ORGANISATIONS such as Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate and the more direct-action group Anti-Fascist Action are celebrating the slow demise of the British National Party, English Defence League and a number of tiny nationalist splinter groups and parties. And they have just cause to do so.
The BNP only now exists tenuously and is heavily in debt; many of its members have left. The EDL is pretty much finished as a street-fighting force – its supporters were only some of the miserable 200 “patriot” thugs who turned up for the March For England on April 21, to be met by a wide coalition of opposition in Brighton. About 50 or 60 National Front supporters gathered in Swansea recently for a “White Pride” rally. Their rally didn’t go ahead because they were vastly outnumbered by anti-fascists, but they succeeded in sneaking off to a bikers’ club in the valleys for a Blood & Honour gig where two dressed as KKK Klansmen and lynched a grotesque gollywog dummy. But on the whole, the “no pasaran” (“they will not pass”) method of Cable Street in 1936 of preventing fascists from marching down high streets and spreading hate and violence as they do so, seem to be working. Usually the police objective is to bus them in, and bus them out again in as short a time as possible.
But, and this is a big but, does the near-demise of these groups mean people are becoming enlightened and turning away from fascism/nationalism (the difference/overlap between the two political stances seems to be similar to communism/socialism – ie, not a lot)? Or does it mean they are getting their far-right-wing fix elsewhere? In the past month I have become increasingly embroiled into researching and watching UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) and campaigning against them where I live, the Forest of Dean.
Now UKIP is not 100% fascist, and its supporters/members are not all racists, fascists or xenophobes (depending on how you define these terms) – if you take a peek at those attending the “common sense” tour meetings, full halls everywhere but almost everyone appears to be a pensioner, and I’d imagine many would be horrified at the accusation of associating with fascists – but the EDL has called on all its supporters and other nationalist groups and parties to get behind UKIP as they have a chance of gaining power. “They are saying exactly what we say, just in a different way, do you know what I mean?” said the EDL leader, Tommy Robinson.
UKIP, for its part, bans anyone from joining if they have previously been a member of most of the fascist parties or the EDL. But it doesn’t ban members of the English Democrats (which, unlike UKIP, is listed as a ‘hate group’ by Hope Not Hate), and the EDL doesn’t operate membership lists. Besides, although in some places such as Cornwall, BNP defectors have been discovered and kicked out, elsewhere – including in Kent, where an ex-National Front member is a candidate for the county council – they have been allowed to remain. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has admitted that in the rush to put up 1,700 council candidates, the vetting procedure was non-existent in many cases.
But, for all its efforts to stem known fascists within its ranks, UKIP is openly nationalist – and proud of it. The party with its policies stands somewhere between Thatcherite and right-wing libertarian, and Enoch Powellite and culturally censorious – ie it supports laissez-faire, low taxation and cutting bureaucracy, but also wants to scrap workers’ and employment rights and ban things being taught which it disagrees with. One analysis finds UKIP more than 60% fascist: http://www.scribd.com/doc/134276292/UKIP-Fascism-Analysis
A recent leaflet The Truth About UKIP has, at time of writing, been seen by 3,500 people – but I’ve yet to see UKIP managing to debunk any of it: http://www.scribd.com/doc/135716750/THE-TRUTH-ABOUT-UKIP
So, to conclude, the fascists from the EDL, NF, BNP may have largely vanished from the streets with their respective banners, only to be biding their time and helping to promote UKIP, mostly less than overtly as they don’t want to wreck the party’s chances and bid at respectability by showing their moronic faces.
And UKIP is being given an easy ride by almost all of the media – it has the Sun, Mail, Times and Telegraph as its cheerleaders, and the Guardian and BBC are not doing much to criticise UKIP. Farage now seems to get as much prime-time coverage on programmes such as Question Time as Cameron and Miliband, and is quoted as much as the big-two party leaders. It’s almost as if the mainstream media is giving fascism a helping hand. And Hope Not Hate recently polled its members to ask whether it should oppose UKIP as it does the EDL et al, but it appears members voted not to.
The nub of UKIP’s current scaremongering – anti-Muslim sentiment having faded a little – is an apparent influx of Romanians and Bulgarians from January 2014 when the EU relaxes restrictions on their travel. But a Channel 4 News report followed Farage to Bulgaria where he was repeatedly told – even by his far-right Bulgarian ally – that no one had any wish to come to Britain. Still he and his growing number of supporters remain myopic and happy to continue their fever-pitch anti-foreigner propaganda.
