Tuesday 12 January 2010

Barking mad

I've been doing quite a bit of research into my family's history recently, focusing on my mother's agricultural ancestors in what were then the fields and farms of rural Barking, and my father's forebears in Mile End and Whitechapel. So it pained me this week to read that both of these areas may soon boast (?) extremist demagogues as their political representatives - if Nick Griffin is successful in being elected as MP for Barking and Dagenham, and George Galloway achieves his apparent ambition to become mayor of Tower Hamlets.

I suppose having a fascist as your MP is marginally worse than having a supporter of clerical fascists and tyrants as your mayor, but if either came to pass, it would be a sad day for these boroughs, with their proud history of working-class activism and standing up to fascism.


Minnie said...

It must be dismaying to see how a proud history can be so apparently traduced - even more so when it relates to your roots; but I think you've answered some of your own questions in the I4UK post when you allude to the very cynical moral relativism behind govt policies re 'communities' (mostly no such thing in reality).
From what I know of the BNP sympathiser/voter (lived among a few before leaving UK): they feel driven to it by a sense of having being devalued and disenfranchised; they, too, want to feel proud of themselves/a sense of ownership, belonging + pride in their country - but they believe increasingly none of these things are permitted, at least to them ... Too much change, too fast = what seems to be behind their views: they're confused (me, too, and I'm supposedly more sophisticated!). In that respect, it seems to be a grudge vote - and one of despair, also (which is nothing short of tragic). I suspect most of these new BNP sympathisers wouldn't be capable of following the proposed party line if it came to the crunch (which God forbid): in my experience, they're good employees & neighbours to one and all. Just, like me, people who relate to individuals as opposed to 'communities' or society itself.

Martin said...

Thanks for the comment, Minnie. I agree with much of what you say here. The roots of the growth in BNP support are many and complex, but the sense that Labour is no longer the natural party of the (white or black) working class must be part of it (not all Labour's fault - partly a symptom of the decline of old class identities and politics)....and at the same time a feeling that the left has abandoned patriotism (something similar happened with the Democrats in the US in the 70s and 80s)...and the conundrum that there is no widely available form of British national pride and patriotism that isn't bound up with empire, race etc...As I've often written, if we were a modern republic with a proper constitution we could unite around, things might be different...