The BNP: Blurry, Non-Entity Perhapsoids
October 14, 2010
(Originally posted here on 24/10/09)
Given that literally everyone in Britain has formulated some kind of opinion on Nick Griffin’s appearance on Friday night’s Question Time, I thought it was high time of me to drag myself out of my ennui (despite the fact I’ve been levelled by what appears to be swine flu) and write up an appropriate note, providing my usual brand of chucklesome venom to all three of my readers on an issue which needs a bit of looking at.
First, for clarity’s sake, I ought to repeat the (fairly simple) argument that’s being bandied about by a lot of middle-ground, rule-of-law libertarian types like myself at the moment: I don’t agree with the BNP on anything, but wouldn’t deny them their right to free speech. Thought the UAF protesters had their hearts in the right place, but I’ve long since abandoned that whole notion of “We want peace, friendship and freedom for everyone – unless we disagree with them”. In fact, I left that brand of hardocre liberalism behind once I turned about nineteen. Yup; BNP has some fairly gruesome stuff going on, and it’s not nice to hear . But the best remedy is not to simply stuff it away in a Cupboard of Mystery, because doing so:
(A) allows the BNP to decorate themselves as martyrs to free speech. Given their need to put their party out there as the “little guy” who are fighting for a threatened indigenous people, the BNP need to gather up all the tags marked “David” in their war against a left-wing, big-government, enforced-multi-culturalism New Labour “Goliath”. As such, if they’re made to look like the victims of the system (rather than the vicious bastards who are going to victimise everyone else once they take charge), they can draw upon much-needed public sympathy.
(B) makes their message all the more interesting because no-one’s ever allowed to hear it in normal circumstances. Being a smaller party, the policies of the BNP cannot be discerned during Parliamentary debate, and up until Friday night you wouldn’t have had a clear indication of their policies on the telly – apart from in odd and largely sketchy party political broadcasts. You’d have to head to their website or attend a rally – ahem – party meeting to find anything out about them. But put them in a more public sphere where they’re more open to scrutiny, and their arguments can be checked accordingly. Put simply, in the clear light of day, bullshit is just bullshit. But if you tuck it away in a darkened vault guarded by Sith Lords, even the worst kind of bullshit becomes attractive.
(C) lets them dictate the fashion in which we are exposed to their policies. As you can imagine, the BNP would never make themselves out to be the Holocaust-denying, small-minded wastes of blood and organs they truly are on their own website, or in their own media output. They’ll jazz it up with buckets of cunning and spin, crafting the image of the friendly face of racial hatred. But stick them on the stage with the other political parties – who are, of course, masters of cunning and spin in their own right – and they will be torn apart quicker than a rice-paper condom in a Ron Jeremy movie.
Therefore, I think Griffin’s stint on Question Time was in fact a good idea. It did of course have its drawbacks – for one thing, it meant that during a week of Post Office strikes and following up the fallout of the expenses scandal and the Trafigura debacle, the three main parties got the chance to dstract us all by pointing out the pantomine villain in the corner and tailoring the content of the debate accordingly. This, of all horrible things, allowed Jack Straw to become a bit of a hero.
Aside: Unfortunately, I’m now one of those cynical people who believes that much of politics is made up of a load of unprincipled, career-minded lizards on the one side and a cabal of malicious, freedom-hating, social-engineering Morality Police on the other, with only a handful of admirable people desperately trying to sort things out on the side (for an example from each of the main parties, I’d put forward Tony Benn (L), David Davis (C) and Vince Cable (L-D)). But at the end of the day, I’d rather have crooks running the show than Nazis, because while a crook cares about money, the Nazi cares about fervour and ideology. The crooks would never have undertaken a Holocaust – not out of any moral prohibitions concerning the mass-murder of innocents, but because they wouldn’t see any profit in it. Essentially, I’d vote for Silvio Berlusconi over the Ayatollah Khameini any day.
But I digress (though the above-mentioned duo would make an hilarious “odd couple” sitcom which will merit some thought at a later date). Returning to more prominent thread of argument now…
Yup, despite the brief respite from scrutiny which the rest of political parties got (barring from a stint on immigration policy), having Nick Griffin put in a set of BBC-built stocks while Jonathan Dimbleby handed out runny fruit pies to the jeering mob was a worthy affair. And as expected by most sensible people, Griffin generated enough contradictions, straw-man arguments and frankly insane statements to keep his critics guffawing ironically for the next eight-million years. Doctor Who could use just one of them to burn out the logic circuits of even the most serious Dalek – even if said Dalek were being aided in its deliberations by Mr Spock, the Terminator and HAL 9000. Consider, for example, Griffin’s statement that the Ku Klux Klan was now an “almost entirely non-violent” organisation. As if having a small amount of a very bad thing were somehow a redeeming feature, like a swimming pool being “almost entirely free of Humboldt squid” or a goody bag being “almost entirely free of razorblades”.
Also, Griffin seems to have an amazing talent – again, in the vein of some sci-fi curiosity – of being somewhere when he both is and isn’t, or having not said something when he both has and has not. For example, he didn’t appear on stage with David Duke, even if the YouTube video which everyone saw says otherwise – and not two minutes later, he can claim that he did appear on that stage, but in opposition to Duke and his views. Wow; so he can both not deign to appear alongside the Klan and trounce their opinions in that debate in the same instance! Fair play, Griffin! (Though, if that’s the case, makes you wonder why he didn’t do the same thing with Question Time).
Oh, and fair play to him – he couldn’t clarify his opinion on the Holocaust, because his hands were tied by the courts. I mean, he probably couldn’t repeat his having previously called it the Holohoax (clever punning there!) and having quibbled about the figures because that would make the BNP seem anti-Semitic and unconnected with reality. Which…um…of course, it is. But hey – at least he doesn’t have a conviction for it! If ever I become the parent of a child with similar moral standing to Mister Griffin, I’ll make sure to get a car bumper sticker stating “My Child Doesn’t Have a Conviction for Holocaust Denial”. Because that sets him apart from everyone else in this rabid Holocaust-denying scene we’ve got going on at the moment. Makes him a rarity, dunnit?
I’ll admit there were a few moments where I almost felt sorry for the poor sod, but the pity factor was mitigated by the fact that the largest boot going up his arse was his own. Picking on Jack Straw for having a conscientous objector for a dad while harping on about the RAF achievements of his grandfather seemed a bit over-stepping the mark – and this despite the fact Griffin’s previously castigated the RAF for their bombing of German cities during the war, and the Royal British Legion have written to him in the past asking him not to wear a memorial poppy (cheeky bastard wore one on Friday night, too).
To be honest, I don’t find the BNP as threatening as I used to after this. I used to think they were a terrifying little nubbin of fascism amongst the political backwaters, ready to leap forward with gangs of jackbooted skinheads and copies of Mein Kampf at the ready when they felt things were going there way. And yes, admittedly, there are some instances of terrorists being connected with the BNP or inspired by their ideology. David Copeland is the primary example, and there’s always stories of middle-aged racist tits stockpiling bomb-making materials and guns in case of a coming “race war”, but I get the sense that such tupenny pillocks would be terrorists with or without the influence of the BNP. To me, the image of the average BNP voter is the average Daily Mail reader – they wear big glasses, think foreign food smells funny and have ankles hairier than Wolverine’s scrote. And they’re led by a bloke who thinks his ideology is one which resonates with the British public, but is nevertheless terrified to spell it out loud for fear of being too unpopular.