in £1000 per week from govt.

  29. Old Pickler — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:47 am  

    That story was an extreme case. But a cause of the resentment, wrongly taken out on immigrants who often work hard, is the perception that reckless behaviour is rewarded. Surely that should be changed?

  30. Sunny — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:50 am  

    Haha refresh!

    Excellent points raised by all… keep ‘em coming. I agree that the BNP is probably using the race issue as an allegory to tap into wider discontent.

    So the point then arises: is Labour not confronting issue because they are intellectually incapable of doing so, or because it serves their purpose to let the BNP demonise minorities since they’re incapable of addressing the real issues.

    Either way, we need to force the government to deal with the rise of the BNP by addressing the views of the working class people, but after rebutting the stupidity of the points they make. Not just going down the road of trying to appease them by trotting out more uninformed racist garbage.

  31. Jay Singh — on 18th April, 2006 at 12:59 am  

    Labour may not only be incapable of doing so, it may be so hamstrung by the attempt to be politically correct and respectably middle class that it has distanced itself from the working class roots and inner city scrappers and fighters of its heritage.

    Say what you want about the old school socialists, one thing about them was that they were tooth and nail anti-fascists and would fight as bruisers against them for ideological and historical reasons. Maybe New Labour has neutered itself and is therefore not attuned to what is going on partly by neutering the hard men of the working class and is not seeking to build a broad pan racial pan religious consensus in the inner city – on the noble ideals of working class fraternity – not into making deals to splice up the ethnic vote and ignore white voters and their concerns.

    And yes, you do that by exposing the evil and racism of the BNP whilst simultaneously addressing and listening to the concerns of those voters and (in my dreams) beggining to end the divisivness of current pandering to minority group ‘leaders’ that we see all parties engaging in.

  32. Old Pickler — on 18th April, 2006 at 1:19 am  

    Increase the minimum wage.

    BUT….

    Get the malingerers off incapacity benefit.

  33. Bonnie Prince Vickie — on 18th April, 2006 at 1:41 am  

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5313967073906592014

    ^^^^^

    Stupid bloodtraitor. BTW who is this Sikh guy in the latest BNP video.

  34. Sunny — on 18th April, 2006 at 3:03 am  

    Clairwil – that’s right… that scheme was what they tried to use. I don’t know how well they’ve done as local councillors but there is something to show they’ve done nothing much.

    The BNP’s push has not been helped by its victorious councillor, known locally as Clueless Kelley since admitting his deficiencies to the local paper.

    “There’s meetings that go right over my head and there’s little point me being there,” he told the Barking and Dagenham Advertiser. “I’m wasting my time.”

    hehe.. that’s from the article Katy highlighted. I believe they made some big cock-ups in Oldham etc too… I need to dig up that information.

    Vik – that’s old news… we did a post on this a while back…

  35. Bikhair — on 18th April, 2006 at 3:22 am  

    Old Pickler,

    You are rather hypocritical arent you? Shock! Horror! You offer a nuanced response to the growing popularity of the BNP ranging from anti EU sentiment to immigration, but not for the Palestinians who, according to you, live and breathe the destruction of Isreal. Isnt that why they voted for Hamas?

    Anyone voting for the BNP are white racist who want to see an all white Britian, period. Good luck shiksa.

  36. Bikhair — on 18th April, 2006 at 3:26 am  

    Sunny,

    “Bikhair – Though I try and ignore you most of time, I’m feeling generous today. I think the rise of the BNP is a result of Labour (left wing politicians) not having the balls to stand up to them intellectually. And it’s also a result of the far right exploiting recent controversies such as the Danish Cartoons to say that Muslims don’t want to integrate.”

    I must have been writing from a hot air ballon because my post just went right over your head didnt it Sunny?

    “To say Muslims are justified in blaming the BNP for why they “don’t integrate” is a stupid argument.”

    If BNP dont represent traiditonal British values, and their supporters are growing in number, why should Muslims be the only ones accused of not representing or valuing traditional British values? I suspect that the BNP do and band aid minorities, like yourself, are too blind to see.

    You shouldnt ignore me Sunny. It breaks my heart to hear that you do.

