Life, the BNP and everything – well a few things anyway

Within the Labour movement, I think we can take it as read that we all understand the importance of tackling racist political partieshead on – you know exactly who I mean; that’s something we can all agree on, I should think, even if we sometimes differ in our preferred approach.

For example, there are many who still try and hold to the idea of ‘No Platform’, a tactic that I long ago concluded was ultimately counterproductive as efforts to ‘silence’ the National Front, BNP and others and prevent then getting their message out only serve to contribute to the false mystique they try to create around their appaling ideas and values in order to convey the impression that they are somehow dealing in ‘forbidden knowledge’ rather than errant, pig-ignorant, bullshit.

‘No platform’ also leaves us wide open to the charge that we are censorious and acting as the enemy of free speech, sometimes with some considerable justification, and all too easily leads us into hypocrisy. During last year’s general election campaign, Unite Against Fascism tried to organise an e-mail/letter writing campaign against the BBC over a party electionbroadcast by the BNP, before it had been shown, ignoring the fact that as long as the BNP stuck to the rules governing such broadcasts, the BBC had no right to refuse to show it because the BNP were entitled to it under laws governing the conduct of General Elections.

As I recall, between that and my distaste for the party’s actions in Blaenau Gwent, I got into a minor spat with another Labour blogger, Jo Salmon, becaused I’d referred to a couple fo her posts to illustrate the points that I was trying make – giving her the impression that somehow I didn’t like her on a personal level when it was simply the case that I didn’t agree with her views on those specific matters. I must admit that I don’t think I even got around to apologising to her for the misunderstanding, so if she does spot this then, sorry, there really was nothing personal about my comments.

There are two mains reasons why I disagreed with attempts to complain about the BNP election broadcast before the fact.

First, its far to easy to hypocritical in adopting tactics of that kind – how can we credibily deride a drooling idiot like Stephen Green, of Christian Voice, for his artificially engineered and spurious, sight-unseen, protests over the BBC’s broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera only then to do the very same thing at the first sign of a BNP election broadcast. You can’t have it both ways, I’m afraid, either you accept that the right of free expression dictates that’s the BBC may sometimes broadcast material that you dislike, even to the point at which you consider that material to be entirely reprehensible, or you accept that even the most half-baked special interest group has a right to to try to dictate what we see and hear simply by throwing a public hissy-fit, without their deserving to be criticised for their tactics.

You simply cannot, in my view, have one rule for us and a different one for other groups or political parties without looking like a bunch of hypocrites.

Second, it has always struck me that complaining about something you haven’t seen is just not an intelligent way of going about things – if you are going to criticise and complain, then you should at least know what it is you’re actually complaining about.

As it stood, and having seen the BNP’s efforts, there was nothing really to complained about, unless you wanted to tell the Beeb that it was load of rubbish.

It wasn’t offensive at all, it was just a crap piece of television, so bad,  in fact, that it well deserves to be included in one of those ‘Most Embarassing TV moments’ list shows that Channel 4 and Five put out when they’ve nothing better to show and should comfotably occupy a place near the top of the list alongside Richard Madeley’s Ali G impression* and John Redwood’s stirring rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, it really was that cringeworthy. It’s central premise, a sad, faux, tale of a homeless ex-serviceman let down by the system – to the accompanyment of a fifth-rate bit of Ralph McTell-ery written by Nick Griffin, also turned out to be hopelessly out of date – we’d already made changes to housing regulations two years earlier to provide additional support to ex-servicemen to address the very issue that the BNP were trying to hang this part of their election campaing on.

*Madeley, it seems, cannot help but make an arse of himself, as evidenced by his bringing his Ali G accent out of retirement in a recent interview with a Geordie women who unecpectedly developed a Jamaican accent after having a stroke… subtle as ever, eh…

My view, whether you agree with it or not, is that the very idea of ‘no platform’ has run its course and has no real value other than to bolster feelings of moral superiority amongst some of its supporters, and although I’m certainly not suggesting we should ever go out of our way to hand the BNP a platform for their views, what I am suggesting is that its time we looked closely at our own tactics and realised that simply trying to silence the far-right and prevent them putting their message out not only isn’t going to work but too often ends up working against us.