At the same time, many on the left seem blind to the danger UKIP poses. Many I’ve spoken to shrug and say “they will just split the Tory vote, which can only be a good thing”. Maybe, but what’s the likelihood, when UKIP have pushed ahead of the LibDems, they and the Tories will team up for the next coalition government? Also, to take this stance is not opposing the rise of fascism, the cancer of the extreme-right wing which is spreading rapidly now through our communities.
We should all be getting out there and persuading people that UKIP is a bad thing, not a fresh change – but more of the same, and a whole lot worse.
TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE, THAT IS THE QUESTION…
I consider myself an anarchist and traditionally anarchists don’t vote because it perpetuates a faulty system which they oppose. If you are against being governed, why vote for a politician? However, and this brings me into dispute with other anarchists, I believe that some politicians are worse than others. In the past I’ve held my nose and voted Labour in a bid to keep the Tories out. Now we need to keep both the Tories and UKIP out – and UKIP have candidates in all 8 wards.
For the county council elections on May 2 I will be voting for an Independent: basically because he was a champion against the Forest of Dean being sold off, leading a delegation to the Houses of Parliament, and has been doing all he can to oppose a 200-acre corporate land-grab just down the road from me, which is supported and promoted by local Labour councillors: savenorthernunited.wordpress.com
Therefore, I can’t bring myself to support Labour at all as they are pushing for a large area of public land, a wildlife haven, to be concreted over with a road, business development, housing, a hotel and college. The perfectly decent college down the road, much to the chagrin of campaigners there, is earmarked for demolition and the land including the fields sold for housing development. We need new, affordable housing (probably in addition to the many empty and derelict homes being made available for living in) and jobs must be created, but there is plenty of land ripe for this kind of development that is already in a built-up area. Destroying virgin land – and public land – however would seem to be more of a money-spinner for all involved.
I’ve even given the candidate Claude Mickleson, standing in Cinderford for the Trade Unionists and Socialists against Cuts (TUSC), a hand leafleting. Claude, it should be said, is 89 years old but has more fire, energy than most a quarter of his age and maximum integrity as a man of the people.
For those in the ward Blakeney and Bream, the only candidates besides UKIP standing are the Lab-Lib-Con formation – but it’s the branch chairman Richard Leppington they’re up against, and I believe having someone as your county councillor who helps promote Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech on Facebook, sharing it from the Infidels of Britain page (which he did on April 25) might well not be a good thing.
Also standing in the Cinderford ward is UKIP’s Ann Guyton, a former accountant, and (a source tells me) ex-police officer from Teesside. Her husband, Colin Guyton, also an ex-copper from Teesside, is standing for UKIP in Lydbrook & Drybrook. He made it on to his local parish council a couple of years ago unopposed. Both the Guytons are well into “zero tolerance” to crime.
But that stance doesn’t prevent them from aligning themselves with Lydney’s UKIP candidate and convicted shoplifter Alan Preest, who was thrown out of the district council’s Tory group, and off the council’s police liaison group for thieving. Preest, who has also been reported staggering home from the pub in the middle of the road and shouting at passing traffic, managed to narrowly win a byelection to Lydney Town Council where 15 per cent of the electorate turned out. A cautionary tale of what you can end up with if you don’t turn up and vote.
Another of the UKIP FoD eight is John Sullivan – outspoken to the point of foolishness, who – like Leppington – openly admires Enoch, but also US white supremacist Bob Whitaker’s cult White Rabbit Radio, the National Front, and has even alienated some of his own party with his homophobia. Boarding-school educated (he recently published a story detailing his regular canings and resulting buttock welts), the main ticket he is standing on is more grammar schools, reinstatement of the student grant and EMA. For those who know nothing of him beyond his electoral statement published in the local newspaper, he could almost be a socialist… that is, if no one was aware of UKIP’s policy of privatising state schools.
Perhaps the other UKIP candidates are less extreme, I don’t know either way. It’s only those who like to broadcast their extreme views that attract attention.
So who can you vote for besides UKIP, Tory or LibDem? Here are my suggestions:
Cinderford – Claude Mickleson (Trade Unionist and Socialists Against Cuts)
Coleford – Paul McMahon (Labour) or Ian Whitburn (Independent)
Newent – Jan Royall (Labour)
Lydney – James Greenwood (Green)
Sedbury – Chris McFarling (Green)
Blakeney & Bream – Bill Evans (Labour)
Mitcheldean – Ken Power (Green)
Drybrook & Lydbrook – Andrew Gardiner (Independent)
In France, where they have two rounds of voting in national elections, several years ago the fascist Front National came close to getting into power after the first round of voting; thus many shocked people who’d not bothered voting in the first round came out to ensure they wouldn’t get in for the second round. In Britain, we only get one round of voting, one chance to ensure fascists are not running our local services. The Tories are awful, UKIP would be worse than awful!