  37. Roger — on 18th April, 2006 at 8:23 am  

    “Anyone voting for the BNP are white racist who want to see an all white Britian, period.”
    Except that the BNP do not now say they want an all-white Britain. They have dropped the “Deport the lot!” rhetoric. They are now claiming to be an anti-islamic party, an appeal aided by the activities of some of the more enthusiastic muslims. Actually, isn’t one of the boasts of the more enthusiastic muslims that they don’t accept any values but self-defined muslim values and they won’t integrate with others but will change wherever they live so that others must conform to muslim values?

  38. Bonnie Prince Vickie — on 18th April, 2006 at 9:44 am  

    You shouldnt ignore me Sunny. It breaks my heart to hear that you do.

    Owiee-wowiee Bikki has a crush on our Sunster.

  39. Old Pickler — on 18th April, 2006 at 10:21 am  

    the Palestinians who, according to you, live and breathe the destruction of Isreal. Isnt that why they voted for Hamas?

    Hamas wants to destroy someone else’s country. The BNP want to have a destructive effect on their own.

    The BNP are revolting, but they are pussy cats compared with Hamas.

  40. Refresh — on 18th April, 2006 at 10:27 am  

    Sunny there is nothing intellectual about New Labour. It was get into power and stay there. Why then give it credit for even having a thought process?

    The whole ‘think the unthinkable’ approach is in their veins – what that really means is – who can we afford to ignore and still get the votes:

    1. Labour Activists
    2. Trade Unionists
    3. Labour Voters
    4. Ethnic Minorities
    5. Working Class

    Some because they will still vote for New Labour, others because they probably, when finally waking up, will definitely not vote Tory. They have no where to go. Hence no threat. Therefore the reality on the ground is that these actually have the same influence on government as they did under Thatcher.

    This approach then ends up also attacking the same people on policy ground. The whole ASBO thing, the rapid decline into the binge culture, the gambling laws, lack of affordable housing. The lack of morals from the Prime Minister down also gives him little room to moralise to the rest of us from our children up.

    Blaming any of the groups I’ve listed above for any of the ailments in our society (esp. BNP) is weak-minded. Probably what Blunkett would do if he was still Home Secretary.

    Blaming the ethnic minorities for actually trying to raise awareness and issues they feel important is not the cause of the resentment. Its the way the poor (which includes large proportions of ethnic minorities) are treated.

    Jay you are barking up the wrong tree – your approach would leave everyone defenceless and the threat would be the bigger for it. Yours is a debate that can come later (my shorthand for saying don’t get distracted from the task in hand).

    OP – invalidity benefit was put in place by the Tories to help massage the unemployment numbers – an unforgiveable policy to cover up for the decimation of the manufacturing base and the working class.

    As for your comments about layabouts – you are deeply offensive. I see you as the professional who thinks they did it all by themselves and then pick on the poor. The thing about the BNP is that their real power will come from the likes of you, and the poor will be fodder.

    I don’t understand why you are not a member.

  41. Old Pickler — on 18th April, 2006 at 10:42 am  

    That’s completely illogical.

    If you really care about the poor you would be concerned about the ones who actually work for a living to support the lazy buggers or the feckless idiots who breed like rabbits at the taxpayers’ expense.

  42. Refresh — on 18th April, 2006 at 11:04 am  

    That is just the point – you are already pampered. Virtually all government policies seem to be aimed at giving you relief.

    I suspect you get far more in benefits than the people you sneer at. Only you don’t want to see it.

  43. Old Pickler — on 18th April, 2006 at 11:11 am  

    I get nothing whatsoever in benefits. If I did it would come out of my taxes.

    Yes, I sneer at people who don’t work and have baby after baby. It’s time we capped benefits like they do in America. That would teach these idiots to be more responsible.

  44. gaz — on 18th April, 2006 at 11:39 am  

    The grievances of the white working class seem to be mainly the same as the grievances of working class ethnic minorities. I hear plenty of Asians in Southall and Wembley complain about somalians and kosovans. Their comments are exactly the same as those heard on the door-steps of Barking- access to affordable housing, healthcare and education. The sudden change in ethinc mix has caused just as much anxiety in Southall as it has in Barking. It seems that perceived preferential treatment is the main issue.

