Friday, 25 September 2009

How the BNP's pro-worker rhetoric is belied by anti-worker actions

Immediatly after writing my last article on the situation facing workers at Jaguar Land Rover, I had my attention drawn to the British National Party website. There, you can find footage of party leader and MEP Nick Griffin, speaking outside the Halewood plant on Tuesday.

In the video he points out, quite rightly, that the government's refusal to bail out productive industry after it has spent billions of pounds bailing out the banks is a scandal. He also, again correctly, draws attention the loss of jobs in the British car industry being down to many companies outsourcing production to factories in the third-world in order to save money. It is fair to say, then, that in this respect his analysis is right on the mark.

However, it is not uncommon for nationalists such as Griffin to make such insightful analyses of the current economic system, whilst twisting them to support their own agenda. When Griffin says that the government should "put British workers first," it is important to look closer into what he is saying and debunk the notion that the BNP in any way speak for the working class.

Despite what their rhetoric may suggest on the surface, the BNP are not in favour of a better deal for workers - even by the reformist and concilliatory standards of the main trade unions. No, what the party wants is for an exploitative international capitalist system to be replaced by a national capitalist system, which would in its turn be as exploitative. The difference, of course, is that the benefit will not be one for international capital, but for the British state. This state, under the BNP, would operate the same corporatist economic system envisioned by Mussolini in The Doctrine of Fascism, whereby "Fascism recognises the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade-unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which diverent interests are coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State."

This statement quite eloquently sums up the economics of the BNP, which hold to the far-right "third-position" between capitalism and communism. Third positionists in Britain, notably Griffin, were heavily influenced by Italian neo-fascist Roberto Fiore, as well as by the Catholic ideology of distributism. This is why an article in January for the BNP website absurdly tried to claim the worker cooperative as the vision of "British nationalists building on British distributists before them." In fact, the "third-position" is little more than state-capitalism with the occasional concept ripped off from libertarian socialism to appeal to the working class.

But the contempt shown by Griffin and the BNP for the people of the working class is everywhere. In May last year, Lancaster Unity compiled some choice examples;
The BNP is increasingly trying to orient itself as the sole representative of the white working-class. Whether or not it succeeds in doing this is another thing. But, deep down the BNP is riddled with anti-working class sentiment.

Like many racist/fascist parties, the BNP ideologically makes a connection between class and 'race': that that the white race is not just threatened externally by Jews, non-whites, and whites who marry non-whites but, that it is internally threatened by whites who 'genetically' don't make the grade. In other words, the white working-class due to their genetic inferiority (the reason why they cannot progress economically and culturally) threaten to bring the white race down from inside.

I was prompted to write this piece after I was incensed by a recent comment made by the Lee Barnes, the self-appointed 'Director' of the BNP's legal department, about how he sees the trials and tribulations of modern working class life in Britain as a source of amusement and personal entertainment. This is what Lee Barnes wrote:

"The other night when I was laying in bed all I heard at first was the screams from my neighbours having another drunken fight, then the sounds of a baseball bat smashing car windows in the car park. This happens most friday and saturday nights. To be honest its more entertaining than the TV, so I just lay back and listen to the chaos of modern working class lives"

'The Song of the Star Lark'

This sideswipe at the working-class is a recurring theme in BNP utterances. Thus, we read BNP councillor Simon Smith saying:

"White working class scum will be swept away by a future BNP government."

"I'm no apologist for white working class scum"

Also, we shouldn't forget BNP leader Nick Griffin's argument that people who live on housing estates are "scum". So, according to Nick Griffin working-class people are scum. Unfortunately, unlike Nick Griffin, we can't all be born with a silver-spoon in our mouths, raised on Suffolk farms, with a six-figure inheritance from granddaddy and a private-school education rounded off with a third-class degree from Cambridge.

Nick Griffin's former mentor, John Tyndall, the founder of the BNP, went further, stating that inherited wealth "increases the probability that assets come into the hands of those best fitted to use them by virtue of genetic advantage". John Tyndall, like Nick Griffin, also had the benefit of a six-figure inheritance. From John Tyndall's perspective the working-class are both undeserving of financial inheritance and incapable of leaving an inheritance. Tony Lecomber, then a senior BNP officer, articulated this reasoning when he said: "The rich are genetically superior to the poor" i.e. the upper classes are genetically superior to the working classes.

One is then not surprised to learn that BNP members posted on the website of the youth wing of the BNP jokes making fun of working-class people or 'chavs' as they call them. Similarly, I recently came across the Bebo profile of a BNP member/supporter called John Smith (his nickname is the enamouring 'The Michelin Man') who states under the section 'Pure Hatred for':

"I cannot stand chavs or gypsies or sluts and hoes as they fuck me off big time acting like hot shit"


The BNP hierarchy have even deployed the sub-text of class to dismiss any internal dissent. Currently, we are seeing BNP councillor Colin Auty from Kirklees attempt to challenge Nick Griffin for the leadership of the BNP. Some BNP members on the neo-nazi chat forum Stormfront dismiss Colin Auty's leadership challenge by contrasting Nick Griffin's 'education' against Colin Auty's lack of an 'education'. Therefore, we see the juxtaposition between "university-educated Nick Griffin" and "painter and decorator Colin Auty"; and, "capable and competent Nick Griffin" and "not so capable and perhaps incompetent Colin Auty". The sub-textual reading is obvious: how dare a working-class person, stupid and uneducated, challenge an 'educated' man.

The BNP's conception of the 'nation' is both oppositional and hierarchical. Oppositional because externally the BNP defines Britain in opposition to non-Whites and Jews i.e. its vision of Britain is exclusionary. Hierarchical because internally the BNP defines Britain in terms of a hierarchy of class with the white working-class at the bottom as an internal threat who can diminish the purity and strength of the white race from within i.e. its vision of Britain is again exclusionary because it comes from an upper/middle-class vision of Britain which is out of touch with and hostile to working-class life and culture.
More recently, I noted that the Merseyside branch of the BNP's farcical protest against what they see as a gathering of "Anti British Communists [sic]" displayed their true attitude towards working people. Their constant attacks on the unions, on the sole basis that they refuse to divide the working class along racial lines, underline this point.

But what of "putting British workers first," as Griffin demanded outside the JLR factory in Halewood? Well, even that idea (on which the BNP claim a monopoly) goes up in smoke with the recent revelation that the t-shirts sold on the party's merchandise website Excalibur, are made in third-world sweatshops.

A spokesman for Excalibur said, "unfortunately we have been unable to change Britain’s climate and start our own cotton plantations. Hence cotton T-shirt come from where cotton can be grown." However, such an excuse is facile. The T-shirts were manufactured in Honduras, which hasn't grown cotton since the 1800s, and it should not need stating that garments do not require manufacture at the point where the cotton was grown. With Griffin's own North West constituency the home of 1,000 textile firms which employ 38,000 workers, it is clear that the BNP did not lack the ability to live up to their stated concern for the working class, just the will.

The BNP is, demonstrably, a fascist organisation with utter contempt for the working class. Though their leadership are able to polemicise quite eloquently about issues facing real people, the party has no will to live up to their words or to do anything but promote their own agenda and self-aggrandisement. The working class need to reject the distorted arguments and false promises of fascists in order to organise and fight for real change.