John Walker's Electronic House

Meet The BNP

by on Jun.05, 2010, under The Rest

A comment was recently added to my post about the BNP and Nick Griffin’s plans to claim his party represents Christianity. I think it’s worth highlighting here. I’m still very concerned that people think of the BNP as: sure, a party with some bad eggs and left over racist views from their National Front past, but perhaps the only party speaking out honestly on the issues of immigration. It’s an opinion I’ve heard quite a lot, often not directly expressed but implied in more subtle tones. For instance, here’s a question I was asked anonymously on Formspring recently:

“Do you agree that not dealing with immigration sensibly plays into the bnps hands? Will Cameron sort it out in your opinion?”

While I gave an answer explaining why I believe there is no immigration issue, and that Cameron’s plans will further isolate the country, increase nationalism, and therefore hatred, there’s a more serious implication. It’s the assumption implicit in the question that the BNP are the party dealing with immigration sensibly. Sure, the person asking is extremely unlikely to subscribe to the BNP’s opinions on most subjects, but it unquestionably suggests that dealing with immigration “sensibly” (whatever that might be) will placate the BNP. i.e. If we would only employ the BNP’s immigration policies, we would take away power from that dangerous party.

This view is terrifyingly common. Perhaps with no analysis whatsoever it makes sense to people. If we deal with the apparent immigration problems, then the BNP would no longer have that platform on which to speak, and thus people would be less attracted to the party. Never mind that this once again suggests that every member of the BNP is an innocent victim confused by feeling let down by Labour, etc (I talk about that here), but far more seriously is says:

“Let’s implement the BNP’s policies on immigration to make the BNP go away.”

Yeah, there’s a small problem here.

I’m frightened by often I’m hearing this, either directly or heavily implied. There must be an “immigration problem” because we keep being told there is, by every politician, newspaper, and media outlet. Even if they’re not directly stating there’s a problem, they’re reporting on how others are saying there is, or stating how others are going to deal with this problem. No one states what the problem is with evidence to support it. Instead we’re told the number of immigrants or asylum seekers “flooding in” each year because it looks quite big without explanation or context. Or, even more spuriously, we’re given completely unsubstantiated “facts” like, “There’s just not enough room”, “They’re taking all our jobs”, or my current favourite, “Britain’s population is about to reach 70,000,000!” As if that’s the number at which we will burst like a balloon stuffed with too much custard, splattering messily all over the Channel.

Britain has had a high volume of immigration for decades. Britain’s doing just fine, you know. The claims of evidence for otherwise are hilariously specific incidents, one-off situations where someone from another country claimed an awful lot in benefits, or someone struggled to get a job that a Pole was more qualified for. Or they’re wildly general, making claims about the NHS not being able to cope (this would be the NHS that would have collapsed multiple times were it not for its reliance on immigration to be staffed, from cleaners to doctors).

But despite our not being able to identify exactly what the problem is, it’s still a problem we have to deal with. And since we have to deal with it, why not kill two birds with one stone and take power away from the BNP by implementing their policies on the matter? It’s very concerning.

So, here’s hopefully a quick reminder of what a BNP member looks like. They’re not disenfranchised voters, depressed that none of the major parties are dealing with the imaginary issues that concern them the most. They’re not disgruntled rebels, refusing to let Europe tell them what to do. They’re wretched bigots, whose opinions are terrifying. They’re Nazis, anti-Semites, racists, xenophobes and conspiracists. They’re also deeply, frighteningly stupid. These are the people whose policies politicians keep saying we should “listen to” so as to re-enfranchise them once again. Here’s the comment from “james” on my earlier post:

“I am a BNP, member, it dosnt make any differance what people say or dont say on this site, 1, with in 2020 2090 war will take place between the degenerate west and Islam,2 it will begin with virus attacks against the soft under belly of europe , and the so called liberal USA.3 the people of the book jews and christains will find out soon enought, as to the true nature of islam, this 1600 year old form of the 3d reich, if hitler had ruled for 1600 years ,then people would bow down to Germania, and wear berkas, to insure racial purity as, as dos the 6th reich, Islam dos. THIS IS YOUR FUTURE ?”

That’s what the BNP looks like. Could we stop idealising the members, and idolising their opinions on immigration?


19 Comments for this entry

  • Oddtwang

    The level of agreement with the notion that immigration is causing some sort of horrendous problem is constantly worrying and depressing to me – we see it in the news media and from politicians and I’m constantly waiting for someone with any kind of profile to say “you’re wrong, immigration is beneficial and here’s why. Besides, net migration has been falling for a while.”
    Nick Clegg in the election debates was particularly telling, I thought.

  • Colthor

    If you’re feeling charitable – and I’m usually not, but just for fun – “listen to them” might mean “listen to what they have to say, and then calmly explain, with plenty of references to facts and figures, exactly why what they are saying is wrong, daft, or (scare/hate)-mongering/xenophobic nonsense”. It’s not that hard to demonstrate why claims like “in twenty years the Muslims will be able to vote in any government they like, and then it’s Sharia law for us all!” are utterly ludicrous.

