Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Just when you thought English politics couldn't get much lower...

...the BNP gain seats in the EU thingy.

Unfortunately I never managed to vote, which is down to a mixture of not having time (I leave the house around 0730 and get back around 1900) and not being organised enough to sort out postal voting.

However I'm a little dismayed that some of those who did manage to vote where either sufficiently stupid, had some kind of brain malfunction or had threats made against them or their families such that they accidentally ticked (crossed) next to the box saying British Nazi Party (I'm so original I know, what bout Bull-shitting Nazi Phuckers? any better?). I realise that people have been angered by what has happened recently but this kind of backlash is pretty stupid as it'll achieve nothing of benefit and potentially lead to worse situations. Lets hope that this doesn't happen for the general election (whenever that is) as I'd leave a country led by the BNP (though I seriously doubt that would happen). Racism shouldn't be stood for and when it's thinly veiled in being proud to be British it's insulting. I'm not a particularly patriotic person, but I don't want to see this country turn into a more divided and negative place.

My mum sent me a link to Hope Not Hate a while ago when the BNP started gaining supporters due to the expenses "scandal" and other such stupidity, and Charlie Brooker has linked to tehm on his twitter. I put scandal in "s as I'm not sure if scandal is the right word for it. It's probably been known to be happening for a while but no one's been that bothered or something like that, I dunno.

Anyway this is their latest campaign Not in my Name, which is simply an online petition to say the BNP doesn't represent the views of the British people (or at least the majority of them), with the hope of discrediting them withing the European Parliament (I guess). Whether or not this will do much I'm not sure, but I urge you to sign it regardless as it's not anything too taxing and could make a difference to this ridiculous turn of events. Hope Not Hate do send out emails quite frequently, which I find slightly annoying as their tone is generally a little on the pushy side, so stick in a not regularly used email address if you don't want to be pestered, but please do sign this and pass it on to people who may care as the more people saying the same thing the louder it is.

Anyway enough vaguely political stuff, go sign and then get on with your lives.


James said...

But they clearly do represent the views of many Britons. In fact, with 6.2% of the vote they got fewer than 6.2% of the available seats (they got 2 of 72, whereas 6.2% of 72 would be 4 seats), so if anything they are under-represented in europe.

The BNP clearly represent a significant number of people and to dismiss them all as stupid / manipulated is pretty daft and pretty insulting.

Anyway I've already made it clear the BNP don't represent me by voting for someone else.

Little Lebamski Urban Achiever said...

"But they clearly do represent the views of many Britons"

So if there was a party who represented all the people scared of spiders in Britain, you wouldn't have a problem with them having seats in Europe either? Apologies for invoking Godwin's Law so soon, but the Nazi Party represented the views and the mindset of many people in 1930s Germany, but I hope you wouldn't defend their coming to power then as justifiable because of that.

"to dismiss [supporters of the BNP] all as stupid / manipulated is pretty daft and pretty insulting"

Living in Stoke-On-Trent, which has both general underlying BNP support and some areas of serious BNP support, I don't really have a problem with the generalisation that people who support them are either not particularly intelligent (racism is after all simply a form of ignorance or lack of understanding) or have been manipulated by the BNP's literature, which I've also had through my door on a number of occasions recently. I don't really have a problem with insulting them either, considering how abhorrent and insulting their views are.

Even if the BNP are representative of the views of some people in Britain, those views are incredibly negative and harmful, and the party simply serves as a platform for racists to spread their hate and then hide behind a political agenda. The link to the story below just shows that the BNP are racists in politicians' clothing, that they are too cowardly to openly admit it, and that they aren't intelligent enough to convincingly answer about it when asked.

Andy J. Wotherspoon said...

Thanks Bam for your support.

I've been trying to think of a suitable way of responding to James as I was a little shocked by his comment, to be honest, but not really knowing him, I felt to respond in a less than courteous way would probably not be helpful.

So with that in mind I'm sure what I say next will be mostly waffle and probably at some points misinterpreted (as tends to happen with my comments, wherever I post).

Firstly, my simplification of things (particularly when I don't know a great deal about it) means that I speak more in black and white terms. So "The don't represent the views of britons" should probably have been more like "They don't represent the views of most britons." Though 6.2% is not a particularly large number really and in fairness that was bolstered by current events in politics, either through non voting or rash voting.

