Saturday, June 07, 2008

Voting BNP is Evil – so says God

Despite being a convinced atheist it is always nice to know that God is on your side. Even if it is the Church of England (CofE) version which (apologies for the cheap dig) may have many divisions but none of which would have impressed Stalin!

This afternoon I went to a well attended national meeting in Central London organised by Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation. This meeting was on how to meet the growing threat of the BNP, examine what we (anti-fascists) do well and also where we need to improve.

To the left of main Picture is the Rev Paul Butler, a CofE vicar in Deptford, south east London, who gave a marvellous presentation. He is in danger of giving the Established Church a good name in the wider Labour movement. Rev Paul talked to the meeting about how the Church of England is officially not only opposed to the Far Right, but in every diocese in the country there should be a working group meeting on a regular basis on how to tackle fascists. He talked about the Christian concept of “evil” and how the BNP is a modern day example of biblical “evil”. It’s an organisation that’s nasty with a divisive approach which not only encourages hatred between communities and faiths but also hatred against individuals such as gays. He pointed out that when Christians are baptised or confirmed they have to renounce “evil”. To me he seemed to confirm that voting for the BNP is incompatible with Christianity and is in fact an “evil” act. Yep, that makes sense (apologies to Rev Paul for any theological misunderstandings on my behalf).

The first speaker was Searchlight editor Nick Lowles. Nick gave a sober analysis of where we are now and what we are facing in the future. He clearly felt that we cannot defeat the fascists unless we truly understand the reasons why people vote BNP. Simply dismissing these people as Nazi is not going to be at all productive. We need to organise, be self critical and honest. I was pleased to hear that it is now accepted that the crude election leaflets and posters on “Smash the Nazi” etc are now recognised as being counterproductive. They turn off voters (even though I personally love ‘em!).

Nick thinks that there is a danger from the “collapse” of a section of the traditional working class vote for the Labour Party, who will now simply not vote at all for any mainstream party. Even worse, some of them will also then go on to vote BNP. I am not totally sure about this. Yes, the traditional working class is changing radically. The regional secretary of the T&G, Steve Hart, pointed out that in 1979 there was 12.5 million trade unionists, the majority of which were manual workers. Nowadays, there are 6.5 million, 50% of which are professionals! The Labour Party and many trade unions have not on a whole handled this change very well. Are the traditional working class Tory voters now voting BNP? In May 2008 in poor London inner city wards, even in white working class areas the BNP did not poll very well at all. They seem to get a lot of their support from outer London supposedly from more prosperous boroughs?

There were also presentations on case studies by Gerry Gable on organising in Redbridge and Epping as well as Lorraine Fitzsimons from the Yorkshire “Hope not hate” campaign. Searchlight international officer, Graeme Atkinson and then Paul Meszaros spoke about the 2009 European Election (we need to get our act together on this). I enjoyed Graeme’s story about how the Far Right/Fascist group in the European Union Parliament fell apart because they were all so suspicious about working with “foreigners” who they all hate of course. For example, the granddaughter of Mussolini, Alessandra a fascist MEP from Italy, called all Romanians “habitual criminals”. It is therefore hardly surprising that the Romanian Far Right members of this group kicked up a fuss and it folded shortly afterwards.

The very sober message at the end of these presentations was that due to the collapse of UKIP, the BNP will have a chance of winning a seat in Europe next year unless we organise. Under Proportional Representation (PR) in the North West they will only need 8.5% of the vote to win a seat. In many local council seats they regularly win 20-30% of the vote.

(I had to leave early and missed the rest of the meeting – picture left to right of Rev Paul Butler, Southwark Diocese; Linda Perks, UNISON London Regional Secretary; Gloria Hanson, UNISON London Regional Convenor; Nick Lowles, Searchlight; and London Assembly member (Labour) Murad Qureshi.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Due to the collapse of Labour the BNP will now have a chance of's poll puts you on the lowest recorded rating ever... a mere 5 points ahead of the Liberals!...with two years of appalling economic data still to go! You ain't seen nothing yet! The drop in house prices last month was the largest single monthly fall ever recorded...and you only have yourselves to blame. Iron Chancellor? No more boom nor bust? Ho, ho, ho...ha., ha, this time everyone can see where ten years of failed labour economics has dragged us all..

Anonymous said...

Surely the way to beat the BNP is to, entirely, take the left and hard-left element away from the anti-BNP effort and base it on democracy and a united effort by all the parties.

Too often (as a Midlands Tory) have I seen Dave Nellist and his ilk rock up to white working-class doorsteps to convince people to beat the fascists. I've no idea what they say when they get someone in, but the ballot boxes seem to show they have a marvellous effect - for the BNP. Perhaps it is the same when Islington Labour activists go off to Barking.

My theory is that knocking on doors for Searchlight only gives the BNP the oxygen of publicity, and also gives them the air of valiant persecuted martyrs pursued by "The Establishment".

Unfortunately for you this means the whole demolition of Searchlight, which is restricted to this left-wing view and is counterproductive, and more of Labour, Tory and Lib Dem activists within their own parties explaining the positive case for voting for them, rather than the negative case against the BNP.

Anonymous said...

I am sur John Mayor was on lower and still won
lets see in two years when Cameron is bald who wins

Robert said...

No John Major was not lower, we had Kinnock which killed us off.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon 1
The link is interesting but I don’t think that it addresses the non-secretarian contribution that Searchlight actually plays? The SWP have long given up on Searchlight and taken their ball to play elsewhere. So I am not that sure what you are really having a go at? All democrats must instinctively not only oppose but truely abhor fascists.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon 2
Wait and see I think – with democratic politics who really knows what will happen!

John Gray said...

Anon 3
I think you have Searchlight quite, quite wrong. In my experience it is far more interested in being an effective foil to fascist parties rather than being a left wing mouth pieces. I should have mentioned in my post the good work done in Redbridge with Conservative councillors and Searchlight in combating local Nazi. Knocking on doors and accusing anyone who disagrees with you as being a racist is (should be) old hat.

Anonymous said...

Well John you say that so maybe I only have the experience of Searchlight in the Midlands & North, maybe in London it is different.

But even if you don't knock on a door and accuse someone who sympathises with the BNP (people who just want to tell politicians to f*** off as I read somewhere) of being a fascist, the mere act of knocking on doors and saying "DON'T VOTE BNP!" gives them a lot of publicity and confirms the persecution complex.

I don't think Searchlight does any good - even if as you say it's "interested" in foiling the fascists - its heart's in the right place but its actions are all wrong and seem to be driven by embittered old 70s ANL/SWP types, who for all their good thoughts and deeds only drive white working class voters into the arms of fascists.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon
Searchlight is a fairly broad church unlike other “anti-fascist” groups who I fear you may be mixing them up with. There is always the danger of giving the BNP “the oxygen of publicity” and they do definitely claim to be persecuted.

However, there is still incredible ignorance about the BNP. I think I am right that during the Barking and Dagenham council election 7% of the BNP vote came from BME voters. People don’t realise that the friendly nice bloke in a suit talking about building more council houses, increasing support for pensioners and families was last month marching thorough Nuremberg shouting “National Socialism Now”. You have to expose this.

But you are absolutely correct that if it is not done properly then it can be counterproductive. I have seen ordinary residents in estates absolutely incensed at stupid, thoughtless and ugly bill posting.