Tag Archives: bnp

Downfall on a Croydon tram

You know that an online meme has truly gone viral when someone does a Downfall mashup, and so it is that the recent Emma West ‘racist woman on a tram’ video can now be seen in a new version with Hitler – the source video got past 12m views in a few days before the person who uploaded it decided to delete the video. You can still see it all over YouTube though as other people uploaded copies.

It is an embarrassment to watch. West is clearly drunk, or using something you can’t buy at Boots, and making it all worse, she is carrying a young infant who seems oblivious to the foul language and threat of violence. She has now been remanded in custody to January 3rd by magistrates in Croydon – with the order to keep her behind bars apparently for her own safety.

When you take into account her accusation that someone on the tram comes from Nicaragua, though they are quite obviously not from Central America, it descends into idiocy. Just with the added foul language for good measure.

Most reactions to the video have expressed outrage. The UK is a modern, forward-thinking, liberal society that despises this casual racism. At least, this is the intelligent, educated, liberal reaction.

England is also a country where, just a few days ago, police questioned the captain of the national football team over alleged racial abuse of fellow professional footballers on the pitch.

Emma West doesn’t allow her targets to be limited by race; she appears to despise anyone who isn’t English – particularly the Polish – apparently demonstrating that cultural racism very clearly still exists in the UK.

British people know this anyway. The hard working, mostly Christian, white-skinned Poles have faced a negative reaction from the British as their numbers have increased since EU expansion in 2004. Anyone with a slightly longer memory, or appreciation of British history, would know that there were 16 Polish fighter squadrons within the RAF during World War 2, with squadron 303 at Northolt being the highest-scoring fighter squadron in the RAF. But do the ignorant worry about history?

The Irish faced a similar reaction many decades ago as they came to the UK looking for work. Landlords considered dogs and blacks to be just about as welcome as the Christian, white, Irish workers.

Racism isn’t always about the colour of your skin or the God you worship.

Within the British Isles we have often mocked each other in jokes. The drunken Irish, the stingy Scots and so on, but when a video like this achieves such notoriety in such a short period of time it would appear that something else is going on that exceeds mild stereotypes. That John Terry himself can squirm behind excuses such as ‘the context in which certain remarks were made’ shows how little the establishment really cares about true racial harmony in Britain today. Is ‘tolerance’ still the rather pathetic objective here?

The truth is that without migration the UK would never be able to boast the music of Morrissey or the Beatles. The chicken tikka masala might never have become the favourite dish of the nation – offering solace to all those who can’t manage a vindaloo. And Damien Hirst might never have started chopping up cows in the name of art.

The value migration brings is acknowledged by most, and the most recent explicitly anti-migrant political movement, the British National Party, was roundly defeated in the 2010 general election.

But the white working class fears migrants because of the perception that they steal jobs – it’s that simple. They like Irish beer and Indian (usually it’s actually Bangladeshi) food, but they don’t want foreigners coming and taking their jobs.

And jobs are where the political debate is at right now. Unemployment is soaring. The economies of Europe are collapsing and the OECD predicts that the UK will soon enter a new recession with more than 3m unemployed – that’s at least 400,000 more people without a job than right now.

If the government doesn’t grasp that this lack of employment opportunity is going to be a tinderbox that tests multicultural Britain to the limit then I suggest that ministers get on a tram and start talking to people – admittedly difficult when they are not even talking to each other because of Europe. But, don’t forget to carry a swear box.

Hitler In Hell

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En-ger-land! En-ger-land!

Just take a look at the Evening Standard today. Do you think Currys would have wanted their ‘England’ campaign placed right next to a full page story about nationalism, the British National Party, and why voters in Dagenham are fed up of immigrants?

Currys 'England' ad

Is immigration ‘a good thing’?

Gordon Brown is in trouble today. A woman complained to him about the number of immigrants coming into the UK… a familiar complaint he has heard many times before, but this time he made a private comment about her in his car just after the event – calling her a ‘bigoted woman’ – and Sky News had left their radio microphone on his suit… so the private comments were recorded and replayed to the world.

It was a private comment, and many would credit Brown with telling the frank truth, but Sky can’t be blamed for using the material – any broadcaster would love to have an indiscretion like this on record.

But is the woman just reflecting what the majority think, and is the Prime Minister reacting in a liberal left way – horrified that someone might criticise those from another country, or race, or faith?

The immigration question is one of the hardest for our politicians to deal with because they never seem to quite get it right. The Labour party at present has made it almost impossible for unskilled workers to enter the UK, encouraged people with specific skills to come using the Highly Skilled Migrant Worker programme, simplified visa approvals using a points-based system, and made it far harder for foreign students to work and overstay their visa.

