How to beat the BNP
Stop pandering to racism on immigration policy and provide jobs instead by making companies provide apprenticeships, public investment in green energy technologies and trade bans on repressive governments that exploit their people for cheap labour
What doesn’t work :
being ‘tough on immigrants’, attacking ‘multiculturalism’ and promoting ‘Britishness’
As the news that the BNP had won two seats in the European parliament came in newly appointed government ministers suggested that listening to voters’ concerns on immigration was the way to win voters back from the BNP.
They couldn’t be more wrong. For the last 12 years the leaderships of the Labour and Conservative parties have been in a competition to pander to tabloid myths about Britain being a “soft touch” on immigration. Immigrants have become the scapegoats to deflect any criticism of the government or the Conservatives, as well as conveniently distracting attention from massive tax avoidance by the billionaires and companies owning the newspapers.
Britain now has one of the harshest immigration policies in the world.
Arbitrary targets for the number of people to be deported each month have resulted in thousands being sent back, many to their deaths, to such “safe” destinations as Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo and Zimbabwe (1) - (7). Families including children, who have committed no crime, are held in “detention centre” prisons while waiting for appeals or deportation (8) - (9). Last year the Medical Justice Network produced evidence of hundreds of assaults on deportees by private security guards on contract to the Home Office, including fractured bones and cigarette burns (10), (11).
Another myth is that most asylum seekers come here to live on generous benefits. In fact while waiting for their case to be heard most are not allowed to work and if they’ve no savings get benefits 17% to 35% lower than unemployed British citizens get through Jobseekers’ Allowance (12) - (14). If their application for refugee status is granted they get the same amount as citizens and if it’s rejected and they appeal they get nothing. Nor does the UK take more refugees or get more asylum seekers than other countries. It has 3% of the world’s refugees and less asylum applications per person each year than the EU average – and the number of asylum applications to the UK each year has fallen massively since 2002 (15) – (17).
Immigrants, like some British Asians and foreigners accused, without evidence, of terrorism, are jailed or deported despite having harmed no-one (18). Meanwhile convicted serial killers like Thomas McCulloch will be released, having “done their time”, because they’re white and were born here (19); So much for Nick Griffin’s claims that all the racism in Britain is against white people like him.
Persecuting asylum seekers has not reduced support for the BNP – it’s increased it.
New Labour’s quest to establish a single definition of “Britishness” or “British national identity” which everyone living in Britain must conform to and “integrate” into won’t work either. Many historians point out that any attempt to impose a single identity that everyone must conform to has been part of a trend towards extreme nationalism and authoritarianism and away from democracy.
Letting immigrants learn English if they want to and integrate if they want to is fine – telling them they must is the road to fascism.
The attack on ‘multiculturalism’ by the Conservatives is just as counter-productive. Tell someone they can integrate and merge their traditions, culture and beliefs with those of others if they want to and debate with them and you’ll get new ideas produced and give people new ways to see the world. Tell them they can’t have their identity and must adopt yours and they will rebel and adopt a more extreme form of their own identity – exactly what has happened with a minority of British Muslims and Asians when told they must conform or that they aren’t British despite being born here. How can we tell everyone to conform and claim to be a democracy? I’m not about to conform to New Labour’s definition of ‘Britishness’ or the Conservatives’ one and there’s no single definition that everyone would be happy conforming to.
Natural and human history should also tell those who are against ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘diluting’ our culture or ‘genes’ that cultures which become isolated from outside influences end up dying out and populations that inter-breed with others become more adaptable and healthier, while inbreeding leads to inherited weaknesses becoming more and more crippling. Diversity is strength. Uniformity is weakness.
Since most of the BNP’s voters are in the North of England, where there are few immigrants but lots of British born Asians, it follows that for them “multiculturalism” is a code-word for racism, which can be used to get round laws banning inciting hatred (which are themselves counter-productive as they encourage the BNP to present itself as more moderate than it really is).
So support for extremists, sectarians, bigots and racists can’t be based on immigration policy not being “tough” enough, nor on people not ‘integrating’, nor on losing a sense of national identity.
