Saturday, May 10, 2008

Time to end No Platform?

For many years a lot of people have tried to counter the rise of the BNP and other fascist groups with a policy called "No Platform" designed to deny them an outlet to express their views in the belief that by denying them the oxygen of publicity this will restrict them and prevent them from growing.

It's a battering ram of a solution to the cancer of the BNP. But you can't cure cancer with a battering ram. The idea that No Platform is working has been totally blown out of the water by the last London Assembly elections.

Why is this? Well No Platform doesn't completely cut off the ability of fascists to communicate with voters. It only restricts it. And it also restricts the ability to counter the specific points made by the fascists. They are thus given a "pariah" status to appeal to the disillusioned and disaffected.

And let's not forget that the average BNP voter has no respect for the organisations that seek to deny them a platform. On The Independent: Johann Hari: BNP votes are a cry of white working-class anguish one BNP voter gives her reasons:

Instead, they were angry and alienated, and the BNP seemed to them to be the sharpest needle to jab into the eye of the political process; as one fifty something white woman said, "I just want to tell politicians to fuck off."
And No Platform plays into this image of the BNP as "the party with the answers THEY don't want you to hear".

So instead let's give them the chance to destroy themselves. Let's expose their lies and incoherent policies, let's allow them to slip up rather than hide their failings behing a No Platform policy, let's tear away the pariah status upon which they set so much store and let's bring them down.

So with a great deal of reluctance I have decided to give Richard Barnbrook a platform. And even many on the far right wish he hadn't made this speech at the Mayoral declaration:

Of course this is only part of the way to take them on. It is also essential to address the concerns that have driven voters to the BNP. That includes addressing the problems of housing shortages, but it also involves asking some very hard questions about how things are done. Multiculturalism is one of the most controversial matters in the UK today, but if community groups feel divided against one another with one perceived to be losing out to another then alienation, resentment and recrimination will only grow. And the consequences are unthinkable.

Hat tip to The Tory Troll: Richard Barnbrook: The Great White Dope, Liberal Conspiracy: Richard Barnbrook: The Great White Dope and Question That: Hari: No More No Platforms.


a very public sociologist said...

Great Scott, it's a sad day for the left when a Tory such as your good self can come to such a conclusion while there are still activists in certain organisations who refuse to face facts. Besides, the BNP already has a platform in council chambers up and down the country.

Ultimately you can only defeat the BNP politically. That's by challenging its ideas and not ignoring the people who turn to them out of protest.

The Tory Troll said...

You have an interesting blog here. And while we probably disagree on most things, I hope that the right and left can come to a new consensus about the 'no platform' approach. It has failed and it's time that all moderate parties unite to take on the BNP rather than just ignoring them and hoping they will go away.

kevin scott said...

Mmmm, I would disagree about your use of the word 'moderate' to describe the three main parties.

There is nothing remotely moderate about support for immigration, the EU and the Iraq invasion (the Lib Dems get off the hook on the last one, but lose double points for the first two).

I actually think RB's speech was good (but then I'm biased).

Only a snob or an anorak would say it was bad.

I'm afraid the snobs and anoraks are just going to have to lump it for (at least) the next four years!

Thought Criminal said...

So you're going to expose the BNP's lies and incoherent policies are you? Well if the people in the BNP lie and cheat their way into power they'll feel right at home with all the other lying, cheating scumbags in Westminster!

It seems to me that anyone who disagrees with the way this country is being run into the ground and dares to raise their voice, is slapped firmly into place with the racist or fanatic label.

I'm not a racist, or a fanatic and I don't hold extreme political views, but the less I feel represented by the people in the governement, the more sympathy I feel for groups like the BNP. There aren't any other options for people like me.

Like it or not, I have as much right as anyone else to be heard and represented.


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