Friday, 23 July 2010

Unite Against Fascism: Help or Hindrance to the BNP?

Anti-fascist campaign group ‘Unite Against Fascism’ (UAF) have once again been in the news successfully opposing “Nick Griffin appearing anywhere in public” after the British National Party (BNP) leader was refused admittance to the Royal garden party. This outright ban on a democratically elected politician shows unwarranted paternalism, gives the fascist party unmerited publicity and most worryingly of all bring us a step closer to the sort of society the BNP would like to implement and UAF are supposedly against.

Readers may recall that Griffin was set to attend the same garden party last year as a guest of BNP member of the London assembly, Richard Barnbrook. The outcry stimulated by UAF eventually led to Griffin pulling out claiming he had “no wish to embarrass the Queen.” Though Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, saw through this “political stunt”, the whole affair allowed the fascist leader to come out the other end as the bigger man. It is a sick twist of irony that it is only because of UAF that this was allowed to happen and they have now done the same thing this year.

Mr. Griffin did though get closer to the palace this time round being eventually denied entrance for apparently using “his personal invitation for party political purpose through the media.” A rather weak argument when you consider that there was absolutely no rule against appearing on GMTV etc. Once more Griffin is left to traipse around the news circuits playing the victim card describing the decision as “an absolute scandal.” The saddest truth of all though must be that he is probably right. If anyone were invited to a party with 8,000 guests and were the only one turned away at the door on the basis of some flimsy rule it is hard not to feel a bit of sympathy.

This is not to be confused though with sympathy for the BNP as a whole. It is true that Griffin has greater legitimacy this year as an MEP for the North-West but his is still a party infested with convicted criminals and people who cast judgments on other human beings based on the colour of their skin. It is a shame that such a vile organisation has taken root in the UK but it is a credit to our society that we tolerate views from all sides of the political spectrum.

It is this level of tolerance which the BNP, at heart, detests. Intolerance is imprinted on the ideological DNA of the entire movement. Make no mistake, if they were ever to attain power there would be no more tolerance, no more elections and no more political parties. Why then have we begun building such an awful society now by placing a ban on what is ultimately a legitimate political movement?

When I describe the BNP as legitimate that is not to say that they are right. As an ideology fascism consists of little more than irrational and opportunistic politics and the violence advocated is nihilistic. Hardly a strong position to adopt and one that is easily dismantled. UAF though seem to believe that the public are not capable of such basic critique. Before Griffin’s appearance on BBC Question Time last October a UAF leaflet claimed that “more airtime for the BNP will lead to more racist attacks on the street.”

Frankly I am insulted that UAF think so little of the general public that even the mere sight of a fascist turns us into a racist mob. Those who actually watched the appearance will know that Griffin did not perform well, was exposed as the vile individual that he is and was ridiculed for days and weeks after. The appearance also confirmed the over-inflated awe within which UAF hold Griffin, and the BNP, to be unjustified. It is this lack of faith both in the public and the group’s own ability to convince which culminates in the political cowardice demonstrated by the UAF.

Instead, why not give the BNP absolutely free rein to spout their bile and allow the public to make up their own mind. Of course this could backfire and the BNP could enjoy a surge in support but wouldn’t this be a more damning indictment of the state of politics in our own country more than anything else?

If the public are allowed to make up their own minds it also means that the BNP will become accountable to real political criticism rather than the continual, unintelligent tirade of calls for the organisation to simply be banned altogether. This is the more effective tactic to deal with the BNP as shown by Question Time and also by Peter Tatchell who confronted Nick Griffin yesterday, outside the BBC studios. The scuffle concluded with Tatchell summarising as follows: “You saw Nick Griffin. I asked him a question. He ran away. He’s a gutless coward.” It’s hard to disagree and it is also probably true to say that Tatchell did more to embarrass and delegitimize the BNP in those 44 seconds than UAF have done in all their years of campaigning.

Demanding that fascists do not deserve a platform is a poor excuse for shying away from debate. Experience shows that the best way to deal with those who attack the vulnerable is to confront them in the open. UAF may not like this but the only real way to beat the BNP is through unfettered freedom of speech.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Cooking Their Way to Recognition

This particularly heart-warming story caught my attention this afternoon. It is the story of one Palestinian man's outrage at Israel calling mosakhen an Israeli dish when it's origins are Palestinian.

In order to reclaim the dish though this restaurant owner went the extra mile and cooked the biggest ever mosakhen seen to get into the Guinness World Records.

The thing which I find particularly inspiring is that Nasser Abdulhadi (the chef in question) spent a year demanding that the people at Guinness list his achievement as one from Palestine rather than the Occupied Territories. He goes on to say: "We need recognition as a regular people, for what we can achieve in the normal run of life. We're not just a resistance movement fighting the Occupation."

When discussing this conflict it is so easy to remember that there are people living in the area just getting on with their lives. Nevertheless, until the international community can realistically point to a free Palestinian state not subjected to Israeli de facto control the fight must continue.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Chuka Umunna passive-aggressive note to George Osborne

Steatham has got a new Labour MP and don't we know it. Taking over from the spineless Keith Hill who voted in the way his taskmaster told him, Chuka Umunna seems an apt replacement. Loved by the Guardian and the New Statesman (who describe him as the British Barak Obama), his latest piece is little more than a regurgitation of the same Labour policies that the electorate rejected. A sure way to gain publicity but the argument remains stale.

The passive-aggressive tone overrides the piece like someone scraping their nails down a blackboard and everyone who reads it knows Osborne will most likely never have to set his eyes upon it.

The actual content is also weak. Umunna accuses the budget of not being progressive before going on to list policies which he knows damn well will slow the UK's recovery from recession by hampering the financial service industry (one of the best in the world) by taxing it and thereby making it less competitive. If we were to have a progressive budget which will once again stimulate growth in the economy then surely this key aspect of the UK's GDP must be preserved?

A nice career move by Umunna then which will win him many more friends on the left but this poorly dressed-up sabotage attempt on the recovery and George Osborne hardly stimulates debate and ought to be ridiculed.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Camp David: 10 Years On

Hey all, just a quick note to say that I have a new piece on 'The Vibe' site taking a look back at the Arab-Israeli conflict in the past 10 years. Please have a look and comment, react etc. Many thanks.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A Fresh Start for Kyrgyzstan

Ok so the piece is up. Basically I insist that you all click the 'like' button and comment etc. I could really do with the publicity as it's only my second article on the site. Just click here!