The Left and Migration

Blogger and scum watcher Left Outside has written a very interesting piece on how immigration is discussed in the modern British political sphere, and with less than optimistic conclusions.

With Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s recent praise for Enoch ‘Rivers of Blood’ Powell as his backdrop,  LO briefs us on the stark similarities in sentiment with which the current popular press share with the racism that appealed to Powell’s speech; a racism that was blunt, explicit and erroneous in its ‘swamping’ conclusions.

The conclusions are shockingly correct, as can be found in this entry written by Stirring up Apathy recently, and the hat-tips that inspired that entry. But what interested me most about LO‘s entry was the point about discussing immigration. His words;

Discussing immigration is difficult in this country, often it descends into one side calling the other racists. Or more commonly, a writer beginning a piece by stating that it is no longer possible to discuss immigration in this country, without being accused of being a racist. I don’t think that this is a particularly healthy way to conduct debate.

Not healthy indeed. But who is lagging behind? The answer is anyone who ducks out of the question on immigration. This gap in leftist discussion has two effects; it opens up a free space for the far right who pride themselves on speaking up for the silent majority, and it leaves the assumption untouched that the left consensus on immigration is an open border policy. As such there are real problems here.

Do the European left have this same problem with talking about immigration? Of course there are many examples, one being the Dutch Socialist Party who oppose mass economic migration on the grounds that it is the logic of free-market capitalism, exporting workers from abroad to do the jobs that natives don’t need/want to do.

Another example can be taken from the words of Oskar Lafontaine, a German politician and co-chairman of Die Linke, a coalition leftwing group set to be a real challenge to Merkel’s Christian democrats in the next election. Known as a maverick to some, and not one to mince his words, in 1996 said “We have taken in 3.5 million immigrants,” … “In the last few years we have taken in 1 million extra people of working age, and they are walking straight into unemployment – into unemployment benefit or to draw a pension or to get welfare support.” These comments soon turned into an argument in Germany about race, since it concerned many of Eastern Europe’s German diaspora to migrate back “to the Fatherland”. It was, however, revealed soon after that many of the Aussiedler – or settlers – were not really German at all.

The main point here is that for bringing up numbers of migrants, Lafontaine was accused of “populist demagoguery” due to there being an oncoming election, but looked at carefully, Lafontaine’s main focus was not ethnicity or the claim that migrants steal jobs, but rather that migrants are sold the idea that the “Fatherland” is where they will be free, when in fact a lot of those migrants were walking straight into unemployment.

There is a great deal of benefit from migrant communities to any country, but it seems to cross the border of fairness when economic migrants are exposed only to exploitation and poverty in rich countries, which is what the above leftist sentiment seems to demonstrate.

But this is not without its own problems, for example exploitation in the rich west may not have the same character as exploitation elsewhere which is why this life is still preferable to migrant workers. Of course, though this may be the case, exploitation should not be tolerated in any form, and should be curbed by any who can do so.

A reason why the left has to get their case right on immigration is because when immigration turns into a charter for exploitation, when free travel permits workers of poorer countries to become fodder for richer, then a left voice needs to be heard, for the left is the traditional wing against exploitation of all kinds.

Another reason why the left needs its voice heard on immigration is because who a country accepts or denies as being legitimately in need of political asylum may be wrong.

Take homosexuals for example. Diane Taylor reported for The Guardian in August 2004 that following the murder of gay activist Brian Williamson a letter published in the Jamaica Observer the next day read, “To be gay in Jamaica is to be dead.” The article by Taylor further announced that Jamaica was on the British Home Office’s “safe country list” and applications of homosexuals were often dismissed unsympathetically – which paints a different picture than that the far right would have us believe about Britain’s so-called “open-door policy”.

Another example is the case of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who escaped Iranian prosecution against homosexuality, after her partner was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death by stoning. At first in 2007, her asylum demand was refused by the UK government, but after a concerted campaign she has now been granted asylum (the decision was made on the 11th of February 2009) and will be allowed to remain in the UK.