When you list the measures Gordon Brown has presided over, it looks quite tough on immigrants, but the public perception is that Johnny Foreigner continues to flood into the country. The reality is that immigration is reducing – mainly because of the economic downturn and fragile recovery – but again, why ruin perception with reality?

So, is the problem just that nobody trusts politicians anyway?

This is really the power of the BNP and UKIP. They don’t behave like ‘normal’ politicians and they focus on the immigration and ‘foreigner’ issues. UKIP has pledged to ban immigration for five years if they had any power over legislation, the BNP has been watering down the racist content of their manifesto, but they still appear to actively favour repatriation of migrant workers.

These parties are getting considerable support with their extreme views, and that’s really because of a failing by the major three parties to be seen to be doing something. Brown has argued this point on all the genuine changes he has made to the system. Clegg has argued that we need a better understanding of who is here illegally – potentially leading to an amnesty because that would not change the number of people working, but it would mean they pay tax. Cameron has argued for an absolute cap on immigration numbers by skills.

All three of the major parties have ideas on immigration, but they are all essentially failing to communicate the positive values of welcoming people – with skills – to Britain. The skills that help the British economy to succeed – and therefore allows us to live in a prosperous nation far richer than a population of 60m would suggest.

They are also failing to explain the different types of immigration; what is a refugee, what is an asylum seeker, what is a highly-skilled migrant… and the freedom of labour movement within the 27-nation European Union. All these issues are entirely confused in the arguments of the ‘bigot’… that’s not implying that those who oppose immigration are stupid, but any debate on immigration has to focus on the real issue that concerns them: Are people coming in and taking work from locals?

If that is what people perceive then the mainstream parties need to show that it is not the case, or what they intend to do about it, and they need to do this in a way that people believe. The Prime Minister has a good grasp of facts, but when he reels off stats about this and that, the public switch off and ask why the corner shop sells Polish food. Without once realising that the Polish shop down the road was a Punjabi shop twenty years ago.

The major politicians need to explore why normal people are so attracted by the BNP on this issue, why normal people don’t see any value from the European Union – they just see it as Eastern European workers coming to take jobs, and why a caring and tolerant society like the UK should close the shutters to those not born here.

You fascists are bound to lose

I spent hours this evening editing a video about the BNP. I hope you like it.

Billy Bragg at ULU

There were six of us sitting around a table in the Rising Sun pub on Tottenham Court road in London last Saturday night, me – and a random bunch of mates – collected together to see the Billy Bragg ‘Hope not Hate’ fundraising gig at ULU. An Irish Brit, a couple of Italian Brazilians, a Chinese South African, and an Asian Brit – an appropriate mix of friends for a gig focused on racism and the threat that the British National Party will extend their slimy tentacles further into local government at the next election.

Billy was in good form. Opening with some old-school ‘Lovers town revisited’ and straight into some socialism of the heart with ‘Upfield’. He then gave one of his familiar riffs on socialism, but focused on trying to keep all shades of the left onside with the anti-BNP message: “It’s going to be a fight that’s takes place mostly in East London. Those of you who have been doing this since the twentieth century know that there is not just one shade of socialism. It’s the same with nationalism. There are many different types of nationalism, and there are many different types of patriotism.”

Billy gave a passionate tribute to the former Labour party leader Michael Foot: “He was a great orator and a great anti-fascist. He reminded us constantly of our tradition. What must we do when we lose people like Michael Foot? We ourselves must renew the tradition…” As the crowd cheered he blasted into a raucous version of the digger’s anthem ‘World turned upside down’.

This being an anti-BNP fundraiser for Hope not Hate, most of Billy’s riffs between songs were focused on racism and the fascist nature of the BNP. He implored the audience to help take the fight to Barking and Dagenham, where the BNP are directing their electoral guns: “I want us to plug into the great anti-fascist tradition that lives on in this country, which we need to wake up and to take to Barking and Dagenham, but we need to push on past the fascists and to deal with the bankers and capitalists in the same sweep, to change this country and the priorities of this country away from the free market and back to individual freedom… It’s a big task, but all of us working together, we can beat the fascists and if we can beat them in Barking and Dagenham then we can beat them anywhere!” Naturally, Billy showcased his new song ‘Last flight to Abu Dhabi’, an anthem against the bankers who caused the global financial collapse featuring the line: “Jonty was a banker, he made a lot of cash, betting on derivatives, he helped to cause the crash…”

Billy was focused on a single issue for this gig and so the emphasis shifted somewhat from his regular gigs – though he always talks about his inspiration at the ‘rock against racism’ Clash gig in 1978, and he was playing his Joe Strummer Telecaster all evening. At this gig he urged the audience to make this concert their own rock against racism experience.

