Friday, May 02, 2008


One piece of good election news, especially given the depressing outcome of recent polls in Italy, is that the far-right and racist BNP - in spite of making some gains and taking its first seats in South Yorkshire - has seen its tiny share of the vote fall overall, having surged in 2006 with a spate of additional candidates and then having dropped off comparatively in 2007. The party will not now make anything like its target of 40 seats, though it has made some gains. It failed across the board in Broxbourne and recorded losses in many other areas. This is not to say that there's any room for complacency, of course.

The Anglican Bishop of Barking and other national and local church leaders spoke out strongly against the BNP and extremism before and during the elections, though to what effect is uncertain. It's clearly got to them, and the cracks have been showing. But working with people rather than lecturing them is what's needed at community level. The BNP had previously tried to colonise a certain 'religious' position, and some of the reactionary 'Christian nation' rhetoric around the churches has not helped, as Ekklesia pointed out last year.

The key to outflanking and responding to the far right is to address issues of urban decay and disenfranchisement that act as its breeding ground, without pandering to the anti-migrant and xenophobic instincts that can become the displaced home of disaffection. The problem is, the main parties are struggling with the former and are too tempted by the latter - fuelled by tabloid scaremongering.


ChrisC said...

The key to outflanking and responding to the far right might be to take people's concerns about identity, belonging and community seriously rather than trying to persuade them that what they really mean is all about urban decay and disenfranchisement.
I think the BNP are mindless loons for the most part, but I still don't understand the obsession the left has for anti-facism. As for left wing Christians if only they'd reserved some approbation for the most destructive of political phenomena in history, Socialists with power, to which millions of dead and shattered lives from Phnom Penh to Havana bear a mute but eloquent testimony.

Jane said...

Thanks for this - I suppose
God I despair...

Simon Barrow said...

My experience of talking to alienated white voters tempted by the far-right in East London and a number of other areas suggests that the issue is a combination of misinformation, disenchantment, prejudice and resentment about the way 'conventional politics' doesn't seem to deliver for local communities. That needs to be taken very seriously - thus my comment that preaching against racists from a position of detachment is insufficient if not counterproductive. Identity is talked up by politicians wanting to milk it. It isn't just the left that is concerned about the far right, but anyone who has experience of the victimisation and violence it brings with it. Mass oppression, under whatever name it rides, is to be opposed vigorously, but is not the issue here.