Where we nned to go from here is not ‘no platform’ but ‘no platform should go unchallenged’ – let them say what they want to say, just don’t let their views go unchallenged and take every opportunity possible to expose them for who and what they are. It’s time for us to stop pretending that we can simply moralise the BNP out of existance, get right up in their faces and take them on.

Here, I agree entirely with Jo’s remarks in the comments to this recent post of hers:

…If we are to defeat the BNP and other groups like them, then we need to counter their lies all day, every day – and we also need to counter their racism.

No more “are you thinking what we’re thinking” campaigns, no more pandering to the right on immigration instead of standing up for people’s rights.

We need to be positive about immigration, positive about multiculturalism and positive about asylum. We should be proud of the fact that so many people want to come here to work and live, and proud of the fact that the UK is viewed as somewhere safe, a great place to start again.

In short, we need positive messages to counter the fear and resentment and consequent xenophobia that is at the heart of any campaign run by BNP.

To which I should also add two other things we should be doing.

First, we need to start treating their councillors very much as we would any other political opponent from any other party and pay close and detailed attention to their record in office. It’s already a matter of record that a fair number of BNP councillors just aren’t up to the job – at least one has stood down and admitted that simply didn’t understand what to do as a councillor – and we certainly do need to make the most of that and expose their incompetance at every turn.

If they don’t turn up for meetings, can’t understand voting and other procedures, the terms and conditions under which they’re handed a publicly-funded website or their legal duties as a councillor or if they simply contribute nothing to work of the council, then we should ensure that their constituents are made aware of their failings at every opportunity. Don’t get complacent and think we can just save all this up for an election leaflet, keep the flow of information going throughout the year – drip, drip, drip – all the time getting over the message that a vote for the BNP is a wasted vote, because when they’re given the chance of public office, they cannot deliver.

The second thing we should be doing is looking beyond their racist views at some of the other ideas and values that many of them hold. It’s easy to focus too much on the racist side of the BNP as its such an easy and tempting target, and forget that their views of other groups are equally prurient and reprehensible. While researching the activities of Sandwell BNP councillor, Simon Smith, in his guise as Stormfront poster, Steve Freedom, what stood out most wasn’t the obvious racism/anti-Semitism of his views – that I fully expected – but the all to obvious misogyny of some his comments, for all that he harbours much the same ‘Brunhilde/Boadicea’ fantasies as some of the other posters.

Many of those who voted BNP not for ideological/political reasons but because they were ‘seduced’ either by their attacks on immigration or out of dissatisfaction with our perceived failure to address the needs of the working class, will have been women, and I wonder how many would appreciate views like this…

There are two types of men. Those who will fight and those who won’t. Our cause depends on men primarily but not exclusively, in these "early" days, where the virtue of courage is necessary.

With regard to women. There are three types:

1) Those who won’t "fight"/support under any circumstances

2) Those who will give genuine feminine and natural support to their Nationalist husband.

3) Boadicea types who, with very few exceptions are better than many of the best men. These are women for whom the entire race is their child.

IMHO WN men make the mistake of looking for a Boadicea type, woman (3) when they should be looking for woman (2). Women generally have to be lead by a strong man (to be happy).

Some may hold strong religious beliefs or, particular amongst older people, retain vivid memories of their family’s involvement in fighting Naziism during the Second World War, in which case what do you think they might make of something like this?

Away from the seemingly (?) need to disassociate oneself from Christ or Hitler depending on whether one wishes not to regarded as a “”Jesus freak” or a “Nazi”, both men have been great influential world leaders. I grew up with the Christian faith and whilst rejecting the established church ,( not describing myself as a “Christian” other than in the general sense of performing a “Christian action" etc), the sayings of Jesus Christ are as quotable as Shakespeare ,Plato or Jefferson.

