Eggs are not the answer.

// 10 June 2009

OK, so I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t find the egg attack on Nick Griffin outside Parliament yesterday really rather funny. The teen SWP member in me was delighted. But the rational me despaired somewhat. Because throwing eggs, spewing hate and vitriol – no matter how deserved it may be – and declaring, as Donna Guthrie of Unite Against Fascism did in a BBC interview, that “we don’t believe in free speech for fascists” (all animals are equal but some are more equal than others, anyone?) only vindicates Griffin’s claim that the real oppressed in this country are people like him. Well, and makes those of us who hate him feel like we’ve achieved something.

We haven’t. The vast majority of people in this country think the BNP are scum. They don’t need convincing of that. The people we need to be reaching out to are those who may not be out-and-out fascists, or deeply racist, or holocaust deniers, but who vote for or sympathise with the BNP for other reasons, be that because they’ve bought into the media lies on immigration, because they are angry about MP expenses or because they feel their voices are not being heard. Eggs and anger are not going to persuade them that the BNP are dangerous, that they actually don’t have their best interests at heart, that they are actually completely incompetent.

What they need to see and to hear is calm folks rationally taking down the BNP’s arguments and policies, bringing to light Griffin’s views on the holocaust and mixed-race relationships, asking them how exactly they expect the NHS to survive when 58% of new doctors and 40% of new dentists would be “sent home” under BNP rules: I’ve seen quite a number of comments here and on CiF from people whose colleague or friend voted BNP only to be shocked when they were told what they actually stand for. It’s beyond unfortunate that this knowledge came too late.

Don’t get me wrong; I completely support protesting against Griffin and his cronies everywhere they go. They cannot be allowed to spew their hate unchallenged. But if yesterday’s protest had been calm, if protesters had silently signalled their opposition and taken the high ground, giving intelligent interviews to journalists rather than putting themselves in a position where Griffin can paint them as the hate-filled oppressors of free speech and liberty, his sympathisers would have perhaps been forced to reassess their position. There’s a difference between not providing the BNP with a platform and chucking eggs at them every time they show their faces. Unfortunately, all BNP sympathisers and voters saw yesterday was most probably a bunch of spoilt middle class idiots preventing their champion from speaking.

Comments From You

Kate // Posted 10 June 2009 at 10:42 am

I’m conflicted on this. Rationally I agree that saying things like “no freedom of speech for the BNP” is absurd and does not engage with why nearly 100,000 people voted for them. But how do people who silently and calmly protest get the media interviews in the first place? They have to do something that gets attention and justifies their slot on the news. Perhaps egg throwing will prompt people who voted BNP to ask why those friendly people who mowed their lawn and promised them a council house can be so unpopular?

Alice // Posted 10 June 2009 at 10:52 am

You’re absolutely right. I’m glad to see this on The F Word.

Lorna West // Posted 10 June 2009 at 10:59 am

‘scum’ is a pretty harsh term. I’ve noticed it being used a bit too much for my liking on this site. After all, the indignant fury that a poster would feel if they were described as ‘scum’ for something that they passionately believe in, and other people are passionately against… well, you get the picture. I’ll come back to you regarding the question you raised re conservatism… I have a long comment pending on that thread actually. So watch out for that. I must say Laura I found your invitation for me to ‘explain myself’ a little hostile from the get go, but then I read that you were once in the SWP, so, I guess we’re never going to see eye to eye ;) I’d be very interested to tell you about my background etc.

With regards to what you mentioned above, I think that it was a good piece, particularly the last sentence. But as much as I am anti BNP, I think the angry women who I saw screaming ‘Nazi scum’ on the news at BNP politicians are as bad as the BNP. They are disgusting, and like so many people on the left, they don’t want to listen. They don’t want to enquire why the BNP have got 2 seats. They just want to stamp their feet until they get their way. They make it their stock in trade to intimidate people (sound familiar , BNP / protestors)…. and what is admirable about that?

