Why Nick Griffin and the BNP lost

I woke up this morning to unwelcome news of a Conservative MP with an increased majority and a modest increase in the BNP vote share in Ilford North.

But there was a consolation which made me feel happy all day – the BNP lost every single place they contested in Barking and Dagenham, including their existing 12 seats. They lost because the weren’t wanted by voters, who never had the heart to make Barking and Dagenham the “race hate capital of Britain“. They lost because they are awful politicians, because they appeal to the worst in voters, and because they undermine each other. They also lost because the Daily Mirror took a risk. I hope they also lost because their political opponents began taking their electorate’s needs seriously. Margaret Hodge and John Cruddas are fine MPs. But the BNP also lost because of the unstinting efforts of Hope Not Hate.  I’m a Hope Not Hate donor and leafleter and I’m so proud of their part in this.

Nick Lowles asking Nick Griffin about Bob Bailey’s attack on a young Asian man, a good illustration of why the BNP lost:

No wins for BNP Council candidates in Redbridge, either. Goodbye Julian Leppert.

BNP candidate Bob Bailey kicks and hits Asian man until he bleeds

Even though the entire BNP project is an ideological assault on humanity, nobody has any business getting physical with the BNP (including missiles and gobbing) unless the BNP attacks them first. This has to be a war of words and non-violent opposition. If you can’t manage that then you can fuck off – you’re a liability the rest of us, particularly Hope Not Hate.

But for the love of god, somebody prosecute BNP candidate Bob Bailey. He is dangerous.

BBC News has a piece that tells us (in case we were in any doubt) that Nick Griffin doesn’t give a shit.

Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate says:

“The man shouldn’t have spat on Bailey. But it’s clear this moment unleashed the streak of violence that underpins the BNP’s entire political agenda.

Just look at the pleasure Bailey took at attacking this lad – and continuing to pummel him as he lay on the ground, defenceless and bloodied.

Bailey and his thugs could be running Barking & Dagenham by this weekend.”

My borough-next-door.

Lancaster UAF on Bailey, concluding “unstable, abusive, foul-mouthed, a liar and stupid”.

Update: ‘Vote No To The BNP‘ – keeping up with the BNP.

Update 2: clearly the question “Who started it?” is far less important than asking “Is the BNP really expecting me to put up with violence on the street from an existing Councillor who wants to become an MP?” Sack him now.

Update 3: The Daily Mail (which has stills) and the Barking and Dagenham Post are unbelievably soft on Bailey. They seem unperturbed that an elected extreme right wing representative to refers to Asian men going about their business as “robbers” and kicks the shit out of a young man, with the enthusiasm you might expect an avid racist to exhibit when his victim had dark skin. With a press and elected representatives like these, no wonder Barking and Dagenham is where it is.

The Mirror reports that nobody is pursuing allegations, but there’s news to the contrary. Somebody needs to explain to those young men that they would be doing an immense service to their local community and to the country in general if they would take it further. Bailey has got to go. He is a social menace.

On the blogs, Mod, Norfolk Unity, John Understood, East of Dulwich has a great post.  I’ve been reading some blogs with names like Islamic Awakening and Pakistan Defence. Don’t spit on the BNP – get your arses down to the polling station and vote, says Araz:

“I am sorry to hear your remarks.These are not the remarks of a wise man. Stop being emotional and think this one out. BNP has a vote base because of deteriorating economic conditions in UK. Most of their supporters are ones who have lived their lives on DOLE and now think that immigrants are the root of all the ills facing Britain. However, for the most part British society and its people are peace loving and VERY TOLERANT, and they should be commended for that. By responding violently to these hate mongers you are playing into their hands by giving an impression that the BNP is important enough for you to care and be afraid of.
The place to defeat them is by ballot and on the debating floor. You have to firstly conduct your self in a manner to gain respect. Secondly, their arguments need to be countered by words rather than by physical actions. Mostly by ignoring them, you are denying them the publicity that they crave.
But by stupid actions like fighting with them, you indirectly prove them right.
Araz”

On the BNP more generally Rumbold on Pickled Politics and Hope Not Hate on Harry’s Pace.