The Internet has been a great source of knowledge about Adolph Hitler for me. I’ve read the first couple of chapters of Mein Kampf and can’t find anything I disagree with ! I think even now, White Nationalists may be apprehensive about coming to close appreciating Adolph Hitler – In my mind a very courageous and truthful man. I suppose there may be a great fear about identifying with anything Hitler said, the argument being that it could set the movement backwards – perhaps the only thing that will push the “Movement” forward in the long run is the Truth – unpalatable and uncomfortable as it maybe.

These are some comparisons that came to mind between Jesus Christ and Adolph Hitler..:

Simon thinks Hitler ‘a very courageous and truthful man’ as well as considering that there are comparsons between him and Jesus – he goes on to list thirteeen in total – I wonder how many of those who voted for him are likely to see things in quite the same way?

There’s rather more to the BNP than just racism – if Simon’s anything to go by, some are just intent on pissing just about everyone off – so we need to put over a better balanced message, one that doesn’t focus exclusively on race but which takes in the full range of appalling views and values one finds amongst its members, especially when one finds comments like this…

I’d certainly agree with the notion that "holocaust denial" as you put it, should be avoided amongst Joseph and Josephine Public.. but then again anything that challenges the average attention span should be as well…

…We can expect to engage the more articulate, intelligent and educated on Stormfront.

And…

A real question for White Nationalist politics is :

Do we educate, or increase political influence by taking on board White ignorance ? (i.e. Playing along with the "Muslim Hijacker" paradigm.)

Or, to put it another way…

Hey, voter. You’re too stupid to be told what we really believe…

What we desperately need to take note of, in addition, are the points raised by Chris Dillow  – also in reference to Jo’s comments…

My fear – and I’d like to be proved wrong – is that the Labour party is in no position to heed this call. There are four reasons for this, two tactical and two philosophical.

1. Median voter theory. This says political parties win votes by moving towards the voters’ median position. In this case, this means accommodating racist sentiments, not combating them. Put it this way. In the areas where the BNP is challenging Labour, would Labour really want to take a pro-immigrant stance and fight voters’ racism directly? Or wouldn’t a better vote-winning strategy be to pander a little to the racists, by "listening to their concerns"?

2. The politics of machismo. For reasons best understood by psychotherapists, politicians feel the need to play the hard man, to pretend they’re in control. So they prefer macho talk about fighting illegal immigration. Take this from Liam Byrne. Where’s the positive messages about immigration?

3. Libertarianism. The strongest argument for immigration is the libertarian one – that people have a right to live where they want and employ whom they want. Such talk of liberty, though, would come uneasily from a party as illiberal as New Labour.

4. Public services. One of the main reasons for antipathy towards immigrants is the "strain they put upon public services" such as housing; the argument that immigrants worsen the labour market prospects of indigenous workers is easily tackled. A pro-immigrant party would remove this source of complaint. But to do so requires us to face an unpleasant fact – that public services are unresponsive to needs; their supply is inelastic. Labour wouldn’t want to draw attention to this.

For those of us on the ‘libertarian’/anti-authoritarian left, it is constant source of frustration, even bewilderment at times, to see what are ostensibly party colleagues from the Blairite fringe consistantly failing to recognise and appreciate the full implications for the party of the last nine years of constant parliamentary pissing contests with the Tories on Home Office policy and legislation.

To spell it out in simple terms, our policies in government have now shifted so far out to the right in some areas that, come the next election, Cameron will be in a position to position not only position himself a little to the left of where we are now and, more importantly, lay claim to the ‘moral’ high ground across large swatches of civil liberties issues, from fast-track extraditions to the US to Identity Cards and the database state but, to cap it all, should the Tories win the next election, they’ll also inherent a massive package of authoritarian legislation the like of which they could only ever dream of, going right back to the Thatcher years, legislation of a kind they could never have hoped of passing themselves, while in office, due to their reputation as ‘the nasty party’.