The real causes of extreme politics – not immigration but poverty and unemployment
The real cause is poverty and unemployment. That was the case in the 1930s during the Great Depression when governments failed to provide jobs, resulting in mass support for fascist, extreme nationalist and Communist parties across the world. The vote for the Nazi party in Germany rose and fell as unemployment did.
While governments and parties – liberal, conservative and socialist - failed to provide public works programmes to provide jobs the fascist parties offered to – and got support as a result.
Many conservatives, governments and businessmen thought they could do a deal with the fascists too, to repress socialists, trade unions and communists. In 1937 Churchill told the House of Commons “I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between communism and nazism, I would choose communism.” (20). He also said that Mussolini had “rendered a service to the whole world” by showing “a way to combat subversive forces” (by using thugs to murder political opponents and crush trade unions). During the Spanish Civil War the Royal Navy was ordered to prevent arms reaching Republican held ports, but allowed German and Italian troops and arms to enter the country on the side of the fascists (21) .President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 talked of Mussolini as “that admirable gentleman” and said “I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy.” Roosevelt also notoriously said that Somoza, the brutal fascist dictator of Nicaragua “is a son of a bitch but he’s our son of a bitch”.
In Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan the root cause of sectarian conflict and the rise of extremists has been the same – poverty and unemployment caused by American demands for deregulation and privatisation in return for loan renegotiations in the case of Yugoslavia ; and by sanctions and war in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the North of England in the late 1990s the policy of deregulated free trade begun by the Conservatives and continued by Labour in government led to the last textile mills in the UK closing down as British firms outsourced to factories in the third world. Developed world governments have acted on behalf of big multinational firms by backing repressive governments that crush trade unions and keep wages down in the developing world. Combining this with deregulated free trade forces even responsible firms to outsource for cheap labour abroad to manufacture products for export back to the UK, or else be driven out of business by the big multinationals which do. Unemployment rose rapidly in Northern towns such as Bradford and Burnley as a result and there were race riots between white and Asian youths. BNP councillors were elected and Islamic fundamentalism among British Asians rose as they were subject to racist abuse and attacks (22), (23).
The credit crisis and the resulting recession combined with deregulated free trade, unfair taxation and the failure of the government or the main opposition party to offer measures to reduce unemployment on a big enough scale have led to increased sectarianism. Brown scrapping the 10p tax rate for low earners and putting them back on to the basic 20p rate combined with the recession to hurt low earners and increase unemployment. This was especially inept as it was Brown who had introduced the 10p rate in the first place and it had been popular.
The main parties’ use of immigrants as scapegoats has helped the BNP spread its lies about how ‘British people’ (by which they actually mean white people) are losing out to immigrants and ‘ethnics’ (non-whites), when in fact poverty and unemployment has increased among all these groups.
Providing jobs through apprenticeship laws, massive investment in green technology and trade bans on repressive regimes to reduce unemployment and increase wages
The solution is to provide jobs on a large scale for the unemployed. The government has begun a voluntary scheme of subsidising companies to provide some apprenticeships, but this is barely denting the problem. Under the Callaghan government there was a law under which all firms over a certain size had to employ a number of apprentices based on their number of employees, or else pay a tax, to prevent some just training no-one and just poaching apprentices from those that did. That’s what’s needed now.
We also need massive public investment in green energy technologies and green car manufacturing in order to provide jobs, modernise the economy and reduce climate change and the massive flooding it will cause.
We also need a ban on trading with repressive regimes such as China, Russia and Colombia, where trade unionists are jailed or murdered and the only trade unions allowed are ones controlled by the government, which is allied to the big companies and billionaires. As long as these countries can exploit their people on poverty wages the majority of people both in their countries and ours will only suffer by trading with them.
The BNP has also adopted some socialist policies such as renationalisation of the railways in order to take votes from Labour. The semi-privatised, state subsidised railways have given us the worst of both worlds, with all profits going to private firms while taxpayers pay much of the cost of investment and maintenance. People travelling by train pay again as the private firms have increased rail fares at between twice and ten times the rate of inflation.
If we don’t get these reforms and instead pander further to racism and bigotry while allowing unemployment to keep increasing the BNP will gain more support among unemployed and low income white people and Islamic fundamentalism will spread among British Asians and black people in reaction to racism against them.
