First posted: 28 February 2011
Could half of Britain's population vote for the far right? An alarming story in today's Observer suggests so: [I love the tabloid sensationalism. ‘An alarming story…’ Really? Why’s that exactly?]
A Populus poll found that 48% of the population would consider supporting a new anti-immigration party committed to challenging Islamist extremism, and would support policies to make it statutory for all public buildings to fly the flag of St George or the union flag. [You beat the British people down long enough and they will eventually stop taking the shit. Remember the Second World War?]
The poll, which was commissioned by the anti-racist charity Searchlight Educational Trust, found that voters would be willing to support such a party if it distanced itself from fascist imagery and violence. It won't be published in full until tomorrow, but here are a few initial thoughts, based on the executive summary: [Searchlight? Yes, the Communist soi-disant ‘anti-fascist' group of red fascists.]
- Britain is no different from the rest of Europe. The past decade has seen a rise in popular anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment across the continent; if Britain has not seen a rise in support for far right parties comparable to France, Sweden or the Netherlands, it is not because Britons are exceptionally tolerant people. Rather, as the Searchlight report says, it is "simply because their views have not found a political articulation." [‘Anti-immigrant’ is not a synonym of ‘anti-Muslim’ (or vice versa). These are two very different issues. Just because the Left wants to fuse them, for political reasons, that doesn’t mean that they are actually fused. The EDL, for example, has hardly said a word on immigration; though many EDL members do see mass immigration as a problem – and for many good reasons.
Yes, we are ‘tolerant’. That’s why Brits have taken so long to rebel against rampant ideological multiculturalism. That’s why we have made the exception that is Islam and the behaviour of militant Muslims and Islamists.]
There is much to celebrate about what has been achieved in the last 30 years in terms of race relations: but this has been fought for and won, largely by the communities at the sharp end of racism, not because of any exceptional aspect in the national character. [Racism has been diluted ‘not because of exceptional any aspect of the national character’? Is that the writer's way of saying that the average Brit is still racist after all and that the fight against racism has been carried out exclusively by the ethnic minorities themselves (with leftist help, of course)?]- Today's prejudices are expressed in terms of culture, not race. Under Nick Griffin, the British National Party made great efforts to adopt the language of identity politics; it has recently been outstripped in this by the English Defence League, which touts itself as a multi-racial coalition of people opposed to Islamic extremism. English nationalism is on the rise, with 29 per cent of poll respondents identifying themselves as British, rather than English. [What’s wrong with culturalism? After all, I assume that this writer and the New Statesman itself despises fox-hunting culture, Zionist culture, white-working-class patriotic culture, Nazi culture, etc. Don’t recite the I-love-all-cultures lie – you don’t!]-
On the face of it, this can appear more inclusive, compared to the imperialist connotations of the Union Jack. But it's still nationalism, with all the hazards that entails, and the way the EDL have used it to rally large, intimidating demonstrations that target poor Asian communities in Luton, Stoke-on-Trent, Bradford and elsewhere reinforces Gary Younge's claim that we are living in an age where old views have been grafted "on to new scapegoats". Racism by any other name? [What about the ‘imperialist connotations’ of the green an black flags of Islam?
The EDL has never ‘targeted poor Asian communities’ because its demos have been held in city and town centers. For example, in Bradford the EDL didn’t march through Manningham and in Birmingham it didn’t march through Alum Rock or Sparkbrook. So stop this tabloid leftism.]- "Tough" talk from mainstream politicians doesn't help. We've seen over a decade of senior politicians, from Blunkett to Hodge to Brown to Cameron making provocative statements about immigration, culture and national identity. This may draw praise from our country's right-wing press but it has done nothing to halt the rise of popular prejudice. In fact it's most likely fuelled it.
- Class still matters. Searchlight identifies "social and economic insecurity" as being a driver for anti-immigration sentiment. It'll be interesting to see how fully this is explored in the full report, but to me this seems to be a euphemism for class. Working class communities around Britain were left out of the New Labour boom, and they're now the hardest hit by the coalition's cuts. Fears about job security, or housing, may well be expressed in terms of opposition to immigration (which includes a significant minority of black and Asian respondents to the poll), but this doesn't mean it's the cause. [‘Social and economic insecurity’ has nothing to do with people’s distaste for Islam and Islamism. Islam and Islamism would still be a threat even if the average wage in the UK was £40,000 a year. Being unemployed doesn’t make sharia law and Islamic supremacism any worse than they are. Again, this Leftist obsession with class and immigration shows that the Nick Lowles of this world still have their brains firmly fixed in Marxist vices.]-
Under Tony Blair, Labour exorcised the spectre of class from mainstream politics. This has inadvertently given racist and anti immigrant propaganda (whether from the BNP, or from more "respectable" sources) greater traction, because people no longer have a progressive framework through which to address their discontent. [Again! It is not all about immigration, unemployment, etc. As far as the EDL is concerned, it has nothing to do with these political and economic issues because there are rich and poor members of the EDL.]
- We can't rely solely on anti-racist campaigning. This is not to disparage the vital work done by both Searchlight and Unite Against Fascism, particularly in the run-up to last year's general election. It is crucial that racist and fascist politics remain firmly outside the mainstream, and that people are given the confidence to oppose them within their own communities. However, all this can do is create breathing space for the left to build a popular alternative to the causes of support for the far right. [None of this Marxist manoeuvring will rid the UK of the main problem – Islamism and militant Islam.] Searchlight concludes from the poll that people are receptive to "messages of openness, acceptance and pluralism", but politics is also about conflict - about the assertion of one group's interests over another. Support for the far right was on the rise well before the global financial crisis [exactly!]; in the aftermath, as a programme of cuts is being pushed through by a government that has unashamedly placed itself on the side of the wealthy, we need a political movement that can stand up for the whole of the working class more urgently than ever. [What would you expect from a Leftist writer? This is a utterly and completely Marxist analysis of the rise of the ‘far right’ – as it is a Marxist analysis of just about everything! That’s Marxism for you – totalism and totalitarianism for the unwashed middle class.]