Friday, 31 August 2007

Promoting segregation is not the way to tackle the BNP

In my previous post, I mentioned that BNP councillors had asked questions during the Barking and Dagenham borough full council meeting. Two of these questions concerned issues related to perceived 'preferential treatment' of ethnic minorities within the borough.

BNP Councillor Bailey asked how much the council spent on translation and interpreting costs for 'foreigners' during the financial year 2006/07. Labour leader Councillor Fairbrass responded saying that £64,600 was spent on translation and interpreting costs but this included braille and sign language for the blind and deaf respectively. He stated categorically that the council rejected the notion that translation costs were a waste of money and that they were bad for race relations. He pointed to a recent report from the Commission on Integration and Cohesion which confirms the importance of translating official documents for local authority residents.

I thoroughly disagree with the Labour Party policy on this because I think they are actively promoting segregation. Racialising municipal policies plays right into the hands of the far right. I think that councils should do more to integrate ethnic minorities and immigrants living in their areas for whom English is not the mother language. For as long as ethnic minorities are encouraged to live in ghettos then there can be no cultural integration of the kind which creates social solidarity. Furthermore, learning English would help ethnic minority communities to obtain jobs where effective communication is a requirement.

Also, I feel very strongly that Labour Party policies should seek to unite working class communities rather than dividing them along ethnic lines. For a working class area with a restricted housing stock and a high demand for council accommodation, £64,600 is money which could be directed into housing as well as social services and education. Socialists should use money to improve the lives of all residents in a working class area and not offer it to specific identity groups. If we want to create social cohesion, we should integrate all community groups to make them open to all residents and not just one section of it.

BNP Councillor S. Doncaster asked how many single race groups B&D council funds and how much this costs the taxpayer. Councillor Fairbrass replied saying that the council had identified eight ethnic minority groups and that they had spent £89,500 on them. Combined with the figure for translation work, this is a total of £154,100 ethnic minority-specific projects. The Labour leader argued that this expenditure was justified as most of the money is given to the council in the form of a grant and that each resident only pays 8.12p for these services. For me it is not a question of the money but the principle: a Socialist council committed to working class unity should not be segregating that community along ethnic or racial lines.

Unfortunately the Left has not managed to throw off the influence of identity politics which influenced public policy during the 1970s and 1980s. 'Multiculturalism', 'edginess' and 'diversity' have become buzzwords for metropolitan academics, public sector professionals and policy makers who often lack the necessary life experience to understand the effects their ideas have on working class people. It is time for the left to promote racial and cultural integration along socio-economic lines. If the left fails to do this, then the far right will seize the opportunity for their own ends.

Barking and Dagenham Borough Council Meeting, 25th July 2007

The minutes of this meeting have finally been uploaded to the borough council website for public viewing.

British National Party members put forward two motions and asked four questions.

Councillor Barnbrook and Councillor Bailey put forward a motion (again) demanding that the St. George's Flag and the Union Flag should be flown from all council buildings. The motion was rejected by the majority Labour council and as such the council will only display flags on days recommended by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. They agreed to fly the St. George Cross on St. George's Day. This is a positive step forward: there is no reason why Socialists should feel ashamed of belonging to one of the main ethnic groups which form the United Kingdom.

The second motion (proposed once again by Councillor Barnbrook) demanded an immediate census of the borough similar to those in surrounding areas. The motion was amended by the Labour majority and passed as follows:

"Agreed, that this Council recognises the inadequacy of the existing approach to assessing the population changes within the borough and the consequent negative impact on funding to the area. The Council welcomes the work being undertaken by London Councils to address this issue, and notes the success of the London Council’s campaign in getting the Office for National statistics (ONS) to review the way census data is adjusted to reflect more rapid population changes. Also the Council notes that this work is recognised by government and will be used to inform grant settlements. The work of the ONS already starts to recognise that the population is underestimated by the census data, but not by the amount that we believe to be the case based on more local information. Lastly, the Council agrees to continue to support this campaign as the most effective means of getting proper recognition for the impact of population changes in the borough."

If the BNP really cared about the white working class in Barking and Dagenham, they would ask sensible questions about the shocking state of the roads in the borough (like other non-BNP councillors) and what can be done to improve the existing housing stock and to build more homes. Instead of this, they use issues like housing as a means to push forward their racist agenda (see minutes for previous council meetings about the 'Africans for Essex' controversy).

