Marc Wadsworth is Editor of The-latest.com, Britain's first dedicated citizen journalism website. I am Deputy Editor at The-Latest. Marc is a broadcaster, writer and political activist. He has written a stirring article about the recent European Parliament elections and the rise of the far-right British National Party in UK politics. I wanted to share his views with you.
I detest fascism and hate racism. But the election for the first time of two members of the British National Party (BNP) to the European Parliament I welcome, rather than oppose for knee jerk emotional reasons. Democracy isn't always pretty.
As chief Times leader writer Daniel Finkelstein, a Jewish journalist and former Social Democratic and then Conservative political candidate, said on BBC television last night: "A lot of British people are racist. I know because I have met them on the doorstep when I canvassed as a candidate. They'd say to me 'I'm not racist but I hate Black people.'"
If that is the case, then why shouldn't this lumpen segment of the electorate be politically represented? For them not to be would give perverse credence to extra-parliamentary direct action against Black and minority people like the racist attacks and vilification behind which a disenfranchised BNP has so often been behind. I have spent the whole of my adult life fighting against vile racists like them. As a young television reporter I was instrumental in getting National Front leader Patrick Harrington kicked out of the North London Polytechnic he was using as an anti-Black propaganda base.
I also exposed the BNP leadership at their nazi bunker in Welling, south east London, which they claimed was an innocent bookshop and not their race hate-spreading national headquarters close to where Black teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered.
Personally, despite being the founder of the Anti-Racist Alliance, I have never subscribed to the anti-democratic "no platform for fascists" position of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and their fellow travelers in the National Union of Students and other trendy white liberal quarters. I say, bring the fascists into the full glare of public scrutiny, as I did on TV, and let's defeat them with our better arguments.
Granted, the BNP and their ilk would do as their hero Hitler did and ban democracy if they ever gained power. But, based on the BNP's bankrupt, laughable policies like "rights for whites", as if Caucasians don't rule the world, I know this motley crew of far right fantasists could never command support among the vast majority of right-thinking Britons.The BNP do not believe that any Black person can be a British citizen regardless of whether they were born in the UK and they would like us "repatriated" to the Caribbean, Africa and the Indian sub-continent.
Yet, if this happened, the National Health Service, public transport and huge swathes of British industry would collapse. The BNP live in a dangerous cloud cuckoo land. Their self delusion is criminal. I remember once confronting the intellectually challenged BNP Tower Hamlets by-election victor Derek Beackon on his Isle of Dogs stomping ground in east London, in the earliest days of the party. He was surrounded by threatening thugs but that did not deter me from asking him how he squared being of Maltese descent yet calling for "immigrants" to be repatriated. Beackon didn't reply and nor did he last long in the BNP leadership.
Soon afterwards the party's madcap paramilitary wing Combat 18 put me, and other prominent anti-racists, on their "death list". That was a decade and a half ago. I'm still alive and they are no more.
For me, the old-style campaigning against the BNP by the corrupt, first past the post two-party political establishment of Labour and the Conservatives has been shown to be totally counter-productive. (A version of the Labour Party Black Sections would have been able to break with the arguably institutionally racist Labour Party in which it nestled so uncomfortably in the 1980s and stand a chance of getting socialist representatives elected under proportional representation which we supported before the fairer electoral system was fashionable).
We cannot defeat the BNP by merely denouncing them as racist when Labour prime minister Gordon Brown himself makes a virtue of spouting the mantra: "British jobs for British workers." I'm all for that noble sentiment but have problems with its coded xenophobia, as the son of a Jamaican father who fought in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War to keep Britain free from fascism, and an au pair Finnish mother who suffered anti-foreigner jibes in the UK of the 1950s.
Britain's rotten political system needs mould-breaking and voters are demonstrating this with their support for Greens, independents and, depressingly, for the BNP. The almost indistinguishable Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats do not represent the range of opinions of ordinary people. So, Obama-like, change is being demanded. Does it much matter if Gordon Brown or Tweedledee is leader of the ruling Labour Party if the manifesto remains the same pro-capital, pro-war right-wing fare?
The political establishment must address the grievances of working class Brits -- Black and white -- who vehemently believe that they play second fiddle to "immigrants", mostly now from Eastern Europe. There is a need for a progressive politics-driven pride in being British based on a celebration of cultural diversity rather than the narrow, backwards-looking nationalism of the BNP. We should welcome and not fear this debate from which The Latest will not shrink.