Update 4 – Bob Bailey lost the 2010 election in Romford but that 2.5% increase in share is a worry. BNP in Barking and Dagenham: losers in every seat they contested, including the 12 they already had.

Election: the BNP, their supporters and their opposition

Some scattered circumstances, events and situations which seem to have something to do with each other.

I read an academic paper on the BNP (Bowyer, 2008) which addressed the question of support. I hope to read more – good academic papers offer a questioning and dispassionate analysis which I massively value.

Just one of many attacks on Muslim property – Eccles Mosque, April 16th.

My trade union, the University and College Union or UCU, opts to commemorate the Holocaust with a “wall chart” which limits its ambition to a blow-by-blow account of the Holocaust, providing no tools or prompts through which readers are encouraged and enabled to investigate our current circumstances today. The wall chart is a kind of badge, a reaffirmation of credentials, a posturing. It explains nothing.

I live in a short road of English, Africans, Jews, Indians. Not far away is the Hainault estate, where the BNP is particularly active. The paper I read notes that BNP support tends to come from white neighbourhoods within ethnically diverse cities; that kind of thing adds nothing to an election campaign. But it is also well-understood that support for the BNP is associated with socio-economic deprivation and low educational achievement – traditional Labour concerns. Some studies indicate that local housing market conditions and the state of housing stock may be more important than labour market conditions. And yet my Labour candidate, Sonia Klein, does not attend to such matters in her election literature. Sonia Klein mentions Trident, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan on her letterbox literature, and yet omits housing, health, jobs or education. I think darkly about the Stop the War Coalition when she literally cuddles her invited speaker Tony Benn and out of the blue flourishes a middle name, Nabila. Seems she’s looking to mop up the gone-astray left and candidateless Greens. Seems she thinks these voters will be impressed by this kind of talk, and unmoved by plans to address disadvantage. My constituency (Ilford North) is marginal, requiring 1,500 swing to Labour. Since I want to remove our current Conservative MP, my hands are somewhat tied this election – I need to vote for the closest challenger to the left of him and that’s Sonia Klein.

The Staffordshire constituency of Stoke Central is a very possible-looking parliamentary gain for the BNP’s Simon Darby. Labour’s NEC shortlisted celebrity historian and aristocrat Tristram Hunt as a parliamentary candidate without consultation, splitting the local party (and I don’t want to comment on that here, though I sympathise with the sense of disempowerment). Tristram Hunt has local links – his doctoral thesis was on the area. When, in advance of the local party’s vote on the shortlist, Newsnight’s Michael Crick button-holed him and asked (something like) “What can a privately educated boy like you do to stop the BNP?”, Hunt answered (something like) “What you have to say to people who are thinking about voting BNP is this. What teacher will want to come and teach here, what lawyer will want to come and work, what company will want to come and invest?”. What I found revealing about this fragment was that Hunt was thinking about his constituents’ needs rather than badging himself.

The other striking thing is his indirectness about the BNP – from what I can gather, he is not damning their racism, nor seeking to lace his campaign with multi-cultural role models. I don’t know why this is, but it is distinctively indirect.

Indirectness is a very current idea at the moment. I caught a member of my work-place’s senior management reading Thaler’s and Sunstein’s important book Nudge on the train platform. Sometimes called ‘libertarian paternalism’, this ‘nudging’ is an alternative to ordering or forcing people to do this or do that. Nudging entails organising systems in such a way as it makes it easier for people who exist within that system to do the right thing by default – i.e. if they don’t give it any thought – while maintaining the possibility to opt for the wrong thing, which is also the more inconvenient option. Examples include systems around paying your TV licence. Opting out, rather than into, a savings scheme or organ donation. Designing new housing complexes to promote neighbourliness. Creepy problems arise with this when the nature ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are left unexplained and the populace is subject to manipulation. Designing privacy out of Soviet public spaces, for example. I often use the principles of nudge. Nudge is not a huge threat when it comes to painting a little fly onto the bowl of a urinal in the knowledge that men will aim at it – but for more principled decisions you might convincingly argue that true liberty and a truly ethical society entails consciousness. Another book on indirectness (by another economist – this is a mushrooming discipline) is John Kay’s Obliquity. Its thesis is that our goals are best achieved indirectly, rather than narrowing down to stated objectives and approaching them in a straight line with a literal mindset. I’d say: sometimes. I haven’t finished that one yet. Again though it challenges reflectiveness, which in my professional circles is always assumed to be social good, and I’ve enjoyed reading that.

