Not an awful lot to say about yesterday’s local elections – pretty much results as expected, really, given recent events and more long-term failures. Charles Clarke has gone; I’ve already expressed my irritation at the story that got him thrown out, and this is just encouraging future ministers to pander to the same sort of xenophobic tabloid rubbish, but (grappling for a silver lining) every time we change Home Secretaries it slows the ongoing process of removing civil liberties just a little I suppose.
So what happens now? Tories make gains, New Labour look at Tory policies and try to move slightly in that direction, in the same way that the Tories have taken up New Labour policies or at least style and rhetoric. They’re not actually going to address the reasons that people voted against them, clearly, because that would mean abandoning their basic pro-business ethos, and they know that neither the Tories nor the Lib Dems are going to do that either. They don’t have to provide an alternative.
This is the process of parliamentary democracy at the moment it seems: different establishment factions trundle along with a few odd ideas of their own, one faction gets voted out after it stands up as a figurehead for long enough and another one pops in. One would have thought that they would have at least tried to pretend there are meaningful differences between the factions but it seems that that’s not necessary any more, now that History has Ended.
Enough of this pessimistic anarchist nonsense, though. I did want to ask one question about the strategies used rather ineffectually previous to yesterday, which is why are New Labour supporting the BNP? Their two arguments seemed to me to have been:
- “Please don’t read the news, just think back to all the good things we’ve done” – not said too loudly in case people actually do think back;
- “Vote for us or the BNP might get in” – not said explicitly, but when a party says “there’s an increasing danger from X” right before an election you know what they mean.
It used to be “vote for us or the Tories will get in” but I suppose they’re not going to say nowadays that in case the response is “good, that Cameron chap seems nice, look, he rides a bike”. So we get “the threat of the BNP”. Not to say that the BNP are not a bad thing, but the threat that they pose is really connected to their ability to get their propaganda out, which is clearly immensely helped by ministers raising their profile.
The thing is that the BNP are not a meaningful threat to New Labour, just ordinary people. They hold, what, 44 local council seats now out of 22,000 and they haven’t a hope of getting a single MP. It is, in fact, useful to New Labour to have them there, to further the existence of the “immigration debate”. The BNP shout about immigrants coming over here and taking our houses and our jobs and our women and so on, and people shout back at them, and various BNP-Lite groups and papers say “obviously we’re not racist but they do have a point” and it all goes round and round without the central question ever having to be addressed: why does anyone believe the BNP and others’ bullshit in the first place? Urban myths about how asylum seekers come over here and take all the houses and get loads of free cash are obviously going to propagate a lot more easily in an environment where people don’t have houses and cash, and look, all these people are saying it’s a worthwhile thing to discuss, must be something in it.
The anti-immigration lobby in general is an ever-so-slight annoyance to NL, as if it gets too much support they can lose votes due to not appearing to crack down on immigration enough, but its utility is much greater. As long as the “immigration debate” is given credence people will argue about it, meaning that NL and others never have to account for their role in the perpetual social and economic problems in this country. It keeps what’s left of the left wing of NL quiet for a bit because they’re likely to be outraged at crypto-racism etc, and there’s the added benefit that the more that immigrants are demonised, the less likely they are to be able to demand benefits, unionise etc. Lots of nice cheap workers!
And what are the “parties of the workers” doing? Slagging off RESPECT and abandoning any internationalism they might have had. Shower of bastards.