BNP racism – the evidence
The BNP will often deny they are racists or bigots, but a look at their two MEPs and their party’s constitution shows they’re both. Andrew Brons was a member of the British National Socialist Movement which was deliberately founded on Hitler’s birthday and used to chant “death to the Jews.” (24). He now pretends to be more civilised but told the UK’s Channel 4 News this week that he wants to “persuade” all black, Asian and Muslim people living in Britain to “go home”, including all the ones who were born here, have lived all their lives here and have parents and grandparents who were born here and live here.
In the 1990s Griffin wrote in a far right magazine of the “courage” and “sacrifice” of the Waffen SS who ran the concentration camps in which 6 million Jews and gypsies were killed (25). In 1998 he told a court that the Holocaust never happened and was a mixture of “lies” and “propaganda” (26). Ten years later the opportunist demagogue has switched from spreading hate against Jews, black people and Asians to spreading it against Muslims, black people and Asians.
The current constitution of the British National Party on the BNP website says "The British National Party stands for the preservation of the national and ethnic character of the British people and is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples. It is therefore committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent, the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948." (27).
That's not just nationalism. That's racism. It defines only white people as British and aims to force people who were born here and have lived here all their lives and who may have British born parents, grandparents and great grandparents to leave the country because they're not white. Meanwhile white immigrants are welcome in the BNP's eyes, while even genuine refugees fleeing genocide in Darfur will continue to be sent back to their deaths for being black.
As in South African apartheid until the 1990s and American segregation until the 1960s the BNP talk of races being kept “separate but equal” to try to cover the reality.
When i quoted Griffin, Brons and the BNP’s constitution to a BNP member on the Independent’s website after he claimed the party wasn’t racist he provided a link to a video by KKK member and holocaust denier David Duke, claiming that Barack Obama was a racist. As ludicrous as that is there are some black people who are racist against whites, but the BNP when confronted with evidence of their own racism stop denying it and argue that if some black people are racist against all white people this justifies white people being racist against all non-white people. Logic has taken a holiday. Two wrongs are now meant to make a right.
copyright © Duncan McFarlane 2009
(1) = Independent 14 Feb 2001 ‘Home Office intends to deport 57,000 a year’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/home-office-intends-to-deport-57000-a-year-691772.html
(2) = Independent 14 Sep 2003 ‘Secret quotas target children for deportation’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/secret-quotas-target-children-for-deportation-579897.html
(3) = BBC News Feb 2007 ‘Asylum applications reduced by 9%’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6400125.stm ; 8th to 10th paragraphs read “Across 2006 the government hit its target to deport more failed applicants than the number of "unfounded" cases arriving in the same period...The "tipping point" target was introduced in 2005 by Prime Minister Tony Blair.”
(4) = Independent 16 Apr 2004 ‘Deported Colombian is shot after losing plea to stay in Britain’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/deported-colombian-is-shot-after-losing-plea-to-stay-in-britain-560151.html
(5) = Independent 14 Dec 2008 ‘Home Office to deport Zimbabwean family who fled Mugabe's regime’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/home-office-to-deport-zimbabwean-family-who-fled-mugabes-regime-1066094.html
(6) = Independent 17 Mar 2009 ‘Sent back by Britain. Executed in Darfur’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/sent-back-by-britain-executed-in-darfur-1646507.html
(7) = Independent 05 Nov 2008 ‘Britain closes door on 80,000 asylum-seekers’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britain-closes-door-on-80000-asylumseekers-992275.html
(8) = Guardian 14 Apr 2009 ‘In detention: Schools in immigration removal centres’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/apr/14/asylum-immigration-detention-children
(9) = The Independent 31 Aug 2008 ‘'Alarming' rise in self-harming at detention centres’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/alarming-rise-in-selfharming-at-detention-centres-913909.html
