Time to crack down on the BNP

Freedom of speech is one thing, but, as the old cliche goes, it’s not ok to shout fire in a crowded theatre. BNP leader Nick Griffin’s comments are exactly that, a false claim that could wind up causing people’s death or injury. He said that:

“If they get a non-Muslim girl and they get her pregnant, then her community doesn’t want her, and the child generally grows up a Muslim and that’s the way this wicked, vicious faith has expanded from a handful of cranky lunatics about 1,300 years ago….”

“Now those 18, 19, 20, 25-year-old Asian Muslims who are seducing and raping white girls in this town right now, they’re not particularly good Muslims, they drink and all the rest of it, but still part of what they are doing comes from what they are taught is acceptable…”

Gordon Brown put the need for stronger racial hatred laws on the table, saying: “Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country and I think we have got to do whatever we can to root it out.  If that means that we have to look at the laws again, I think we will have to do so.”

This is certainly welcome. It will be important to draft any new laws carefully. Freedom of speech must be safeguarded and that includes the freedom to criticise religions. But it can’t be impossible to draft a law that makes it illegal to use inflamatory language to provoke people in hotspots like Keighley.

As ever, Jon Cruddas has hit the nail on the head in pointing out that we do need new laws, but that alone is not enough.

We need better laws in place, but we also need to rebuild local parties so that we can confront the BNP wherever they push their ugly politics

He’s also very well profiled in the Telegraph developing the argument a bit.

“The BNP thrive in areas where people feel forgotten by the mainstream parties. There are signs that the fascist party is becoming a home for many disgruntled former Labour voters.”

“Some communities have been badly affected by a decline in traditional industries, a shortage of affordable housing and changing migration patterns. Society is becoming fragmented. There is also widespread disillusionment and distrust with party politics. Decision-making is becoming removed from local communities and voters are feeling increasingly powerless.”

That’s a key point. It’s vital that we make a political change to wipe out the causes of fascist parties as well as just cracking down on the parties themselves.

We also need a bit of moderation from some members of the Cabinet too (stand up Harriet Harman and Jack Straw), who would do well to stop posturing on veils. They are not racist but their rhetoric only goes to strengthen the racists’ case.

As Cruddas says:

We have to be honest in saying that the debate over the veil, talking tough on immigration and race or the language used in the `war on terror’ does not reassure people but actually makes the situation worse. It creates fear, tension and suspicion. It divides communities and plays into the hands of extremism.

7 Responses to Time to crack down on the BNP

  1. Nick says:

    It’s not really that surprising that Griffin was acquitted – it was perfectly legal at the time to incite hatred of Muslims. I’m more surprised that they tried to prosecute him the first place.

  2. I think this whole business was a farce from start to finish. I still can’t see why the BBC decided to spend licence payers money on an ‘investigate report’ than conclude that Britains biggest organised racist group was…. er… racist.

    Part of the reason that the BNP are so popular is that the BBC continually gives them the oxygen of publicity – in vast disproportion to groups such as the Greens, who have far more political support – while failing to adequately challenge their claims when it interviews.

    Jeremy Paxman is has been much nastier to Michael Howard – not an especially nice man but certainly not a fascist – than he has been to Griffin.

    I think at heart, large sections of the liberal establisment find the BNP exciting rather than dangerous and their approach reflects that.

    I’m generally with Jon Cruddas on the broader picture, though.

  3. Jon Rogers says:

    Cruddas is right that we need to rebuild local Labour Parties to confront the BNP in our communities and on our streets – which means we need policies which will unite and enthuse our membership to do this (which is why we need to pay attention to what John McDonnell is saying too!) We also need to stop Labour politicians making racism respectable.

  4. Adele R says:

    I agree with Cruddas there. Abandon local communities and you let the BNP fill a vaccuum.

  5. media scum says:

    Am i the only one who scoured the papers in vain to try and find out the Judges advice and direction to the jury prior to them retireing ? It seemed a perverse verdict in the circumstances. Am i insinuating that a jury form West Yorkshire might be, well, a bit biased ?

  6. Ian G says:

    I think to change the law as a response to this case would be extremely counter-productive. It would look like the government are just going to keep changing the law until they get a conviction.

    Take away the root causes of discontent, or at least look as if you are trying to tackle them, and the BNP will become irrelevant. Ignore them and no amount of legislation will help,

  7. Shamik Das says:

    I agree. Deal with the causes of discontent as well as punishing the likes of Griffin.

    I think this is what Cruddas has been saying for ages. It’s about time he was listened to …

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