Much ado in the newspapers over the last week or so about a rise in the far right in Britain. Apparently the far right is everywhere. If only it was that simple – that every act of racism, and outrageous stupidity was the action of a minor and fringe part of society. I guess believing that allows people to casually ignore that racism has been on the rise for a while now, and has in fact been described as “institutional” previously.
The far right that people are taking about is of course, the likes of the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL). Yes, they are nasty, but rising? There’s not a steroid shot big enough to raise those dinosaurs from the dead.
But everyone is at it; today The Guardian even had a video telling us that Brexit will somehow lead to a rise again of the BNP. To prove their point, there was even a short video clip of the BNP’s former leader Nick Griffin. You remember him, right? He’s the guy currently trying to sell his home and move overseas.
One scientific magazine even went as far as to Nova Scotia to find someone to tell them that the conditions are exactly the same here as they were in Germany in the 1930’s. Wow, that’s research for you…
I’m sorry to tell many people, that the far right is still tiny, and the only rise it has done was to get out of bed in some prison this morning to slop out.
The conditions for a rise of the far right are definitely ripe. They have been for ages and no doubt, if this was the 1990’s they would rise (like they did). So why isn’t it?
Our report from earlier this year is still the most accurate assessment of the state of the far right in this country. It’s nasty, it’s active, it’s violent and has been for decades. But it is less than a quarter of the size it was in 2009 when the BNP had 60-odd councillors (some were very odd) a seat on the Greater London Assembly and two MEPs. And I’ll tell you something else; a large number of those old BNP members were not flag waving, Sieg-Heiling Hitlerites. Sure, their party was, but it did its best to hide that fact for as long as humanely possible.
I did an interview with TIME magazine earlier this week that gives a pretty good outline as to what we are experiencing. Swastika-waving boneheads do not have the sole rights to racism in this country, and to suggest they do, is infantile. Wake up!
Does this video we found of serial wally Paul Prodromou (aka Paul Pitt) from a couple of weeks back look like the far right is rising? No, but they are probably enjoying an unwarranted bit of spotlight from people who have gleefully ignored them for years and were suddenly handed a video camera and some old footage.
We’ve had an explosion of racism since the EU Referendum, that is true. It probably was not a good idea to hold the Referendum while the football was on. That leads to jingoism and violence at the best of times. Perhaps people think racism was merely confined to Facebook?
The main problem the media has is that it can only report (however badly) on the far right if they are saying it is rising. Otherwise, what is newsworthy? Previously ignored, we must now expect every sighting of a bonehead or one of their leaflets and stickers (they never stopped putting them out, you know) to lead to the mass assumption that a siege of Stalingrad is somehow just around the corner.
Even when changes of tactics and personnel become apparent, they assume that a change is either a change in fortune or an indication that millions of people are queuing up to be Britain’s next Fuhrer.
I hate to sound like a Brexiter, but we are not Europe; this is not Germany and this is not the 1930’s. Much of Nick Griffin’s more palatable rhetoric from the last decade is now so mainstream that you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between him and a local election candidate on your doorstep. To redress that, Griffin’s gone back to even more extreme ways and was last seen stuffing his face with Goulash in an upmarket restaurant in Budapest (at the EU’s expense).
By my rough count there are around 200 far-right activists currently in gaol and another 40 either on bail or due for sentencing soon. Their places are not being filled, but they are becoming more and more desperate. They are not even interested in elections any more. They’d prefer a race war. They always have, even before Brexit. Even while you were opening your Christmas presents last December.
The language and rhetoric now worrying us, should worry us. But perhaps we should worry about the rise of a mainstream where this language, narrative and behaviour has until now been so apparently acceptable.