(10) = Guardian.co.uk 14 Jul 2008 4p.m BST update ‘Asylum seekers assaulted by private security teams, says report’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/jul/14/immigrationpolicy.immigration?gusrc=rss
(11) = Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns Jul 2008 ‘Outsourcing Abuse - The use and misuse of state-sanctioned force during the detention and removal of asylum seekers’, http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/content/view/411/88/
(12) = UK Border Agency ‘Cash Support Amounts’, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/support/cashsupport/currentsupportamounts/ ; Qualifying couple (married or in a civil partnership): £66.13; Single parent aged 18 or over: £42.16; Single person aged 25 or over: £42.16; Single person aged 18 or over, but under 25: £33.39; Single person (not a member of a qualifying couple) aged 16 or over but under 18: £36.29;Single person under 16: £48.30
(13) = UK Border Agency ‘Asylum support agreement’,
(14) = Direct Gov ‘Jobseekers’ Allowance’, http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/Employedorlookingforwork/DG_10018757 ; Single people aged 16 - 24 £50.95; Single people aged 25 or over £64.30; Couples and civil partnerships (both aged 18 or over) £100.95 ;Lone parents (aged under 18) £50.95 ;Lone parents (aged 18 or over) £64.30
(15) = UNHCR Statistical Yearbook 2007 , Chapter II - POPULATION LEVELS AND TRENDS, pages 25-26 gives the world’s refugee population at the end of 2007 as 10.3 million and the UK’s refugee population as 299,700 – roughly 3% of the global total , http://www.unhcr.org/statistics/STATISTICS/4981b19d2.html and http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?id=4981c3252&tbl=STATISTICS
(16) = ICAR Feb 09 ‘Key Statistics about Asylum Seeker Applications in the UK’, http://www.icar.org.uk/9556/statistics/analysis-of-asylum-and-refugee-statistics.html, page 14 shows that the UK has 0.46 asylum applications per 1,000 population, below the EU average of 0.48
(17) = Home Office Statistical Briefing Aug 2008 ‘Asylum Statistics
United Kingdom 2007’, page 7 , http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb1108.pdf
And http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html ; “Sweden received more asylum applications than any other European Union country in 2007 ... followed by France the 2nd highest....The UK was 3rd highest (13 per cent of the total EU27). However, when the relative size of domestic populations is taken into account, the UK ranks 11th amongst European Union countries in terms of asylum seekers per head of population.”
(18) = Independent 23 Apr 2009 ‘Police and PM in dock over arrest of terrorist suspects’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/police-and-pm-in-dock-over-arrest-of-terrorist-suspects-1672703.html
(19) = Lennox Herald 15 May 2009 ‘Thomas McCulloch latest: Moves made to try and stop axe killer coming to Dumbarton’, http://www.lennoxherald.co.uk/dunbartonshire-news/dunbartonshire-news/dumbarton-news/2009/05/15/thomas-mcculloch-latest-moves-made-to-try-and-stop-axe-killer-coming-to-dumbarton-114557-23605750/
(20) = Guardian 28 Nov 2002 ‘The Churchill you didn't know’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2002/nov/28/features11.g21
(21) = Anthony Beevor (1982) ‘The Spanish Civil War’ Cassell, London, 1999, Chapter 11, pages 158-169
(22) = BBC News 19 Feb 2004 ‘'Slow recovery' after race riots’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3504523.stm
(22) = BBC News 02 May 2003 ‘BNP becomes Burnley's second party’,
(24) = Telegraph 09 Jun 2009 ‘European elections 2009: BNP Andrew Brons profile’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/5478006/European-elections-2009-BNP-Andrew-Brons-profile.html
(25) = Daily Mail 25 May 2009 ‘Family of Winston Churchill slams BNP over far-right party's attempt to hijack wartime leader's legacy’, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1187368/Family-Winston-Churchill-slams-BNP-far-right-partys-attempt-hijack-wartime-leaders-legacy.html
(26) = BBC 25 Nov 2000 ‘Panorama : Under the Skin’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/programmes/2001/bnp_special/roots/1998.stm ; Griffin told a court in 1998 that “I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that 6 million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades. Orthodox opinion also once held that the world is flat... I have reached the conclusion that the 'extermination' tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter witch-hysteria."
(27) = CONSTITUTION OF THE BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY, 9th Edition, 2005, from the BNP website 2009, Section I article 2b, page 3, http://bnp.org.uk/Constitution%209th%20Ed%20Sep%202005.pdf and http://bnp.org.uk/resources/constitution-9th-edition/
copyright © Duncan McFarlane 2009