Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Not Another F***ing BNP Post!

Last week Gary Younge blamed Jack Straw for the rise of the BNP, in this he probably got the right suspect for the wrong reason. Younge blames Jack Straw's statement that he asks Burqa wearing constituents to remove them when they come to see him. This is palpable nonsense as can easily be demonstrated by simply looking up when the BNP started winning council seats on a regular basis. They began to gain councillors in 2002 a good four years before Straw's comments about the Burqa. So unless his comments rippled backwards through time, perhaps with the help of the Large Hadron Collider, his remarks about the Burqa had little to do with the BNP.

In fact 2002 was even before the big surge in immigration following EU enlargement, although immigration had gone up to some extent after 1997, and the BNP's successes at that time occurred in areas not greatly affected by the recent increases in immigration levels.

Where Straw is to blame though is in the kind of attitudes he was propagating as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001. Not simply his role in producing the infamous MacPherson Report, but his repeatedly reaffirmed belief that there is something inherently shameful about English culture. See for example:
  • Referring to the English "propensity to violence" and as being "potentially very aggressive, very violent"
  • Blaming football hooliganism on Englishness and claiming that England is particularly xenophobic, "There is a particular problem with some people's view of Englishness. There is a distorted, incomplete idea of what it is to be patriotic for those in England, which is different from that in Wales or Scotland or Ireland. We've had all the global baggage of the empire and a lot of jingoism here."
  • And when he bacame Foreign Secretary he immediately started blaming Britain for much of the world's conflicts.
In other words Jack Straw spent much of his time pouring scorn on the country and emphasising self loathing and he wonders why the White Working Class have deserted Labour. Most of them haven't gone to the BNP mind you, they have simply stayed at home on election day. Obviously I'm not saying that large numbers of voters were carefully listening to all of Jack Straw's speeches and finding them objectionable but if a government despises them then sooner or later that message will seep through and they won't like it.

* Most of Straw's expressions of contempt for England are rooted in baseless assertions. For example he blames football hooliganism of English nationalism, but the most violent fixture in the Football League is probably the Cardiff-Swansea match. And football violence is endemic in countries that have never had empires like Uruguay and various Eastern European states. Similarly the idea that the English are unusually xenophobic can be shown to be complete nonsense simply by looking through international comparisons such as the World Values Survey, we are considerably less hostile to foreigners than most countries. Jack Straw's beliefs are not shaped by evidence but are axioms he fitted into his political worldview as a student leader in the 1970s.


Matthew said...

Why would blaming many of the world's conflicts on the legacy of the British Empire offend the White Working Class anymore than it does me? Was (and more pertinently is) the British Empire a great source of pride among the White Working Class?

Ross said...

That one isn't particularly hostile to the WWC, compared to everyone else. However the middle classes were being targetted as swing viters so other factors ameliorated any sense of discontent they may have had, rising house prices for example.

Mark said...

Gary Younge is probably the bluntest knife in the Grauniad's threadbare locker at the moment- thanks Ross for highlighting his latest ineffable words of wisdom.

It was under Straw's watch, in February 2000, that the Afghan hijackers were allowed to land at Stansted. He huffed & puffed and stuck poses as the drama unfolded- and months later it transpired that his department had given nearly all of them permission to stay. No wonder he waffled so pitifully when asked about immigration on QT last week. He and his advisors from this period (Jonathan Portes,Andrew Neather etc) deserve to be as loathed, and as unpopular, as Fred The Shred Goodwin for the damage they have caused this country.

James Higham said...

It's an entry qualification for Labour - treason.