Dialogue on asylum, immigration, migration is very important, but little is said by the left on the subject other than to denigrate the position taken by the BNP, which is as good a reason as any, but to leave a gap in valid ideas of its own, realistically leaves the far right to dominate the argument, and does nothing to counter the argument that the entire left supports a borderless country.

There can only be one thing worse than a policy where all immigration and asylum is curbed (more or less in line with how the BNP stand) and that is an open door policy, for this is the sort of argument sympathised by libertarians and hardcore free marketers (such as Dan Hannan) who embrace a pick of the workforce for as little payment as possible, and a constant wave of unemployment just in case that cheap worker gets silly.

Illegal immigration, too, leaves wide open the opportunity for trafficking and exploitation of the type that occured in Morcombe with the cockle pickers. This is not the reason why the BNP oppose illegal immigration, theirs is a whole host of nonsense such as preserving white identity, racial segregation and “flooding”. A leftist opposition to a borderless country – against leftists who do support such a thing - seeks to disuade the opportunities for the unpalatable forces in the world to hijack and exploit people who are either escaping tyranny or seeking a better chance.

The notion that the left can pursue these opinions are lost, and should be found. Understandably it takes a brave contingent to start of such a debate, but hopefully such a day will present itself, it might even put the politics of immigration into a perspective that not only disects the nonsense peddled by the right and far right wing press, but also draws the dominance of the issue away from the far right, thereby disuading white working class voters away from the lies and race hate produced in the ranks of the BNP.

 

This entry is in response to Left Outside’s article Dan Hannan, Enoch Powell, Volcanoes and the Daily Mail as part of the Bloggers Circle experiment

The true colours of the BNP, again

Its the year that the far-right party gained 2 MEPs and therefore should be one to celebrate for them, but the BNP are having severe problems regarding friends, namely that they cannot find enough in Europe, and the ones that they do have are a nasty bunch indeed. For me as for most, the BNP are a nasty lot, so it is unlikely to be of much surprise that their friends are too, but it is particularly damaging for them since they for a while now have been trying to appear a more moderate force, family oriented and not connected with the grit of international politics.

Who the BNP makes friends with has come to the fore in the press again as one Preston Wiginton, an American white nationalist, was refused entry to the UK “under laws to keep out “undesirables”.

The Mail also noted that “The BNP’s deputy leader Simon Darby said of Mr Wiginton: ‘He came to last year’s Red, White and Blue and was coming to this year’s but they wouldn’t let him in for some reason. He wasn’t coming to speak.”

Wiginton is an outspoken critic of immigration, has been documented blaming Jews for economic problems, has strong links with ‘murderous’ neo-nazi groups in Russia, and organised BNP leader Nick Griffin’s anti-Islam tour of three US universities at the end of October 2007.

Wiginton is not the first controversial American friend of the BNP’s in recent times. It had been reported that James W. Von Brunn, the neo-nazi who murdered a security guard at the doors of the Washington Holocaust museum in June this year – when he was at the age of 88 – was also a regular attendee at meetings held by the American Friends of the British National Party in Arlington County.

A further strong linking the BNP had with the American far-right was with David Duke, the former leader of the Klu Klux Klan who called President Obama a “visual aid,” which this picture certifies. It was on the stage with Duke that Griffin showed the true colours of his attempts to gain parliamentary influence by appearing to modernise the party, which can be seen on this video;

A list of the International friends of the BNP can be found here that include the usual suspects like France’s National Front. Though, in spite of the links which the party has with a cell known as the European National Front, the BNP, along with the Hungarian anti-gypsy party Jobbik, have failed to make a proper right-wing bloc in Europe (perhaps the Tories have stolen possible links with the creation of the ECR!). A video – here – also shows the party’s attempts at securing unpalatable support in Europe, and who can forget the time that Simon Darby was greeted to fascist salutes in Milan.