Laura // Posted 10 June 2009 at 12:33 pm

“After all, the indignant fury that a poster would feel if they were described as ‘scum’ for something that they passionately believe in, and other people are passionately against…”

If they passionately believed in white supremacy then I wouldn’t give a crap about their feelings.

“I think the angry women who I saw screaming ‘Nazi scum’ on the news at BNP politicians are as bad as the BNP”

Are you serious?! I hardly think vitriolic protesting is equivalent to racial hatred, holocaust denial, a history of violence (among members at least) and pushing for what would essentially be racial apartheid in the UK. Not to mention the ‘rape is like forcefeeding women chocolate cake’ quote from a BNP London Assembly candidate:

/blog/2008/04/london_assembly

Oh, and this little gem, where the former BNP youth leader stands up for his right to perve on women:

/blog/2008/03/the_bnp_stands

I didn’t mean to sound hostile in my last comment to you, Lorna, but your above points really aren’t doing anything to help your cause.

cassandra // Posted 10 June 2009 at 12:35 pm

Good post- we must use reason and rationale to defeat the sexist elitism of Nick Griffin. If we resort to name calling, we merely ‘rise to the bait’ and thus provide ammunition for Griffin to spread his vitriol.

HarpyMarx // Posted 10 June 2009 at 12:49 pm

“Unfortunately, all BNP sympathisers and voters saw yesterday was most probably a bunch of spoilt middle class idiots preventing their champion from speaking.”

That is untrue, Laura, I am a bit offended by that statement. Do you include me as a socialist feminist trade union activist?

If I had known that was happening then I would have gone along. Some of those people at the protest yesterday were trade unionists, definitely not spoilt and definitely not idiots (dunno about their social class… but really that makes no difference). And there were also anti-war activists there.

I don’t think it is helpful to use language like that, argue their politics not resort to insults and assumptions.

A lot of people are frustrated and angry at the elction of two fascists, and indeed chucking eggs at Nazis like Brons, Griffin and their violent thugs isn’t always the answer but sometimes you have to make it known that every time Griffin et al make an appearance then they will be confronted.

Indeed, we should be campaigning using a variety of methods including the politics of no platform.

Whatver the merits of yesterday, it gave news coverage and interviews to anti-fascists and anti-racists who were able to argue the politics of no platform and the vile racism that Griffin really represents.

Laura // Posted 10 June 2009 at 12:56 pm

Sorry, HarpyMarx, I obviously didn’t make it clear enough that I meant that was probably how BNP supporters would view the protesters, not how I view them. (IE they’d be sitting there thinking ‘what a bunch of middle class idiots’ and then ignore everything the protesters say because Griffin’s ‘oh look at me I’m so oppressed’ line has been vindicated.)

Lorna West // Posted 10 June 2009 at 12:56 pm

Laura, like I mentioned, my second post on the other article doesn’t seem to have been posted yet.

Let me just say the last thing I’m trying to do is defend BNP.

But I think that people go too far. What do you think about the BNP guy who took a hammer to the face from a protestor? Surely that is an evil act, regardless of who you are? And would you care about the feelings of a black supremacist, like Louis Farrakhan?

Laura // Posted 10 June 2009 at 1:05 pm

@Lorna Yes, that’s wrong. But I don’t see how that makes angry women protesters shouting ‘Nazi scum’ as bad as the BNP.

JenniferRuth // Posted 10 June 2009 at 1:06 pm

and declaring, as Donna Guthrie of Unite Against Fascism did in a BBC interview, that “we don’t believe in free speech for fascists” (all animals are equal but some are more equal than others, anyone?)

There was a similarly embarrassing interview from the UAF on Channel 4 News last night. Their arguments are so shallow that I can’t help but think that often it doesn’t help the cause.

I think it is easy to call the BNP nazis or holocaust deniers or racists. All of these things may be true, but to a lot of the BNP voters (or people who may be swayed to become BNP voters) it sounds like vicious hyperbole.

