Last year I sat next to two Conservative tellers nattering away to each other. They seemed to have been force fed on a diet of Daily Express headlines and were insular and sour. When one of them said "If asylum seekers are going to stay here , they should be sterilised" I was at a loss for words. What I should have said was "Think again mate, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Second greatest Briton. Son of a political refugee"
I'm not exactly a BNP sympathiser, especially as most of my family come from Eastern Europe. My wife Lena was probably the first Lib Dem council candidate from Novorossiisk. One of Lena's Russian-born friends lives in Dagenham and tells her that since the BNP became active, her neighbours have almost completely stopped talking to her. It's becoming scary.
I was very impressed by David Morton's post earlier this week, which I quote in full here:
I welcome the election of the BNP councillor in Morley South. Thats a shocking thing to say but I mean it. The unpleasent truth is that this has been comming for years and the sooner we lance the boil the better. Last Thursday 11% of voters in Leeds voted for a neo nazi party of thugs, racists and convicts. We are supposed to take lectures on patriotism from a party that thinks the wrong side won the Second World War. But vote they did and what if the BNP had contested all 33 seats not just 22? 13% ? 14%
At what level of popular support does the BNP become legitimate? When will we listen to the grievences of those that vote this way? try and understand the anger? the disillusion of those who feel they have no other choice?
The BNP councillor is a crisis in the best sence of the word (Greek - time of decision)
We could all hold hands and teach the world to sing. Have a multi cultural festival and a tactical voting campaign. perhaps we could prevent a BNP victory for a few more years. But at some point all politicans have to engage with the lethal cocktail of lies and legitimate grievance that fuels this abomination. When 1 in 9 leeds people votes neo nazi then its incumbent upon us all to reexamine the entire system and its failings
There are weapons in the liberal armoury that can help. We need immeadiate action to devolve power to communities, take graffiti and enviromental crime seriously and really, really radical reform of community policing. Most importantly some body some where needs to tackle the housing crisis. I'm no command and control socialist but the most appropriate way of doing this may in many cases building more Council Houses.
I won't be the only one watching Cllr Chris Beverley of Morley South very carefully. If he doesn't attend, doesn't speak, isn't very good or fails to fight for Morley then people will know about it. But I really feel that its in this way that we will fight this off not SHOCK! HORROR! conferences of the liberal middle classes miles away.
So I stand by provocative opening sentence. "Welcoming" a BNP victory is a very odd thing to say but I mean it because it means that the phoney war is over. The City needs a sustained debate about these issues and this election result means it can't be delayed any longer.
We do indeed need to do less 'hand-holding' - David seems to know what practical steps to take instead.
One of the other side, I noticed a comment from a Liberal Review thread on Israel where someone wrote:
In the UK, we have a political party which seeks to guarantee that the majority of people living in this country continue to be white North Europeans. That party is the BNP.
As far as I can see, that comment was against the concept of the majority of people living in this country being white North Europeans. But why? This is a Northern European country where historically people were white. I like the idea of Britain being a cosmopolitan, non-racist society - a sort of multi-coloured centre of the home of the English language. But immigrants to this country should be exactly that - immigrants- and not try to emulate what we were in Canada, Australia etc - colonists.
I'm not saying that any political party should give any guarantee that Britain will stay "White and Northern European". The passage of time will probably make us all coffee-coloured in a couple of centuries and speaking English with a lot of Chinese loan-words. (But it would be nice to think that old cultural traditions will be maintained so that a time-traveller from our era could still go forward 200 years and still enjoy free speech, a beer and a sandwich, watch football and cricket, read JK Rowling , wear jeans and vote in elections.)
But on the mundane ,immediate level: - Just as the 'educated persons media' love shock-horror stories about the BNP winning somewhere, the 'liberal establishment' tend to avoid the idea that being boring plain English, Scottish or Welsh is a perfectly OK thing to be. The ordinary bloke who likes the odd curry but wants to wave the St Georges Flag during the World Cup needs to know that the Lib Dems are there for him, just as we are for anybody else.
This has been a difficult subject to write about - I hope I've conveyed my views accurately and that I'm not offending anybody with this.