There’s certainly consensus that creating a stable and prosperous society will undermine most support for the extreme right. But could it be that Tristram Hunt thinks positive imagery of the kinds of social groups the BNP want to see the back of is futile? Explaining why racism is wrong – futile? What earns a parliamentary their opportunity to talk to their BNP-leaning electorate about racism – or does the significant presence of a BNP-leaning electorate forestall this conversation? This is a critical question to which I don’t have the answer. But my hunch is that the racism of BNP supporters is indirect – a consequence of certain needs in the presence of certain beliefs about a national pie.

It’s not good for BNP supporters to feel goaded, because – based on what I know of many of them, and in the absence of prospects for easing their competition for scarce material resources – any shame will backfire into contempt and defiance. I get the impression that the authors of a lot of the pieces I have read on the BNP don’t have any friends or associates who would vote BNP, and have never had to fight for the soul of anybody they care about. High-minded ridicule of candidates can cement support if the ridiculed qualities are part of the identity of the supporter – observers of Sarah Palin’s detractors noted this when Newsnight Review took a look at her autobiography. Seeking to marginalise or exclude the BNP, as Unite Against Fascism are currently doing, is liable to simply be understood by many BNP supporters as a continuation of the marginalisation and exclusion that they already perceive as their experience. Similarly, the “just turn out and vote for anybody except the BNP” approach talks past the BNP voters, rather than to them. I don’t think it is wrong to talk past the BNP supporters – to improve turn-out for example – as long as you also talk to them. Given that the extreme right is more successful than it has ever been before, surpassing Mosley’s and Powell’s times, I think we had better have plans ready to dampen the resonance of its messages.

Plans about what used to be Labour’s concern: equitability.

Bowyer, B, 2008. Local context and extreme right support in England: The British National Party in the 2002 and 2003 local elections. Electoral Studies (27) 611-620.

The whole BNP is African

I went to this at the British Library:

Black History Month

The Whole World is Africa

16 November 2009 18.30 – 20.30

‘Why are seven out of eight 100m Olympic finalists African or of African descent? And why is the opposite true of swimmers?’ In order to create an equal society we first need to understand why it is unequal, and consider where our differences and inequalities are within our DNA and where they result from social conditioning. A discussion led by Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics, University College London, Britain’s leading geneticist and one of science’s most gifted communicators. Presented in association with London Borough of Camden Black History Forum”

It was quality – my friend and I agreed it was the best thing we’d been to in 2009.

Steve Jones, author of the language of genes (which Stephen Dawkins calls an anti-racist book) explained why we can consider ourselves African. When the ancestors of the subsequent populations first left humanity’s original site of evolution in Africa, there was a genetic bottleneck (in one place – I forget which – the population may have descended from as few as 80 individuals) which led to a founder effect i.e. reduced genetic variation. Consequently Africa still accounts for the overwhelming majority of the genetic diversity of humanity. Interestingly, light skin evolved twice, separately – among Africans who migrated to the Far East and to Europe. Human phenotypes – i.e. physical appearance – can tell us little about genotypes, and cannot be taken as a reliable indicator of anything at all. To attempt to make attributions to a human on the basis of skin colour is racist. And on the whole, we are the same.

