Sunday, 25 October 2009

As the dust settles on Question Time......

So, what to make of Nick Griffin's appearance on QT? Was he exposed as a dyed-in-the-wool Nazi; or a political lightweight? Was he deliberately set up by the liberal establishment for a mauling? What will the voters make of it?

Unquestionably, Griffin took some hits on Holocaust denial, KKK connections and Hitler. But the discussion never really got beyond this. Perhaps this was because the other politicians on the panel had some uncomfortable truths of their own to hide from.

The BNP's support comes from a burning sense of grievance which stems from the notion that "resources" (jobs, housing, public services) are "scarce". The sense of grievance comes from perceptions of how these "scarce resources" are divvied up. In this environment any idea, however incorrect, that certain groups receive any kind of preferential treatment can be exploited. What the Left has to do in this situation is to start by challenging the "scarce resources" myth head on - something which the three supporters of neo-liberalism on the panel were never going to do.

One of the most significant moments on the programme came when someone asked the immigration question. Griffin just looked on smiling as the other three fought over which of their parties best wore the political clothes of the BNP on this issue.

In the absence of a clear political alternative, I suspect that the BNP will conclude that they have done rather well out of the QT experience, notwithstanding Griffin's ineptitude, and notwithstanding that they will have to go through the motions of complaining about how "unfair" it all was.

It's a hard thing to say, but most recession-hit working-class people do not have at the front of their minds what happened in WW2, or what sort of people Griffin mixes with when he visits the US. What they might be interested in is the emerging pattern of BNP councillors' extremely poor performance in office - voting to close services they promised to protect, failing to hold surgeries, failing to attend meetings, not following up casework and - yes - not a little self-enrichment on expenses. What they might also be interested in is an alternative view of society in which the fourth-richest country in the world has no excuse for "scarce resources".

That's the challenge for the Left.

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