Britain has a big problem

October 29, 2009

Two articles at Pajamas Media explore the rise of the fascist British National Party (BNP). In British National Party Gains Further After BBC’s Question Time Fiasco, Andrew Ian Dodge looks at the attempted ambush of BNP leader Nick Griffin on the BBC show Question Time, during which the other panelists and a stacked-deck of an audience attempted to harangue and humiliate Griffin as anti-BNP demonstrators rioted outside. While not showing any sympathy for the execrable Griffin, Dodge observes that the effort may well have backfired and quotes a UK blogger as evidence:

As the average English person dislikes people ganging up on others, they are already expressing sympathy with Griffin and I predict that the popularity of the BNP will rise.

Before you can show up a policy you have to debate it, and not one of the other so-called politicians [on the panel] had any intention of engaging in a debate. It was a set-up, it was despicable and it was enormously counter-productive.

In my neck of the woods the comments go more like “if they spent so much time trying to shut him up, he must have summat to say they don’t want us to hear.”

In Britain’s New Neo-Nazi Star, Mike McNally looks at Griffin’s rise and speculates on the reasons for the BNP’s newfound strength:

The BNP speaks to the white working classes, a constituency which feels increasingly alienated, neglected, and abandoned by a “New” Labour party which once drew the bulk of its support from those same people. In broad terms, these are people who feel left behind by the pace of social and economic change. They are concerned about the erosion of what they see as their British identity under a government obsessed with promoting multiculturalism. More pressingly, they feel under pressure from mass immigration, angered by the continuing transfer of political power away from their elected leaders and into the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats of the European Union, concerned by rising crime, and alarmed by the spread of Islamic extremism.

The last time the far right (to use the term in its broadest and laziest sense) made inroads into British political life, in the 1970s, they were killed off by the arrival of Margaret Thatcher, who stood up for British interests and addressed the  concerns of the working classes without pandering to racist attitudes. The economic chaos that accompanied the fall of the Labour government in 1979 was exploited by racist and nationalist groups, and it’s no coincidence that now, as then, such elements are growing in popularity during the death throes of a Labour administration.

McNally’s going easy on himself by calling the designation of the BNP as “far right” lazy. It’s flat-out inaccurate: Look at BNP’s economic program and you’ll see that, like Nazism before it, the British National Party is a product of the Left.

Regardless, both authors are right when they argue that the growing popularity, or, at least, respectability, of the BNP represents a failure of the governing classes in Britain to deal with the needs and concerns of their constituents. Indeed, if author Melanie Phillips is right, Labour is guilty of a shockingly high-handed and arrogant attempt to remake the character of the nation – the public’s opinions be damned. But it’s not just Labour; the Conservatives are no longer the Thatcherites of old, but a washed-out Labour-Lite. The Liberal Democrats are barely distinguishable from the other two. Among the minor parties, the UK Independence Party most resembles American conservative-libertarian Right, but it hasn’t gained much traction.  Small wonder that, faced with an out of touch and corrupt political class, more and more Britons (especially disaffected Labourites) are coming to see the openly racist and fascist British National Party as their only alternative.

It’s a big problem, and I suspect it will only get worse before it ever gets better.