Sunday, 1 February 2009

Sending *** through the post

As people will know, I've been very critical of the BBC's decision not to air the Gaza appeal, but I think the whole Jonathan Ross thing has been a storm in a teacup. And now it's gettting very silly indeed. Today's Mail on Sunday reports "a new BBC taste row" with news that Jo Brand has - shock, horror! - made a joke that has offended the BNP. Well, good on you Jo. And no, I'm not suggesting people start posting them things.

On a more serious note, the BNP are making a serious play for the St George East council seat this time round. They've been leafleting heavily, including one leaflet - which I haven't seen yet - which reportedly says that the chimneys at Nazi death camps were built after the war ended.

For those who don't know the area, St George is a predominantly white area, with a mixture of social housing/ owner-occupiers, a fair bit of new build for young couples... There's undoubtedly some resentment about what is perceived as BME communities getting priority housing, or the inner-city wards 'down the hill' getting the regeneration funding, i.e. the sort of concerns Jon Cruddas raises frequently. With the economic downturn that may spill over into resentment about jobs too. (And just for the record, I don't dismiss their concerns in any way, I can entirely sympathise with people whose children can't get on the housing ladder, or who are stuck in unsuitable accommodation. But it's important also to nail the myths and misconceptions around these issues).

Can't see why the BNP is pushing the Holocaust denial message, rather than their usual Islamophobia, but I'm sure we'll see some of that too during the campaign.


Chris Gale said...

What exactly is Islamaphobia? Other than a silly Guardianesque inspired construct designed to label as racist anyone who dares criticises medievalist religion.
If it means being against the following:

Subjugation of women and inbuilt sexism
The persecution of and institutionalised hostility to homosexuals
ritualised animal abuse
summary executions and floggings
genital mutilation of children and vulnerable adults
The growth of theocracies which deny even basic human rights

Islam is a belief system and rational, progressive minded people can be as phobic as we like about it.

Of course, people have the right to their beliefs no matter how absurd they may seem but that is a different matter.

Having the right to a belief, culture, or religion does not mean that the belief or culture or religion must be respected or that those who disagree, oppose or choose to mock said beliefs must refrain from doing so because it is unacceptable to believers or MPs.

The use of anti-racist language is a devious way of silencing criticism and opposition – criticism which is particularly crucial given the havoc that political Islam has inflicted in the Middle East and North Africa and more recently here in the west.

Needless to say, the language calling for restraint rapidly becomes one of threats and intimidation when Islamists have some form of political power.

In Iran, Iraq and elsewhere, they kill and maim indiscriminately, tolerate nothing and no one, hang the 'unchaste', 'kafirs' and 'apostates' from cranes in city centres, and say it is their divine right to do so.

In the face of this onslaught, secularism, universalism and values worthy of 21st century humanity have to be defended and promoted unequivocally.

Kerry said...

What is Islamophobia? You've just given a very good example of it.

Chris Gale said...

The BNP thugs have been given a boost in many areas because many of the concerns of white working class people have not been addressed.
If people are labelled as racist or are pilloried for having severe anxieties about the way in which their communities are changing beyond recognition and being ghettoised, then the door is left wide open for the far right.

Chris Gale said...

Oh really? Well if being against medievalist religion and what it represents makes me 'islamaphobic' then yep and I am make no apology for it.
Progressive secularist reformers did not make strides over centuries for the ideals they fought for to be silenced because to defend them is 'islamaphobic'.
I understand Poly Toynbee and others have also be labelled as such because they broke the great taboo.
Some of us will stand up secular progressive values against reactionary superstitious claptrap (dangerous claptrap too), from whatever religion, no matter what you lazily want to label us.

Philip I said...

Holocaust?.....What Holocaust?!

Allan@Aberdeen said...

Is that the 'quality' of response typical of this MP. Is that it?

Grim Reaper said...

That reminds me, Kerry - did you get my present in the post? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Have you got a copy of the BNP leaflet?

Kerry said...

No, I've just been told about the leaflet by someone from St George East, but I guess I can get my hands on it pretty easily. There have been three leaflets so far, I think.

The Bristol Blogger said...

The Ross/Brand affair appears to be an example of nowtrage.

Dave H said...

A few disjointed yet hopefully unwelcome thoughts:

1) Regarding bias in social housing allocation, am I right in thinking the number of dependent children is a very important factor in moving you up the waiting list?

This might not intentionally lead to discrimination but if (from memory) White-British women have on average 1.7 children and Pakistani-British 4.5, how the hell can you avoid de facto discrimination against White-British families? And then how the hell do you avoid the resentment this causes? The rise of the BNP is without doubt a direct consequence of policy: reaping, sowing etc.

2) You're right about those BNP leaflets having an odd tack. I should have thought Holocaust denial would invoke disgust in the vast majority of British people, although I would not be surprised if a majority (albeit perhaps a small one) were troubled by the rapid expansion of Islam.