The way to win people over from voting for the BNP is to tell them why it is racist. Make it personal – if the BNP got their way on immigration then a number of my close friends would be forced into “voluntary resettlement”, and I bet a number of theirs would too. If not their friends then their collegaues, or the woman who always serves them in Tesco, or their doctor. I also bet that they haven’t thought about this.

What you say here:

What they need to see and to hear is calm folks rationally taking down the BNP’s arguments and policies

is totally spot on. This is the way the BNP will be brought down. It is easy for the BNP to dismiss comparisons to the Nazi’s (the word nazi get thrown about SO often it is almost a meaningless, random insult – feminazi, anyone?). It will not be so easy for them to argue with cold hard facts.

As an example, listen how Toby Foster at Sheffield BBC rips apart the new English Democrats Donacaster Mayor Peter Davies (at about the 2hour mark):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p003994x/The_Toby_Foster_Bigger_at_Breakfast_Show_08_06_2009/

Someone needs to interview Nick Griffen like this.

Lorna West // Posted 10 June 2009 at 1:12 pm

Ok Laura, I take that back. They’re not as bad. The damage they cause is far less than the potential damage the BNP could cause.

But I still think that their actions achieve nothing – after all, if these people (BNP) are given their elected platform and a chance to speak, that will hurt BNP more. Because as well as being borderline fascists, they are a disorganised mess! People should see this.

The protestors are adding to the mystique and appeal, and (I’m not saying this is right, but its true) the kind of people who vote BNP really don’t like indie studenty types anyway, so they’re not going to make any difference to the core vote…

It would be far more effective to give a cold shoulder than to scream and shout.

Jess McCabe // Posted 10 June 2009 at 1:21 pm

‘scum’ is a pretty harsh term

If being white supremacists and proud racists doesn’t qualify you as “scum”, I’m not sure what does. I’m happy to call the BNP scum, remember they want the ‘voluntary’ repatriation of anyone who doesn’t originate in the UK (that includes me, I suppose I would be ‘voluntarily’ repatriated back to Lithuania where most of my maternal grandmother’s family is in a mass grave because of people who thought like the BNP).

nick // Posted 10 June 2009 at 1:30 pm

I think we need to understand the reasons for people voting BNP . What have they said that made people vote for them ? I dont think its just a protest vote either. Its a sad reflection

that the ‘main’ political parties have a vacuum that the BNP have exploited.

If we dont understand the reasons people voted for them then the BNP will carry on ….and possibly get stronger.

Throwing eggs at Nick Griffin wont help

either ……..same as G8 rioters …violence does not fix anything.

Jen // Posted 10 June 2009 at 1:48 pm

The eggs I’m cool with, I think it’s well-deserved, because, well, there’s something in the argument that the BNP shouldn’t really be a legitimate party in that they incite racial hatred, etc. (but I’d need to think about that some more.

Plus it prompted a really paranoid statement from Griffin that the protest was a conspiracy organised by the other political parties, and that kind of decredibilises all their usual arguments about free speech and so on.

That said, this is a democracy, and they are still a legitimate political party, and I disagree with statements that “we don’t believe in free speech for fascists”. Because they would deny plenty of people free speech if they were in power, that’s exactly why they should get to keep theirs, they should be allowed to talk, and to have events.

On the other hand, I think having a peaceful protest outside their events could be a good idea if it’s well-organised, and yes, I think it’s probably a good thing that Nick Griffin gets to find out what people think of him. Eggs can sting a bit, but it’s hardly the same as a hammer or beating someone up. And it’s not like he’s actually been silenced, he’s one of the most vocal people in the country.

As for the ongoing conversation on conservative feminism, feminism historically came from socialism, and also in terms of theory it would definitely come from the left-wing side rather than the right. So I’m not really seeing how that works, although there is also a tradition of individualist feminism that comes from anarchists like Voltairine de Cleyre, but they could hardly be called “conservative”. There were female anti-suffrage campaigners who were vocal and probably, according to our current criteria, quite “kickass”, but you wouldn’t really call them feminist.

