Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Why the left/right issue regarding the BNP is important (and why I wish it wasn't)

In the wake of the recent European and Local election results, there's been a flurry of activity in the UK political blogosphere which has generated some interesting theories, some bitter recriminations, and a whole heap of back-and-forth argy-bargy over what the fuck just happened.

One of the threads of discussion that caught your host's eye was the attempt to paint the BNP into the left/right spectrum, preferably as far away from the posting party's own political viewpoint as possible. Sunny's post on LibCon as usual caught a fair cross-section of responses, and Anton's response on Enemies Of Reason dealt with the subject with as much pith as anything involving the BNP frankly deserves.

It is troubling though, because it occurs to me that where the BNP and fascism in general sits on the political spectrum is a side issue. To me the issue here is that a lot of bloggers and commentators on the right are attempting to use the BNP's typically poorly and vaguely-worded campaign literature to smear the left by association - namely by painting "nationalisation" and "protectionism" as exclusively left-wing goals. Unity's post on LibCon nicely debunks a lot of it for us online policy wonks, and I've tried rebutting the claims where I find them in the comments. But the fact is that we're living in a political age dominated by the soundbite, and the dangerous soundbite in this case is that Right-wing = "pro-freedom", which doesn't make the left sound good when reversed.

The pustulent Karl Rove, for all that his efforts now lie in tatters, was a master at pushing this kind of meme, and one of the best plays he made was, for a time, successfully claiming the term "pro-freedom" for the right. It's a dangerously loaded term, because it's unlikely that any self-respecting person would want to support a political stance that could be called "anti-freedom", but because it is a soundbite and the depth isn't there, it can become a false dichotomy in the mind. Of course, what right-wing libertarians don't tell the voter is that the freedoms they support wholeheartedly include the freedom to starve and the freedom to be exploited by an employer, and on the flipside, the freedom for the rich and well-connected to ride roughshod over the less well-off. The Tories - who, befitting of a party led by a former TV PR hack, this time round are basically armed with soundbites and vague ideas to the exclusion of all else - are therefore well-placed to take advantage of this.

Those of us who do not want to see them use this to force Cameron and his insincere grin into power with a majority sizeable enough to utterly destroy what meagre gains were made for the majority of the British populace over the last 12 years would do well to note this, and push back hard.

1 comment:

Laban said...

Off topic, but I have replied to your abusive comment on my Charles Murray blog post, which I've only just picked up.

And as the child of a single mother and with a very similar father to yours, all I can say is that I wish she'd taught you some manners. As my mother did.

How we solve the problem of living in a family, village, town or nation containing people we disagree with is a measure of how civilised we are. You don't seem to think that very important.