It’s a wonder that the likes of Michael Howard et al manage to keep a straight face in the Commons’ chamber as they watch a Labour government systematically hand them all the policies and legislation they always wanted but were never trusted to have.

As a party, can we honestly say that we’re comfortable with that thought, that we’re likely to be going into a future general election against a Tory party that looks and sounds as if its actually more ‘liberal’ in some its attitudes than we are?

How do we tackle that situation?

Do we try to kid the electorate with the line that they’re still the same old Tories underneath? That may well be true, but can we really take it as read that the electorate will buy into that as a campaign idea, given the abject failure of the Tory’s past efforts to play out that line on us – remember the ‘demon eyes’ poster? That really worked well for them, didn’t it?

Actually, it pretty obvious what ou approach is likely to be given, given the ‘hug-a-hoodie’ jibes directed at David Cameron over the last week.

Okay, so Cameron’s got no actual policies to back any of this up, just the usual wittering on about the wonders of local charities, which is no different to anything that we’ve been saying for quite a while – although it does prove that, like us, he hasn;t got the first fucking clue what most local charities are actually like – and even if he had put some actual policy content into his speech, my own reaction, and that of many other party members, would be distinctly sceptical – talk is cheap, after all, what matters is whether he oculd really deliver.

But hang, look again at what he’s actually been saying?

That many of the problems affecting communities arise out of thing’s like poverty and deprivation, alienation, family breakdowns and a whole host of other social ills, and that somewhere in all this many of the young people being derided in the media as ‘hoodies’ – yeah, sure, we should all be shit-scared of sweat-shirts – actually need a bit of help and support.

And we respond to that to taking the piss?

If you want to take a shot at Cameron because you think he’s being insincere, playing to the press gallery or trying to pick a fight with the old Tory floggers and hangers to get his ‘clause 4 moment’, then be my guest and fire away…

…but just think about what you’re saying for a minute and the impression that conveys.

Doesn’t the term ‘hug-a-hoodie’ just buy into and reinformed all the prejudices and febrile ravings of the Daily Mail/Express set? What kind of message does that send? Suppose Cameron’s speech had been about tackling social justice problems in minority communities – would you be happily writing that off as ‘hug-a-paki’ or ‘hug-a-nigger’?

I fucking well hope not!

Does it not give party members pause for thought to see a Labour Prime Minister citing Thomas Hobbes as authority when launching his ‘Respect Agenda’…

From the theorists of the Roman state to its fullest expression in Hobbes’s Leviathan, the central question of political theory was just this: how do we ensure order? And what are the respective roles of individuals, communities and the state?

Or constantly bastardising Isaiah Berlin’s concept of ‘two liberties’ (which was derived, in turn, from the work of  JS Mill to justify more and more state intrusion and control over citizens’ lives…


10 Downing Street
23 October 1997

Dear Isaiah

I very much enjoyed your interview with Steven Lukes in Prospect this month. I hope you don’t mind me following up with a letter asking your thoughts.

The brief discussion in the interview of the relationship between your two concepts of liberty is, I think, illuminating. The limitations of negative liberty are what have motivated generations of people to work for positive liberty, whatever its depradations [sic] in the Soviet model. That determination to go beyond laissez-faire continues to motivate people today. And it is in that context that I would be interested in your views on the future of the Left.

You seem to be saying in the interview that because traditional socialism no longer exists, there is no Left. But surely the Left over the last 200 years has been based on a value system, predating the Soviet model and living on beyond it. As you say, the origins of the Left lie in opposition to arbitrary authority, intolerance and hierarchy. The values remain as strong as ever, but no longer have a ready made vehicle to take them forward. That seems to me to be today’s challenge. Political economy has been transformed over the last 25 years, and it is here that there is a great deal of work to be done. But there remains action, too, to devolve political power and to build a more egalitarian community.
  
So reconstruction, yes, but the end no!

I would be interested in your further views on the current situation, its historical place and significance, and the prospects for renewal.

