The vote less remarked upon

In all the furore about Boris Johnson, the far right vote seems to have been far less noted (by me, as much as anyone; Nick and commenter Tom Royal jollied me into action). It’s actually far more shocking that the London Assembly has a BNP member than a no-policy-wielding celebrity Tory extremist is Mayor. Never mind Boris Watch, Barnbrook Watch might be a better idea. The BNP got almost as many first choice votes for Mayor as the Greens. I don’t care if that only amounts to 2.89% of the total, that’s still appalling. In my neck of the woods, Greenwich and Lewisham, the BNP got 5,170 votes for Mayor and 8,950 votes next door in Bexley and Bromley.

But that’s nothing compared to the results of the National Front. Lest we forget, NF is a party that states on its website they "would halt all non-white immigration into Britain and introduce a policy of phased and humane repatriation of all coloured people currently resident here". And it got 8,509 Assembly votes in Greenwich and Lewisham, and 11,288 in Bexley and Bromley. Nick’s mentioned before that the BNP and National Front don’t stand against each other so they don’t split the vote the way the Left tend to. Maybe we ("we" as in anyone who isn’t a right-wing nutcase) should start doing some similar co-operation…

I have an intellectual problem in that I can’t verbalise to anyone who might question me, why I feel so strongly about the (re) rise of the far right. As far as I’m concerned it’s just a moral no-brainer, just as social welfare to make sure the poor aren’t left to rot is a Good Thing. And how can any white person, no matter what class or level of personal wealth (or otherwise) seriously say that the only minority in this country is the working white? (I read that somewhere this week, apologies to whoever it was, I can’t remember.) According to the last census, less than 8% of the British population is from an ethnic minority. Yeah, you white people. You’re dead oppressed.

All this tension that’s quite clearly bubbling under in my area makes me slightly nervous about the murderer of Jimmy Mizen, about 15 minutes amble from my flat. It was clear which way the wind was blowing from the comments left on the local News Shopper website (found via Tom Royal; I tip my hat to you sir), with lots of people speculating that a description of the suspect would have been released sooner if he’d been white… The BNP is reporting that the suspect is of Turkish origin, though I had to search three other news sites before finding the same information on the Times (but then, that is the BNP’s main – nay, only – angle on the story). Let’s just hope we don’t end up with the Great Burnt Ash Hill Race Riots of 2008. A non-white, killing a nice Catholic white boy? All hell could break loose.

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19 responses to “The vote less remarked upon

  1. Nick May 14, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I’m afraid I was slightly wrong on that. They generally appear to choose not to; however in City and East they did – BNP took over 18,000 votes vs. the NFs 2000+. It will interesting to see though whether the BNP do start trying to capture those NFs votes, like all the ones in B&B.
    The legitimacy gained by the BNP is a dreadful development.
    Thankfully as far as the NF goes, despite all its votes, is a defunct organisation, an anachronism which is being slowly killed by time moving on. Bexley and Bromley’s huge vote can largely be put down to a lack of BNP candidate (though of course that ain’t the greatest comfort).
    Also what we are seeing is the fallout from the failure of Labour. Traditional Labour supporters voting BNP for a variety of reasons such as them simply being bigoted to a protest vote. The BNP election video was, as ever with them, well targeted at local issues. And whether the left/liberals like it or not the ‘white indigenous’ of London can list some genuine grievances. But of course most people like to deny they even exist. Whitechapel for example has a lot of problems stemming from its immigrant population – I have a lot of friends, black and white, who have suffered racism there from the large, mainly South Asian, Muslim population. Jewish group visiting the area have been stoned and had abuse yelled at them by Muslim youths. The left buries its head in the sand over that/the right gleefully takes up the issue which bring me onto my next point.
    The far-left in this country is a stupid irrelevance and it is no surprise they have failed to counter any fash vote. They don’t try and win over fash voters, they simply right them off. The more they scream “Nazi BNP”, the more idiotic and out of touch they appear. Between the infighting, the lusting of international causes, the perusal of multi-culturist ideology, they complete and utter isolationist intellectualism that work well in their own cliques but nowhere else. Will the rise of fash vote galvanise them into actions and change their ways? Will it fuck.
    In places like Bexley and Bromley I think we are seeing what fascism in this country was built on – people (like commentators on the Grauniad) like to think that fascism stemmed from the white working classes which historically is simply not true, it coming from the lower middle classes instead. After all we are really talking sub-urban Kent here, despite the London boundaries.
    As angry as it makes me at the thought of the number of genuine, pig shit ignorant bigots there are out there, I also think that for many people, of all shades and background, the political system has completely failed. To be honest I get far angrier at this failure than the BNP vote. It is a depressing reminder of how easy things have been made for them. They are idiots – when they are in power they have proven themselves inept – Nick Griffin is an appalling orator and the party is made of cranks and thugs. But they do the leg work and they know what buttons to push. And it has worked for them.
    Bah – I apologise in advance for all contradictions and errors there may be in this post. I am still trying to get my head round things.

