Nick Griffin and his Imaginary Valkyrie

19 Oct

When I started this blog, I made a vow to myself that I’d only write about books, films, art and music. Never politics. For one thing, I’m not really all that political. Oh, I have opinions. My boyfriend can vouch for that, having experienced my “Morning Rants” while watching BBC Breakfast. It’s just I’m not very partisan. I don’t support any one party. Sooner or later I find myself disagreeing with each and every one of them on at least one issue, and when election time comes around I really struggle to pick a team.

And that’s what party politics boils down to, all too often. We treat it as Blue Team vs Red Team, or Red Team vs Green Team, or Blue-and-Yellow Team vs. Red-and-Green Team, or whatever. And not one of those teams represents fully my personal beliefs. As the comedian Chris Rock once put it, “I got some shit I’m conservative about, I got some shit I’m liberal about”. If Chris Rock were to form a political party, chances are I’d vote for him.

Or Michael Palin. I’d also vote for Michael Palin.

But all this non-partisanship goes out the window when it comes to the BNP. You see, I fucking hate the BNP. Now, I know that’s not a very controversial standpoint, and I’m also aware that discussing the BNP in any context draws attention to them that they don’t deserve, and only helps them achieve more column inches, or whatever, but seriously… I fucking hate the BNP.

Some background is needed.

Back in 2007 I wrote, for a while, a guest blog on the Daily Telegraph site. I was their little pet left winger, or what they perceived as their pet left winger. Not because I was particularly left wing, but because I didn’t go along with what most of their readership believed; namely, that immigrants are evil, that the day we lost the Empire was the greatest tragedy in our island’s history, and that Margaret Thatcher is a saintdamn it, a living saint. It wasn’t that I thought immigrants beyond reproach, or the Empire worse than Hitler, or that I would one day dance on Thatcher’s grave, but apparently having an opinion that takes nuance and opposing arguments into consideration makes you, in the eyes of a Telegraph reader, a Communist.

In all fairness, many of them consider this man a Trotskyite.

What I soon discovered was that the Telegraph site’s “comments” section (that diabolical pit below each article and blog) had been hijacked by the BNP. Not long after starting my blog, I wrote a piece about how the BNP, having failed to make much progress in the ethnically mixed towns of the north, where genuine tensions existed, had now moved on to mono-cultural, almost exclusively white Middle England. Places like Windsor, and the West Country. I said that this illustrated, perfectly, how the BNP existed only to exploit people’s fears; that they were campaigning in these places precisely because the local population there didn’t know many black people, or Asian people, or Muslims, and as a result may be more wary of them. “Vote BNP, or else the Ethnic Types will move in!” That sort of thing.

Er… Yes?

No sooner had I posted the blog, than in swept the Valkyrie. I was a typical left-wing loony, they said, living in an ivory tower. (Never mind that I lived in a racially, culturally diverse neighbourhood in a racially, culturally diverse city.) I had no idea what real people thought, they said. Come the next election, we’d learn what real people thought and felt. The mainstream parties had ignored them for too long. This country was on the brink of civil war or revolution. Enoch was right. Etc. Etc.

By the sheer number of pro-BNP comments (from people invariably sporting Union-Flag-themed avatars), I began to worry. What if they were right? What if Labour and the Conservatives’ inability to discuss immigration or multiculturalism in a mature way (Conservative: “Send ’em all back!” Labour: “Fascist!”) had created a hate-filled underbelly among the British electorate? I mean, I hadn’t actually met any BNP voters, let alone party members, except for one or two posturing pub bores, but maybe all my friends were secretly planning on voting BNP next time they entered the polling station.

After all, most of the people commenting on my blog weren’t party members. They said as much. Comments to the tune of, “I’m not a member of the BNP, and haven’t voted for them in previous elections, but I’ve read their manifesto and it makes a lot of sense.”

I received a comment like that, more or less word for word, from a reader calling himself Carlos Cortiglia. You can imagine my surprise when, in 2012, I saw Carlos Cortiglia was the BNP’s candidate for London Mayor. From “interested in their manifesto” to “candidate” in less than 5 years! That’s a party with a fast track to promotion. Unless, of course, it was a different Carlos Cortiglia…

“My friends call me ‘The Jackal’…”

But the BNP’s bluster and hot air became apparent a lot earlier than that, back in 2010. They had, by this point, secured seats in the European Parliament, including one for their fearless leader, the aesthetically challenged Nick Griffin. There were quite a few of us watching on election night with bated breath, fearing the worse, but though by sunrise an overall outcome wasn’t clear, one thing was certain:

The BNP got their ass whupped.

Any gains and victories made in the preceding 9 years were made when people were frightened. After 9/11, after the July 7th attacks in 2005. They had capitalised on people’s fears. Given any kind of political power, however, and they were exposed, naked. This was a party with no real policies, no diplomacy, and an inability to play anything other than the Free Speech Martyr Card (“What do you mean, we can’t invite our members to participate in interracial rioting? It’s political correctness gone mad!”)

