Monday, 5 May 2008

Hari: No More No Platforms

Of the left-wing columnists who get a regular bashing here and on other libertarian blogs, I've always rated Johann Hari as probably the best of them - In fact I'd go so far as to say that the sensible columns outweigh the occasional clunker.

Besides, anyone who so enrages the pro-Iraq war so-called 'Decents'*, as Hari has since his March 2006 article in which he reversed and apologished for his initial support for the invasion, has to have something going for them.

Today's Johann Hari piece in the Independent, dealing with the burning question of just why so many people voted for the BNP as to give them a seat on the London assembly, is a great illustration of that. He rises above the shrillness and faux-amazement of other commentators on the elections to ask the pertinent question: Why is the BNP vote rising?

As I and others predicted two months ago, so Hari discovered as he canvassed for the election. When he asked one "fiftysomething white woman" why she planned to vote BNP, he reports receiving the following priceless response:

"I just want to tell politicians to fuck off."

Yes, much of the increase in the BNP vote on Thursday wasn't the 'bigot vote', but the protest vote - Often ex-Labour voters who no longer feel their party represents them, and recognise that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats stand for anything much different. The far left has been unable to become sufficiently organised in time to mount a serious challenge for their votes, the Left List and Respect receiving a laughable 0.92% and 2.43% of the List vote respectively. It is not difficult, then, to guess why 'disenfranchised' voters fall for the BNP's come-ons.

The BNP have, as I discussed in a pre-election post on the subject, done their best to hide their extremism and give themselves a veneer of respectability. As Johann Hari describes in today's column, the "no platform" approach doesn't help. It gives the BNP justification for painting themselves as victims of 'censorship' and 'political correctness', and perhaps more importantly prevents them from letting their true colours show.
"The way to discredit the BNP is for people to hear what they say. No more no platforms: take them on. Read out their pro-Hitler quotes. Watch them implode."
Richard Barnbrook's slurred speech upon winning his London Assembly seat is a case in point. Even on the white-supremacist Stormfront forums it was described as an "embarrassment" and "cringe worthy". The BNP's new GLA member looks quite prepared to make a fool of himself:

Let the public see and hear, over the next four years, just how disastrous a representative Barnbrook is - and how much worse the candidates lower down the BNP list must, by extension, have been.

* Don't bother commenting on the linked blog - Its autocratic, Christopher Hitchens-loving administrator will delete any comments that go against its 'Decent Left' line, replacing them with his own brand of snideness.

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