The British National Party. I hesitate before I go on as this particular manifestation of political ideology is not one that I, as a bleeding hearted liberal, subscribe to in any way (and the BNP seems an incongruous use of ‘party‘, a word with such exultant connotations). But the BNP has been the source of impassioned embroilment of late on the Shetlink forums.
The recent spat opened with someone posting the comment “Does anyone else feel that the only hope for the UK is the BNP?” A curious query I thought, as ‘hope’ is a propitious expectation; not something I associate with far right British politics. The unsurprising flurry of discordant responses to the question ensued, punctuated with occasional congruent postulation from a minority of people, often containing inauspicious opening idioms such as “I’m not racist but….”
I’m generally of the opinion that far-right politics are the domain of the hebetudinous or disenfranchised, but I was surprised to see Shetlinkers who I consider to be erudite and easy-going come out in support of the BNP.
A core jist of these BNP sympathisers is that apparently, the BNP are only saying what we’re all thinking; that foreigners are coming over here, scamming the dole and/or taking our rightful jobs, and that’s the cause if many, if not all, of our country’s problems. A simplistic view to say the least, and an ineffective subterfuge that many right-wingers use in their attempts to divert attention from the underlying xenophobia bubbling below the surface of the ‘official’ BNP.
As part of the extensive research I unfailingly undertake each month for this column (!), I had a poke around the BNP website. I noted that the official face of the BNP has had a full makeover during the past decade as they try to re-brand themselves as a serious political party and distance themselves from their repugnant racist past.
However, if you scratch the surface of this semi-respectable veneer the objectionable underbelly is soon exposed. I spent an unpleasant yet compelling couple of hours reading ‘unofficial’ BNP websites and anonymous discussion forums and was genuinely shocked at the levels of vitriol and ignorance I witnessed.
Maybe that explains the recent furore expounded by the BNP when thousands of their supporters, including stalwarts of society such as police officers and school teachers, were ‘outed’ when a disgruntled ex BNP employee published a list of members on the Internet. I fully respect peoples right to keep their political affiliations private, but if these members were at least candid about their beliefs it may go some way towards making the BNP a transparent organisation rather than the mendacious militant faction many believe them to be.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said (often wrongly attributed to Voltaire) “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Whilst I disagree wholeheartedly with the BNP, they have every right to their opinions in a democratic society, but I would stop short of defending them to the death.
Published in Shetland Life magazine, December 2008