Again to simplify it as stupid or manipulated, was maybe too simplistic, however as Bam said, It's pretty much either a racist or a victims of propaganda. There are other possibilities, but I'd say the majority fall into those categories.

Under representation of a extremist party (of any sort really) is never a bad thing in my book, but that doesn't mean that it's all fine to ignore it. The problem is that they now get funding and from what I hear a lot of it, which means more opportunities to use advertising and other propaganda to rally support, veiled in politics, which now has mildly more credibility due to being part of the EU* (I forget what the last letter is, so I've used a wildcard). Some of the previous BNP propaganda videos are laughable for their poor quality, but are scary for their message. With more funding the quality will increase meaning less people will dismiss it on it's production values, yet the content will remain the same. If you've ever been onto the BNP website (particularly the Youth BNP) it's full of immigration and liberal hating stuff and it's obvious what their main focus is and it's not good.

You'll not find me trying to get people to sign a petition against the conservatives or labour, though I'm not to fond of either, but I don't find their views abominable. Racism is pathetic and nonsensical and I have no problem with insulting anyone who thinks the opposite (though I'd hope to be mildly polite in my condemnation), it's not a simple matter of differing opinions, it's a matter of treating other people worse because of the colour of their skin or which country they were born it, which makes no sense. I understand the concepts of immigration control and I think that there are merits to it, but I don't think that we as britons have more right to anything just because we happened to be born here or that anyone of non british origin deserves to be "sent home".

I simple offered the opportunity for others to show their displeasure at the turnout of the european elections and a chance to maybe make a change, which I didn't think would result in an attempt to make me look silly. Had this been something you'd given a crap about maybe you would have responded differently. I apologise for the directness of that, but there are things that matter in this world and standing up against racism is one of those things I'm relatively passionate about.

I realise my posts can be a little too opinionated and at times unfounded rubbish, but I don't think this one was.

James said...

OK, I feel my response has been miss-understood, probably because I didn't write much, so sorry for that.

My post was meant to imply that the BNP clearly represent many people and that to dismiss them all without any attempt to understand why isn't smart and is just going to insult them all, particularly considering how little we probably understand of them.

In more detail. I didn't want to sign the petition and felt your (Andy's) post presenting it to me was wrong because of the following.

The BNP got a lot of votes for an extreme party. There were a lot of people who felt, rightly or wrongly, that the party who best represented them, who were going to do the best for them in the European Parliament were the BNP. I don't think that it's reasonable or helpful to dismiss all of them as stupid / racist / manipulated.

Firtly because it means you're not going to try and understand what is driving them and so won't be able to convince them that there are other parties for them to vote for who will address their concerns better (don't really like the word better there but hopefully it's obvious what I mean).

Secondly because I think a lot of their voters feel oppressed / like outsiders already and this . In YouGov polling (link below) what really distinguished the BNP voters was the feeling that they had few prospects for themselves or their familly and that they (white people) were suffering from unfair discimination. True or not, the majority of the BNP voters feel they have legitimate and pressing grievences against the main parties and when their vote is dismissed as racist and they are dismissed as stupid, we're dismissing their concerns and that's only going to push them away and solidify their support for the BNP. You can see every time Nick Griffin gets on TV (and he does get on a lot these days) he hammers home this message, that he represents people who have been unfairly disadavantaged by those in power.

Thirdly, (which is kind of linked to both of the above) because it's not accurate. In the polling it finds approximate half of BNP voters are "racist". OK, that's a lot, but half their voters would leave them with no seats. Their two seats come from voters who would not be considered racist, but have the concerns above. And they didn't vote BNP because they're stupid, they voted BNP because that was the party that they felt was going to address their concerns.

This is why I don't want to sign a petition against the BNP and I don't want to (and wish people wouldn't) throw eggs at their leader. Doing that I'm not going to convince anyone who voted for them that they should have voted for someone else, in fact, in my opinion I'm going to do the opposite.

Anyway, in answer to some of your points below (or in fact above).