    This labour government has always been pro immigration both official and unofficial as it adds to demand in the housing market and keeps prices up/rising. The governments economic record has been underpinned by rising house prices and a consumer boom spent on credit. Both house prices and credit levels have reached ridiculous levels. The government and most of the media have failed to understand rising house prices have a very real downside.

    Polly Tonybee wrote an excellent article in the guardian recently about who benefits from immigration.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1589274,00.html

    Let’s not kid ourselves, who benefits from immigration the most, it is the middle class homeowners. I can well understand why people are fed up. What is sad is none of the mainstream parties have recognised this until now and do not have polices to help address the key issues.

  45. Jay Singh — on 18th April, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    Gaz

    That always cracks me up, when I hear about people in Southall complaining about the Somalians coming into ‘our town’! Just thirty or forty years ago that is exactly what people were saying about the Indians who were making that place their home – amazing.

    There was an article I posted the link to recently about how the biggest group of immigrants to the UK are Poles – and how in towns like Crewe the Polish population is very large, and arrived almost overnight to work in factories over there.

  46. Don — on 18th April, 2006 at 2:24 pm  

    As Jay pointed out, the growth of high-visibility, increasingly assertive, communalist groups (however self-appointed or unrepresentative) ,has created a situation where it can be made to seem reasonable for the white population to have their own pressure group. At the moment that feeling may well be limited to certain areas, but it is a problem.

    The BNP is so heavily tainted with racism and thuggishness that many of those they see as potential supporters will be unable to stomach them. However, by setting up groups who hide their association with the BNP and avoid overt racist slurs, there is a danger of them slipping in through the back door. Keep an eye on’Independant’ candidates and local single-issue groups.

    Of course, El Cid et al are right that the contempt for the working class shown by politicians of all shades and a large chunk of the media, seems designed to make a vast number of people feel marginalised, devalued and powerless. With predictable consequences.

    And Vik, bonnie lad, it’s probably too late for OP, but try to break the habit of getting ‘information’ from the Daily Bile.

  47. El Cid — on 18th April, 2006 at 2:26 pm  

    “I think a good start would be not to demonise the white working class and to recognise that their grievances need addressing.”

    That assumes alot (aside from whether the wwc actually share any grievances) one of which is whether those “grievances” are justified let alone real.

    Errr…. yeah. *adopts quizzical look* that’s very insightful Leon.

  48. Bonnie Prince Vickie — on 18th April, 2006 at 4:48 pm  

    And Vik, bonnie lad, it’s probably too late for OP, but try to break the habit of getting ‘information’ from the Daily Bile.

    Being an Asian i’d be the last person to like Daily Bile. But all our news media be it Currant Bun or Al-Guardian have their own agendas.

  49. Sid Singh — on 18th April, 2006 at 5:04 pm  

    So young and yet so cynical…

  50. Ravi4 — on 18th April, 2006 at 7:37 pm  

    Sunny – I hope you’ve found some material worth drawing on in this thread. Frankly if I were you I’d be a bit frustrated. (Apologies to those eg Katy Newton who have made sensible comments.)

    Now for some more comments of questionable value to add to the already unappetising brew. I agree with you that it’s too simplistic to explain away the recent rise in potential support for the BNP by saying “people are becoming more racist” or “this is unsurprising given unchecked immigration”.

    In fact, I think we all ought to take a step back and get this issue into context. The Rowntree Foundation academic Prof Peter John himself admitted to the Today Prog “This is a very hypothetical question… It is not what party you will vote for, but who you might vote for.” This seems to show a rather vague increase in sympathy for the BNP rather than any hard indicator that actual BNP support and therefore political power might be on the rise.

    Any non-white person who has lived in the UK since the 1970s will know that on many objective measures UK society is less racist now than it was then. My parents remember being told openly when applying for jobs that “we’re not taking any more coloureds here”. I remember break times at school (in a series of comfortably middle class areas) regularly punctuated by kids calling out “Paki go home”, and having similar advice offered to me on the bus home. The default attitude towards non-whites by the UK national media was one of condescension if not outright racism. The National Front was then a force of greater credibility than the BNP now. Whenever I’ve described this to non-white kids born in the UK in the 80s their disbelief is palpable.