The following 2 years have been a bad time for the BNP. The courts ruled (hilariously) that they would now have to accept members from ethnic minorities to carry on as a legitimate party. Many of their “foot soldiers” jumped ship to the equally bonkers but, for the time being, slightly less tainted English Defence League. (“Less tainted” in that none of their leading members had publicly denied the Holocaust). Membership dwindled. There were no more invites to appear on Question Time. Griffin clearly thought he’d get some leverage out of the August 2011 riots (commenting, on his Twitter feed, on the “acrid black smoke” from the fires, despite being nowhere near them), but it didn’t come to pass. In short, nobody gave a fuck about Griffin or his party.

Pictured: BNP HQ.

Which isn’t to say they hadn’t done any damage. The BNP (and now the EDL) have done a lot of damage in the last ten years. They’ve exploited the Left’s inability to criticise Islamist extremism (preferring, instead, to shift the blame back to the UK, US or Israel), and convinced many that immigration isn’t up for discussion (despite being discussed almost constantly), or that Muslims in the UK enjoy “special privileges” (an accusation levelled at every prominent minority in the last 100 years). Every time you hear somebody make a sweeping statement about Muslims, even if they might never consider voting BNP, they’re spouting another part of a disseminated manifesto.

And yet, despite poisoning the debate and shouting so very loudly from their soap box, they still don’t get votes. Back in the 1980s, after the initial split from the National Front, the BNP’s rhetoric focused largely on Jewish influence, Zionist conspiracies, and the “myth” of the Holocaust. When this failed to garner them any votes, and in the aftermath of 9/11, they moved on to Islam. Now, after more than 10 years of banging his head fruitlessly against that particular cherry tree, Nick Griffin appears to be on the hunt for a new target.

Pan pipe buskers?

Following a court ruling that B&B owner Susanne Wilkinson had, by turning away their custom, unlawfully discriminated against Michael Black and John Morgan, Griffin decided to become the Christian hotelier’s champion.

“So,” he Tweeted. “Messrs Black & Morgan, at [their address]. A British Justice team will come up to Huntington & give you a bit of drama by way of reminding you that an English couple’s home is their castle. Say No to heterophobia!”

Now, regardless of the fact that “heterophobia” would mean “an irrational fear of anything different”, and would more accurately sum up the BNP’s raison d’etre, it’s fairly clear what was implied here. “A bit of drama” does not mean “a rational discussion over tea and biscuits”. Griffin had given away the gay couple’s address with the intention of “sending the boys round”.

(Artist’s impression)

As you’re no doubt aware, Twitter responded in kind, with many posting Griffin’s personal address (not cool, by the way), and calling for him to be banished from Twitter, which is well within Twitter’s guidelines, given that their terms of use prohibit giving away anyone’s personal information without consent. Fortunately, Black and Morgan were both out of town that night, but in the event nothing happened. No skin-headed mob arrived at their house, threw bricks at their windows, or simply stood there with placards declaring “Say No To Heterophobia!”

Now, this may sound weird, but I kind of feel sorry for Nick Griffin. He’s there, in his little farmhouse in North Wales, Tweeting away about anything he sees on Sky News, plotting his next big move, but even when he makes it easy for his “British Justice Team”, giving them an address and everything, they don’t turn up. His Valkyries – so loud, so prominent, online – just aren’t there. Which isn’t to say that the BNP have no members at all. We’ve all seen the odd photo or documentary clip of maybe 15 skinheads in the Union-flag-festooned backroom of a northern pub. It’s just… well… is that it?

Skinheads and pensioners.

Seeing Griffin try, and fail, to rouse his troops last night was like watching the scene in The Wizard of Oz, when the Wicked Witch sends her army of flying monkeys out to capture Dorothy, but this time, to your surprise, it jump cuts to a mad old woman standing in the third floor window of a psychiatric hospital, shouting, “Fly, my pretties! Fly!” at the pigeons on a nearby telephone wire. Suddenly the villain, the Wicked Witch, isn’t the stuff of childhood nightmares, but a crazy person shouting at some birds.


2 Responses to “Nick Griffin and his Imaginary Valkyrie”

  1. Alex Price October 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    What I find even more hilarious about Nick Griffin, and the BNP, I learned from reading their excuse for a manifesto back in 2005, when I was writing a presentation for my degree about the difference between the BNP and France’s own FN. What’s so funny about them, and their supporters, is that their economic policy is probably closest to an old school socialist (strong manufacturing, nationalised industries) of any of the “major political” parties. This is also, I hasten to add, a Political party whose candidate in Newport ran because (and I paraphrase somewhat)

    “My child can learn Japanese in school. My dad was POW in Japan, and wasn’t treated well, therefore this is disgusting”

    Which again, is borderline Poe territory.

    Final thoughts, RE Gay Couple. Glad they’ve won, and as the one chap pointed out “Discrimination laws protect Christians from discrimination too”


  1. Why Iain Duncan Smith is a Fucking Cretin | A Forest of Beasts - April 29, 2013

    […] while ago, in a post about the BNP, I explained how I never wanted this blog to be about politics, a) Because I’m not […]

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