April 17, 2006


Voting for the BNP is about rage rather than race (Rachel Sylvester, 18/04/2006, Daily Telegraph)

I find it hard to believe that a sixth of people in this tolerant, decent and middle-of-the-road country really will - as the Rowntree report also claims - put an X in the far-Right box when they fill in their ballot papers in two weeks' time. A few may feel emboldened to do so by the recent coverage.

The BNP deserves scorn rather than scare-mongering. Not only is it utterly pernicious (a leaflet distributed by the party after the July 7 bombings said, "If only they had listened to the BNP"), it is also useless if faced with the reality of power.

When a handful of BNP councillors were elected in Burnley in 2003, they failed to turn up to the first budget debate, one of the most crucial moments in the local government year. In Barking, a BNP councillor stood down after eight months, telling his local paper: "Those meetings go right over my head and there's little point in me being there." Another elected representative left the party, claiming she had not realised it propagated extremist views - in fact, she said, she had cited Nelson Mandela as her political hero at her selection interview.

Meanwhile, Punch and Judy politics appear to be too timid for the BNP. One of its councillors was forced to resign after smashing a bottle in the face of a colleague and another has been convicted, since his election, of attacking his wife and a police officer.

And yet the BNP cannot be completely laughed off. There is a new professionalism to its campaigns that is beginning to worry the mainstream parties. [...]

The truth is that support for the BNP is not really a protest vote against a racially mixed society: it is a cry of rage about the quality of life in some of the poorest areas in the country. There is not much cheerleading for the far Right in the streets of Chelsea. The BNP is exploiting a growing sense of frustration with genuine problems: the lack of affordable housing, the increase in low-level crime, the failure of inner-city schools, the loss of a sense of identity among white working-class men following the collapse of traditional industries. These failures are not really anything to do with race - although, of course, the more people come to live in an area, the more stretched local resources will be - but the BNP has diverted a general sense of grievance into a specific feeling of unfairness based on a perception that there is "us and them".

In the midst of our prolonged boom and societal revival, Americans don't even have these excuses, feeble though they are.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2006 9:00 PM

You could put it under blowback. The left has been talking down the economy and the country for years now. It would be funny(black humor) if this were the response to that incorrect perception.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 17, 2006 9:40 PM

You are obviously fairly well insulated from the problems in America, Mr. Judd, I'm jealous; I wish I could be as ignorant.

Posted by: Taylor at April 17, 2006 11:08 PM

Some wetback snatch your job away, Taylor?

Posted by: ghostcat at April 17, 2006 11:12 PM

Thank you for proving my point Mr. Taylor.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 17, 2006 11:12 PM

America's not perfect, boo hoo.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 18, 2006 11:07 AM

Hey, hey. Taylor made a perfectly acceptable remark, there's no need to play the race card on him. The insistence of some on this website that any opposition whatsoever to what's essentially open borders must be pure racism is at best mistaken and at worse pernicious.

Posted by: Lisa at April 18, 2006 12:24 PM

England's problem is the lack of a mid-right party.

I'm not sure what our problem is.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 18, 2006 1:24 PM


I don't think so. No one argues that immigration should be unlimited or that there aren't practical considerations about numbers, security etc. It's the charge that there is something intrinsic about immigrants from this or that country or faith that is being challenged on the basis that that charge has been made many times before and never panned out.

Posted by: Peter B at April 18, 2006 6:24 PM

Even moreso the idea that the numbers should be limited per se.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2006 6:43 PM

Most countries limit immigration. Doesn't make 'em racist.

Posted by: sharon at April 19, 2006 5:08 AM

Of course it does and it makes us better than them. That's why people come to America.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2006 7:49 AM

KB, er, OJ, it doesn't make anyone racist to limit immigration. Even we have quotas. How exactly does that make anyone racist?

Posted by: sharon at April 19, 2006 1:12 PM

Sharon, the quotas are by ethnic groups aren't they?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 19, 2006 1:25 PM

Quotas are racist, reference your opinion on Affirmative Action.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2006 1:25 PM

Limiting immigration is not racist. Every country does it. This is not the same as affirmative action and it is not based on race. It's controlling one's borders and economy. And judging from the polls, most Americans think controlling our borders is a pretty important job right now.

Posted by: sharon at April 19, 2006 5:19 PM

Yes, it's fine for other countries. But it's unAmerican.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2006 5:30 PM

Since when? We've had immigration limits for at least 100 years. It's normal and part of security.

Posted by: sharon at April 19, 2006 11:07 PM

We only got limits because of anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish and anti-Asian hatreds.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2006 11:10 PM

Yes, the threat keeps changing, but the fear, no. It's hard to leave the Tribe behind.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 20, 2006 12:25 AM

Like losing weight, controlling America's borders is something that everyone thinks is a good idea, but does little about.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 6:26 AM