It doesn’t get any prettier online. Harry’s Place has created a profile of one BNP supporter on YouTube anda shortlist of his friends which include a supporter of American neo-nazi terrorist David Duke, a Serbian neo-Nazi who approvingly quotes David Lane, and a supporter of the neo-nazi party the British People’s Party – who are committed to the fourteen words.

Any attempts by the BNP to distance itself from groups and individuals that may ruin their attempted image change, is constantly pushed to the backfoot by loyal supporters themselves. The current issue with Preston Wiginton is testimony to this.

The Tory showdown in Europe continues

There is a terrifically entertaining showdown, known and acknowledged for some time now, but none the less being added to on a regular basis on the subject of the Tories in Europe.

It started with the Tories breaking with the pro-European conservatives that made up the European Peoples Party detailed here.

It joined ranks with some unsavoury characters, unsavoury to the extent that it figures out that the BNP have not acheived a grouping of their own in Europe.

As a result of unsettled relations in the new anti-federalist grouping to which the Tories are now joined to (the ECR European Conservatives and Reformists), Michel Kaminski, a controversial figure, of Polands Law and Justice Party leads the group, detailed here.

Kaminski’s character is of great interest. He is now unable to deny calls of anti-semitism against him despite the best efforts of right-wing Tories such as Dan Hannan who has also been known to stick up for other unpalatable types in Europe, such as the far-right Spanish group Alternativa Espanola. I’m sure he will not be too fussed over the charges that Kaminski was a fan of General Pinochet for, like Thatcher, Hannan’s free trade support and cosiness with “cranks” knows little in the way of bounds. But surely what is likely to get Hannan’s goat is that Kaminski has recently been won around on the benefits of the Lisbon Treaty. Hannan and William Hague will bend over backwards to show Kaminski as a reformer, but did they think he’d go full circle on the question of Europe?

Jewish groups have questioned Cameron’s future (more here) and Obama might not be too enthusiastic either about sharing an international platform with a leader engaged with such untrusting friends in Europe, despite the attempts to show otherwise.

What will happen next?

Ah ha! I, also, find out from LibCon that (“Straight Talking”) Roger Helmer MEP has denied the existence of homophobia in a blog entry, whilst pictured with Kaminski, inasmuch as nobody he has ever met has actually been physically afraid of homosexuals. That should help the Tories present their case that Kaminski is a moderniser who only opposed same-sex marriage because he is not scared of gay people. Carry on.

The BNP/Equality and Human Rights Commission problematic

Is it me, or is there not something rather peculiar about the issues regarding the BNP and their legal obligation to accept peoples of other ethnicities into their organisation. Unless in the context of hiring outside staff (cleaning staff, DJ’s etc) – for which there obviously should be equal opportunity legislation observed (though, as Afua Hirsch comically noted, don’t all rush at once!!) – the obligation for the far right to incorporate foreigners begs two pointers;

1) Its their loss if they don’t want to include, say, anti-Muslim Sikh’s into their infection-laden party, or other non-British rightwingers (some of the most challenging arguments-cum-debates I’ve ever been engaged in had occurred when I worked on the Old Kent Road during my student days, with one or two Caribbean men whose views would have made John Tyndall blush).

Along these lines, see here for an argument that looks at how the move may well exacerbate the problem of the BNP.

2) Which self-respecting person of non-British ethnicity would want to join a party that has to be told, in a legal framework, to allow non-British people.

In a reversal of the (Sigmund Freud, Groucho Marx? Who knows) infamous phrase; who would want to join a club that wouldn’t have me as a member!

BNP’s position on Belfast/Gypsy situation

The BNP website has an article posted yesterday detailing the party’s position on the gypsy situation in Belfast.

It is a reiteration of party leader Nick Griffin’s take, detailed in an email Thursday, opposing all violence, and calling for the police to come down hard on those perpetrators.

Has the BNP condemned the racism?

Not exactly. The article points out the “sickening wave of racist violence”, but seems to only hold contempt for the way in which the situation has escalated. Its obviously a necessary strategy for the BNP to be seen to oppose violence, since details are regularly found regarding BNP members’ violent and criminal past.