Interestingly, more BNP councillors are beginning to ask questions in full council meetings. Since the BNP became the official opposition in 2006, Richard Barnbrook has been asking the majority of questions. I have been proved wrong: I never used to think they had minds of their own. I thought Richard Barnbrook had string tied to his hands which were linked to the arms of all the other BNP councillors so that whenever he raised his hand to vote, all the others followed suit. If Cllr. Barnbrook is not careful, his councillors might actually start thinking for themselves!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

BNP attempt to make political capital out of murder

The British National Party reported the murder of 16-year-old Andrew Holland in Farmworth, Greater Manchester and that of eleven-year-old Rhys Jones on the Goxteth Estate in Merseyside.

The blames mainstream politicians for turning Britain into a 'moral and lawless sewer'. They claim that juvenile gun crime might be 'expected' in Britain's 'ethnic ghettos' but that it is not very prevalent in 'native' British areas. They accuse politicians of undermining traditional values and claim that TV celebrities celebrate the destruction of 'conventional morality'. They describe liberal columnists who support legislation which removes the rights of parents and teachers to discipline children as 'wicked'.

It is disgusting that the BNP could turn the murder of the Andrew Holland into racial issues. They claim that the murder of Andrew Holland was racially motivated as the person who has been charged with the murder is a 26-year-old man called Mahmud Makxoudin. The BNP does not really care about law and order or the families of people who have been murdered - they are only concerned with highlighting the fact that the murder was committed by a Muslim in order to score political points and push forward their racist agenda.

It is wrong for the BNP to intimate that gun violence is normal in areas with large ethnic minority populations, as if this is an issue which governments should ignore as part of a perceived cultural trait in black communities. The BNP fails to address the role that education, employment and housing might play in the life chances of working class black people living in our major cities. Liberal politicians are certainly not completely free of blame - they appear to think that violence is 'expected' in white working class communities too and seem unwilling to tackle these problems. The BNP rejects the non-white working class and the mainstream political parties have rejected the working class as a whole.

The breakdown of the family and discipline is not to blame for increasing juvenile gun crime. The economy fails to provide secure jobs for working class people even if they are well-qualified. For the minority of people without qualifications looking for a job is much more difficult. The government should work with trade unions to force companies into providing higher salaries to their workforce rather than relying on the free market. The government could bring more industry into public ownership so it can regulate wage fluctuation. This would make industry seem more stable and restore that idea which many people claim to be a thing of the past: job insecurity.

I do not think the BNP has genuine sympathy for the victims of gun crime or their families unless they are white. Furthermore, I do not think that the restoration of corporal punishment and a return to Victorian family values will make the situation any better in our large cities.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

BNP Sedgefield candidate resigns from the party

According to the Guardian, Andrew Spence has left the BNP after being involved in a fight with senior party officials at their annual 'Red White and Blue' Festival in Derbyshire.

It is believed he threw punches at John Walker, the party treasurer and had a similar altercation with publicity officer Mark Collett.

Spence organized fuel protests around the country in 2000 and produced the BNP's best ever result in a parliamentary by-election last month: he came fourth behind the three main parties after polling nearly 2,500 votes.

Spence told the media he was disillusioned with the party but he still supported its grassroots members.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Beware the alliance of the Church and the Fasces

Mussolini with Pope Pius XI after signing the Lateran Treaty

According to the BNP website, a Catholic Adoption agency called Catholic Care has ceased operations after the recent laws compelling companies and charities to provide 'equality in the provision of goods and services'. The Catholic Church was demanding an exemption from the law which would have forced them into allowing gay couples to adopt children (when homosexuality is strongly condemned by the Church of Rome).

The BNP headline Perverts' Charter Claims first Victim shows that the party has not softened its attitude towards homosexuals. Using the word 'pervert' implies that the only reason gay couples want to adopt children is so they can abuse them. We must not forget that while there may be scores of loving gay couples who wish to adopt children, the Catholic Church has long been accused of abusing children in its care. Who are the real perverts, you might ask?

The BNP supports the claims of religious groups that the new laws are a form of 'state-sanctioned secularist doctrine' and that the Sexual Orientation Regulations are a means by which the state is 'forcing Christians out of public life'.

The church, and in particular the Catholic Church, has a history of giving tacit support to fascist ideology. In spite of Mussolini's traditionally anti-clerical views, he formed an alliance with the Catholic Church as a political tactic to bring the conservative elements of Italian society under his control. He negotiated the Lateran Pact in 1926 which gave political independence to the Vatican City and negotiated the dissolution of the Catholic Party a few years earlier which he saw as a barrier to his regime.

Moreover, fascists and reactionary Christians are united in their opposition to Socialism with its promises of disobedience and social upheaval. Organized religion is a natural ally of fascism with its belief in ritual, superstition and prejudice masquerading as 'tradition'.

The government must not cave in to the power of organized religion - gay rights are universal, and no politician should advocate discrimination in any form.