The one faint criticism (from my part) is that Billy included several songs from the ‘England, Half English’ album into this set. This was an album of songs focused on identity so it was only natural for him to include a few at a gig focused on racism, but it’s probably his weakest album. I know he rarely plays these songs at regular gigs, and I had this conversation with a ‘Hope not Hate’ T-shirt vendor, but the T-shirt man convinced me that the aim of the gig made it all worthwhile anyway. And with gems like ‘Milkman’ and ‘Between the wars’ included in this set, I think he was probably right.

Originally posted to the Say no to the BNP blog.

BNP Leader, Nick Griffin, on Question Time

So it finally happened. Griffin faced the BBC audience.

David Dimbleby was well briefed and quoted several of Griffin’s more outrageous remarks at him. The panel raged and gave their all. But somehow at the end of it all I felt disappointed.

I was keen to see Griffin on Question Time. I felt that the only way to show how odious he really is, would be to get him up there on the BBC and to repeat back some of his own lines. Yet, when it actually happened it looked like gang of bullies beating a feckless child. He responded to every claim; he repeated untruths and half-truths.

But at the end of the day, although the panel was right to attack him, it just looked like a bunch of liberal bullies beating up on the racist.

I don’t personally feel any sympathy for Griffin because of this. He deserved every verbal attack the panel gave him, but it demonstrated the fatal flaw of the mainstream parties. Every mainstream party representative argued on racism as a moral issue. It’s just not right to be racist. Griffin argued his own racist views on practical issues such as jobs, housing, and benefits – and his concept of ‘indigenous’ rights.

There are a huge number of myths perpetrated about the number of migrants to the UK that actually “steal jobs” or “go top of the list for housing”, but if Griffin continues to perpetuate the image that he is the only one prepared to do something about it, and the other parties just stutter on about how racism is nasty and wrong, then he will pick up support. The mainsteam parties need to offer better information, not just indignation.

I think the net result of Question Time was that the people who always hated the BNP, hate them just as much as before. Those who were undecided, unsure, or just don’t really trust or engage with politicians – they probably like Griffin a lot more after seeing the mainstream parties attack him on BBC1 tonight.

BNP on BBC Question Time

Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain, has warned that the plan for BNP leader Nick Griffin to appear on the BBC debate programme Question Time this week could well be illegal. Hain believes that the membership conditions of the BNP should exclude it from being considered as a legitimate political party.

The BNP presently excludes all except ‘indigenous Caucasian people’ from membership. This has recently been challenged by the Human Rights Commission, and the BNP has agreed to amend the membership clause, so any member could be any colour.

Obviously, it’s unlikely that non-white people would rush to join a racist party, but the question is really over the timing of this change to their membership policy. Hain argues that with this exclusion in place, the party cannot be considered a legitimate political party and should not be given a platform at the debate alongside mainstream parties.

The BBC appears to be taking the line that the BNP is a democratically elected party, and they deserve the right to be included in the debate, regardless of Hain’s point of view – and in any case, the BNP has vowed to amend the offending policy.

I take the view that the BBC should allow the debate to go ahead regardless of these issues. Hain is a prominent campaigner on race issues with decades of experience of campaigns such as the anti-apartheid movement. He knows all about the anti-racist movement, but there are people who will be voting in the 2010 general election who were born in the 1990s. They can’t remember apartheid or even more recent race incidents such as the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles.

I think it would be more educational and demonstrative to get the BNP up on the stage and to allow the other speakers on the panel the opportunity to hang Griffin with his own rope. How about asking Griffin about the pamphlet he wrote on Jewish domination of British media? Or asking why the BNP constitution actually refers to ‘stemming the tide’ of non-white people in the UK? Or asking why Griffin denies that the Nazi holocaust ever occured?

Many British people are concerned about immigration, not even non-white immigration. Movement within the EU causes enough consternation for many people who feel they are competing for jobs that Eastern Europeans will do for less. If the mainstream parties addressed these issues over immigration more directly then there would be no fuel for the far-right. They are gaining strength because there is a perception that the mainstream parties are not dealing with immigration.

There is plenty of ammunition for the other Question Time panelists to use against Griffin. Let’s hope they expose him as the nasty little fascist he really is.