  2. Kate May 14, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Yeah what Nick said. The main problem here is the complete and utter failure of the ‘mainstream’ political parties to offer anything whatsoever to the white working (and non-working) class. Saying ‘you’re not an ethnic minority so what are you whining about?’ is only going to fuel BNP support, as is howling ‘appalling! racist!’. The BNP picks up votes whenever educated, middle class types (of whatever skin colour) tell disaffected poor white people to shut the hell up. And unfortunately that has been pretty much all that has happened in the national debate so far. People have grievances. The vast majority of them aren’t hardened racists, but they aren’t being offered anything else; nobody else (honourable exception: John Cruddas in Barking & Dagenham) is even trying to engage with them.

  3. Rachel May 14, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Oh, I don’t deny for one moment that in areas of heavy immigration, white people can suffer abuse (I come from about ten minutes outside Bradford, after all), but I honestly believe that pandering to a belief that white people are “oppressed” like minorities is ridiculous (white people of all classes; that quote I can’t remember the origin of actually said something like ‘the people who say stupid things like “the only minority in this country is the working middle class white man, mate”‘). There is poverty, there is a white underclass. But if there’s a lack of jobs it’ll still be the white guy who gets the packing job ahead of the Bangladeshi.
    That there are problems need to be addressed; but in my true-woolly-liberal heart, I believe racism of all shades (towards and from whites) stems from fear and misunderstanding. Do ethnic minorities hurl stones at Jews in Tower Hamlets, or abuse at white women in Green Lanes, because they feel it’s their only line of defence from the racism they perceive coming at them? I don’t know; but what I don’t believe is that any particular group or class or person is inherently racist, born that way.
    The way of the right is to stoke the antagonism on both sides. The way of the left is to ignore the whole thing for fear of upsetting people and hope it goes away. What we need is a third way… yes, just call me Blairglemouse!

  4. Rachel May 14, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Rather than re-write my opinions on the germination of racism, because I am lazy, I dug up this post.

  5. Nick May 14, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    They throw stones because they are bloody bigots. Let’s not excuse them because of some persecution complex they might have.
    Just look at Ken’s time in office, showering money onto ethnic and religious groups as though each of them were some homogeneous mass, completely screwing over the people within those groups who have had some self-appointed elite foisted on them by the multicurist policies of the LDA. (Search for Sloppy, Sloppier, Slop-trough here: http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2008_02.html).
    In blunt terms poor white communities have seen money given to people who can, for one reason or another, be seen to have less of claim to such money. Not only that but the need of those groups to integrate within society has been removed, hence the self-ghettoisation of areas like Whitechapel.
    And yet when they voice such concerns they are told they are ‘intolerant’ and ‘racist’. And yes some of them are. But no all of them.
    Multi-culurist policies allow every group but the white indigenous population to be seen as homogeneous and deserving of special funding and attention. The BNP have capitalised on that and have positioned themselves as the group defending white interests.

  6. Rachel May 14, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    But makes someone a bigot? It’s not something anyone is born with, it’s something you learn. Either from your ethnic culture or from watching (or being excluded from) the culture you are born into. Don’t think that the people throwing stones are any more or less bigoted than the white people kicking the crap out of the Asian kid.
    I haven’t studied the LDA’s policies; but from a general principle I would say that isn’t it better to put money into an area where there is a problem – in this case, ethnic minorities – than not? The way it was done might have been wrong, but I can’t fault a desire to do something, however misguided the action.
    Although, any policy that prevents integration is clearly the wrong way forward – I believe the only way to break down the walls of fear and mistrust and the views of both sides that “they” are getting more than “us” – is integration, to become one community rather than a series of separate ones. But that will take time; in the meantime, anything that lifts individuals out of poverty is a good thing imo.
    And the concerns of the white community were voiced in calm, reasoned, tones, nobody would calm them intolerant. But when it’s termed as the “fucking Pakis” taking everything it’s a little bit like Godwin’s Law – the first one to descend into racial abuse and/or blanket stereotyping of an entire group loses.

