Yesterday the Leicester Mercury devoted a double-page feature article to former BNP parish councillor Cathy Duffy, who was recently defeated in her electoral stand in the East Goscote ward, Charnwood. In the generally uncritical article Mrs Duffy clarifies, “But we’re not racist.” She is also keen to add that she has “lots of black friends.”
In its bizarre attempt at balance the Mercury article does however give Mrs Duffy a chance to rebut popular criticisms directed at the BNP – even if she does so with little panache — thus the journalist writes:
“We talk about the young lad, the one from Rothley, Mark Collett, the former BNP director of publicity, the subject of two revealing TV documentaries, Nazi Boy and Young, Nazi and Proud. “Well, he was just a bloody idiot wasn’t he?” she says. “He was arrogant. I haven’t spoken to him for a long time.” The disappointment of the here and now doesn’t matter, says Cathy.”
Why the Mercury would dedicate a feature piece to the BNP with the subtitle “Why we will be back in 2020” is beyond me, especially when they could be interviewing former BNP activist Teresa Aldred, who has just been elected as a Labour Party city councillor. Now that would be an interview I would be interested in reading. All the more so because if Mrs Aldred has truly rejected her racist past with the BNP that is something to be proud of, and it is surely an interview that will help move forward progressive politics in Leicester.
Certainly the ongoing failure of the Labour Party to oppose the constant stream of xenophobic arguments spouting forth from the mainstream media does much to explain the rise of racism and the continuing scapegoating of immigrants.
So here I will end with just one historical example of the Labour Party’s contribution to the current climate of fear and hate — as recounted by Daniel Trilling in his book Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right (2012).
“In July 2001 after the riots broke out in Bradford, provoked by the National Front and exacerbated by Asian anger at the police’s failure to protect them, the recently appointed Home Secretary David Blunkett threatened to deploy water cannons and tear gas.
“The same month, Ann Cryer, [Labour] MP for Keighley, near Bradford, suggested that arranged marriages and poor English skills were responsible for Muslims failing to integrate. In December, a series of official reports into the riots was published, chief among them one by Ted Cantle which identified communities’ ‘parallel lives’ as the main cause of unrest. White racism, and the failure of New Labour to set out a vision which could give hope to an industrial working class decimated by Thatcherism, were played down. In just two years, New Labour had gone from ‘what it is to be black or Asian in Britain today’ to blaming the victims.” (pp.115-6)
For the socialist alternative…