Now with relative electoral success, the clean image façade is working for them, so why rock the boat.

It becomes clear that it’s only the unclean image that violence evokes in people that is the strategic problem for Griffin, when he continues in his email;

“the truth of the matter is that as long as multiculturalism and uncontrolled mass immigration continues to be official policy, we will continue to see inter-communal violence and bloodshed like recently in Belfast.”

For him, hatred of the Romanian gypsies may be justified only within the context of perceiving violence as bad image.

Is Gypsy/Traveller relations a new dawn for the BNP?

No of course not, they are on the back foot since there are reports circulating that BNP policies are being used to justify the actions taking place in Ireland. And of course this is embarrassing because the BNP cannot be seen to condone what is going on, if it is to enjoy relative electoral success.

So I guess this is OK, if the BNP cannot be seen to condone violence, perhaps this is OK, after all, aren’t politicians allowed their own personal convictions at home separated from the work life?

Absolutely not the case. The tactic of faux subtlety has come straight from the horse’s mouth, as this video (must see, if you haven’t already) of Griffin speaking in America – alongside former KKK terrorist David Duke – shows.

In his address to the friends of America – one of whom is James Von Brunn who killed a security guard 2 weeks ago – Griffin explains “that the long-term BNP goal of forcibly expelling all non-White Britons from the their homes is, for the time being, best served by “being rather more subtle” – because in the short-term, the BNP being HONEST about their real beliefs would get his party “absolutely nowhere”.

Will Gordon Brown ruin Labour forever?

The rebels failed to amount to anything at the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting; the reshuffle has settled the shifts; Mandy is happy, the Miliband’s are happy; Polly Toynbee is furious; the James Purnell story on Guido Fawkes is probably bollocks; he probably helped keep Brown from drowning; Alan Johnson has not ruined his chances of being leader by looking like he wants it too much, and Brown lives to see another day.

So we rebels who hoped Compass would help direct Brown to the door have to ask ourselves the question; is the question of leadership change big enough to collapse the party (see David Aaronovitch’s intervention) or will the party suffer as a consequence of rebel silence?

In other words, should the rebels bite their lips to save the party, or will this complacency lead to defeat beyond repair.

Nick Cohen offered up some scary details at the weekend, and though rather exaggerated, do outline the very worst case scenrio for the Labour Party if the wrong decision is to be taken. He says;

“The banking crash led to recession, which led to a popular fury at the often minor, but still telling, corruptions of MPs who were fiddling expenses while the financial system boomed and bust. That anger has now concentrated on the shattered Brown administration, whose manifest failings could destroy Labour’s chances of winning another election – maybe forever, if the Liberal Democrats and Greens take over what remains of the centre-left.”

Roy Hattersley reminded us elsewhere that Labour should re-deliver its social democracy promises, just as Europe reminded us that the left’s chance to prosper (during an economic crisis) had failed.

But this is by far not a call for the left to give up, and I back Hattersley’s sentiment. The point remains; is Gordon Brown doing the right thing for the greater good by staying, if the worst that could happen come next election is that Labour slip into fourth place, behind the BNP, forever more?

The consequences of Brown staying on are far greater than an election defeat in 2010, and so the question is on: will the (definitely disavowed gesture of) silence by the rebels be a gesture that returns to haunt them in the future?

Lies, deceit, hate and Tory melancholy

Tory hacks are not as wry as before the expenses scandals. I mean, everyone is sulking, but Labour have plans up their sleeves, whereas the Tories main election winning force – i.e., “liberal conservatism” – is shaking.

Three events have been talked about today that have made the Tories just that little bit sadder.

Firstly, the family of Winston Churchill, notably Tory MP Nicholas Soames, are angry that the BNP have hijacked Churchill’s sayings in order to drum up national pride (although the uncovering of Nick Griffin’s edited magazine ‘The Rune’ has wiped smiles of the far-right’s faces, showing Griffin on record praising the SS and attacking the RAF).