All good wishes.

yours ever

Tony Blair

source…

*The Lukes interview cited above appeared in Prospect and was a reprint of an interview given at least five years previously to a different publication, a fact that Prospect neglected to mention alongside the article. Blair’s letter arrived shortly before Berlin’s death – he was too ill at the time to reply and so Blair never did get Berlin’s views on ‘the current situation, its historical place and significance, and the prospects for renewal’.  Had Berlin been able to reply and being a dialogue with Blair he would, no doubt, have forcefully expressed his concerns as to the political dangers inherent in the concept of positive liberty, not least his view that there is an elective affinity between positive liberty and political totalitarianism.

All forms of tampering with human beings, getting at them, shaping them against their will to your own pattern, all thought control and conditioning is, therefore, a denial of that in men which makes them men and their values ultimate. – Isaiah Berlin

With hindsight one cannot help but wonder quite what might have emerged had Blair been able to pursue his desired dialogue with Berlin, although one suspects from Blair’s obvious interest in the ‘limitations of negative liberty’ at the outset that he would almost certainly have been disappointed with Berlin’s response to his enquiry. What can be said, however, is that over the last 5-6 years, Blair has certainly provided ample proof to support Berlin’s contention that the concept of positive liberty is all too easily used, and abused by government to justify authoritarian attitudes, values and policies and ever-increasing state control over the lives of citizens – not that I think Berlin would have been gratified to see that proof supplied so close to home.

– – –

There is, however, rather more at stake here than merely the vindication of the work of a noted philosopher.

Since winning the election, last year, the government, a Labour government, has appeared to lurch from one foul-up to the next while all the time doing its utmost ot avoid even the merest hint of accountability for its actions.

It’s been scandal after scandal – if one is to take the media at face value.

Loans for peerages. Casinos for cowboy outfits. Too many immigrants, so its claimed. Foreign prisoners getting released and not deported when the should be – as if most of them are any more dangerous that our own home grown criminals. Sentences too short – who wote the sentencing guidelines? (Hint: not the judges). Dangerous offenders paroled too soon. A terrorist attack (and no public inquiry). An extra-judical shooting (and no one seemingly likely to be held to account). A hopelessly one-sided extradition treaty that, as Owen points out, will stay just as one-sided, even if the US ratify it. Internement and house arrest and dodgy deals on deporting alleged terrorists to countries where the torturers art remains in high demand. Turning a blind eye to ‘extraordinary rendition’ – or kidnapping as is should be called if you take away the euphemisms.

The list goes on and on and on…

At what point in all this do we, as party members, turn around and say, ‘Enough!’

Why do we stand against fascist parties like the BNP? Because there’s something in it for us? Because we get a little more out of it and scape that little bit further up the greasy pole to the top?

No, we do it a matter of principle, because fascism stands against everything we believe in… and so we put up a fight.

And if we can do that there, why can we not carry those principles through to other issue, not least the conduct of those who most visibly represent (allegedly) our interests and values?

Reading the feeds on Blogger 4 Labout over the last few months, one of the most dispiriting things one encounters is the seeming willingness of some Labour bloggers not only to turn a blind eye to our own party’s failings but, in some cases (and I won’t name names here) to openly try and defend the indefensible.

Blair’s personal fundraiser/ fixer, Lord Levy, gets his collar felt and how do some respond? By claiming that this is all just a bit of theatrics by a bunch of on-the-make coppers.

Never mind that the underlying accusation here is that our own party has used the honours system, which we are supposed to be against anyway, as a means of filling party coffers from the back-pockets of self-interested millionaires – that’s not something we should be concerned about as party members is it?

And even if it turns out that the Police cannot make a charge stick against Levy or anyone else caught up in all this, none of that removes the simple fact that having promised to make party funding more open, honest and transparent on coming into office, and worse still, having changed the rules on disclosure of donations supposedly to that very end, we then get caught side-stepping the very same rules that we created.