    Nevertheless, things are by no means perfect yet. And there clearly has been some kind of resurgence in political racism in recent years, as the BNP’s electoral fortunes show. Some of this is probably down to developments which are unavoidable eg:

    - the BNP simply getting its act together organisationally under the management of that wall-eyed wannabe Fuhrer Griffin – less chaos internally, a more focused approach to campaigning etc. What should we do, ban them? Hope that Griffin’s other eye falls out so that he’ll be a less effective organiser?

    - all three mainstream parties systematically ejecting racist elements – eg Tory rejection of the Tebbit cricket test, disappearance of racism from the Trades Unions etc. The appearance of anomalies highlights how far this process has gone eg the Margaret Hodge comment, that Tory local party chair being slapped down for saying “a coloured candidate won’t work here” last week or the week before. These are welcome, but they also push those few voters who want racist policies towards the fringes ie the BNP.

    There are real challenges linked to immigration which feed the perception that immigration is bad for the UK, and which therefore feed support/ sympathy for the BNP. These include:

    - some immigrant communities’ problems in making reasonable adaptations in order to function effectively in UK society – eg learning English, thus being able to access education and make progress economically. To some extent a generational issue, but also affected by prevailing attitudes to education in the immigrant communities, and any lingering ambitions to return to the mother country. The various English language teaching initiatives etc in place will no doubt make a difference but it won’t be quick.

    - some immigrants’ criminality and abuse of the UK system. As others in this thread have said, this is driven by economic (or “class”) conditions not race – a point we need to keep making clearly. The law should be enforced, abuse and criminality should be tackled no matter what the perpetrator’s race, excuses on the lines of “racism has left me so poor and uneducated that I just had to organise this credit card scam” should be challenged rather than given credibility. Enabling people through education etc to make different (ie legal) choices is the other side of this coin. Over-reliance on handouts and other simplistic methods of social support fail to tackle the cause of the problem. But I doubt if labelling people “layabouts” convinces them to choose a different path. And there’s another risk – what’s the likelihood of a future BNP campaign leaflet including a quote (without permission) from that nice Asian lad Sunny off Pickled Politics?

    - physical segregation leading to misunderstanding between racial groups. Again, to some extent a generational issue. But is the existence of “monocultural” areas of towns really a problem if there is wider interaction between ethnic groups? Brick Lane and Southall are much more interesting places now because of their ethnic character – and that’s something that most white Brits agree with.

    - some immigrants’ rejection of UK society and adherence to extremism in an attempt to address their own existential confusion. Many of us have been there – we know we’re not white, but we know we’re not like our parents whose ethnicity and identity seems to come to them effortlessly. So we look for some “deeper” way of defining our identity, drawing on our history, culture and/or religion. Too often that means outright rejection of UK society, creating some mythical pure ideal of our culture/ religion that never was, and in extreme cases mutating into active hostility to UK culture and society in word or deed. No quick solutions to this; each of us as individuals and communities need to work out our own modus vivendi with UK society. We will change a bit as a result, UK society will change a bit too, and our tendency to label ourselves and take part in identity politics will hopefully decrease over time – as has been the case with all previous waves of immigration in UK history. The work of interfaith groups and the like is easy to ridicule (as Jay does effectively), and such groups do risk reinforcing the negatives of identity politics, but they probably have some useful role to play. More important is the more organic process of immigrants taking up stable positions of authority and responsibility in UK society; but they need to be more visible.

    Feeding the fantasies which drive some immigrants’ rejection of and hostility to the UK is the increasing demonisation of many aspects of UK life – particularly the working class. As others in this thread have said, everyone’s at it. There seems to be a surfeit of self loathing in the liberal white press, perhaps partly driven by the current fashion for sensationalist headlines, whether it be about chavs, binge drinking, consumerism, or serial shagging single girls. Each of these phenomena have their unattractive aspects – but are they really a cause for the kind of near hysteria that we’ve seen? I remember me and my mates in the 80s trying to dress like Don Johnson, strutting about with crap haircuts and ill fitting baggy clothes. Chav? Or just an embarrassing adolescent phase? Similarly, many evenings throughout my 20s were spent doing what would now be called binge drinking; I’m now a thoroughly middle class family man, very rarely under the influence. We all need to get a grip – most of these problems are not the big society killers that many in the media claim.

