When Parliament's corruption is the issue, this is not how to fight the BNP
It's not often you see my favourite UK left of centre blog, Harry's Place, put up posts praising the Tories, but here's David T positively gushing over the newly established anti-BNP site established by Tim Montgomerie's ConservativeHome group and allies.
Much as I would love to see this campaign succeed, and much as I admire the fact that people like Tim Montgomerie have been able to galvanise Tories & others to support this campaign, I think the first video is pretty dismal.
It offers an image of a sweet-looking Afro-Caribbean boy to counter the BNP's propaganda that our troubles are caused by supposedly unlimited immigration and their taking of our resources by people who shouldn't have the right to them. Behind the BNP's racist message is also the conviction that shadowy and corrupt Hidden Hands (yes, that's Jews like me) are behind all of this.
I don't think this approach is going to persuade a single potential BNP voter to cast their vote differently.
For a start, it insults the intelligence of the target audience, something I'd have thought media-savvy people like Tim Montgomerie are intensely aware of.
Non racist potential BNP protest voters are perfectly aware that there are very likeable people amongst the ethnic groups that are its targets. Doesn't stop them from voting for the BNP as a protest against the perceived corruption of mainstream parliamentarians, or as a protest against particular forms of maximalist minority group critiques of mainstream society (as promoted by the Hizb and the Saviour Sect).
Back in the days preceding the Nazi success in the German elections, the angry non-fascists who voted for them in 1933 mostly knew quite a few cuddly Jewish children, or dedicated Jewish doctors and the like. Some of them had close Jewish friends. All this didn't prevent them from voting against the existing traditional parties, because they thought drastic action was needed, and they didn't see anything wrong with being against Jews as a whole whilst simultaneously being very fond of the odd Jew.
Many otherwise sane and reasonable Palestinians voted for the atrocious Hamas and their exterminationist propaganda as a protest against the corruption of Fatah. They were perfectly well aware of what Hamas stood for, and they supported the two state solution, but their anger with Fatah overcame their real political convictions, because they felt they had to "do something" and bring the corruption to an end.
Non-racists who consider voting for BNP as a protest also know that if they send a few BNP MEPs to the EU Parliament and elect a few BNP councils, they will never have the power to affect the actual lives and conditions of ethnic minorities in this country. So they feel they can safely use the BNP to register a protest, or, as with non-ideology driven Palestinian Hamas voters, to take action against corruption whilst forgetting all about the baggage that comes with the protest party.
So what sort of video message might help persuade decent, ordinary people not to cast a protest vote for the BNP? Maybe something that recognises the justice of widespread public anger-- and then puts across the message that the answer to corruption isn't to cast a vote for racism, anymore than a vote for out-and-out terrorism was the answer to Fatah's corruption.
Maybe it should be a "your vote matters" video. Maybe it should show what happens to countries and peoples who cast despair votes for totalitarian and racist parties, and then contrast that with countries where the electorate took some action that voted the corrupt out (Japan?).
A video which put across the message "when you want to stop corruption, don't vote for violent criminals" would enlighten the many potential voters who don't know about the BNP's track record of convictions for appalling offences.
Most of all, all of us who are committed to the mainstream left and right parties need to put all the pressure we can on our party leaderships to come to terms with what we the people feel, and make really radical moves now that will begin to shift the public's perceptions.
Sadly, there's too much evidence that Brown and his circle, even the ministers who despair of him, are virtually incapable of radically changing their direction and stopping the corruption--and its leaders in the form of the guardians of the parliamentary expenses system right now.
Cameron made something of a move, and it has had an impact, but it's nothing like enough. Listening to Hague on BBC R4 Today programme, it's clear that the Tory hierarchy still haven't got it. He's just pushing the latest Tory line of chipping away at the bits that suit them (like the communication allowance) whilst claiming the public don't really care about the Speaker and the corrupt Parliamentary apparatus that enabled the MPs and the Lords build up their sense of entitlement to be above the laws that the rest of us live by, and line their pockets accordingly, whilst chorusing "it's all within the rules".
If you don't want people to vote BNP:
Ensure that the Speaker of Parliament resigns immediately by organizing a whipped vote of no confidence.
Sack all the members of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee and the senior staff of the Fees Office.
Only MPs with impeccable expenses claims records to sit on the Committee in future.
All MPs to place itemised expenses claims on their web sites every three months.
All claims going back to 2005 to be scrutinised by senior HM Revenue & Customs to check that they meet the test of "wholly, necessarily and exclusively" for use in their job as MPs. Claims that don't meet the test to be paid back in full and with penalty fines and interest.
Commit to prosecuting all MPs who knowingly made false claims or submitted improper accounting.
Commit to reducing the number of MPs by half in time for the next election. If practically impossible for boundary commission reasons, commit to having a second election as soon as possible after 2010 to elect the lower number of MPs
All sitting MPs to face reselection meetings with their constituency parties within the next two weeks (ie ahead of the June elections)
Legislation to be passed immediately to enable peers who breach laws on corruption to be stripped of their titles and rights to sit in the House of Lords.
Any major party that committed to that could face down challenges from the BNP and other fringe parties.
Anything else is tokenism and papering over the cracks. And it won't wash with the electorate. Those who are minded to vote BNP will still do so.