I enjoyed hearing what cultural critic Lindsay Johns had to say. What he stood for was based in rights and principles – equality, fighting prejudice, fighting discrimination, and this carried through to a firm message against counter-racism. And he picks his battles; he seems to have an emollient perspective on one-off racist slights which I, somebody who is trying to resist a rather unscientific tendency to use anti-Jewish racism as a litmus test of somebody’s worth, find salutory.

And the chair Henry Bonsu, was warm, deceptively buffoonish, always relevant, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud funny. There were a number of people in the audience who didn’t share the opinions which united the panel, including somebody who insisted that the only way to deal with difference was to insist that everybody is a child of god, and somebody else who took a keen interest in whether black people could swim and somebody else whose question I felt was mildly insulting, but I forget what it was. Everyone was given a patient hearing and a considered response.

And I started listening to Colourful Radio.

For cleaners and cockle-pickers

After gulping down (piecemeal, it must be said) educational theory for years, I am still frequently blown away by the value of good questions when you have something to persuade people about.

One, two, three, four, five posts of questions for the BNP from Jai on Pickled Politics, a nice round 85 questions in all (n.b. one or two of these are pretty goofy). Strange, I wasn’t able to find any other collections of questions. Some good social networker should set up a wiki to collect them.

Relatedly (via JimJay) the LSE has published confirmation, in the form of the report ‘Economic impact on the London and UK economy of an earned regularisation of irregular migrants to the UK‘, that an amnesty on ‘irregular’* immigrants working illegally in Britain would provide the state with a net saving of (if I have this right after projected admin costs) £185bn.

Contrary to JimJay’s reading, the report doesn’t claim that immigration is good for us, just that regularisation of existing workers is. GDP and tax bucks, innit. And Boris Johnson is, along with people of many political affiliations and none, signed up to the Strangers Into Citizens campaign.  He proposes a twin-track approach to immigration – amnesty along with tightening of border controls to prevent entry of ‘irregulars’ – which has a sound internal logic. Greens, who have long favoured an amnesty, also have policy to avoid increasing net immigration.

The LSE report was conducted for the Mayor’s Office and can be read on the LSE site (see link at bottom of exec summary). The researchers estimate that there are (high end) 863,000 such workers here, and slightly less than half would be eligible for regularisation under an earned amnesty. Those categorised as ‘illegal migrants’ tend to come from Central and South Americas and other ‘poor countries’. A high proportion of the remainder – over 400,000 – are failed asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe. The researchers estimate that “80 per cent of failed asylum seekers from before 2000 are in London, together with around 60 per cent of those entering later.” Well, if you were an asylum seeker, of course you’d stick around regardless – there’d be no going back and what would you have to lose by remaining?

Eligibility for regularisation is based on 5 years’ residence and no criminal record (both are going to be difficult to ascertain for these limbo people, so in practice eligibility may vary either way from 400k). Regularisation here means entitlement to minimum wage and some services (access to increase with progress along a Path to Citizenship).

Bob links to some practical thinking on how to avoid collusion in the politics of perception about immigrants which is quite prevalent in British thinking. Kingsnorth – hat-tip Bob – is a good example of this collusion, encouraging us to think of the BNP vote as one of the “downsides of mass immigration”.  On the other hand, as an unjingoistic state nationalist (i.e. espousing a distribution rather than centralisation of geo-political control; not incompatible with free migration) I’ve encountered depressingly little sound evidence to support free migration into states like mine, now. As a population, even our trade unions are wedded to protectionism, material aspiration and inequality; these things are incompatible with free immigration.

I’m keen on the idea of free migration myself. Proletarian cosmopolitanism – it’s an old term for globalisation, right? The question is how to bring it about so that everybody in the world doesn’t try to move to the states with infrastructure, welfare and rights. You come across the metaphor of the ferocious fending off of drowning people by the Titanic passengers who had made it onto the lifeboats. But globally, we are not in a lifeboat situation. In Britain our lifestyle is generally obscene, while in Mozambique you’re lucky to see 35. The answer is clear – share the world’s wealth and knowledge more equitably – but the path to this eventuality is not so clear. Liberty and equality have always appeared to be at different ends of the political spectrum, and we have delegated our affairs to successive administrations that can’t even sort out looking after our older people in a humane way. Anyway, climate change projections forecast a drastic shrinkage of the world’s temperate, habitable zones so in Britain we’d better get used to designing structures for masses of unaccounted-for incomers. We wouldn’t want to shirk our responsibilities on that. Get on with it, wankers.