Then again, arguably, neither were the suffragists. And Christabel and Emmeline were / turned into gnarly old tories later on. Maybe we need to be making a distinction between women’s rights and feminism…

But I would be interested in hearing the viewpoint of a conservative feminist, certainly. I wouldn’t call her scum, or even “disgusting”.

Tom // Posted 10 June 2009 at 2:02 pm

“Kate – Perhaps egg throwing will prompt people who voted BNP to ask why those friendly people who mowed their lawn and promised them a council house can be so unpopular?”

But it won’t, that’s precisely Laura’s point. Wade through the hundreds of posts on CiF and you’ll see that the only thing stunts like egg-throwing achieve is:

1) to put the backs up of people who voted BNP (i.e. “I’ve democratically elected this man, and now I’m being told I was ‘wrong’ to do so…”)

2) Give credence to the BNP’s notion that there is a “liberal conspiracy” that prevents people from talking about race and immigration.

3) Demonstrates that the BNP are disliked by worthy students. Which, frankly, for a lot of people is a good enough reason to vote for them.

It’s clear that the BNP are always going to make for a good story, so if protestors hovered in the background wherever he went, the message would be far more effective.

Reallly good article though Laura, I knew our sofa chats would bear fruit :)

maggie // Posted 10 June 2009 at 2:04 pm

Yes, the BNP must be allowed to speak because then and only then will the general population learn what this party stands for.

I would never vote for the BNP and so I never actually knew what their policies were. Now I know I’m appalled. Ignorance breeds fear. Stopping the BNP from speaking will not help anyone. We all need to know what they stand for.

‘Cold hard facts’ are what we need. However how do you counter the multi cultural aspect? Jennifer Ruth posted an excellent link to Channel 4 (why people vote BNP). It seems that white working class male is the ‘victim’, living marginalised in an area that would have previously been a labour stronghold. How do we help this group given that they are angry and bigotted?

In the Guardian letters today a former Conservative voter admitted that he voted BNP on immigration and asylum issues. He also wrote:

‘Instead of branding – and thus alienating – hundreds of thousands of voters as fascists, mainstream parties should take note of a salutary lesson…’

This voter obviously agrees with the BNP’s policy on the issues that angers him.

I hope that those who choose to stay at home instead of voting do so at the next general election.

Lara // Posted 10 June 2009 at 2:16 pm

I don’t think I could ever doubt the BNP are anything other than scum, but I have to agree about throwing eggs being the absolutely wrong way of protesting.

The images of him being I guess, attacked, like that further underline the image he’s trying to project of himself as some sort of ‘people’s hero’.

I also find the images of the mob surrounding him chanting ‘off our streets, Nazi’ or whatever it was, a little uncomfortable. Not because I disagree with the content, but because it feels a little like the group are getting something out of asserting their difference and hate of the BNP? Much like vigilantism against say, paedophiles, doesn’t stop the existence of them but rather makes the vigilante feel better about themselves for being so violently opposed to something considered abhorrent by wider society. I think there’s a lot of misplaced anger since the BNP won their seats and I wonder whether it’s because we’re all a bit angry at ourselves – for not doing more to ensure they didn’t obtain any power whatsoever in the run up to the election? I think there are considerably better and more productive ways to direct this energy. It’s too easy to throw an egg at someone rather than engaging in why it is that so many people chose to vote for them, above everyone else.

Lorna West // Posted 10 June 2009 at 2:28 pm

Jess, my mother is French Algerian, raised but no longer practising Muslim. My father is caucasian.

Can I emphasize I do not condone the BNP in any way shape or form.

But calling people ‘scum’ is Nazism in itself. It’s saying they are sub-human.

Jen // Posted 10 June 2009 at 3:00 pm

Jennifer Ruth,

I think it is easy to call the BNP nazis or holocaust deniers or racists. All of these things may be true, but to a lot of the BNP voters (or people who may be swayed to become BNP voters) it sounds like vicious hyperbole.

