BNP contest Stratford-on-Avon seat in General Election

According to local media reports, the BNP will contest Stratford-upon-Avon’s seat on 6th May. The candidate is Stratford-born George Jones, now living in Kenilworth. Anti-fascist blog Norfolk Unity has the following scary detail on Jones, from when he unsuccessfully contested the Lawford & New Bilton local election in 2006:

George has a long history in extreme right wing politics. In the late-1970’s he was a member of the British Movement, then run by “Mad Milkman” Michael McLoughlin, but somehow became associated with former members of the National Party splinter group in Coventry and Warwick – notably with Michael Cole, the National Party’s hyperactive (and not entirely trusted) Warwick organiser, and also with Robert Relf, the Leamington “race rebel” imprisoned for displaying a sign declaring his house for sale to “English people only”.

Relf had long been associated with the British Movement and Colin Jordan (who lived in nearby Coventry), while Cole, who – like Relf – made no secret of his Nazi views, eventually found his way to Denmark to help in the running of a now forgotten Nazi organisation.

Jones, Cole and Relf were also close associates of the hardline elements within Coventry National Front, who followed John Tyndall into the BNP’s New National Front predecessor.

Like most of the racists in the Coventry/Warwick area, keen rambler George had an abiding interest in all things Nazi. We feel pretty sure that if George’s interest in such dubious matters is on-going then he may well have neglected to mention as much to the electors of Long Lawford and New Bilton – as he may well have neglected to mention the contents of a letter published by the Leamington Courier all those years ago, still existing as yellowed archival hard-copy, wherein George suggested that the release into the air on a favourable wind of a few grammes of a certain noxious substance would solve the problem of Third World overcrowding at a stroke.

Ho hum.

A man like this cannot represent Stratford. Home to the world’s greatest theatre company, and birthplace of a man whose plays – whose writings on humanity – transcend gender, race and time, we’re not a town for racists and fascists. By its nature, its economy and its history, this town survives by welcoming international visitors & international residents. I’m so embarrassed that the BNP think they stand a chance here, but after the racist responses to Nadim Zahawi, I’m not surprised.

The BNP website has no definite news on Jones’s campaign, as yet (and to be honest, I’m not ecstatic about checking back too often).  This blog (from May 2006) seems to contain an example of George Jones’s 2006 campaign literature. I’ve reproduced it below: if accurate, then Stratford’s non-fascist, non-racist, non-lunatic residents perhaps have little to worry about…

Whose idea was the picture? It makes him look like an effeminate Dr Crippen.

Obviously, much has changed since 2008. The BNP has learned to use Blogspot, for one thing, and – apparently – developed a spectacular sense of irony. West Midlands BNP Press Officer James Whittall said the BNP was “certainly not targeting ethnic minorities”, in a press release equalled only by papal claims of being “not even a bit Catholic” and the Bear Council of Great Britain’s assertion that members “no longer shit in the woods”. I have a nasty feeling this might be BNP ‘rising star’ James Whittall, celebrated by various far-right Midlands blogs (to which I’m unwilling to link). Doubtless we shall hear more from him in due course.

BNP, MEPs: Not a protest vote.

Reading about the election results tonight, unable to sleep, I started wondering if this was all some big karmic joke; paying the UK back for years of smugness about US politics – yes, Tony Blair was a goon in a tie, but at least he wasn’t George Bush, at least our bloke wasn’t stupid. I shared in that smugness, I was that stupid. Accordingly I was simultaneously ecstatic, ashamed and envious the night the leaders of the free world voted to make their leader Barack Obama.

It’s less an issue of karma than complacency. In the good times, we (some of us) could ignore the way (some views in) this country were going. Now, predictably, the bad times have brought dissatisfaction, bigotry, corruption and cruelty into view, from voters and politicians alike. For the first time, my house in Stratford got leafletted by the BNP.  Some people have seen the BNP’s gains, including the appoinment of former NF and National Socialist member Andrew Brons as the BNP’s first MEP and his fascist leader Nick Griffin as their second. People have voted to give the BNP and far-right parties what The Times has called ‘a cash bonanza‘. And these votes, sadly, are not a “protest vote”.

Yes, the economy is in the shit and yes, the politicians of all three major parties have behaved badly with the expenses scandal. But there were alternatives; there are always alternatives. We have fourteen major political parties in the United Kingdom, and at least a further twenty-five minor political parties in England alone.

