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Nick Griffin

I’m a bit behind with this posting as there has been so much written and said since his appearance on Question Time the other night. However I’m going to add my twopence worth.

Let me say a few things at the outset here. I find Griffin a horrible, loathsome character. Having watched him the other night I also have formed the opinion that he’s not very bright. I mean how did he get a law degree from Cambridge?

As I had never paid very much attention to him until this week, I wondered if perhaps he was a latter day Oswald Mosley. Mosley a fascist who enjoyed widespread support in the UK in the 30′s (Daily Mail headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!”) and was described by political foe Michael Foot thus:

“No rising star in the political firmament ever shone more brightly than Sir Oswald Mosley. Since by general assent he could have become the leader of either the Labour or the Conservative Party. What Mosley so valiantly stood for could have saved this country from the Hungry Thirties and the Second World War”

Thankfully Nick Griffin is no Oswald Mosley.

But……

I tuned in on  Thursday to see what Griffin had to say as part of a democratic forum. What I saw was a smug self satisfied man wrapped up in his own political philosophy. A philosophy that has had to change to reflect society’s shift.

However, enough about Jack Straw.

The audience seemed carefully hand picked. Griffin was howled down, interrupted and scorned by all. Fair enough you may say but unless we hear what someone has to say how can we properly argue against it?

For instance it was pointed out by David Dimbleby that Griffin had called Islam a “cruel and wicked” religion. I wondered how the panel and audience would react. Islam does after all involve a fair share of dogma, discrimination and misogyny.

However, whilst we are at liberty to berate Griffin for his crazy beliefs, doing the same to Islam is quite beyond the pale it seems. The very notion that anyone should challenge a religion or religious belief no matter how at odds it (the religion) may be with modern thinking was anathema to the Question Time collective.

Why is this?

I would contend that Richard Dawkins has it pretty well spot on in the God Delusion. He states that if apartheid South Africa had based their constitution on religion, then much of the global opposition to them would have “tiptoed away”.

If Griffin is smart therefore (of which I saw no evidence on Thursday) he’ll stop criticising Islam but positively use Christianity to help him. Beliefs can be as crazy as you like but so long as there’s a man in the sky with a white beard to back them up then………….

My summary of the programme was that Griffin looked and sounded like a political buffoon supporting one policy, aborrent to any decent person, that he really has no idea how to achieve.

However David Dimbleby, the panel and audience did a very poor job of opposing Griffin. Never have I witnessed such a cozy coiteree of middle class, platitudinal nonsense on a BBC programme.

Griffin was their Wicker Man.

Griffin on Question Time

Griffin on Question Time

Griffin won’t care. He was talking not to those in the studio but over their heads to the disenfranchised working class at home.

Royle families and their equivalent all over the country will have been impressed no doubt.

I lived in a working class area in London thirty years ago. An old couple who I knew as kind and friendly told me that they would be voting “National Front next time” rather than Labour. They were going to do this because they felt abandoned by mainstream politics.

Unless UK politicians start engaging with their constituents then they will find that the sons, daughters and other descendents of the couple I describe above may find the BNP an attractive alternative at the next election.

Griffin seems to be labouring (sic) the point about politicians and parties being  “the political elite”.

On that point at least he is (very far) right.

Footnote: I’ve just realised that I haven’t used the word racist or racism (doh!)

Did the Trains Really Run on Time?

In the dying embers of his wonderful blog, my friend Alastair has a piece about Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism. Mosley was the British equivalent of Hitler and Mussolini and had widespread support. At one stage he held the biggest ever indoor meeting in the world at Earls Court in London. His populist themes went down well in the hungry 30′s, promising as he seemed to, improved conditions for workers and of course, the stock in trade of potential dictators, he said he’d sort out the jews and repatriate any immigrants. He was scornful of democracy and adopted the phrase ‘Europe a Nation’, seeming to envisage a union of nations where citizens were controlled and manipulated by a myriad of rules and regulations. Thank goodness that didn’t happen eh?

Oswald and Max Mosley

Max and Oswald Mosley. ‘Dad I’d like to keep my politics private but do you know someone who might beat a chap up for money?’

Alastair had posted the article (and I had posted the quiz below) because Mosley’s son Max (who is something to do with motor racing……I know or care not what) had successfully sued the News of the World not for defamation but invasion of privacy. The ‘newspaper’ ran a story about Mosley ( 68 ) being involved in orgies with a Nazi theme.

It set me thinking on the whole totalitarian vista. I may not be the most knowledgeable student of politics but I have always maintained an interest. I long ago came to the conclusion that you couldn’t really put a cigarette paper between communism and fascism. Both find breeding grounds in the same sort of economic conditions and claim an all for one one for all creed, both promise a better lot for the working man and both have a raft of populist proposals and plans which appeal to the human psyche. Easy answers for extremely complicated issues. The reality of course is somewhat different. The one thing the working man is assured of under communism or fascism is more work and often a uniform and a gun to go with it. That and the alienation/demonisation/extermination of certain groups.

Perhaps one of the most popular misconceptions about fascism is that under Mussolini ‘the trains ran on time’. The excerpt below is from snopes.com

hitler mussolini

‘That’s the train now I think’

‘The best ways to gain the support of the people you want to lead is to do something of benefit to them. Failing that, the next best thing is to convince them that you have done something of benefit to them, even though you really haven’t. So it was with Benito Mussolini and the Italian railway system.

After the “march on Rome” (which was itself a myth of fascist propaganda) on 28 October 1922 that resulted in King Vittorio Emanuele’s appointment of Benito Mussolini as prime minister and the accession to power of the fascists in Italy, Mussolini needed to convince the people of Italy that fascism was indeed a system that worked to their benefit. Thus was born the myth of fascist efficiency, with the train as its symbol. The word was spread that Mussolini had turned the dilapidated Italian railway system into one that was the envy of all Europe, featuring trains that were both dependable and punctual. In Mussolini’s Italy, all the trains ran on
time.

Well, not quite. The Italian railway system had fallen into a rather sad state during World War I, and it did improve a good deal during the 1920s, but Mussolini was disingenuous in taking credit for the changes: much of the repair work had been performed before Mussolini and the fascists came to power in 1922. More importantly (to the claim at hand), those who actually lived in Italy during the Mussolini era have borne testimony that the Italian railway’s legendary adherence to timetables was far more myth than reality.

The myth of Mussolini’s punctual trains lives on, albeit with a different slant: rather than serving as a fictitious symbol of the benefits of fascism, it is now offered as a sardonic example that something good can result even from the worst of circumstances. As Montagu and Darling wrote:
Mussolini may have done many brutal and tyrannical things; he may have destroyed human freedom in Italy; he may have murdered and tortured citizens whose only crime was to oppose Mussolini; but ‘one had to admit’ one thing about the Dictator: he ‘made the trains run on time.’
No, thanks. I’d rather walk’

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