Saturday, 24 April 2010

Dissecting the BNP manifesto

The British National Party has launched its manifesto for the 2010 elections. Titled Democracy, Freedom, Culture and Identity (PDF), it is 94 pages long and - according to its own introduction - "one of the most comprehensive and detailed manifestos in [the BNP's] history." As such, I thought that it deserved scrutinising.

The first thing that should strike you is that these are the "saleable words" that Nick Griffin said "nobody could touch us on" when he spoke to a meeting of Texan white nationalists. It was there that he admitted the BNP was "selling" its fascist ideas, "not selling out," and that "identity" was a codeword for "racial purity." This sets the tone for the entire document.

First up is defence policy, wherein the BNP's key pledges involve withdrawal from Afghanistan, non-involvement in Iran, taking troops out of Germany, and renegotiating Britain's position in NATO. On the surface, these are good policies. However, closer reading reveals this position to be based on anything but an opposition to aggressive militarism.

The BNP propose to "raise defence spending by one percent over the rate of inflation for the next five years," which - especially in withdrawing from wars - constitutes utterly aggressive military expansionism. The party is seeking to build "an independent British military, equipped by British factories in all the essential needs of modern warfare" as well as "an independent nuclear deterrent and capability." Given that the purpose of this is to have the "capability to mobilise units and dispatch them in defence of British interests worldwide," with military force deemed acceptable in defence of "strategic or commercial interests" which shouldn't be "deterred by ‘world opinion’," one might well question the BNP's attempts to reinvent itself as an anti-war party.

The party's "Community Award Scheme" is essentially David Cameron's "youth national service" in another guise. In Tory form, the idea could be criticised because - by making teenagers work without choice or pay - it is essentially slavery. In the hands of the BNP, the form of service "will be dictated by the school leaver’s scholastic record, preferences and suitability," and so even the hollow pretence of choice disappears. Having "free university education, a properly supported apprenticeship or business training" are ways in which young people can build "discipline, social and community values and work ethics," not something you have to earn through slavery and half-arsed social engineering.

Thus we move on to the BNP's home turf. "Immigration: An Unparalleled Crisis Which Only the BNP Can Solve." As is to be expected, every point is based on scaremongering and nonsense.

Take the first claim, that "at current immigration and birth rates, indigenous British people are set to become a minority well within 50 years. This will result in the extinction of the British people, culture, heritage and identity." That there were 50,366,497 white British people living here in 2001 tells us that the BNP are either predicting a mass cull/expulsion of white Britons, or the influx of roughly 70 million foreigners. Or both. As I have previously pointed out, stories of the entire population reaching this figure are based upon myth, and the BNP's even more hysterical projections amount to barn pot bullshit.

In addition to this central theme of "panic, the darkies are upon us," the party makes several other false claims.

Immigration has not had "a dramatic effect on Britain’s rising crime rate." There is no "immigrant crime wave." Studies have shown that immigrant groups have no higher percentage of criminals in their number than do native groups. In fact, immigrants (and asylum seekers, for that matter) are actually disproportionately more likely to be victims of crime than anybody else.

Although immigration effects the economy and jobs, the issue is twisted out of all proportion by the right. The excellent leaflet, Jobs & migrant workers - the facts (PDF), from my comrades in Liverpool Antifascists explains how it is the bosses who exploit migrants who are to blame and why class unity - not racism - is the only response;
The use of women to undermine the working conditions of men did not come to an end from a slogan demanding “Male Jobs for Male Workers,” or the expulsion of women from industry. It came from the strength of those who were willing to unite, not as a gender but as a class, across the gender line.
I thoroughly dismantled the notion that "The Labour Party Deliberately Engineered Mass Immigration" back in October last year.

The scary shit, meanwhile, speaks for itself. Namely, the "repeal [of] the Race Relations Act and all other artificial restrictions on free speech or employment" and the "Clause 28-style proscription against the promotion of racial integration in schools and the media." Workers in the public sector will also be affronted by the idea that they are subject to "politically correct indoctrination."

I will not go into depth on the BNP's environmental policy. To give them their due, some of their policies are sensible. However, their conspiracy theories surrounding global warming are nothing short of madness. The idea that the environment is "threatened by mass immigration" is utterly ludicrous. The idea that "immigration into Britain will require a city the size of Birmingham to be built every five years and result in a total population of 90 million people [50mn being Britons - some minority!] by 2050" is debunked when you consider that there are well over 100 million bedrooms in the country — easily enough to accommodate every single one of us. The problem, as ever, is distribution.

The EU policy reads like that of any generic conservative-right party. At least, until they state that Turkey's accession to the EU "would increase the EU’s Muslim population by more than 75 million." Given that the population of Turkey is seventy three million, and 89,000 of these are non-Muslim.

Continuing with the threat of those dastardly Muslims, we have an entire section of the policy dedicated to "Counter Jihad." As well as the usual mixture of lies, distortions, and fear-mongering in order to justify draconian policies, there is the absurd idea that a BNP government can strike a peace deal with an imaginary homogeneous block known as "the Islamic world." The BNP guarantees non-aggression in the Middle East, and "the Islamic world will stop trying to Islamify Britain and the West." Like Borg, all Muslims in the West will flock back to the hive mind. In some ways, its a shame this isn't just facile fantasism.
When we move onto "Renationalising the Welfare State," we can see why the BNP is not some radical alternative to the mainstream political parties, but the logical extreme of the narrow consensus within which they operate. The party aims to challenge "a welfare dependency culture" induced by the "Labour and Tory socialist state," under which benefits are "nothing more than a free handout to scroungers, foreign and local."

