To: Martin Webster
Date: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 12:03 PM
Subject: Brussels Journal 6-5-2008
This is a interesting analysis of Friday's elections results with lots of references to Richard Barnbrook......
Brussel Journal - Tuesday 6th May 2008 - 09:31
Britain: Going Right Again?
From the desk of A. Millar
If the Conservative Party made history with its sweeping success and wining of the election for London mayor, they were not the only party making headlines for electoral gains.
Richard Barnbrook of the BNP won a seat on the London Assembly, after years of aiming for such a high profile. The party needed 5% of the London votes to secure one of the twenty-five Assembly seats, and managed to achieve just over that at 5.3% of the votes. This was, however, a modest win by the scale of some predictions. Tim Hames in The Times announced a few weeks before the election, ³Prepare for a shock BNP victory,² and seemed to imply that two or three seats were quite possible for the party.
BNP leadership would undoubtedly point out that they now have a hundred seats country-wide, and would suggest, no doubt, that if their win in London was less than expected it was due to adverse publicity. Both The Times and the BBC lessened their criticism of the party in the weeks leading up to the election, though some others probably increased it.
The Daily Mail not only compared Barnbrook¹s style of dress with Hitler¹s on the rather flimsy basis that both at one point or another have worn brown but let much of his past slip a few days prior to the day of voting.
The most surprising of the paper¹s revelations was, perhaps, that Barnbrook is currently getting a divorce from a woman he married a decade or so ago, and that the one-time art student had directed an artistic movie (some have called it ³gay porn²), described by the newspaper as, ³naked young men [Š] flagellating each other and simulating gay sex acts while homo-erotic poetry is intoned.²
Attacks on the BNP are nothing new, of course, and party head Nick Griffin has clearly developed a talent for nullifying tricky questions on the party¹s stance on race and immigration, and for portraying it as the most moderate party imaginable (though, one with principles, you understand). Being interviewed on television, Griffin is affable. Barnbrook, in contrast, would benefit from a few lessons in public speaking.
He seems to have been caught off guard by a swath of audience exiting as he was about to deliver his acceptance speech. ³Like rats leaving sinking ships,² he barked, launching into a fiery, yet monotone tirade that could only have pleased a hardcore of BNP voters except for a lengthy aside about girlfriend Simone Clarke, which probably pleased only her.
As they had with Livingstone, Paddick, and Johnson, the ³gutter press² had gossiped about him, the only difference being, he asserted, that everything they had written about him was ³lies.² Really?
Next, Barnbrook bewailed ³positive discrimination,² multiculturalism, and political correctness which, he stated, has meant the minority getting the majority of the benefit; and he promised to scrutinize the mayor¹s budget, ³second by second,² to expose any such bias. ³[Š] It is not for people to enter this land dictating what will and will not happen to the people who created and built it over generations,² he asserted forcefully.
His words were more conciliatory at times, though, with his tone remaining aggressive, they sounded strange, if not outright frightening. He promised to treat people on an equal footing, stating, for example:
"....all Londoners, every single one that was, if you need aid from a voice I¹ll speak for you, representing you clearly across this capital city, without prejudice, without concern of colour or identity, my hands will be open[ed] up as wide as that of the indigenous population and the first generation that came here, to every single Londoner as long as you play part within the identity of this great city."
In this, Barnbrook appears to be a realist. He, like all of the other elected representatives on the London Assembly, will be required to represent everyone living in London, not just the 5.3% who voted for the BNP.
But, can the party transform itself into one for whom principles trump ethnicity and race? Would a party that currently has voluntary repatriation as one of its policies, consider ³British² to include the foreign born, law abiding British citizen?
Barnbrook, at one point, spoke of ³Londoners [Š] regardless of creed, color, or identity,² but, since then, he has stated that he will try to ban the wearing of the burka in public. His other stated aims are making St. George¹s Day a national holiday, and flying the Union Jack (British) flag over City Hall.
A more sensible approach would probably be to concentrate on the mundane stuff of politics, such as public transport, the cleanliness of London streets, etc., or, perhaps, planting some of the fruit trees the BNP promised. The British people, after all, have had a government that has imposed a radical ideology on them for the last decade, and they are unlikely to embrace a party that is so ideological, even if it¹s ideology is an opposing one.
Moreover, while Barnbrook¹s words betray someone who is able to think as a moderate, his style of delivery suggests someone who is anything but, and his speech must surely have confirmed the worst suspicions of those who were previously unsure of, or antagonistic to, the BNP.
The election results have thrown up a lot of interesting possibilities and perhaps especially so for a country headed into recession.
The BNP may have reached a point where it either moderates further, or remains a party on the margins. Certainly, it will be more visible and accountable.