And the excuse for that? Well, the Tories were doing the exact same thing… so what! Since when did start judging our values by Tory standards – and don’t come the smartarse and reply 1994…

Same with Prescott – oh that’s all a right-wing plot, its his personal life and nothing to do with his political office, oh and its just the usual establishment snobbery as well…

Try looking again a bit more closely and that not the issue at all – the issue is that it looks for all the world as if oru policy on the liberalisation of gambling laws has been written by a small bunch of high-stakes casino operators and has only come unstuck when parliament put its democratic oar into things.

Where, I have to wonder, are the Christian socialists on this one? They seem awfully quiet of late, don’t they – so much for their contribution to the moral character of the party…

Look even more closely at this one – I have – and just look at who we’re doing business with here and on what terms.

We’ve a eight ‘horse’ race for the one uber-casino licence we could get though parliament – one that’s entirely fair, transparent and above board…

…just as long as you ignore the fact that one of the runners will be paying the government a 15% kickback on casino profits if they get the licence thanks to the deal they pulled off when taking on the Millenium Dome – or alternatively cutting out half what they planned to put in to the deal if they don;t get it, if you prefer to look at it that way around. Oh, and you also need to ignore the fact that this same runner has been having regular meetings with both Prescott and with ministers from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – which just so happens to the department responsible for casino licencing – as well as just happening to run across the same guy at a dinner party organised by his PR consultant.

Oh, and did I mention this is guy who paid $4 million to the New York State Attorney General to avoid getting charged over a little bout of IPO spinning that netted him $5 million, whose one-time telecoms company was up to its arse in the MCI Worldcom crash, although he was never personally fingered after the US authorities bought into his ‘I know nothing’ defence. He’s also the same guy to tried to get rid of some his home state’s equality laws – the one’s covering the gay community – and one of guys who finances the Discovery Institute, which promotes the psuedo-theory of ‘intelligent design’ – its a wonder he hasn;t been offer an academy or two with that track record.

And if that’s not enough, what about his partner the in casino deal – the one who created the Sun City resort and allegedly bribed the government of Transkei in effort to get exclusivity on gambling in their territory and was then sheilded from prosecution by South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Is all that a right-wing plot by a couple of Tory bloggers? Open your eyes, for fuck’s sake.

Much of the time, its not even the big headline stuff that should be setting the alarm bells ringing…

We’ve got at least one NEC candidate who’s been mouthing off about ‘party discipline’ and how we should be cracking down on any sign that we have members who display an unfortunate tendancy to exhibit signs of having a mind of their own – guess who won’t be getting my vote, BTW.

Still, I do have to wonder quite what some of our more disciplinarian Labour bloggers make of this, which appeared today…

For the first time, in over a year of writing this blog, I have received my first ever complaint.

For anyone reading the site earlier today, a rather humourless MP has threatened to take legal action unless I remove a post that mentioned his office.

Although I stand by what I said, I have no intention of a) upsetting people b) being involved in a long legal dispute – so I have removed the ‘offending’ article.

I note the MP has ‘reported me to the Chief Whip under new PLP rules’. Oh dear, oh dear.

I’ve not seen the ‘offending post, but from the comments it appears that this is nothing more than a piece of petty bullying by a humourless tosser with a bit of added ‘overkill’ – I note the MP has ‘reported me to the Chief Whip under new PLP rules’.

And then there’s the stuff you don’t see because it goes on out of sight and out of mind, where only us ordinary members on the frontline get to see it.

I can’t give details, for obvious reasons, but over this last week I’ve been dealing on of the byproducts of the good old ‘Respect Agenda’…

a mixed-race family who’re on the fact track to losing their home under an ASB-related eviction as a result of a series of piss-poor complaints from neighbours many of which are obviously racialy-motivated, if only you bother to investigate this properly.

But then their situation is being being investigated properly because its shunted by the landlord – an RSL – into the hands of a supposed firm of ASB ‘enforcement specialists’ who’ve already decided that this family is the problem and, having put them on the fast-track to eviction – isn’t going to back off for anything quite to unimportant as the truth.

