Monday, June 08, 2009

You need to be a certain age to get this one..

It's not often I make a purely political comment on this blog, I try to stick to a core subject area that I know something about, in the case of the European election results yesterday I feel the urge to react. So, nothing to do with science, atheism or any of my normal soapbox subjects, just a sense of resignation and disbelief.


Elizabeth said...

It makes you sick!

I read Iain Dale's blog today and he writes of an interview he had with the BNP leader where he just let him talk. He said that he will not represent Asians and black people as 'they have enough representation already.' He will only represent white people as an MEP.

And think of the salary and perks he'll get in Brussels. What were people thinking of?

Steve Borthwick said...

E, I don't think "thinking" came into it unfortunately.

Oranjepan said...

I like being contrarian, and am prepared to say it is actually a good thing - though because I disagree with the BNP, not because I agree.

There are three issues at stake, competence, coherence and freedom from corruption.

With public office comes responsibility. The media will increase scrutiny of their actual policies and they will be confronted with actual arguments rather than a shouting match.

If, as we all seem to agree, they are incapable of accounting for their views then they will suffer through debate - as ignorance is the breeding-ground for hate, so light banishes shadows.

Probably the more inflammatory point is about the institutional mechanisms which they have long sought to take advantage of (salaries, expenses etc) - the current mood means a sharp eye is already watching their every move. If, as has happened previously, where they have proved to have dodgy accounts and were sometimes alleged to launder money from criminals then the public will not stand for it. The removal of privileges that free elected public official from prosecution is no safety blanket.

So in some ways getting elected could be the worst thing which happens to them - it is a challenge and they must meet the demands of office or they will be out having harmed themselves for the future.

The one thing I learnt was that the only way to convert people to a better way is not to exclude them, but to engage with them. Free speech means being prepared to listen to offensive views and to accept you may be offended, but if you don't show you can listen you'll never be allowed to speak.

There is concern about plenty of issues and we cannot turn our backs (just as the BNP wish to turn their backs on the rest of the world - where is their foreign policy - Darfur, anyone?), what we need to so is debate the solutions to these concerns.

If it is crime, then let's look at crime (um, do white British people people commit crime?). If it is housing, let's look at the problems of getting somewhere to live and raise a family (house prices, mortgages, council housing etc). If it is social resources for community cohesion (schools, hospitals etc), then this needs to be looked at too.

BNP policies depend on patronage and favour for the few. Their policies are discriminatory, but that is not to say their position opposing positive-discrimination does not have some merit too (albeit in an unpleasant reactionary way).

If they are to be defeated they must be met head-on and dealt with effectively. Labour's cynical hyping of their threat (to satisfy the understandable internal pressure of activists who they desperately needed during the election) has played completely into their hands and given Griffin & Co the publicity they craved.

Race remains a push-button issue, so why do people continue to push it?

Elizabeth said...

Excellent comment, OJ. that's what Iain Dale says in his blog today. He interviewed them and just let them talk and the horror of their positions quickly became apparent.

Steve Borthwick said...

O, thanks for such a detailed and considered post.

I suppose it’s a kind of "give them the rope to hang themselves with" concept that you are proposing here. I can certainly see that, I must admit I hadn't thought about what I think we should *actually* do about the BNP yet, your post has got my grey matter thinking about that.

I don't think I would advocate excluding them, like you I firmly believe that free speech means accepting the possibility that you may be offended. I would certainly criticise them at every opportunity, point out the falsehoods of their claims and (intelligently) ridicule them as much as I could, I think humour is a potent weapon in that sense, “never a truer word” etc.

Another thing that worries me about this is that in some sense they will represent Britain (I know only a small part of Britain) but even still I think this has the potential to damage us, both emotionally in terms of our reputation but also economically. UKIP also concern me in the European setting as well, I can’t quite get my head around a party that represents us in an institution that they don’t fundamentally agree with, rather like the Iranian ambassador to Israel, so how on earth can any constructive dialogue occur.

What I suppose I am most disappointed about is the failure of our education system in allowing all those people who voted for them to think it was a good idea in the first place. Firstly there is no such thing as “RACE”, if people understood basic biology they would understand that the term race is just a word we have that means “looks superficially different”. There are fewer DNA differences between most white and black people than there are between most white people. Secondly doesn’t anyone teach history any more, this population is founded on immigration; wave after wave going back 10,000 years, our economy is built on trade with, and exploitation of Johnny foreigner, we turn our back on the world at our peril.

Why do people continue to push the race button, in a word ignorance.

Elizabeth said...

You should do more posts like these, where you let your real self show. We enjoyed this one.

Steve Borthwick said...

That's an interesting comment E, in what way did you think this one was different?