    If you don’t explain to people why things are wrong, you can’t expect them to change their minds.

    Of course, we are dealing with idiots and racists, so you probably shouldn’t expect them to anyway, but still. I suppose you could just shoot them all, that would work.

  • Jaz

    My wife is an immigrant, and she’s improved the UK’s ability to make vegetarian lasagne by about 400%.

  • John Walker

    Sadly this isn’t what is meant by “listen to”.

    It’s always said in the context of trying to explain why people are joining the BNP, under the ludicrous assumption that they’re simply disgruntled and let down. So you hear the same phrase again and again: “The major parties have let voters down on matters like immigration, so they turn to the BNP. We need to listen to them and address these issues.”

    Which is: “We need to implement a facsimile of the BNP’s immigration policies in order to win back their votes.

  • Steve Arnold

    For me, the most frightening thing about the BNP is not what the hardliners at the centre of it think, but that they seem to have learnt how to portray a ‘softer’ edge to dissatisfied/scared/worried people (as well as attracting more angry/violent types). They also know how to play one side of the liberal democracy card – i.e. they have a right to be listened to, but not a duty to listen to others. It’s perhaps one of the key paradoxes at the heart of democracy and liberalism, since illiberal and undemocratic voices will always be shouting to be heard.

    From my privileged and distanced viewpoint, I really don’t think that we need to implement any of the BNP’s policies to weaken their standpoint. Like John, and the other posters if I’m reading them correctly. But I do think that the major political parties who are committed to liberal democracy need to pay attention to the views that people are expressing. Not by knee-jerk, headline grabbing immigration policies, but by clearer dissemination of information, possibly on a community-by-community basis.

    You can’t fight irrational fears/concerns that are stirred up by Mail/Sun headlines by one-size-fits-all pamphlets, or suited politicians spouting facts on Newsnight. So something clever and innovative will probably be needed, something at a local/community level. Something based on listening. Something that won’t grab headlines. So I’m not too optimistic about that happening.

  • Cap'n Tightpants

    Seeing as the BNP are infact horrendously racist deeply terrible people, why can’t the government ban them from elections, or take a vote on barring them from parliment? Does it not work like that, or would be that there would be a public uproar and 2 more horrible racist parties would spring up in their place, bolstered in rank by those who want to rebel against the current government?

    Man, I think I just answered my own question there. =P
    Oh yeah, and then its the who potential of it being considered a “nanny state” policy, protecting people from enacting their own views… or just being plain old anti-democratic. Ah, such is life.

  • Cap'n Tightpants

    Oh, and sorry for the double post, but just for the record, where I live? Most people would vote BNP.

    Heck, I live in Perthshire, which is ass-end of no where style of rural, so most of the people here are deeply racist, sexist and generally horrendous people. But a mock vote staged by the debating society in our school during the election, to see who would vote for what party in the future, a good 35-6% voted for BNP and granted, it could be because of peer pressure and blah-di-blah but still, if that actually correlated with future voting figures, and the BNP actually bothered to put up any candidates in Scotland, then all of a sudden there’s quite a problem. O’course, it could be nothing, but it still hardly says much about the education system does it? Surely there should be some kinda stuff done on this during Social Educucation, y’know, something about our SOCIETY where they try to disencourage rampant racism. Ah, but now I’m rambling, carry on!

  • Xercies

    My friend would like to sort the BNP and hearing from him i think he is racist but has the terrible habit of thinking he is not. Once you get into an argument with him you can tell how bigoted he is..since one time hes saying that all immigrants are sucking benefits off us, another he is saying eh doesn’t mind the ones that actually work, and then 5 minutes later saying that actually he wants them all to go. I think thats all the BNP are.

  • Pace

    I’d be interested to hear some people around here’s thoughts on the US’s immigration “problem”. As in, if you were in charge, how would you handle the Mexican border? It seems like a somewhat more complex issue than the British case, and I’d think a bit more difficult to completely dismiss other viewpoints.

    (I have no strong feelings on the matter one way or another, I’m not trying to spring a trap on anyone. I just think it’s an interesting “problem”.)

  • wpp

    It’s astonishing how much the BNP views are just a less polished version of the Flemish Vlaams Belang views. I hope they never find out that you can get in government by wearing suits and recruiting some hot women into the ranks, or you guys are screwed. They seem to be starting to grok it already by disavowing their neo-nazi/racist past.

