A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Griffin

I'm reserving judgement about the impact of Question Time on the BNP's level of support until we know more about who the eight million people were who watched it.

For your average usual QT viewer - mainly middle class - their hunch that Griffin is a crank and a very nasty one will have been confirmed. He spouted weird race theories about indigenous peoples, failed to rebut accusations he is a holocaust denier (mainly because the accusations are based on his own previous statements), and exhibited bizarre tics and mannerisms (I think that's where Jack Straw got the idea of comparing him to Dr Strangelove, which sailed over the heads of non-Kubrick and Sellers fans in the audience). Both Straw and Baroness Warsi went up in my estimation, handling a difficult task very well. Bonnie Greer was fantastic - belittling him by being patronising.

Whatever Griffin is, he lacks the skills as a political communicator of his ideological forebearers Hitler and Goebbels. They wouldn't have stuck doggedly to the race theory stuff, they would have argued about the economic plight of their target voters and then blamed the Jews or another racial scapegoat for causing it. Griffin bizarrely failed to address the bread-and-butter social issues for working class communities such as jobs and housing which are clearly fueling rising BNP support. His rather whingey version of fascism is also not that attractive for all but the most self-pitying members of the Aryan Master Race. Hitler told them they were super humans who would conquer the world and create a thousand year Reich. Griffin told them they are victims, "aboriginals", the subjects not the potential perpetrators of genocide, and so downtrodden that they should be upset about the absence of a tick-box for "English" on the census form - hardly the Versailles Treaty in terms of blows struck against the herrenvolk.

My worry is that Griffin still managed to get the cores concepts of BNP ideology across, using deliberately inflammatory language. He chose to do that rather than push a softer message. That was calculation not incompetence. He's not primarily looking to compete for votes directly with Labour or the Tories. Not yet. At this stage he needs members, cadres who buy into pure neo-Nazism rather than fluffy electoralism, because without members you can't run council candidates or deliver leaflets - most of the public have never had the chance to vote BNP outside Euro elections because they have too few committed members to run candidates everywhere. He will have recruited members and activists last night. And he's looking for votes from people who haven't voted in the last few elections because they feel alienated from politics. The people Marx called the lumpen proletariat ("historically the most reactionary class") and the French call Le Marais ("the swamp" - the people who used to vote Communist and now vote for Le Pen). Those people won't be impressed by Straw or Warsi's eloquence. They probably empathise with a guy who looked got at, was inarticulate and prejudiced. Because if you were feeling got at yourself, and you were inarticulate and prejudiced you probably find it refreshing to see a politician like yourself on TV.

People have bleated on about the democratic right of Griffin to be on TV. I don't believe in extending democratic rights to people who want to overthrow parliamentary democracy. In Germany, where they learned some hard lessons about democrats not being robust enough in defending democracy, the law can be used to ban parties that threaten the constitution - they are debating a ban on the NPD right now. I'm not sure if this is the solution but we seem to be remarkably liberal towards the BNP in a way they must feel confirms all their feelings about effete mainstream politicians.

I wonder what people feel would be the appropriate reaction if Griffin won a General Election? I guess if you accept he can appear on Question Time as a legitimate participant then you would accept he could become Prime Minister/Fuhrer. Would we meekly say, "hey, it's a democracy, the bad guys won" and allow ourselves to be carted off to the camp for former democratic political activists and other undesirables , or would we try to overthrow a BNP government by force on the basis that no fascist government can ever legitimately govern a democratic state? I'd like to think we'd do the latter, and hence I rather admire the people who protested outside the BBC yesterday. This may seem a crazy, hypothetical question to raise but in 1924 the Nazis had 3% support, the same as the BNP today, and were considered a fringe party. Nine years later they were in power.

21 Comments:

Blogger opus said...

I am reminded of 1979. The end of a Labour govt, strikes and misery and the rise of the National Front.
2009 - the end of a Labour govt , strikes and misery and the rise of the BNP.
We know that it is Labours abandonment of the white working class which has made the BNP more attractive to them.
Personally I think it was right to put him on QT because as a I hoped and suspected he is a windbag without any decent or coherent ideas.
Straw performed poorly whitering on when asked about immigration and the BNP. It took a black guy in the audience to set him straight.
Warsi at least had some fire in her belly.

4:33 pm, October 23, 2009

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't believe Labour has abandoned the white working class. We've actually done loads for the average white working class family (minimum wage, extra public spending etc) and indeed our policies on immigration, crime, ASB and ID Cards were driven by their concerns and disliked by our urban liberal voters. The problem is that the way we communicate has given the impression we were obsessed by other groups of voters to their detriment. We've not shouted enough about them being a priority. Or built the party in the areas they live in so the message gets out. That and not done enough to address the specific problem, caused by the council house stock lost through right to buy not being replaced, of shortage of social housing.

