Sunday, 14 June 2009
I watched the recent egg-throwing protest against the BNP with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
As BNP leader Nick Griffin fled the scene, faced besplattered with yoke, the ambient irony levels were raised to intergalatic proportions by Unite Against Fascism member Donna Guthrie, who told the BBC: "We don't believe in free speech for fascists".
Now egg-throwing might be cathartic, and it might "signal opposition", but it is an idealistic pipedream to think that such stunts will make BNP voters question why the party incites such heated opposition. On the contrary, it's far more likely to have several extremely counter-productive effects:
1) It immediately puts the backs up of everyone who voted BNP. The message it sends, in essence, is: "Dear electorate, you were wrong to vote for this man. Please try again." Which is perhaps not the message Anti-Fascism campaigners want to send to a nation of voters who already feel frustrated and patronised.
2) Egg-throwing gives credence to the BNP's notion that there is a "liberal conspiracy" that prevents people from talking honestly and openly about race and immigration. The irony of a protest against mob rule consisting of an elected MEP being screamed at by a mob, pelted with eggs (an act which is, technically, an assault), forced to flee and then having his car surrounded is a bit much to take. Which leads me on to the most important point:
WE NEED PEOPLE TO HEAR WHAT THE BNP ACTUALLY STAND FOR
An awful lot of swing voters who voted BNP did so on the grounds that the three mainstream parties had failed them, so now "it's time to give them a chance" or "let's see what they have to say". And that's exactly what needs to happen - their views need to be exposed. You only had to witness Nick Griffin squirming under David Dimbleby's questionning to realise that this was the way forward. He needs to be asked, again and again:
1. what would you do for the health service? In particular how would you deal with chronic understaffing problem caused by your immigration policy?
2. Remind us, why is it black people can't join the party?
3. So, what happens if everyone rejects your offer of voluntary repatriation?
Of course, there's also an important distinction to be made between what the all-new, shiny rebranded BNP claim they want to do (e.g. softly-softly voluntary repatriation for those who moved here post-Windrush) and the reality (for example, watch Nick Griffin telling a room of American Nationalists that hopefully one day the BNP would be in a position to say that "every last one must go"):
This, then, is our challenge, to publicize the true face of the BNP. Denying them a platform to speak is simply letting them off the hook. To use a good solid racist metaphor, let's give them the rope to hang themselves with.
3) Tossing dairy products at racists simply demonstrates to a lot of the nation that the BNP are disliked by worthy, politicized students. Which, frankly, for a lot of people is a good enough reason to vote for them.