Wednesday, April 29, 2009
BNP threat posted by Richard SeymourPeter Hain rightly challenges Guardian readers and fellow Labour members to take the threat of the BNP seriously. They are on the verge of winning seats on the European parliament, and thus acquiring up to £2m in funds. It is a pity that Peter Hain had to be the one to say it. For one thing, it could be seen as an attempt to shore up Labour's vote, which is on the precipice of a sudden deadly plunge. This was quite obviously the case with Harriet Harman's appeal earlier this month (though I note that at least Peter Hain doesn't just say 'vote Labour', as Harman did). Secondly, as much of the comment on the thread suggests, few people really want to take their lead from a former New Labour minister who backed the 'war on terror' (unfortunately, the thread is also crawling with fascists and demented complaints that Labour "sold out to Islam" - you might want to pop over there and bash the fash if you have a minute). This is a party that has vilified asylum seekers, bullied Muslims and promoted people like Hazel Blears to blither about political correctness. You might wonder who needs lessons in anti-fascism from such people. The hostility to New Labour is bracing. I for one am completely uninterested in rewarding Gordon Brown's crawling to the City, his 'British Jobs for British Workers' schtick, or his proposed austerity programme. And it is tragic that we don't have the kind of unified left-wing alternative that France and Germany both have, although there will still be left-of-Labour alternatives out there. Still, that doesn't change the fact that Hain is right about the BNP, and that complacency is not an option.
After all, the BNP are not just a racist, violent and authoritarian party. They are that. Their call for the 'repatriation' of black and Asian Britons - whom they deem "racial foreigners" - is a call for ethnic cleansing, sure to be backed up with the "well-directed fists and boots" that Nick Griffin used to drool about. It isn't just that their hardcore bully-boys, often integrated into the terrorist Combat-18 group that was formed to act as stewards for BNP rallies, are often violent criminals and sociopaths. The BNP is a party whose leadership and core members are marinated in the ideology of the Third Reich. It is a Nazi party. If this germinal junta gets European representation and funding, then it is a step toward barbarism in a continent where the far right is making atrocious headway. One comment on the CiF thread suggests that the far right can be relied on to disintegrate due to its often violent internal schisms. The BNP is not exactly short of factional ructions, as the 2007 split and a recent leaked document illustrates, but that hasn't really stopped them making worrying inroads in local elections. It doesn't stop them having 56 council seats and a seat on the London assembly. In the last European parliament elections in 2004, the BNP gained over 800,000 votes, just short of 5% of the total vote. This time round, they may get Nick Griffin elected to that body, and would need only 8% - easily within reach, I would have thought. That would shift the centre of gravity to the right and benefit every racist and reactionary current in the UK.
This means that a priority of the Left should be backing the campaign by Unite Against Fascism during the upcoming elections.