4:44 pm, October 23, 2009

 
Anonymous Carlo said...

Warsi's rants about 'immmigration capping' and homophobia put her on a near-equal footing with Griffin in my eyes. Jack Straw came out of it very well. So what happens now? My guess is that we will see the Tory vote declining. The B.N.P. are in the right place to benefit from Cameron's failure to provide leadership.

5:38 pm, October 23, 2009

 
Anonymous Rich said...

What you should be more worried about is the demise of your own party Luke. Your party is in a dreadful position.

The conservatives are so confident that they are going to win that they are revealing what a conservative government will be like. And oh how grim it is going to be.

Despite nearly 80% of the British people being against privatisation of Royal Mail....the conservatives are going to privatise this service at the expense of thousands of jobs. So who can blame the thousands of mail workers wanting to strike....this is there last chance to preserve a very good business.....that has been destroyed by Labour in an attempt to bring in competition.

Labours abandonment of the working class is the sole reason why support for the BNP is growing. They have only themselves to blame.

As for Jackstraw...well he looked very smug. A man that played a pivotal role in the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. And even prevented the release of minutes of meetings that led to that invasion. Jack Straw has murdered half a million innocent people....he really shouldn't be smug. Maybe he can explain to a very upset mother tomorrow why a friends son was badly injured in Afghanistan last night.

I have seen the light...the coming conservative government is far from liberal. They are probably more far right than Mrs Thatcher. To prevent another tory government the Labour party must reach out to the working classes. Kiss goodbye to the Royal Mail, The min wage....etc etc etc.

7:24 pm, October 23, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Support for the BNP has risen, according to a poll in Saturday's Daily Telegraph.

Yes, you really did witness last night a lynching on British television.

We know, because he's told us, that Luke approves of this sort of thing - the punch on the Conservative councillor.

Well, you sow the wind ...

I would have thought the rich cultural experience available in Hackney on those estate at night - drug dealings, shootings, and all sorts of assaults - is exciting enough. I would only go there mob-handed.

7:53 pm, October 23, 2009

 
Anonymous Dagenham Max said...

Sorry Luke, you are wrong. The white working class are ignored by the current Labour Party simply because elections in this country are won or lost in the middle class marginals. Council housing, council housing, council housing, until we face up to this it is nothing but window dressing.

The only party confroting reality is the SNP (God help us) and they will muller us over the border and then if the Tories have any sense they will dissolve the union exactly as Disraeli gave the poor the vote and Labour will look totally stranded.

It simply doesn’t matter what you do at a local level if the national party, along with the other two major parties, does not give a damn about white poor and the BNP are exploiting that.

Straw was limp, Griffin odious, the British Museum woman pointless, the Tories and the Lib Dem came out ok. Dimbleby was the only one on form, possibly the worst QT I've ever seen.

8:35 pm, October 23, 2009

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

I think it is a mistake to look at the BNP as if it is 'just any other party' when it clearly isn't.

It is interesting that just about everyone who goes on about needing to listen to their views concludes that the only option is to carry out the same policies.

I agree that housing is the key issue.

It is always difficult trying to hold coalitions together

12:20 am, October 24, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Immigration was a covert policy pursued to embarass the conservatives using the alibi of economic necessity, according to a former civil servant involved in policy matters, interviewed in the Daily Telegraph.

Griffin is right. And packing an audience, packing a panel, packing a chair isn't going to alter that fact.

Just who are the fascists now?

1:32 pm, October 24, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least we now know thanks to Andrew Neather that the mass immigration of the past 10 years was New Labour's policy of social engineering and nothing to do with labour shortages.

Iraq,the economy,EU,troops equipment and now immigration is there anything that New Labour hasn't lied to the electorate about?

Angry voter

7:39 pm, October 24, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I'm not sure if this is the solution but we seem to be remarkably liberal towards the BNP in a way they must feel confirms all their feelings about effete mainstream politicians.'

You could equally argue that 'we seem to be remarkably liberal' to those former communists in the Labour party.

Angry voter

7:50 pm, October 24, 2009

 
Anonymous Rich said...

Housing is a key issue but so are jobs and the standard of living. Since Labour came to power nothing has been done to preserve the standard of living of millions of working people who earn less than 20,000 a year.

While immigration has kept inflation low boosting the standard of living of white middle class families...the consequence for those at the bottom of the job pile is a lot different. Immigration has kept the lowest paid on the poverty line by forcing down wages yet at the same time putting increasing pressure on cheap housing thus increasing living costs. Can anyone on this forum imagine what it must be like living on the min wage when the average rent is now over £650pcm and a small home costs in excess of £160,000.