Immigrants and non-white Britons did not cause the economic crisis. They did not cause the expenses scandal (my God, even if you’re somehow stupid enough to disagree with the former, surely you don’t believe that the average Polish plumber somehow compelled Douglas Hogg to charge us for cleaning his moat?). The BNP cannot solve any economic crisis. Voters are angry with political corruption, but surely they cannot imagine that people capable of uttering the words “Hitler, God rest his soul” are going to conduct themselves with more honesty, judgment and fairness than members of the three main parties?

I don’t think that even BNP voters (disgusting bigots all) can be stupid enough to really, truly believe that immigrants caused the housing crash, the culture of bankers’ bonuses, or MP corruption. They may keep themselves willfully ignorant (racism cannot survive open-minded learning), but they cannot really believe it. Nobody can. If the BNP voters were really casting protest votes, they would have spoiled their ballots, or gone for the local incarnation of the Monster Raving Loony Party (I remember finding out about them as a very small child; they charmed me, as does their current Joan Crawford-esque policy of no more wire hangers).

Perhaps I am underestimating the stupidity of the electorate. But not, I think, their racism: what’s gone on here is scapegoating and voluntary, even willing venting of racist hate. This isn’t a new problem, this isn’t a problem caused by inflation or MP expenses. And it’s not the same problem oilrig workers complain about when companies undercut them with foreign workers through loophole accommodation deals. That’s not so-called ‘affirmative action’, so loathed by right-wingers: that’s white businessmen doing anything to save money at the expense of their employees. No, what’s happening here is that the racism of our society is being exposed by a convenient set of circumstances; ones which allow people a suddenly “acceptable” reason to give up on mainstream politics and show what they truly believe. That worth is determined by skin colour and heritage, that difference is disgusting. And that instead of solidarity in diversity, the best way forward is for an insular and ignorant clump of voters, clinging to some long-dead notion of ‘indigenous’ Britain, to uphold their long-term racist goals under cover of a short-term protest.

And the most terrible thing is, this time it’s worked.

I hope the repercussions aren’t huge, and I hope that Brons’s influence is as limited as his viciousness deserves. But I don’t know, and I’m frightened that after the next election, when Gitface Smileshit David Cameron gets in, everything’s going to be so much worse.

Eleanor Marx, George Bernard Shaw & Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Eleanor Marx
Eleanor Marx

Before its June 1889 premiere at the Novelty Theatre, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was twice staged in the capital; once in 1885, and once in 1886. In 1886, it was given  in a private performance in a Bloomsbury lodging-house, with George Bernard Shaw as Krogstad, and ELEANOR MARX as Nora. ELEANOR MARX (interesting 2005 article here from the Socialist Worker). Can you imagine? How wonderful to have been there.

My, but there’s a lot to be said for reading your tutor’s book. I love theatre history. The 1889 premiere of A Doll’s House starred Janet Achurch as Nora, Herbert Waring as Torvald and Achurch’s husband, Charles Charrington, as Dr. Rank. Achurch gave a famous interview in the midst of the critical furore which followed (Clement Scott, predictably, managed to get nearly as angry about Nora as he would about Hedda two years later – and he called Hedda the most ‘morally repulsive woman to appear on stage’), saying that Nora was ‘perfectly right’ to leave her husband, as she famously does at the end of the play (also notable, but less positive, was Achurch’s morphine addiction, following a disastrous labour and stillbirth, which eventually killed her). She even defended Nora’s abandoning her children, which the Daily Telegraph critic said ‘no women breathing’ would have done. Other reading delights today have included Alan’s Wife by Elizabeth Robins (my new obsession – apparently late Victorian & Edwardian Britain was full of awesome feminist playwrights), wherein woman kills disabled child. In, you know, 1893. If you have Muse access, Katherine E. Kelly has a really interesting article here.

Linkspam

  • The ‘British Wildcats‘, the group massing behind the ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ union-rejected strikes, is BNP-affiliated, as revealed by The Ministry Of Truth. Proof? here.
  • Wednesday’s Front Row on Radio 4 had an interesting item on the history of Sex Education films. There are some hilarious examples of teen information films on YouTube (I love What To Do On A Date, from 1950), as well as a parody from Colbert, Dinello & Sedaris, How To Be Popular.
  • And, finally, Clamorous Voice has been listed on WordPress’s Feb 02 list of Growing Blogs! Okay, so it’s small, but I’m still pleased. I love watching where people are coming from (bizarrely, a lot of people seem to find this blog by searching for ‘Michelle Obama’… fortunately the other popular search terms, like ‘bodleian’ or, er, ‘david tennant’ make a lot more sense), it’s sort of addictive.