Monday, April 17, 2006

The Unacceptable Face of British Democracy!

(Associated Press)
I was disturbed to read that up to 25% of voters might consider voting for a "far-right party"!
Whilst this is "very localised" at the moment, it is a fearful and growing trend, and some of it is due to anger and dissatisfaction with the main political parties.
I have even been horrified to find, within the last year, that about two individuals in Baldock have sympathies with the BNP's aims and beliefs. For me, that's two individuals too many, supporting a vile political group.
Most of the support for the BNP, across the country seems to come from white, working class areas, who feel let down and alienated. That said, I feel that this is a feeble excuse on their part. It's not that I don't sympathise with their concerns or predicament, but support for a far-right party who tell them that their problems are down to ethnic minorities receiving what is due to them will get them nowhere! By law, everyone should be treated equally and if they have a problem with that then they can contact the various authorities concerned, but being emotive and blaming individuals , many of whom are the vulnerable and on the margins of society is just wrong!
But I think there is a much wider problem here that effects British democracy, which effects the way we vote and act and it is this!
For far too long now, we have lived in a culture where we put ourselves and our own interests first and not considered what is good for the country as a whole. The maxim given by President Kennedy in his inagural speech; "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!" has, in the UK at least, been turned on it's head. We worry about our own individual rights, which is right and proper in itself, don't get me wrong, at the expense of others, which is a morally bankrupt attitude to take. When we vote for a political party, we should not just be thinking about our wallets and what we feel our country owes us, we should be thinking about those in society who are less well off and who could well benefit or suffer depending on how we vote! It was this selfless attitude that helped us during the Second World War when we were fighting hard against the people with the very policies and aims that the far right sympathise with. I tell any "patriotic" individual who may well be thinking of voting BNP in next months elections, wherever they are; "Your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents would be ashamed of you and what you are doing is putting all the hard work they put into helping defend this country in vain". What's more, many people in this country who support the BNP, clearly feel they are doing something immoral, because when the BBC interviewed several people in Barking yesterday evening, some would say on camera that we have "Too many immigrants...", but would not dare say that they supported the BNP. How spineless!
So what can be done to fight this intrusion into decent democracy! Well, it will take a long while, but first of all, all politicians should help re-engage with the electorate. Many do so already, but there are some careerists who do as little work as possible, regarding leafleting and canvassing as beneath them. They have a moral duty to help. Many MP's, staffers, and councillors, need more active help and support and the jobs they do!
Secondly, we should listen to the electorate more and not be afraid to tell individual voters when they are wrong. They may not vote for you or the candidate you support, but they will respect you for being honest.
Thirdly, those of us who are in the main political parties, need to work together in a loose coalition whenever and wherever there is a BNP candidate in their area. For example, they could issue a Jt leaflet explaining why no one should vote BNP and mention briefly what differences there are between themselves, but what makes them better at representing their area than a far-right candidate(s) offering simple and brutal solutions to complex problems. Democracy is too important to allow extremist candidates take advantage of main party political arguments.
Fourthly, we need to focus more on the deprived and poor areas in this country and work together to help rebuild them and to give the people who live there help, support, and some self-respect. Many feel marginalised and left-out of society and we need to do more to help them than just write them off as a pack of ignorant chavs, which some people who should know better seem to do!
Fifthly. People like Billy Bragg are right on these issues! (apart from the bit about the BNP and Proportional Representation and duffing people up!) We need to reclaim our national identity and not let it get hijacked by the far-right. The UK has a history of multi-culturalism and variety in it's history. Britian has never been static in it's traditions, and that needs to be respected and encouraged.

I admit that this in itself is simplistic, but we need to make a start and make major efforts to work at dealing with these complex issues. It will take a long time, mistakes will be made, but we need to start reengaging now, or else we will wake up and find that the enemy has entered the house while we were sleeping.


David Clayton said...

Interesting stuff. It is possible to blame the leadership of the Labour Party for the rise of the BNP. There are large numbers of people who feel forgotten Their kids go to demonized schools with low pass rates. University rarely happens and is very expensive if it does. The old reliable well paid industrial jobs have gone and Blair offers their flexible labour cheap on international markets. The housing is crap and social housing has been sold off and done up by winners in an increasingly divisive housing market. The local and media role models are drug dealers and criminals. I know large numbers of people who intend to vote BNP and i weary myself arguing with them. But do you know the strongest argument they have for doing it? This will get some attention in a way that voting labour will not. All that gets them is a stupid education bill, low wages, poor housing and little hope of change. The fact that the BNP are a bunch of inept and violent racists isn't really what this is about for many people.

Paul Burgin said...

Well it should be! We do need to improve social housing, but what people should be aware of is that these issues can take time and are sometimes less simplistic.I also don't subscribe to your view that the problem can be laid squarely at the door of the Labour Party and it's policies.
The problem of the BNP can be laid at the door of all three main parties for various reasons, whether they are localised or nationalised, large or small!
As for getting attention, they will get it, but may well find themselves more ridiculed and marginalised than they are already as a result.