*Must mention that this firm of ‘ASB enforcement specialists’ appears to provide no information about their background and no means of contacting them other than a mobile phone number. There’s no record of them with Companies House, no  listing for an office in the phone book or yellow pages, no website – not even a PO Box on their letter – and certainly nothing to confirm that they’re in any way adequately qualified to carry out the work they’re doing. For I can find out about them, they could easily be a one-man-band operating out of council flat – and yet they appear to operating more or less independently of the RSL that employs them to the extent that when this family contacted their landlord about the notice they received, the manager the spoke to hadn’t even got a fucking clue what they were talking about to begin with.

Before crowing about how wonderful all this fast-track summary justice and ASBO crap is, maybe people want to see what’s actually going on first hand, out here in the real world – at the effect it has on ordinary people’s lives when the system decides that they’re the problem even when there’ substantive evidence to back such view.

I really wish I could give you the whole story, but I can’t – not with eviction proceeding pending, but what I can say is amongst the ‘complaints’ cited on the notice they’ve been issued are allegations that gave a neighbour ‘dirty looks’ and that they were ‘lauging and mocking’ a visitor to that neighbour – no mention at all that these ‘incidents’ took place while they were being subjected to racial harassment by the the complainant, or that the family making the complaint had, themselves, been evicted for causing verious problems (including racial harassment), or that the first this family were aware of these complaints (which are three years old) was when they read the notice-seeking possession.

And you want to know what the sickest joke is, in all this? The next item listed on the notice after these complaints alleges that they caused a nuisance by asking a neighbour who witnessed one of these incidents if they would be willing to provide a witness statement, after the family had reported the incident to the police!

Actually, that not the sickest joke – that signal honour belongs to the system and the fact that this family stand a fair chance of being evicted because it allows hearsay evidence like this to be presented in court – oh and the fact that because this family receives working families tax credit, they’re not eligible for legal aid, so the fact they can’t afford to pay a solicitor to defend them puts them even further up shit-creek.

In fact, the only saving grace here – their one paddle – is the incompetence of this so-called ASB enforcement speciallist, whose managed to issue them with the wrong notice – one that does not apply to the kind of tenancy they are actually under.

Anyone feeling quite so proud of our achievements in introducing ASBOs and fast-track evictions now?

Some of you, I’m sure, will look at this an think this case is just a one-off – not our fault, its all down to the incompetence of the people dealing with this case…

…except that it is our fault. It our policies that made this sorry-ass situation possible, which have taken away the one solid defence this couple would have had against the malicious complaints that might just cost them their home – a fair and equitable system of justice which demand proof beyond reasonable doubt adn evidence based on facts not uncooroborated hearsay…

I should point out that the actual reason all this is happening to this family is that they’ve recently been hit by a new series of malicious complaints from a new neighbour who – by strange coincidence – has also previously been through the ASB system for casuing nuisance at their previous address and also has a history – so its alleged – of involvement in racial harassment. The trigger for all this was dispute with the neighbour over a high-fence that the neighbour put up with notice or permission from the landlord, which the neighbour then had to remove after this family complained.

That;s something else, BTW, that the ASB enforcement specialist dealing with this doesn’t appear to have noticed either…

I suppose at least you can’t say that the system we put in doesn’t provide some people with a learning experience, because some of them clearly seem to learning real quickly how to work the inadequacies and iniquities of the system to fuck over their new neighbours.

I’ve covered a lot of ground here, I know – from fighting the BNP, past ‘hug-a-hoodie’ and flogging the odd peerage or two through to ASBOs and evictions, but rest assured there is a theme here, an underlying thread which ties all this together.

