Sunday, May 04, 2003

Blame The Jews Says David Duke - Sorry, That's Tam Dalyell

Well, well - it's Jewish conspiracy time. I would never have thought Tam Dalyell would come out with this stuff. His pronouncements on the war were increasingly wild - will he next accuse the Queen, the Freemasons and the Bilderberg Group of being the secret government of the world ? A pity as I admire him immensely, even when I disagree with him.

Harry Hatchet is depressed by the BNP's gains - saying that 'the BNP vote is a racist vote, pure and simple' and that the Labour Party must 'confront racism head-on'. I think he's wrong on the first and Nick Griffin must be hoping and praying that Labour follow Harry's advice on the second.

If you take Harry's view that the vast majority of BNP voters are 'racists' (not defined) then either

a) somewhere between 20-30% of the English population are 'racist' and just haven't got round to a BNP vote yet OR

b) for some undefined reason 20-30% of the people of Burnley and a few other small areas are 'racist', but not in the rest of England (e.g. Bristol where I believe BNP came last wherever they stood)

c) the Burnley people used not to be 'racist', but the BNP by campaigning have turned them into 'racists'

I don't think any of these alternatives stand up to scrutiny. But in the end I guess it all depends on what you mean by 'racist'. Apologies for the scare quotes, but reading interviews with BNP voters, one recurring theme seems to be 'x happens, y happens, but if you say anything you're called a racist'.

The racist tag has been used and mis-used so often over the last 35 years that there's a danger of a 'so what ?' factor.

If you dig inside the BNP site you can certainly find genuine it's-all-in-the-genes racism - have a look at this for example. But I doubt if one in a thousand BNP voters know or care about that kind of idiocy. What they know is that Labour, the party which used to stand for 'people like us', no longer does so. They aren't going to vote Tory either (though there's a different phenomenon going on in the leafy semi-rural borders) - so where can they go ? Lib Dems - the anti-war, let the burglars out, porn at 16 party ? I'm talking the remnants of the respectable working class here, people who did not particularly care about Clause Four but whose attachment to Labour was tribal and absolute. Just say you're a Burnley voter who takes the same view of the Native British as Yasmin Alibhai Brown does of Asian businessmen - to wit 'these are my people, and I care about them'. You see a Labour party more and more identified with people who, whatever their valuable qualities, are not 'your people'.

Is Harry confusing racism with a preference for 'people like us' ? Such preferences are common to all people across all races and cultures. If you doubt that go for a few beers with half a dozen social workers then say that the Sun and Mail are brilliant newspapers.

There is an underlying assumption among the educated white English that all whites are racist (especially straight male ones), that we all share responsibility for the sins of our forefathers, and that the standards of behaviour and language which we would apply to ourselves do not apply to others - that they need to be cut a bit of slack because of the dreadful things that happened to THEIR forefathers. I find this an appalling viewpoint, racist in itself, and a million miles away from H.I.M's vision that the colour of a man's skin should be of no more significance than the colour of his eyes.

Imagine if after Sept 11 the leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches had declared it 'an attack on Christianity' and called for united action by Christian nations against the 'Saracens', or Tony Blair had appealed for 'the White nations' to help attack Iraq. I like to think people, especially on the Left, would have been upset - I know I would.

Yet most of Britain's Imams called the action against Afghanistan and Iraq an attack on Islam, and not only British Arabs and Muslims, but even George Galloway, called for the 'Arab nations' to defend Iraq - and not a dog barked. (of course plenty of dogs are snapping at George - but for other reasons than his racism).

Until white self-loathing is extinguished in educated Britons I can see the BNP remaining a factor in English politics. And given the current curriculum in state schools and universities that could be for some time to come. Watch for the next Euro elections, where PR will give the BNP a chance to pick up the votes which gave the UKIP three seats last time round.

As for Harry's suggestion that Labour confront racism head-on ? Well again it all depends what you mean by racism. If anyone who is concerned about large-scale immigration or the abuse of the asylum system is considered a racist, then such a campaign would be electoral suicide for Labour. Even on far-left discussion boards like there seems a consensus that 'Asylum Seekers Are Welcome Here' is not a slogan which will stop the BNP in its tracks.

Perhaps the way forward for Labour is to talk one way and act the other on issues like asylum - oh no, they do that already, with Blunkett's tough soundbites and the odd Afghan bundled into a plane while on the ground it's business as usual. Perhaps they should take a leaf from the Lib Dem handbook. Nationally the LDs have always been liberal and caring on race and asylum - that 'great chieftain of the pudding race' Charles Kennedy gathered buckets of Brownie points by accusing William Hague of encouraging racist attacks every time Hague opened his mouth on asylum.

Yet when an asylum camp was proposed in the next county to me, who led the campaign against it ? That's right, the caring Lib Dems. And very professionally they did it too, getting 1,500 marchers, all local, on the streets of a town with a population of 6,000. Of course they weren't objecting to the asylum seekers themselves - oh no. The camp was in the wrong place, there weren't facilities, the Refugee Council disapproved - anything other than the plain unvarnished truth that locals, many of whom were themselves 'incomers' fleeing Birmingham, didn't want 750 young Afghan and Albanian men hanging on the streets of their pretty Georgian town. You can debate whether the objectors were 'racist' - the point is the Lib Dems were happy to lead them.