  7. Nick May 14, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    “And the concerns of the white community were voiced in calm, reasoned, tones, nobody would calm them intolerant.”
    I would like to agree with that but unfortunately do not believe that to be true. People have consistently failed to see the difference between raising legitimate concerns about the effect immigration has on an area and “bloody immigrants coming over here etc.”. The areas immigrants end up living, for obvious reasons, are poor areas, areas which are already under resourced. Yet due to years of the debate around immigration being left in the hands of the right, whenever concerns over immigration are raised they are seen as belonging the same camp as vehement opposition.
    “I believe the only way to break down the walls of fear and mistrust and the views of both sides that “they” are getting more than “us” – is integration, to become one community rather than a series of separate ones.”
    Completely agree. Which is why funding based on ethnic groupings is harmful and destructive to community cohesion. And why such polices ultimately end up benefiting the BNP.

  8. Rachel May 14, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Shall we just go and twat the BNP?
    😉

  9. Will May 14, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Interesting bit in the Independent about this – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/pride–prejudice-how-the-far-right-muscled-in-on-middle-england-826898.html
    think the key thing is that these are votes on local issues. Sure 8% of the population is a minority on average, but in some places it’s much higher. Plus people are pretty angry with the government. Which is fair enough, they’re shit. I’m not particularly worried with their 2% of the vote.

  10. Rachel May 14, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Well, Bromley’s not much off the national average in terms of ethnicity… what Nick said earlier, and what the Indy article says, is that often high numbers of far right votes aren’t much to do with feelings of being “outnumbered” – or at least, not based on any real outnumbering. It’s fear and whispering and scaremongering in some traditionally working class areas. Ah, one of these days I’ll write a wittery post about it.
    The Bexley and Bromley London Assembly vote was 5.65% – which, alright, doesn’t sound like much – but it’s going up every year. And it was enough to get a BNP Assembly Member based on total votes across the city. The BNP are getting council seats in parts of the country. It makes me very uncomfortable.

  11. Nick May 14, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    “Shall we just go and twat the BNP?”
    hehe 😀
    (Bit of family pride: My Grandpa fought in the Battle of Cable Street. Oh yeah.)

  12. Tom May 15, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Sorry for returning so late to this one – yesterday was marred by deadlines and fuckwittery on my part.
    My concern is that I cannot see a feasible way for a significant proportion of the current NF/BNP voters to be engaged by mainstream parties. Sure, the right-voting members of the “Save the pound, no to Europe” crowd will be swept back into the Tories if/when Cameron leaves, and others are simply a protest vote against ill-defined grievances who could lurch towards one of several parties come the general election, but a good number of these thousands of voters must actually believe that, as white men and women, they are somehow the most put-upon, and simultaneously the most worthy (for whatever reason) section of society.
    As far as I can see there’s only ever going to be one way to attract these voters, and that’s for one party to state that they are correct: that they, the working or non working white person, has been systematically mistreated by decades of government. But then I don’t think that this has ever been proven to be true. So what’s the choice – base the policy of a mainstream party on a Daily Mail myth to attract the angry right-wing voters, or refuse to do so and leave them to the NF?
    Also, there’s a part of me that finds voting BNP/NF very, very hard to excuse. Just as I agree that we shouldn’t seek to excuse racism when it comes from non-white groups, I don’t think that we should seek to excuse BNP/NF voters by justifying it on the grounds of alienation from the mainstream: a vote for either party is ultimately a conscious decision to ally oneself with a group whose aims are, frankly, repugnant.

  13. Kate May 15, 2008 at 9:56 am

    The simple answer has already been given by Nick – people need to see money, and concern, and energy, going into their local areas in the same way as they percieve it to be going into ethnic minority communities. I have a suspicion that their perception isn’t wholly accurate – but then it’s important to challenge that perception, not by telling people to shut up but by making them feel as though they are cared about too. White working-class communities (many of whom haven’t actually worked for 2 or 3 generations now) simply feel uncared for by the rest of the population. This links into wider debate over ‘chavs’ and worklessness. It has taken us 30 years to get into this position (via the decline of traditional industrial/manufacturing communities) and it will take a similar period to get out again. Shame none of the political parties in Britain of any political shade seems to be interested in making a start on the job.