This is descending into a dejected rant, so let’s be wrapping things up. The report, at any rate, promises to make a difference to nearly half a million people. Welcome, exiles and migrants, to this exquisite isle. May I particularly recommend setting up home in Barkingside, Redbridge? I think it is the best place in the world.

*I wonder whether Steve Cohen, founder of No One Is Illegal, would be satisfied with ‘irregular’. I think not.

Redbridge by-election next week – stop the BNP

UPDATE: With a turn-out of 30.5%, the Cranbrook ward by-election was won by Matthew Chaudhary (Conservative) with 1625 votes, lapping Labour (729), Lib Dems (328), and fourth were the BNP with 37. They were never going to win. But the Conservatives…? What have they got to offer for the kind of people who vote far right?  Bob From Brockley has some insights about Searchlight’s approach, which in his youth he might have dismissed as ‘popular frontism’ but hesitates to do now – have a read.

My manor.

Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate says:

The BNP is contesting a by-election in Cranbrook ward Redbridge next Thursday, 10th July, and the HOPE not hate campaign is asking for your assistance once again. Over the last few weeks we have mobilised over 100 people for the Chadwell Heath by-election, a truly excellent effort. [The BNP lost in Chadwell Heath by 278 votes – an improvement on the 16 they lost by in 2006 – Flesh]

Now our attention has to turn to Redbridge. We are meeting up this Sunday, at 11am, outside the Iceland store in Cranbrook Road, Gants Hill click here for a map . If people take the Cranbrook Road South exit from Gants Hill Central Line tube station they will see the store.

The activity is organised between Hope not hate and Redbridge and Epping Forest Together. For further information contact Gerry on 020 8550 1805.

Once again, thanks to everyone who has helped out recently and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Nick Lowles

nick@stopthebnp.org.uk | www.hopenothate.org.uk

See you there.

Chadwell Heath by-election next week – stop the BNP

UPDATE: When you see the Conservatives win something and you get a rush of relief it feels a little strange. Labour came second. The BNP got 564 votes and came third.

_______________________

Chadwell Heath votes for a Borough Councillor on Thursday 3rd July. I’m not going to name the person running for the BNP (you can find him via the link above) but in 2006 he only lost by 15 votes.

If you’re around this week and interested in a small act to frustrate the BNP’s campaign, call 07742749614, tell Bob you’d like to help with leafleting, collect the leaflets (probably a good idea to where a disguise and adopt an alias – I hear the BNP are thugs) recycle them and go home. I wouldn’t do this with just any party I didn’t like but it seems the correct thing to do to a bunch of people who divide the population into native and non-native Britons and make that the centre of their policy, who spread hate, and who would make our lives hell if they ever got any real power.

Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate says:

The Chadwell Heath ward in Barking & Dagenham goes to the polls in just over a week’s time. With a very close result likely it is vital that we make one last push to stop the BNP from winning.

Last Saturday over 30 people delivered 4000 leaflets across the ward. A PDF of the leaflet can be found here .

We are now asking London Hope not Hate supporters to turn out one more time to deliver a letter to voters which has been endorsed by key local people. This is the sort of community campaigning that is absolutely vital if we are to defeat the BNP.

We will be meeting at Chadwell Heath station at 6pm on Tuesday 1 July. This station is on the overground line, just 15 minutes from Liverpool Street. Click here for a map.

The BNP currently has 12 councillors on Barking & Dagenham council but they have never really broken into the Dagenham side of the borough. This is their chance, however, together we can stop them.

I hope to see you on Tuesday.

Nick Lowles nick@stopthebnp.org.uk | www.hopenothate.org.uk