    From what any of us can see (including from this & the HP thread) I think it’s too early to discount the good old fashioned reasons for the rise of the BNP – myths and stupidities which we need to expose, confront and defeat in public debate, including:

    - the need to preserve UK white ethnic purity, and belief in the inferiority of other (non-white) races and cultures, when of course the British are as much a mongrel race/ culture as the rest. While the BNP may have changed its stated policy about including non-whites, the “grassroots” revolt to the inclusion of that non-white BNP council candidate exposes this policy for the sham that it is.

    - similarly, the myth of an ancient unchanging UK national culture which will be put at risk by letting in too many Albanians, Nigerians, Pakis, Jews, Catholics, Hugenots, Normans, Saxons, Jutes etc etc. Yet even the most dyed in the wool BNP supporter would not recognise or be comfortable with UK society c 1850, 1800 etc … The demonisation of the EU that eg Old Pickler indulges in contributes to this myth.

    - the old lie that unemployment or other economic hardship is caused by immigration. That immigrants “take jobs” from Brits, while ignoring the fact that immigrants spend money on food, housing etc and (if we can keep them legal) taxes and so contribute to the economy in that way. This is one of those issues where extreme right and left meet; gaz’s bizzare conspiracy theory is a good example. Most of our parents came here as economic migrants – doing jobs too poorly paid or unpopular for the locals – and that goes for doctors and accountants as well as bus drivers and factory workers. In the process they’ve made huge contributions to UK economy and society and most of their children have gone on to better things. That’s what will happen with the current and future waves of migrants. The ones that don’t make it are the minority – even amongst eg those Asian immigrant groups which are now seen as the new underclass.

    One contribution us Asians can make to counter the factors helping the rise of the BNP is to make ourselves more visibly engaged in UK political life. The professional Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus etc that I know have no time for the various extremist voices from their “communities”. We’re better educated, more well spoken, nicer looking and less frightening than any BNP spokesman I’ve seen. But none of them (us) want/ can be bothered to make their voices heard. It’s pretty near impossible for the BNP to make a convincing case to the vast majority of white Brits that eg Raj Persaud (plagiarism allegations notwithstanding) represents any threat to the UK way of life. We need more politically engaged Raj Persauds!

    So much for more concise posts…

  51. Sunny — on 18th April, 2006 at 8:01 pm  

    Hehe, Ravid4 – your posts are like a good book just before going to sleep. You need to get some hot chocolate together, settle down and get comfortable, and then start reading.

    Thank you for all your comments and I will respond a bit later. I’ve been out whole day today and I’m out again in a bit.

    Also, I wrote a similar piece for the Guardian site that was published this morning. Link is here:
    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/sunny_hundal/2006/04/what_the_bnps_popularity_tells.html

  52. Bikhair — on 18th April, 2006 at 8:51 pm  

    Old Pickler,

    Listen, I am talking about the motivations of those who vote for the BNP. If you are willing to offer a nuacned explaination of those who vote BNP, why not the same for those who vote Hamas. Does that seem consistent to you.

  53. El Cid — on 18th April, 2006 at 9:41 pm  

    eek

  54. Jay Singh — on 18th April, 2006 at 9:45 pm  

    Ravi4

    A long post my friend, but an excellent one. Thanks – there is so much in your post and it should be read by all.

  55. Ravi4 — on 18th April, 2006 at 9:57 pm  

    Bloody hell Sunny, you’re CIF piece really got the Tebbit Cricket test crowd crawling out of the woodwork. And (presumably) all Gruaniad readers too.

