I’ve been thinking a lot about the BNP and UKIP the last couple of weeks, and wondering why so many people feel aggrieved enough to support them. I don’t mean the MPs’ expenses rows: after all, a protest vote could just as easily go to the Greens, an independent or any number of minority parties. I mean the rise in these two parties’ popularity in the last few years.
In our new political landscape, the terms left and right mean nothing any more. The Conservatives have become more left, Labour more right (i.e. both are more-or-less centrist these days) and the Lib Dems seem to sway with the breeze at the moment (once the tax the rich party, they’re now making tax cuts pledges. Odd.). The old ‘left’ working-class supporter base is being courted by the far-‘right’. So there’s really no point in bandying left and right about as terms any longer.
I can understand the need for a party to be the second choice for disgruntled voters of the main parties: the Greens for disgruntled Lib Dems, UKIP for disgruntled Tories, but instead of the socialist parties, the BNP are hoovering up disgruntled Labour supporters. I don’t know how they’ve managed to fund such extensive campaigns – clearly the socialist parties haven’t had the same funds at their disposal – although I’m sure some people will have uncovered the benefactors. They’ve tapped into some feeling amongst working-class white men that they are ‘hard done by’. I’ve seen various forums where there have been moans that white working class men are the only group that people are still prejudiced against. Many people really believe this lie – and I’d love to know where it comes from.
I’m not naive – I know all about the things Thatcherism did to this group – the closure of industry, which has continued under Major, Blair and Brown, has no doubt had devastating effects and caused an identity crisis, and anger at the establishment. I get this. What I don’t get is why the vitriol has turned towards women, the gay community, ethnic minorities and, worst of all, immigrants.
Some (e.g. The Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun) would blame it on the lie of ‘political correctness gone mad’, this false presumption that women, gay people, ethnic minorities, the disabled etc are more likely to be provided for. They cite things such as positive discrimination as reasons for this, but of course they neglect to mention the reasons why positive discrimination and suchlike exist. If these groups had been given a level playing field, then there wouldn’t be these things. These groups are still less likely than white men to be in positions of influence and power. So it’s not these people the white working class male should be aggrieved about – though they probably have a good case against middle-class mostly-white mostly-male ‘fat cats’.
There are a few cases where racial tensions are real, where immigration has caused problems – but the majority of BNP/UKIP (the difference with UKIP is they’ve tended to court more middle-class voters, but they’re clearly adopting a lot of BNP tactics this time around – they used to be just about anti-Europe, now they’re pretty darn racist too – but trying to be the ‘acceptable’ face of racism vs the BNP’s unacceptable one. And how the hell can they get away with Churchill in their posters – also being used on the BNP website, by the way?) potential voters haven’t experienced these issues. Oh, and let’s not forget the irony of the anti-immigration people like The Daily Mail campaigning for the Gurkhas. If our government didn’t have immigration controls as certain parties and papers allege, then there wouldn’t have been a problem with the Gurkhas settling here, would there?
I know people I went to school with who are pretty racist (many of whom have probably never even met an immigrant or non-white person, living in Grimsby – yes I do know about the Lindsey Oil Refinery stuff but people have been like this way before that happened) – and there are a LOT of racists on the Sheffield forum – I just wish I knew why. Who fed them the lies about immigrants – and why did they swallow them? Maybe I’ll research it one day – or suggest it to one of my documentary making contacts. I think it’s not only interesting, but important that we get to the bottom of these things.
In the meantime, a few political blogs and links of note:
Liberal Conspiracy – multi-authored liberal perspective blogging
Tory Totty – Tory blog, tends to be a bit sensationalist but has some interesting anti-BNP stuff.
UKIPWatch – as above, but for UKIP.
Want to be scared? Visit the
Nazi BNP Youth website. Warning, contains hate, brainwashing and terrible spelling. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, they have a fascist puppet with his own YouTube channel. Eeep. I feel dirty linking to it (and haven’t dared click any of the videos as I don’t want to up their hit count) but know thy enemy and all that. You will want to wash your brain out with bleach after this.
LOLFatCats – a bit of humour at the expense of hapless MPs and bankers, and laughing is probably needed when things politically are so rubbish we could all cry.