Thursday, May 21, 2009

Abandoning the mainstream parties? Vote for the positive, ethical Greens not the hateful BNP.

I’m urging people who intend to abandon the mainstream parties in June’s local and euro elections, and there are understandably many of them, to choose the positive, ethical alternative the Greens offer, not to avoid voting and not to vote for the BNP. I agree strongly with letter writer Liban Obsiye that we need better politicians, but not the BNP.

Plenty of talk about the BNP at the moment. They are getting a lot of frequent, fairly casual mentions in the media as an alternative to the mainstream parties. Their campaign launch received a lot of coverage time on the telly. I’ve seen their party broadcast and on Tues I received their euro election leaflet through my door despite the fact that some Bristol posties have refused to deliver them (and according to reports have forced a change in the attitude of their managers, who have now agreed to allow them to refuse!).

The BNP leaflet got an instant and angry response from my daughter, who has just finished studying IGCSE History including the rise of Fascism and Nazism in the 1920s/30s and the Second World War, who wrote about her feelings here. She is right that the BNP references to images of the Second World War on their leaflet are very odd indeed given that we fought that war to stop the Nazis and Fascists – a description that fits the BNP very well, see here. (Interestingly UKIP also link to the Second World War in their leaflet, using a large picture of Winston Churchill). She is right to draw parallels between BNP tactics and Hitler’s use of scapegoats, economic hard times and failures in the political system to appeal for voter support. Hitler combined violence and bullying with the appearance of moderation as and when it suited him.

Strange that the West Country is simultaneously hosting the Anne Frank exhibition in Bristol Cathedral whilst also giving a platform for the nazi BNP at the Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution in Queen Square this Friday (jointly organised by the BRLSI and, rather ironically given the BNP’s nature, pressure group Unlock Democracy). The Anne Frank exhibition wants to 'help us deal with intolerance and discrimination' – the BNP, a party full of hate, has a constitution that wont even allow black or Asian people to join them! The South West Greens lead Euro election candidate Cllr Ricky Knight has refused to share a platform with the BNP at the Bath meeting. He will be present outside the venue giving out leaflets explaining his Green position and answering any questions in an impromptu ‘people’s hustings’. He has written the following about the meeting:

Unlock Democracy, Bath, criticises the Greens, Labour and Lib-Dems for refusing to debate with the British National Party. On this occasion, it is the Greens and the other parties who should be doing the criticising.

The BNP continue to use tactics and espouse ideas that cannot be construed as being "democratic". A simple example is their use of leaflets identifying a trade unionist, printing his address, phone number and distributing leaflets designed to arouse hostility towards him.

In addition, the BNP constitutionally will not permit Black or Asian British people to become members. They even refuse to accept the fact that they are British.

I am sure that if the BNP membership exclusion extended to Jewish members, homosexuals and people with disabilities, it might become more obvious why the Greens have adopted, in informal agreement with regional Labour and Lib-Dem lead candidates, a policy not to share a platform with a political party whose views on many serious issues we find abhorrent, unethical and indefensible.

We can see from history how a ‘democratic’ party, once elected, was able to perpetrate the Holocaust. I am particularly disappointed that a respected organisation as Unlock Democracy, Bath, with such an honourable record of promoting the reform of our own electoral system, should then choose to ignore these warning signs and attempt to give the oxygen of publicity to a group whose cornerstone policies are the antithesis of the democratic process.