    That Pike Bishop was a particularly classic example – taking that grand old piece of far right cod Malthusian nonsense that “Britain is full”, and deftly combining it with that hoary old left wing autarchy/ self sufficiency fantasy that “we can train up all the people we need”. Presumably he’s not too familar with modern (ie post 1920s) economics. And the fact that the UK has had pretty much full employment for about the last ten years – pretty much the best record in Europe, along with one of the most open immigration policies in Europe also seems to have passed him by. But then he comes across like an old guy, embittered recently retired Lt colonel or the like – like most of that Migration Watch crowd…

    All good evidence to show there’s still a serious job to be done killing the “immigrants take our jobs” lie which the BNP relies on. And also showing that these attitudes are not confined to the “ignorant working class”.

  56. El Cid — on 18th April, 2006 at 10:36 pm  

    Ravi4,
    You forgot one other factor (in an otherwise very good post). At least I think you did — haven’t got time to make a hot chocolate.
    What about 7/7? Hasn’t that crystalised racial divisions to an extent?

  57. Refresh — on 18th April, 2006 at 10:44 pm  

    Ravi, Its rare to come across someone who I disagreed with almost completely as I did with your previous ‘article’ if I might call it that (no sarcasm) in defence (if that is what it was) of the multi-faceted outlook of the neo-cons.

    And then this excellent contribution. Clearly from someone who has been through it all. You’re probably in your mid-40s. And seen it all before.

    I am not sure Raj Persaud would be a role model for anyone – but totally agree we are not visible enough.

    The talk here in triumphant terms of how many Asian billionaires make the Times Rich List weakens the real contribution of Asians and immigrants.

    The excellent campaigns against stereotyping asians and blacks by the media of old has clearly worked and allowed us all the room to grow.

    The BNP and similar have had to look for other methods to entice the suited and booted – and it was for years the asylum seekers. And I notice they did not succeed regardless of the fact the mainstream parties tried to ride that wave too.

    In the end it will always fall to the economy and the share of the spoils across society that will trump racism.

    I am more than comfortable that we are not born racist and the environment that dictates how we view each other.

    No community should be isolated or isolationist.

    That said it will always be a long and lengthy negotiation within society that will lead to coherent approach to the problems we all face.

    By talking up success and failing to highlight our problems (which are huge) is isolating us from the communities we all, in general, grew up in – which were mixed, white and black, working class.

    Ravi – well done for your timely contribution, but drop the understanding tone on the neocons.

  58. gaz — on 19th April, 2006 at 12:05 am  

    Rave4- I didn’t realise I put forward any conspiracy theories. The point I tried to make is that inevitably for working class people of all races further immigration does cause them very real issues. Very real issues in wages, access to social housing and health. A good example would be the recent industrial dispute at gate gourmet, the influx of EE labour has had a negative inflationary effect on already low wage salaries in the UK. The people that benefit from most from this are the companies, shareholders and consumers. The existing workers are faced with lower wages and worse working conditions.

  59. Jay Singh — on 19th April, 2006 at 1:19 am  

    Ravi4

    Please ignore Refresh’s patronising advice about your need to amend your views vis a vis your postings on other subjects – carry on as you are and keep contributing its great to have you here with as many diverse views as possible!

  60. Refresh — on 19th April, 2006 at 1:23 am  

    Jay is right – ignore my advice. Lets remain focussed on the issue in hand.

  61. douglas — on 19th April, 2006 at 2:29 am  

    Jay Singh,

    How is this for a radical statement? I live in a pretty integrated area of Glasgow. I’m not denying that there is the occasional race crime, but, by and large, we get on OK. Why not send the anthropologists in to see what is wrong with us?

    And I am a white person, particularily because I’ve been playing Oblivion in a darkened room. :)

  62. El Cid — on 19th April, 2006 at 7:04 pm  

    I may be mistaken, but if I was a gambling man — which i am — I would say Jay also lives in a pretty integrated area, as I do.
    The thing about places like Barking and Sutton, where the BNP will be focusing its energies, is that these suburban areas are populated by white working class people and their offspring who moved out from the inner city in search of a leafier and better life. Many are skilled manual workers, arguably lower middle class, with their own businesses — builders and the like. On the one hand some of them have inherited the Pavlovian racist attitudes of their parents, who partly moved out in the 1950s, 60s and 70s to escape incoming immigrants; on the other, they have seen their aspirations clipped, struggled to keep up as Britain has become a services-based economy and resent the help given to the very poorest (often immigrant) who — rightly or wrongly — they accuse of oncing off the state.
    Those tensions have intensified under New Labour and as their voices have been suppressed by a middle class culture that looks down on them while asking them to fight their wars, while turning a blind eye to the alleged shortcomings of non-whites. That at least is how I think they see it.

