Britain was tense last October when the BBC announced that Nick Griffin, head of the British National Party, would be interviewed on one of its programs. They’s fightin’ again at the BBC, said a London cabdriver. It was front-page news for two weeks before the interview, and what began on the morning after could only be described as an orgy of recrimination. Needless to say, neither the poor hacks writing the news articles, nor any of the righteous grandees on the op-ed pages, deigned to take up any of the issues Griffin said he wants to debate. Almost the entire stream of verbiage was directed at one issue—namely, why should an extremist be allowed to make his point on the box?
As nobody wants to talk substance with Le Pen in France, nobody wants to talk substance with Griffin in Britain. It’s nothing personal, of course, because nobody wants to talk substance with the UK Independence Party, either. UKIP shares some positions with the BNP—notably on Europe and on immigration—yet its reticence on the subject of white supremacy does not save it from sharing the extremist status of the BNP, and it remains a fellow pariah. Voters simply have no time for any but the three major parties in Parliament, and the journalists are only too happy to follow the voters.
After the program was aired, however, an opinion poll found that 22 percent of Britons would “seriously consider” voting for the BNP. Moreover, while the BBC received 114 complaints from those aggrieved by the appearance of Griffin, 243 viewers wrote to complain that the BNP leader was not treated fairly during the interview. But instead of making the press engage Griffin on the issues, it only made the media moan more loudly about the platform of legitimacy that had been given to a racist extremist.
Under the cloak of all the brouhaha an extraordinary event passed unnoticed. On October 15 an evening newspaper reported on page ten of its urban-news roundup that the BNP had lost its legal battle with the government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, and that by the order of the court it had ten days “to amend its constitution to ensure that its membership rules no longer discriminate on the grounds of race.” Not a single mainstream paper has picked up the story.
By the BNP’s original rules, only “indigenous Caucasians” could become members. Well, them’s fascists, innit? Now the party would have to admit, not to put too fine a point on it, “wogs”—who in Britain, incidentally, “begin at Calais” and include people of Caribbean and Asian origin who, to my own cosmopolitan eye, would not look out of place on a golf course in Connecticut—those same wogs, in short, whose uncontrolled immigration into Britain the party defines itself by opposing. Lest the reader think that British justice isn’t blind, however, I should mention that a week later the trustees of the Jewish Free School were in court under the Race Relations Act, trying to prove that the private school had the right to reject a boy whose father is a Jew and whose mother has converted to Judaism. Well, them’s Jews, guv, they oughta know! But if fascists can’t decide who can be a fascist, why should Jews be able to decide who’s Jewish?
Another week passed by, and a man called Andrew Neather, “former adviser to Straw, Blair and David Blunkett,” opened his big mouth to say that “at secret meetings during the summer of 2000” Labour ministers agreed that uncontrolled “mass immigration into the country” was strategically the surest way to retain Labour’s hold on power, with the added tactical advantage that this would allow them to “rub the right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments [against multiculturalism] out of date.” Nobody bothered, however, to poll the electorate in the wake of this revelation. Was it still 22 percent? Or was it now 33 percent, as in the Reichstag?
Finally, come November, it was the Conservatives’ turn to show their mettle, as David Cameron reneged on the promise by which his party had been defined from the moment he had taken charge of it—namely, the referendum on Europe. The Lisbon Treaty has been signed, he said, so what’s the point? The train has left the station! That it has, guv.
Nobody bothered to remind David Cameron that within living memory, in Germany, there was a man with whom nobody wanted to talk substance, able to smash a treaty whose oppressive provisions nobody wanted to discuss, who stopped the train that had left the station just like this one. Nobody bothered to remind the BBC that when, of the major three parties in Parliament, one so spectacularly betrays the electorate on immigration, another, no less spectacularly, betrays it on membership in the European superstate, and the third keeps spectacularly mum, perhaps it is time to debate with extremists—rather than debate debating with them. And nobody bothered to remind the newspaper editors that, if blacks are invited to join the Ku Klux Klan and rabbis aren’t allowed to decide who’s a poor Jew, there is sure to step forward a man who will make sense of all the nonsense—at least in the eyes of some of their readers.
You’ve got a point there, guv, said the cabdriver.