Second, Tory Student has asked readers to vote UKIP (pretty standard this one?)

And thirdly, Daily Mail writer Peter Hitchens is sick of BNP voters using the Mail as a platform of their own, waving Read the Daily Mail placards and bombarding their comments pages with hate messages (because that is the job of the editor).

Has racism been here before?

The worries of Boris, and indeed the rest of us nice folk, are temporarily relaxed; he’s not allowed to go, its inappropriate. But the whole affair crossed my mind again – at a time when many are tired of the BNP even getting mentioned, saying why give them promotion, or why dedicate so much time on criticising them, it looks desparate etc etc… (I don’t agree, but I might be sympathetic to the idea that a protest at the BBC is worthless, and perhaps even detrimental).

But I was reading the Guardian review of Richard Overy’s new book The Morbid Age: Britian Between the Wars, and as I focused upon the examples given by reviewer Alison Light, of Julian Huxley etc, I realised that it wasn’t so much that racism in suits hasn’t shown its ugly head before, but, rather, it had and we did so much to curb it. Well, now its fighting back, and so it is well worth doing all possible to sideline the crackpots, but, and I’ll re-state again and again, more effort needs to be done in order not to show the crackpot-hater as the crackpot himself.

A protest at the BBC, I think not…

Amid NUJ complaints, Echo still promotes BNP

echo again

echo again 2

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has complained to Newsquest about their decision to accept money from the far-right British National Party in exchange for adverts on their newspaper websites.

An article for the Guardian (printed Tuesday 19 May 2009 17.14 BST) noted that “In recent days, a number of Newsquest websites, including the Bromsgrove Advertiser, the Redditch Advertiser and Stourbridge News, have carried banner and video adverts from the far-right political party. The ads have since been removed from the newspaper sites.”

Lucky them, the advert on the Basildon Echo website (above) remains. It seems Martin McNeill missed his opportunity to remove it.

The Right Wing in Europe

Far-right politician and murder inventor Richard Barnbrook was invited to join the launch of England’s bid to host the football World Cup in his role as a member of the London Assembly, the Times reports.

But two further parts of the story, found on the Evening Standard website, here, made for troublesome reading. First is the unconfirmed report by a BNP spokesperson that Barnbrook also has an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace (links in this circle had already been uncovered, back in 2006, by Guardian journalist Ian Cobain when he discovered that Peter Bradbury, a leading proponent of complementary medicine who has links to Prince Charles, was a member of the BNP). The second uncomfortable truth, announced by the spokesperson, was that the public should get used to the BNP getting more public invitations.

Will we have to get used to that? Why has it only been relative affluence and economic stability that have before managed to neutralise the far-right. Like Charlie Brooker referred to in his recent article, on the subject of the expenses and the terrible party political broadcast by the BNP, “by referring to “professional politicians”, Griffin is presumably suggesting we should elect amateurs instead.” And, too, for the public, in times of crisis, like now, is the correct protest voice at the polling booth the one that condemns the establishment so much, they are willing to send the country back 1,000 years?

Will it be that the BNP get the same level of political favour as Le Pen’s National Front? If so, it is looking unlikely that the two will be natural allies, not since David Cameron has dropped the Tories from EPP (European People’s Party) memebership. This move will see the Tories sit nicely with other “non-attached” MEP’s, the xenophobes, the neo-nazi’s, the protectionists.

Pro-Europe Kenneth Clarke said over the weekend, it emerged in the Guardian, that the Tories will not be aligned with “neo-fascists or cranks or anything of this kind”. They may not be hugging one another, but they will certainly share the same bed. That bed inhabited by the infamous Polish Law and Justice Party (I’m sure you know all about them, but if you don’t, and to save me repeating, see Nick Cohen’s Observer article, and a blog entry written by Andy from Mind Robber). This won’t prove to be a wise move with the European community before the general elections, but June the 4th will show that it unfortunately won’t undermine the Tories. The UK is set to be represented by our own “non-attached”, detached.

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