  63. El Cid — on 19th April, 2006 at 7:14 pm  

    And of course, as I said, earlier, there’s the 7/7 factor. Finding a way out of this mess… hmm, that’s a diff question altogether

  64. Refresh — on 20th April, 2006 at 12:48 am  

    Ravi, I’ve responded on the other thread (Euston Manifesto). Thanks.

    With regards overplaying our problems, I agree.

    Moderation and balance is the correct approach. My feeling is that we as a community (hope Jay doesn’t mind me using the term in this context), fail to see the problems.

    I have had some involvement in local and national politics. I recall canvassing one election and when invited in to an Asian household I was shocked that the whole house had no floor covering, and the ‘bread-winner’ had been laid up with stress for at least two years – unemployable. And yet the outward appearance was comfortable.

    I also knew someone else who had been waiting to be re-united with his wife for 15 years; and had taken to drink. Desolate.

    There are many many more, and yet perhaps due to being of recent immigrant stock we (rightly or wrongly) focus on the successes. And forget the poor of which there are many more.

    The only differentiator between poor white and poor black being the colour.

    I know that you put the two together they get along and share the problems and experiences – but to leave them helpless and hopeless after having a government that is supposed to represent their interests. Sorry its worse, knowing that should they kick out New Labour they will get the Tories back.

    You can probably guess where my political life has been spent – and perhaps (cheap cross-link), the manifesto we need is one to challenge New Labour.

  65. TottenhamLad — on 21st April, 2006 at 12:08 pm  

    The ‘white working class’, ‘white working class’, ‘white working class’, etc from the comments above…

    Get it right.

    It is the English Working Class, unless England has recently been renamed Whiteland (?!)

    I’m sure Friedrich Engels The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 dose not talk about the ‘white working class’.

    So remember, get it right: English Working Class.

  66. douglas — on 21st April, 2006 at 1:12 pm  

    Ravi4,

    April 18th,

    So, I’ve been talking to PikeBishops doppleganger on ‘Comment is Free’, a Mr BobLord. Is there anything I’ve said you would view as wrong? Unlike most folk that seem to come to web sites, I’m open minded, and willing to learn. Seems to me that immigration has no moral justification whatsoever, except obviously in asylum cases. Maybe I’m wrong.

    Err. Before you ask, Britain is much better off with diversity, although obviously not with suicide bombers. And generally, I vote Liberal.

  67. Refresh — on 21st April, 2006 at 7:51 pm  

    Lad, can we agree on British Working class and mean all shades?

  68. Refresh — on 22nd April, 2006 at 12:19 am  

    Ravi, In the end what it all points to is how hard people try to maintain their dignity, whatever the hardship. And this is so true across the whole of the working class.

    The underlying integrity and the decency is dismissed out of hand – perhaps they don’t send their children to the right school, don’t drive the right car.

    You know, you’ve made me think. And I am beginning to see it as a hectoring and bullying of ordinary people which has driven us to this.

    I’ll ramble a little if I may, the new guy taking over Barnardos made it very clear that we as a society are criminalising children through ASBOs and in my view purely because they don’t fit in with the gentrification program that we have been seeing in the last few years.

    Whereas I could spend time stressing why ASBOs could be more deserved by students returning to their digs (or apartments as they are now) in the early hours of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings. (Come on Charles Clarke why don’t we have the ‘Student-ASBO’ on the statute books?).

    The British Working class can do without the moralising of the sneering Blairites.

    I do hope the Labour Party membership find the means to cut out the alien growth within, and we can all build Jerusalem.

    [I think I must rest now...]