    Seriously though, the thing these parties thrive on is a certain nationalist/tribal tendency which seeks to blame all problems on the outsider. And so the occasional problem, such as the existence of de facto ghettos in major cities (a previous Belgian hot topic) are blamed on foreigners exclusively. From foreigners it’s a short leap to immigration. Instead of, of course, focusing on issues such as lack of interest in these communities by local politicians, organisation and recruitment issues in the police force, massive unemployment in some communities exacerbated by latent racism, extensive waiting lists for introductory language education, etc. Not to mention the what-would-be-hilarious-if-not-so-sad overestimation of such issues in the media.

    The BNP voter, I imagine, is a voter who doesn’t see the complexities. If they are smart enough, perhaps one can help them see. If not they can just continue spewing bullshit about how women being allowed to wear hijabs will start an islamo-christian war or something.

  • Oddtwang

    Jaz, is this a public service we can all make use of? I love veggie lasagne!

  • frymaster

    bloody poles, coming over here, paying our taxes! why I oughta….

    oh, wait.

    It also depends how you define “immigration” – to me an immigrant is not a migrant worker, an asylum seeker, OR an illegal immigrant. As such, we don’t have a problem with immigrants. Any problem we have with asylum seekers is probably a problem of bureaucracy (getting the stay/go decisions right first time AND in a timely fashion*), and in terms of illegals, imo the main thing is the illegals that end up getting blackmailed to work for someone (e.g. the Morecambe Bay incident)

    *bearing in mind that asylum seekers are prohibited, by law, from working. Note they also get FAR BELOW the normal benefits you’d get, and get the worst houses the council has to offer

  • Matthew Dentith

    The way in which the debate gets skewed in these circumstances is frightening; here in New Zealand we keep being told that taxes are too high and that we need to lower them, in the same kind of way you’re being told that immigration is a problem. Opposing that view, no matter whether you have an argument or not, is thought to be political suicide. Our previous government, Labour (which was slightly to the left in some respects and slightly to the fright in our respects of your Labour party, eventually gave up trying to argue that our taxes are a) not too high and b) quite low on the OECD index, and lowered taxes, thus playing into the public’s perception and feeding the opposition (now Government) spin.

  • Cap'n Tightpants

    @Pace: Open the border. Bam. “Problem” solved. Mainly because I see the problem as people being to goddamn stupid and/or set in their ways to accept other cultures.

    Actually, one of my friends was doing an Open University course on… heck, it might have been psychology? I should check on that, but it involved some stuff about migration between America and Mexico, and from what I (probably very poorly) gathered, the people mostly in favour of the border were the hicks with rifles who acted as a vigilante border force suplimenting the government approved one. Also, people were willing to hide and help those who were attempting to illegally migrate across the border, showing that mayhaps, its time for it go, sure, the bigots will be mad, but there can’t be too many of them? Right? Right?

  • James T

    Personally, I don’t feel adversely affected by immigration, but it seems presumptious to assume that there’s no one out there who is. Such people could conceivably be tempted to vote BNP though I have no idea whether they constitute a significant proportion of the vote in practice.

    I think the main thing worth remembering about the BNP, though, is that they don’t have very much support in the grand scheme of things; people’s concern seems to be disproportionate to the threat they actually pose. At national level, the first past the post voting system keeps them even further in check.

  • Ian

    There’s a DAMNED EUROPEAN who actually hangs around outside my office window just WAITING for me to take my eye off my job for a moment so he can steal it like the FILTHY IMMIGRANT that he is.

    I’m pretty sure when I go home at night he tries to jimmy the window open.

    Only Griffinman can save me from the terror of it all.

  • Dante

    I also worry a lot of the perception of immigration in the media and political spotlight these days, there is very much a cosy consensus that there’s too much and that bad things are happening because of it, yet no-one ever seems to need to prove that, merely say it. It’s as if everyone agreed upon a national policy while the left wing was nipping to the bathroom and now we’re stuck not knowing why it happened.

    If you do actually try to engage with people on this subject they react almost with confusion that they’re having to justify their claims. Usually eventually resorting to some hopelessly vague nonsense about ‘social cohesion’ which, in practice, is far more damaged by fear of immigration than by immigration itself.

    I can’t say I agree with the idea that every BNP voter is a complete racist though. Nearly 250,000 more people voted for them in the last election than 2005, which in turn was nearly 200,000 more than they got in 2001. Has the UK really acquired 450,000 new racists in the last 9 years? I can’t believe that.

  • james

    I stand by my veiw as to the future war between islam and the west, 1 how many christains live in mecca jews, I dont see any. An in balance of numbers leads to war, 6 million islamists in france ,0000 jews in mecca.John walker abuse is not maths ,numbers are the only real truth,you type cast us,because you are to frightened to deal with,blunt maths, what is because it is also you the word exo phob ic out of context, their are two meanings to this word, jewish christain moral veiw, which asumes that it must be good or evil,— 2 veiw is based on Greek thought, it is what it says it is IC means law of number pobous is fear, exo is differant , JOHN THANK YOU

  • Dante

    “how many christains live in mecca jews” Christians living inside mecha-jews? That seems uncomfortable for all parties.