Today, as many other news outlets have reported, BNP leader Nick Griffin was denied access to a Buckingham Palace garden party. Assorted forms of hell have promptly broken out as a consequence on both extremes of the political spectrum. The bitter irony is that it’s difficult to immediately discern which political agenda is more disconcerting and totalitarian.
Firstly, shrieking nincompoop Peter Tatchell (who appeared to be on the way home from the Job Centre…) flung himself enthusiastically at Griffin to deride him for the BNP’s ‘long history of anti-semitism, homophobia and anti-islamic views’. He is, of course, only partly correct in this accusation: the BNP have only been anti-Islam since it was popular, only overtly opposed to homosexuals when it’s time for the Pride parade and have gone to great lengths to conceal their anti-semitism. Tatchell’s opportunism is always ungainly: this was no exception, and as usual, the layman is left attempting to ascertain the difference between Griffin’s undignified attitude and Tatchell’s undignified reaction.
Secondly, and as is to be expected, the Unite Against Fascism cartel have fought fire with fire and attempted to demonstrate how their own totalitarian ideology is preferable to Griffin’s. An un-named UAF ‘spokesman’ was quoted thus in the Guardian today:
“We are opposed to Nick Griffin appearing anywhere in public. Events like this help to make Nick Griffin and the BNP seem legitimate in the eyes of racist voters.
“The Queen does not just represent Britain but the Commonwealth. Her staff or whoever invited him really need to take a long, hard look at what this day represents – Nick Griffin and racists or multiculturalism.”
It would be difficult to locate with such ease a quote with such barefaced intent. The ominous sentiment behind a suggested ban on Griffin even appearing in public is a worryingly repressive and authoritarian admission. Secondly, Her Majesty’s Garden Party patently has precisely nothing to do with multiculturalism. This is nothing short of a shallow, cynical appropriation of an apolitical event for political purposes.
What is worrying is the casual ease with which this particular UAF soapbox-crier has attacked supposedly ‘racist [ie BNP] voters’. As Liam Rhodes has rightly suggested on his blog, this hopelessly reductive statement has been written by someone who is wilfully ignorant of the reasons that ordinary people have for voting for the British National Party. Ordinary people vote for the British National Party not only because a minority are in agreement with its racist policies, but most importantly, and most hurtfully for socialists, because they feel the mainstream socialist party, the Labour Party, has ceased to speak for them. After all, Griffin was only elevated to his present position because of a collapse in the Labour vote in his constituency. Do the UAF suppose that tarring all BNP voters with the now-offensive moniker of ‘racist’ will be a successful attempt to win back their votes? If so, they are hopelessly deluded.
What is most unfortunate about the whole event is that it has roundly failed to highlight the fact that the BNP is in dire trouble. The party itself has overstretched its resources to breaking point, and – to the ignorance of most – has actually effectively divided as an entity.
Whilst the core of the party stumbles on with a reduced online presence, its leading lights, such as webmaster Simon Bennett, have seized control of the party’s former Twitter account, Facebook fan page and website design, and call themselves ‘yourBNP‘. Meanwhile, the Cambridge branch of the Party has gone as far as to suggest that after their dismal showing at the General Election, and the wipeout of swathes of their council influence in London, the party itself is ‘dead in the water‘.
However, judging from Griffin’s appearance at the Palace today, most would be none-the-wiser about his Party’s ongoing struggles and conflicts. For the second successive year, due to political cowardice, weakness, and wanton stupidity, the biggest winner of the day is Nick Griffin, who can further his vote-winning claims that freedom of speech is inhibited beyond the moral zeitgeist, and this act undermines democracy. In fact, the party have already claimed exactly this. Where will his victory manifest itself? The polling station.
Most disconcertingly of all is the fact that the reaction of the Palace could easily be misinterpreted. This puts in peril the political neutrality of our greatest national institution; valued in politics for avoiding lowering itself to the murky world of party political matters, renowned for its fairness to all and its stand against violent oppression.
No entity in this complex political wrangle has covered itself in glory, and the fact that the forces for good, and the bastions of reason have ultimately failed to prevail is disconcerting, shameful and roundly disappointing. As is so often the case – with QuestionTime a case in point- an opportunity for a true, rigourous and comprehensive analysis of Griffin’s outlandish, extremist and ideologically incomprehensible ideas has been needlessly missed. In this instance, it is extremely hard to discover which sinister political totalitarianism is the greatest threat to true freedom of speech and to the democracy in which we live. And as Liam Rhodes has stated:
“The fact that Buckingham Palace has just engaged in an undemocratic knee-jerk response to a bunch of vile protesters who don’t know the meaning of a ‘peaceful protest’ is not only downright abhorrent but playing directly into Griffin’s slimy hands.”