Kuffirophobia may not exist as a word but the practice is thriving as never before in the UK.

3) Sending *** through the post (BTW is poo such an offensive word? -if it had been **** I could understand) seems minor compared to Jeremy Hardy's suggestion of shooting BNP voters in the head. Don’t we still hear him on Radio 4 all the time? Didn’t he once write a column for the Guardian? It’s strange how those on the Liberal-Left effortlessly slip into the language of the violent extremists they profess to abhor. Die Endlösung der nazionalistenfrage, Härdychen?

Objectively, and a point often overlooked, is that the BNP are in most ways a left-wing party: nationalisation, centralised control etc. See Iain Dale’s recent posting on the subject. Despite their recent attempts to appear less racist and hate-filled, I’ve seen members of the Right with a pretty well-developed sense of patriotism reject them out of hand for this reason.

In many ways (but not all) they are less extreme than the SWP or CPGB, yet Labour are hypocritically relaxed about membership of these parties. The BNP are at least apparently committed to democracy, as opposed to a revolution followed by totalitarianism.

When I last looked at the SWP website, they even referred to terrorists as the ‘heroic few’ and disapproved of terrorism as a tactic only for its’ lack of effectiveness. Nice people.

Since I've already Godwinned, I may as well go the full hog. Guess the political persuasion of the following speaker:

“We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property..."

Yep, that's right, without doubt a typical Leftie. Any number of Labour MPs or TUC leaders could come out with exactly the same thing. If only they had all gone into painting instead...

(BTW in the context of Notes and Undergrounds, it's pathetic for the Tube to be disrupted by snow)

Kerry said...

When I used to call my (very) right-wing stepfather a Nazi he always used to say he wasn't a Nazi because they were National Socialists and he wasn't a Socialist.

On the housing issue - it would only be discrimination against white families if it was discrimination on the grounds of being white. Which it clearly isn't. Irish families have, at least until recently, been pretty big too. I think I'm right in saying that Pat McFadden (Labour minister) is the youngest of eight, and Meg Hillier (another Labour Minister) is one of ten. Makes my five siblings look quite moderate by comparison.

Dave H said...

Yawn. I seem to remember the height test for Firefighters had to be abandoned on sex discrimination grounds because women are on average shorter. It could be an urban myth.

In any event, that's what I meant by "de facto discrimination" I might have meant "ipso facto". (I somehow passed the O level but can't actually understand a word).

The point is, if certain minority groups are seen to be allocated housing ahead of the majority, whatever the reason, you may well end up with a pissed off majority, and you finish behind the nameless ones at elections. I think their first victory (Isle of Dogs?) was the result of campaigning over this issue.

You're handing them an issue to exploit.

Your example of MPs coming from large families is irrelevant to the point of being bizzare. The averages for the nation are available, and I imagine that the vast majority of births are registered; for once we have a demographic statistic that might actually be reliable.

One point of interest, they have a manfesto pledge on immigration. I think it is fair to say they would actually stick to it. There not many parties you can trust to do that these days.

Labour's anguish at being beaten into third place behind the ultimate Bogeymen* is a joy to behold. God forbid they (and your lot too after 2010) ever get near direct power.

I've trolled enough for today now.

*Temptation resisted.

Kerry said...

The MPs in question are of Irish Catholic descent.

Large families are assigned to the waiting list for large houses, small families for the list for smaller houses/ flats. I asked about this when I visited the Housing Office. If a family is assessed as needing a three or four bed house, they won't be given a two-bed house as a medium term measure - they'll stay in their temporary accommodation until the right house is found. This actually can mean that they have a longer wait than smaller families, because so few bigger places become available.

The difficulty - and the resentment - arises when new, larger family homes are built, as has happened in Barton Hill in my constituency, and they're mostly allocated to Somali families because they happen to be the larger families that have been longest on the waiting list for that area. I don't think it's such an issue with Asian families. In Luton, where I used to be Chair of Housing, the Asian community by and large lived in private sector accommodation in the inner-city wards. The Bangladeshi community did take up council housing, to an extent, but not really the Pakistani/ Kashmiri community.

As for the firefighter thing - if it was the case that you couldn't go on the council house waiting list unless you had five kids, then that analogy might work. But only if.

Anonymous said...

"They're mostly allocated to Somali families because they happen to be the larger families that have been longest on the waiting list for that area."

Is housing solely allocated on the length of time you've been on the waiting list then?

Kerry said...

No, and I suspect you know that. You get banded according to housing need, which is judged according to factors like overcrowding, medical needs, special circs (like the need to escape domestic violence). And then within those bands, length of wait matters... Now that the Somali community has been in Bristol for a while, they're starting to get nearer the top of the list.