In the not too distant future its going to be all change at the top of the party and thoughts have long since turned to the end of the Blair era and where we go on from here…

…and with that in mind and in view of everything I’ve written and everything that’s gone on of late I’d like to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we need to get back to a situation where we actually know what we fucking well believe in as a party and then start acting on those beliefs once again – because if all we give a shit about is power for its own fucking sake the the Labour Party and everything it ever stood for is dead in the fucking water – fourth term or no fourth term…

  • On the BNP, you are absolutely right that trying to suppress or ignore them is allowing them to grow. I believe the FPTP electoral system encourages this complacency and also encourages the irresponsible anti-immigrant propaganda of the Tories and their press friends who use this propaganda as a stick to hit Labour with. Under PR this negative tactic wouldn’t be useful for them and we would all have to tackle the BNP and racist ignorance generally.

    On Cameron, I think his liberal talk gives us a big opportunity, we need to take it and expose the gap between Tory policies and their new image.

    On Labour, you are absolutely right, nobody should defend our lurch into corruption and sleaze.

    On ASBOs, I can’t comment on the exact case you talk about, but generally even the Greens think ASBOs have been a success and they are hardly new Labour.

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  • Just when I’d given up on Labour as power-crazed and unprincipled beyond repair, a sane voice from the back restores a faint glimmer of hope. Good luck to you Sir…

  • Whoa, talk about 50 points in one post!

    I agree on the BNP, I wrote a similar article a while back:
    http://www.asiansinmedia.org/news/article.php/television/909

    On getting Labour to tackle immigration, I feel it is almost a losing battle to try it. It makes more sense for Labour to try and avoid the issue and casually pander to racism.

    I think the way forward is for a pressure group like Migration Watch to put the other side forward consistently and loudly. And not in a way and using the language the current band of race relations “experts” do.

    More on this later.

  • Jabberwocky

    Re. the mixed-race family facing eviction due to ‘anonymous’ complaints by ‘racist’ neighbours. You are quite right – it stinks. But then injustice of any kind does. Just what did you think your beloved NuLab commisars were doing when they brought in their ‘anti-racism’ agenda and re-wrote our laws so that someone could be branded a ‘racist’ on the hearsay complaint of one person, rather than insisting on their complaint being corroborated by at least two independent witnesses? I don’t suppose you were you were up in arms as long as only ‘nasty, white, racist’ people were on the receiving end. Oh, I forgot, I am an oppressor by virtue of my gender and the colour of my skin, so I don’t have any rights, and my perceptions don’t matter.

  • Absolutely excellent piece. But on defending the indefensible, it’s hard to know what to do when you’re party’s on the back foot. You’re in the party because of what you believe in and all the shenanigans and compromises, mistakes and plain wrong-headed decisions by MPs all seem like minutiae in relationship to the desire to end poverty and save the planet.
    We are the good guys at the end of the day, even if our leading lights sometimes make mistakes.

  • I’m with you on the libertarian left of labour…

    but the BNP cannot hope to claim that ‘free speech’ defence when they themselves support the censoring, disenfranchisment and eventual forced deportation of British citizens.

    let’s take a utilitarian perspective; the comparison is the free speech of about 5000 BNPers vs the free speech of millions.

    Free speech for those who advocate free speech. not the other way round.

  • >>> Free speech for those who advocate free speech. not the other way round.

    I’ll leave the retort to Rosa…

    “Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shootings of hostages, etc.”

    We should not censor, even the BNP, because to do so is to descend to their level… and we are and should be better than that.

    That’s how I see it.

  • Stephen

    I think you are absolutely right to be concerned about the BNP. Politically they are so close to Labour that they must be seen as a major threat.

  • Re the above first sentence, which suggests that some political party/parties are racist, but doesnt tell us which, I think I know who is being referred to here. This would be the two parties, Labour and Tory which are responsible for tens of housands of Muslims killed in Iraq. Killed for reasons which were flimsey if not illegal. In contrast, the BNP always opposed the war.

    Total numbers killed according to The Lancet are 650,000. If Labour/Tories are responsible for 5% say, that makes 30,000 Muslims killed by Labour and Tories.

    No doubt liberals will be trying to tell us that Mother Theresa was more racist than that great guy Hitler. Hitler, to his credit, gassed 6 million Jews; whereas Mother Theresa killed no one. Evil bitch !