For those elements of the working class who have been forced to rely on welfare by the capitalist onslaught of successive governments against them, this is just another gang of politicos denouncing them for being poor. It is an insult for the BNP (or any other party) to speak of "scrounger entitlement mentality" when Labour's New Deal has already made it harder for those in need to secure financial support. On top of this, the Welfare Reform Bill represents yet another attack on the poorest by the ruling class and workfare - whether Tory- or BNP-instituted - only piles on the misery, as Americans can tell us.

The BNP's commitment to "restoring civil liberties" by abolishing the Human Rights Act, booting out foreigners, and exempting Britain from "international bodies or courts which override the law of the British parliament" says all that needs to be said on this matter.

However, under "Constitutional Change," they do at least attempt to redress that imbalance. Devolution of power to the lowest level possible level and citizens' initiative referenda are good ideas. But they are tempered by proposals to "enact legislation forbidding interference in the electoral process by third parties not partaking in an election." Presumably, this means antifascist groups, which in itself would be a worrying subversion of the right to oppose tyranny, coercion, and violence. That it could also be used to exclude non-aligned citizens or anybody not part of the political classes makes this even more worrisome.

Much has been made of the fact that the BNP supports the "right to bear arms," but I think the fuss is misplaced. Ultimately, as Bowling for Columbine demonstrated, it is not ownership of guns in itself  that is the problem but the creation of a culture of gun machismo and a climate of fear propagated by the media. I should also point out that I fully support the right of the British people to take up arms if faced with a BNP government.

The fact that a BNP government would ruthlessly suppress any criticism is demonstrated by the next section of the manifesto. In "Democracy and the Media," they claim that the media "have actively promoted" multiculturalism and the EU. I agree with them that "a danger to genuine democracy emanates from the concentration of ownership and control of the mass media," but it should be pointed out that this ownership (apart from token denunciations of the party itself) is often very quick to tow the BNP line on immigration, crime, and the EU. Indeed, fascist parties such as the BNP serve a distinct function in the propaganda model of media control.

"Culture, Traditions, and Civil Society" is nothing more than a blueprint for rigid social engineering. A few good ideas are buried within an avalanche of mechanisms to control and manipulate. That "television should strive to depict improved standards of conduct" has particularly ominous undertones.

With crime, unrelenting authoritarianism is no surprise - the death penalty, corporal punishment, hard labour, and the establishment of a penal colony on the island of South Georgia are all on the cards. Police accountability, under the guise of "political correctness" has to go.

The plans for "a healthy nation" are surprisingly sensible in many regards. Bringing hospital cleaning back in-house, opposing privatisation, and building up front-line staff as opposed to highly paid bureaucrats are all things that need to be done in order to restore the NHS to what it once was. Unfortunately, once again, this is spoiled by the xenophobic waffling about immigration. It seems that there's no part of British society that the bloody foreigners haven't wrecked.

Their section on education offers nothing but religious and nationalistic indoctrination, and the enforcement of inequality. That they would abolish "politically correct attempts to undermine university standards in the name of social levelling" yet "require ideological balance in university faculties, previously a domain of the left" shows their commitment to an unequal, right-wing, and authoritarian education system. This is particularly worrying when a vastly more libertarian approach to education and child rearing is needed.

With transport, energy, and agriculture, much the same criticisms can be made. The BNP offer a mix of relatively sensible, populist policies (rolling back privatisations, supporting renewable energy development, ensuring a sustainable provision of health local food), blaming immigration at every available opportunity, and outright lunacy.

Foreign policy is largely covered by the same critiques as defence policy.

With housing, again, there are some sensible policies. The Tories and Labour, successively, have allowed housing stock to dwindle whilst private landlords garner huge profits through extortion. But this is nothing to do with immigration, and the "local connection test" and denial of housing to non-British citizens are nothing less than pointless, xenophobic initiatives. Again, Liverpool Antifascists explain the issue lucidly in Immigration and housing - the facts (PDF).

The largest section of the BNP manifesto is dedicated to the economy. Here, the BNP promises to serve the interests of the working class by "raising the personal non-taxable allowance to £12,500," "undertak[ing] not to reduce front-line public services," and "ensur[ing] that globalist corporations pay their fair share of the tax burden."

These ostensibly sensible measures are muted by attempts at social engineering, at least one big tax break for the rich, and the use of the phrase "politically correct" as an umbrella under which it can slash public jobs and services.

The social engineering comes in the form of "encourag[ing] the family unit by reintroducing the married man’s allowance by as much as £2,500, depending upon the presence of children." A family which can't stay together for love but can for financial incentives is not going to be a healthy or happy one. Especially if the financial incentive traps people within abusive relationships.

"Rais[ing] the inheritance tax level to £1 million" is just one initiative that will help only the richest three percent of society. This is coupled with an attack on workers, the BNP denouncing the working time directive (which prevents workers from being forced to perform more than 47-hours per week) as one of many "burdensome" regulations "onerous to business, job creation and profitability." Couple this with the party's utter hatred of trade unions, and you get a picture of the direction worker's rights are headed under a BNP government.

Old people, too, should have cause to worry. Obviously, elderly people of non-British origins: "The BNP will enact legislation to ensure that pensions are eligible only to Britons and those who have fully paid into the system." On a broader level, increases in the retirement age and the end of early retirement schemes are just two of the measures pensioners can face from a BNP government as they become "an increased burden upon the exchequer in terms of the cost of the state pension and the loss of income-generating employment."

This is the first time the BNP have chosen to lay out their ideology in such depth. Reading it, I like the BNP, "believe that the material contained in our manifesto will strike a chord with ordinary British folk who are deeply concerned about the future of their country and the way it is run today." But that chord is not a positive one.

Non-whites, immigrants, the very poor, the working class, and the elderly all have something to lose. This is a manifesto of attack.