  69. douglas — on 22nd April, 2006 at 7:27 am  

    Ravi4,

    I wasn’t taking the piss. I was just interested in a third party view of the exchange, and not only had you been reading the thread, you also come across as quite bright. So, I thought I’d ask. Thanks for your comments.

  70. Ravi4 — on 22nd April, 2006 at 7:52 am  

    Douglas – sorry if I came across a bit grumpy. I blame the kids – not letting us get too much sleep. I’m up with them now while the wife has a bit of a lie in. Which is why I’m on the computer without fearing for the safety of my ‘nads…

    I still can’t make up my mind on the question of whether immigration is a moral, as opposed to practica/ economic, issue. I’ll keep cogitating.

    Refresh – What idealism! How, er, refreshing. I agree the sneering/ hectoring of the working classes is atrocious, although I blame “the meeja” at least as much as if not more than the Government. I suspect I won’t agree with you entirely on the economic front. I don’t see any real alternative to the neo-classical consensus in terms of macro-economic policy. But there’s more we can do at the micro level to create a better enabling environment for all citizens – education particularly. New Labour, for all its teeth grindingly irritating inconsistency, spinning and the rest, has done more than any party probably since Attlee to affect this, as even Polly Toynbee repeatedly points out. It seems to me that even the south American progressives – eg Lula – are working very much within the framework of that neo classical consensus.

    (Chavez has done good stuff on basic education and healthcare – altho not sure of the views of the terrified Cuban doctors working in those favelas that the Venezuelan quacks are too scared to enter. But, as even that BBC Newsnight Stalinist hagiography of Chavez couldn’t fail to show, I’m really not confident about his direct attempts to create employment through soviet style subsidies of factories. The best they seemed able to show was a run down factory producing t-shirts with chavezista slogans that went straight into a govt warehouse – really reminiscent of those apocryphal 1970s Russian shoe factories producing only left-footed shoes and tractors 20 years out of date that broke down as soon as you drove em off the premises. When the real price of oil drops – which it will one day – will Chavez have left a sustainable legacy?)

  71. Ravi4 — on 22nd April, 2006 at 8:02 am  

    I may be imagining it, but I’m sure I made another comment in this thread that seems to have disappeared. It said something not very nice about one of the 7/7 nutters – the “brainy” one who was so successful he couldn’t even get a job. And something boring about sectoral wage shifts not being linked to immigration and in any case not affecting the general wage level. And maybe somethng about Marx having overestimated the inter-generational rigidity of labour markets in failing to predict the adaptability of capitalist economies.

    Was it removed by the Pickled Politics lawyers because it mentioned the nutter by name? I will not rest until this mystery is solved! er, or maybe I’ll give up now…

  72. El Cid — on 22nd April, 2006 at 11:23 am  

    I hear what you’re saying TottenhamLad, true. But thye great untold truth is that it really should be the Anglo-Irish WC, shouldn’t it?
    Still, I sympathise broadly with your point, which is unusual in itself.

  73. j0nz — on 22nd April, 2006 at 11:51 am  

    Anglo-Irish WC

    How dare thy!

    Anyway its more like anglo-saxon-viking-nordic-vandal-celtic

  74. El Cid — on 22nd April, 2006 at 3:46 pm  

    Vandals? Er, no.
    Anglo-Irish, definitely.
    Thing is, they forget the grief that the Irish blood in their veins initially went through — that’s the irony.
    Rooney, Roooooney, Roooooooooney!

  75. Alvin M — on 24th April, 2006 at 3:28 am  

    Old Pickler -a bit late in the day this comment but –

    - in regard to Africians to Essex – I believe the story may be based on this scheme of Tower Hamlets Council – Cash incentive scheme – http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/data/housing/data/lettings/data/homebuy.cfm.

    Grants are paid to tenants to help them buy a home and so free up a much needed council or housing ass. flat.

    Its perfectly possible that up to 26k went to an African tenant of Tower Hamlets who moved to Barking or Dagenham or Romford etc.

    But importantly, and obviously what the BNP fail to mention is that, its possible for white tenants to do the same. And knowing the areas involved no doubt a number have.

    What it does highlight again is that housing stock pressure is often involved in all this. Something the Government really needs to sort out for all involved.

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