It really is a sad reflection of modern politics when all three of the main parties fail to recognise the impact this situation is having on millions of families.

It is all very well Luke banging on about Social Housing but have you witnessed the quality of it. Social Housing Stock is in an appalling state and isn't being maintained. Even the biggest housing associations are struggling to meet the costs of maintaining crumbling housing stocks and are funding it from building part buy schemes.

Will Labour show they support British workers all will they simply ignore us and face complete wipeout at the next general election. Labour are in real danger of seeing a conservative majority of more than 150 seats.

8:08 pm, October 24, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

The trouble is the Tories sold off all our manufacturing industrial assets and converted our economy to finance and service industry so they imported more people to expand their new industries and the Tories actually planned a population of 90 million for 2028, but Labour have slowed down the rate of immigration, by 2020 its predicted the population will be 71 million, which is far to much to cope with!

1:00 am, October 25, 2009

 
Blogger kris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:29 am, October 25, 2009

 
Blogger kris said...

Remember the high praise for Bonnie Greer - how she was the only one on that stage not hyper-ventilating?

That is because she is an American and understands the First Amendment gives any moron the right to spout his opinions without interference from the Government.

Whether or not a private forum wants to host such views is a matter for them.

Talk radio in the States is full of inflammatory crap. Some people are attracted by it. So what?

To paraphrase Arsene Wenger - why don't you worry about about YOUR message rather than their's?

You nu-labour geeks are control freaks and you cannot keep a lid on what people think.

Fact is, labour's hand-wringing multi-culturalism has flopped with regard to immigration and rights of women. Be upfront and deal with that rather than sweeping discussions under the carpet.

3:30 am, October 25, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke

That's the best assessment of the situation I've read anywhere.

The nutjobs are talking about "civil war" and it won't be long before fascist terrorism rears its head again; God help its victims.

The Far Right always have to be stopped by force eventually. Serbia, Rwanda, Nazi Germany- the question is always "when" not if and I for one won't wait around for 6 people to be murdered, letalone 6 million.

Anyone telling you the protesters are "just as bad" is, in my view, an unwitting Nazi collaborator.

1:47 pm, October 26, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a superb take on the BNP nonsense- showing how the tabloids have typically whipped up this agenda while pretending to oppose it.


http://enemiesofreason.blogspot.com/2009/10/hmm-remember-this.html

1:48 pm, October 26, 2009

 
Blogger Jed Keenan said...

‘I'd like to think we'd do the latter, and hence I rather admire the people who protested outside the BBC yesterday.’

Thanks Luke. Monty Goldman, Murad Qureshi AM and I do make for some very odd gunpowder plotters but when the time comes we’re out on Wood Lane.

‘…we seem to be remarkably liberal towards the BNP in a way they must feel confirms all their feelings about effete mainstream politicians.’

It’s never the strength of ones arm but the strength of the organisation and the commitment of its members, so a very good point about the fascist’s recruitment agenda but then again it is surprising how many members of the Labour Party (and for that matter most other democratic political parties) feel pluralism includes fascism.

3:50 pm, October 26, 2009

 
Anonymous Arnold said...

Half the cabinet have links back to communism, Trots etc.

So why is it OK to support Stalin's brutal murder of 20 million innocent people in the gulags?

I suppose New Labour have the blood of 100 thousand Iraqi civilians on their hands though to be getting on with.

Griffin is just pathetic.

Not as bad as Brown though who has the capability of unleashing more death overseas.

6:32 pm, October 26, 2009

 
Anonymous Rich said...

But there is no denying the simple fact that BNP membership has grown as a direct result of Labours policies on Europe and immigration. Immigration is regarded as a major concern by the electorate and as all main parties have decided to pay no attention to it, why are we surprised that over 1 million people now vote for the BNP.

There only way you are going to cut support to the BNP is to radically change your policies.

6:49 pm, October 26, 2009

 
Anonymous stephen said...

indeed our policies on immigration, crime, ASB and ID Cards were driven by their concerns and disliked by our urban liberal voters

And by playing the immigration card you have helped the BNP. Looks like you have alienated just about everyone. Middle class liberals like me who think you are a bunch of unprincipled authoritarian tossers and working class folk who think you are more concerned about controlling immigration that protect them from the worst excesses of unregulated capitalism.

2:12 pm, October 29, 2009

 
Anonymous Neil said...

Arnold, I think you'll find Trots don't have much time for Stalin thanks to that business with the icepick.

12:40 pm, October 30, 2009

 

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