Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sink the BNP

Nick Griffin is a very horrible man. There I've said it! Just call me an iconoclast why don't you?

Tonight he told the BBC that we should sink boats with refugees coming from Africa. BBC Correspondent Shirin Wheeler replied: "I don't think the EU is in the business of murdering people at sea."

But Shirin need not have worried, Griffin still has a generous heart because once we've holed their craft we're then to "Throw them a life raft and they can go back to Libya". Ah, what a sweetie, he doesn't even want to arbitrarily massacre them.

Forgive the nit picking if you will but I do think this plan to sink someone's raft and then give them a raft - thus "preventing" them reaching Europe - may not be as watertight as Griffin believes, but that's by the by.

Griffin would like to see us link up with the Italians (whose current government contains many of Griffin's co-thinkers) and "set up a force which actually blocks the Mediterranean". I think it's fair to say I'm not in favour of this. Mainly because it's petty minded knee jerk nonsense that wont solve a single social problem we face today whilst introducing a whole new swath of violent injustices making the world a more foul smelling place.

Anyway, we can expect Nick "I'm not a racist but" Griffin to be popping up in the news time and again over the next few years and there's no doubt he will be attempting to convert the currently existing racism in society into support for his organisation.

Unite Against Fascism have produced an analysis document on how to combat the fascists in this new period. It's a bit self serving in places but I think it's worth reading. In general I think this is a useful piece much of which I'd agree with. I do think the left in general has some rethinking to do, the old truisms don't fit anymore.

For instance at one point UAF say "Fascist parties such as the BNP stand in elections in order to gain a “respectable” cover for their street activity." I just don't think this fits right now.

BNP street activity is almost zero and they have been courting 'respectability' for many years now. We are not seeing is the resurgence of the kind of 'street activity' we saw with the National Front in the seventies.

That is not to say that the BNP's presence does not stoke racist attacks, it does, but party organised street activities just aren't part of the BNP's current strategy, nor have they been for many years. They are unlikely to change that approach at the very time when they have seen their most successful national election ever.

It's an important point because it determines the kind of response the anti-fascist movement has to prioritise. If the BNP is shifting its focus to demonstrations and the like then we might start making bulk orders of farm fresh, free range double yolkers. If that's not how they are trying to build support then the tactics of physical confrontation can only be the smallest part of our response.

As the UAF state "The danger today is that the BNP breaks through the “cordon sanitaire” to become a regular fixture in our media." That's the danger we're facing right now it seems to me. That the BNP are grasping for platforms and respectability for their vile opinions and after the disastrous elections the media will provide that.

How we shift tactics to deal with this new stage is a really important question and one that will be discussed at the UAF national conference on Saturday 18 July in Manchester: details (pdf). An alternative view worth reading on this subject is Nick Lowles of Searchlight here.


ModernityBlog said...

Scanning that UAF document is not very comforting, little sense of history, sloppy language and the to-be-expected 'come join us' bit at the end.

Third period to United Frontism :(

bob said...

Jim, I agree with most of what you say here. As a lifelong proponent of militant anti-fascism, it seems to me that the notion of a BNP return to the streets is preposterous, and any street-based physical force strategy is utterly the wrong one. As you say, the challenge now is political.

Where I disagree with you (and UAF) is this notion of respectability. I'd recommend this great post: Where now for anti-fascism? « Left Luggage. The BNP have already achieved a certain degree of respectability, and are no longer the "Nazi" outfit of old. At the same time, they have just enough dis-respectability to pose as a radical alternative to tired mainstream politics. On the left, we don't need to be policing respectability, we need to be showing that WE are the radical alternative, disreputable as we are.

I'll go and actually read the UAF document properly now!

bob said...

P.s. Am reading it now. I like this sentence: "We also worked with LGBT organisations and with the Muslim Council of Britain to produce anti-BNP leaflets aimed at the Muslim community." I like the idea of the SWP facilitating LGBT organisations producing leaflets for the Muslim community...

Jim Jay said...

I think that's a really interesting point Bob. I have some thoughts bubbling away on this which I'll post when I've firmed them up a bit.

Certainly the BNP's desire for (limited) respectability shouldn't lead us to suddenly come out in favour of all the respectable outfits - it's one of the reasons that I've always disliked the term "extremist" - basically because there are good extremists and bad ones!

Anyway thanks again, you've got me thinking

Roobin said...

"BNP street activity is almost zero..."

Well, it depends on what you call almost zero. The BNP do sell their wares on some streets. They have regular stalls in Barking and Dagenham and have been trying to get beacheads in provincial cities.

Then there's the case of the English Defence League, who have organised one riot in Luton, and attempted another in Birmingham. I don't suppose they've descended from outerspace.

Discuss tactics by all means. I don't think physical confrontation has been the primary part of UAF activity.

Jim Jay said...

Well UAF has always had a variety of activities it engages in and physical confrontation is one of those (although this includes meetings, platforms that the BNP has been given, like Oxford Uni, demos etc.)

I think if we're talking the BNP specifically any approach that emphasizes physical confrontation will be skewed and I think some of those who support the egg throwing business are definitely seeing this as the crucial tactic.

I liked the egg throwing - but it's a minority sport and is certainly not part of building a genuinely broad coalition

Roobin said...

One thing that can be usefully discussed is how the no platform policy is best proposed and best carried out.

In the mass media the no platform argument has been lost for the timebeing. The argument is not wrong, but when you get, for example, TV stations inviting anti-fascists to speak, only to find they are being put up against a nazi (which has happened recently, it speaks wonders for the stupidity of media researchers), you can end up no-platforming yourself.

The ethic of no platform for nazis has to be remade so it's practical.

Roobin said...

"I liked the egg throwing..."

A lot of people did.

An Donas said...

Bnp are scum. Just a few minutes of research will uncover Nazi uniforms, white-power t-shirts, KKK links, violence, criminality and the sexually frustrated. Give them no platfrom.

Jim Jay said...

An, whilst I agree I think Roobin is refering to the fact that 'we' aren't giving them a platform the media is and we have to change our tactics to respond to that in a time where we are no longer able to deny them the oxygen of publicity