Bambi - It's not that I don't have a problem with the BNP gaining power its that I think this petition and the kind of thinking it represents (IMO) are going to have the opposite to their desired effect.

Andy - I think I agree with most of what you say; as I said to Bambi above, I'm not trying to say I think the BNP should be in power but instead that the way you respond to them is unhelpful.

Hopefully this clears up my views on the BNP and your petition.

With regards to making you look silly, I'm sorry and I can see how it would look like that.

[I may come back and re-edit this as I've been going back a forth through it changing the order of things and so it may not make sense or bits may have been ignored, appologies if this is the case]

Andy J. Wotherspoon said...

Thanks for the reply, it clarifies your thinking much more, guess that's the problem with stuff like this, a short answer can easily be misconstrued.

I still tend to disagree with you on some points however (but then that's the joy of having opinions).

The problem I see is that the role of an MP is to represent the people who vote for them. Now, if "Just 44% agree with the party leadership in rejecting the view that non-white citizens are just as British as white citizens." this means that the other 66% of the voter are ok with being represented by an MP with this viewpoint. To me this is almost as bad as agreeing with it, as they're effectively saying that this is inconsequential to their decision on who to vote for. Unsurprisingly I disagree.

Personally I don't think that the way some people have reacted to the BNPs win is particularly sensible (although egging Mr Griffin was amusing in some ways, it also made it appear that anyone against the BNP was a bit of a nutter), whereas something like signing a petition is a lot less controversial (it appears to be something common in today's politics and a good way of making yourself heard [see below link]), and I would put them in very different categories of protest.

I respect your decision not to sign the petition however as I was never intent on forcing anyone to sign it and to do so would inevitably be counter productive.

There's quite a lot which comes down to the current parties not doing enough to convince the public that they're their for them and also the BNPs ability to latch onto peoples fears and worries and spin them so that they are then related to immigration and other such stuff. Whether or not it's true that immigrants get a more favourable deal or not I'm not sure, though there appears to have been the fear, almost, of being though of as racist such that political correctness and other such stuff has got out of hand. However the BNPs viewpoint goes way to far the other way.

It's got a bit too late for me to concentrate and keep my though process going, so I'll stop here. I'll try to add more at another date. This as definitely become an interesting debate though.

James said...

(tried to put this in italics, didn't work)

"There's quite a lot which comes down to the current parties not doing enough to convince the public that they're their for them"

This is one of my main grievences with the current political climate. All we (and this isn't meant against you) seem to do is knock our parties down, highlight everything they do wrong and generally treat MPs like shit. The public, the press, everyone. Unsurprisingly they then try and tread a very careful path of not annoying anyone as anyone they annoy is simply going to shout louder than anyone who they've actually helped. This is one of the reasons I've lost most of the enjoyment in watching shows like "Mock the Week" and "Have I got News for You", that and Paul Merton seems to have gone from very witty to frequently just saying something wierd / stupid and getting a big applause (but this is a whole other debate).

Anyway, before I side-tracked myself. This petition also fits into that feeling of just being negative, and so whilst I could happily put my hand on my heart and the say the BNP's views don't represent mine, I'd rather say I voted for xxx, and I want them to do this.

To me, a good example of this difference is comparing John Kerry to Barack Obama. John Kerry seemed to be a campaign of "I'm not George Bush" whereas Barack Obama was "I am Barack Obama".

(56% dude)

TheTelf said...

Hey guys - coming somewhat late to the party and all that, but wanted to query something Bambi said earlier:

"So if there was a party who represented all the people scared of spiders in Britain, you wouldn't have a problem with them having seats in Europe either? Apologies for invoking Godwin's Law so soon, but the Nazi Party represented the views and the mindset of many people in 1930s Germany, but I hope you wouldn't defend their coming to power then as justifiable because of that."

I'm interested by the idea of "justifiable" in this context. Is the implication that far right/racist groups should not be allowed to even stand for election? If we allow them to stand for election there is the chance that they will win if they have enough support, and while I would have a problem with the result (since I would disagree with the views of those who won), I'm not sure I would have a problem with the mechanics of their election.

Should a country with a majority racist population be allowed to elect a racist government? Or are we suggesting that people who hold racist views should not be allowed to vote?

Enjoying the debate :)