  14. Nick May 15, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Tch just look at this perfect example of bloody foreigners coming over and causing chaos. Disgraceful. Bout time we had proper border controls.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/7402414.stm
    (ok

  15. Jamie May 15, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Hello! Is this the party? Oh, people are leaving? Well can I stay for one drink? I didn’t know that everyone was here until about 10 minutes ago? What do you mean I haven’t got anything to add? Why are you turning the music off I’ve just arrived!
    Look, as much as I don’t want to do this here goes…. I agree. With. Nick. Arrrrgghh, it’s true, all true *breaks down and sobs*.
    The not-so-hot-at-scrabble 20 something makes a great point when he says “And whether the left/liberals like it or not the ‘white indigenous’ of London can list some genuine grievances. But of course most people like to deny they even exist” INDEED! Middle class chin strokers see the far right vote as a protest vote and nothing more. People aren’t voting for the BNP/NF because they don’t like immigration, it’s because the credit crunch has made them anxious and they’re concerned about the strength of the pound. Right?
    Bollocks. Listen – They don’t like the coloured faces. They don’t like being surrounded by weird languages or the inability to communicate with anyone from the service industry. They don’t like funny foods with stupid names in specialised shops where there used to be a Budgens. They don’t like plans for huge mosques, having Islamic prayer being broadcast on a tannoy (sorry – public address) system and the never ending, relentless, patronising demand for them to adjust to a culture which is swarming into their home town and isn’t theirs. They don’t like it and they’re not allowed to say it. Economic issues or non economic issues, the place they grew up in has changed..
    Don’t like those facts? They stop banging on about the far right as you’ll never understand it. I’m not the white working class are racist. I’m not saying that it’s even the WWC who voted far right. I’m saying that these are the core issues. Sure there are other catalysts that’ll push the vote, like the 10p tax issue (the dumbest move since the Poll Tax), but that isn’t the driving force behind these votes.
    Any form of attack is a form of defence. A far right vote is a vote of fear. It’s what they bank on.. The fear is there. Look at what people see in the media every day. From the 20 or so youth killings in London last year, almost every single one of them was by a black kid. A couple of years back a report came out that showed that 70% of mobile phone thefts were by black people. Look at this week, a black guy stabbed in Oxford St made front page news. Turns out he was on trial of gang rape and a multiple stabbing of a man in Southgate. This is what people see. These facts. This is what they think when voting BNP – Not protesting against Brown’s inexperienced front bench.
    The media picks up on this fear – Something that seems even more palpable over the last year or so. The Daily Mail rejoices in “hoodie” headlines – Think they’re talking about white kids from Bedford?
    It’s not for me to say why this is happening in the media, in politics, or in the country but it’s happening. I feel a little uncomfortable saying this, as I’m worried I’ll get tarnished with the bigot brush. But to deny these facts is to ignore the real issue. Unless a mainstream politician is brave enough to confront or tackle these frankly out and out racist fears, the far right vote will continue to rise. Innit John.

  16. Jamie May 15, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    This is the schnizzle I’m talking about:
    http://www.met.police.uk/about/crime_statistics.htm
    Londoners should be reassured that the capital is continuing to get safer; between January and December 2007 overall crime has reduced by 6.1% which is almost 57,000 fewer offences compared to the same period in 2006.”
    That doens’t make front page news now does it?

  17. Rachel May 15, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Sooo… is the media picking up on genuine issues, or are they stoking fear for their own reasons, ie, increase in sales? (Oh, and weren’t most of the victims of the youth killings last year also black?)
    Incidentally – and this is going to come across as sooo antagonistic and it’s not meant to be, I’m genuinely interested – can anyone give me facts about the sidelining of the white working class? I know the anecdotes, the black family getting bumped to the top of the housing list, the money being pumped into the Asian Women’s Cookie Baking Club when the local Scout hut is being closed down… but as these stories tend to come up in the Mail or the Evening Standard I’ve never been all that sure of the facts behind them. If anyone can prove me wrong… well, they’ll have proved me wrong. I’m not denying that the white working class have genuine grievances and problems, but I’m not yet convinced that it’s a reason to excuse (even if it is enough to explain) the rise of the far right vote in terms that make me not want to scream in frustration. *sits back and awaits the deluge of links*

  18. Rachel May 15, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Oh, and hello to the BNP website admin who followed a link back here this morning!
    (And also hello to the person who found my blog by searching “David+tennant+psoriasis”. What were you looking for?!)

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