Er, yeah, you can prove anything with facts. If all of these things are true they need to be said, especially considering there’s plenty of stuff gets said that’s untrue (like, the BNP will protect your freedom of speech, will prevent other people from getting your job, will protect you from crime, etc. etc.).

Nick,

I think we need to understand the reasons for people voting BNP . What have they said that made people vote for them ? I dont think its just a protest vote either. Its a sad reflection

that the ‘main’ political parties have a vacuum that the BNP have exploited.

Exactly. Although that’s why it’s important to have people expressing anger at the stuff Griffin says, also. Right now we have people dressing up as chartists and suffragettes using slogans from last century to protest issues that have nothing to do with either. In essence, they reduce politics to performance. In that light, I really don’t see a problem with a bit of egg-tossing, it’s direct and to the point.

Lorna,

But calling people ‘scum’ is Nazism in itself. It’s saying they are sub-human.

You have a point, and that’s precisely the part I don’t agree with, it’s very important to remember that people aren’t scum, they’re people, otherwise we get nowhere. More importantly, that people don’t come to hold certain opinions because they’re not people anymore, but inhuman monsters. I’ve known plenty of people (in France, actually) whose two favourite parties were the Socialist Party and the National Front. It’s where you live, what you’ve done in your life, what you’ve learned, that makes you what you are – and there are circumstances that are producing some very discontented people who vote for the BNP. Also, there are people like Mark Thatcher who are no less white supremacists, who probably wouldn’t vote for the BNP.

Liz // Posted 10 June 2009 at 4:51 pm

I don’t know – aren’t the protesters here using their right to free speech? It was an egg thrown after all, not a rock. Personally I’m quite proud that people mobilised to publicly state their objection to the BNP. letting the BNP speak is complicated, in what way is giving a platform to fascism worse than saying ‘I reject this’. I don’t think the protestors should have been silent. I do agree that we need to reach out to those who vote BNP, but most of UAF are socialists are they not? It’s possible to shout at Nick and reach out to voters at the same time through different activities.

What Donna Guthrie perhaps should have said was ‘we don’t believe in giving a platform to fascists’. I think it’s right to deny the BNP a platform, because when you provide a platform for those views you encourage their legitimacy.

Jess McCabe // Posted 10 June 2009 at 4:53 pm

You have a point, and that’s precisely the part I don’t agree with, it’s very important to remember that people aren’t scum, they’re people, otherwise we get nowhere.

I would not agree that “scum” is synonymous with or implies “subhuman”, or some Nazi-like categorisation of people. Racism and white supremacy are unfortunately very human phenomena of course, but that doesn’t mean we have to or should stand back from strongly-worded criticism of fascists.

And talking softly around how completely and utterly dangerous and wrong they are is, in actual fact, dangerous in its own way.

JenniferRuth // Posted 10 June 2009 at 5:11 pm

Jen

Er, yeah, you can prove anything with facts. If all of these things are true they need to be said, especially considering there’s plenty of stuff gets said that’s untrue (like, the BNP will protect your freedom of speech, will prevent other people from getting your job, will protect you from crime, etc. etc.).

If you read further down my comment I explain why I don’t think that Nazi has any impact as a word anymore. It is thrown around to describe anyone who says something that you don’t like – feminnazi, PC-Nazi, blah, blah, blah. If people continue to use it in reference to the BNP then unfortunately, it sounds a lot like hyperbole.

I wasn’t saying that people aren’t right to call the BNP racists. Of course they are. What I was saying is that if you can’t tell people *why* and *show them that it is true* then you will just be preaching to the converted.

Lorna West // Posted 10 June 2009 at 5:27 pm

Jess,

I appreciate you point and am inclined to agree with, at least, the principal of it. And assuming that they talk amongst themselves behind closed doors about anybody who is not what they deem to be British (which would include you and I) as scum – which I would not be in the least surprised if they do… are we not stooping to their level by responding in kind?

Paul // Posted 10 June 2009 at 5:39 pm

I’m all for attacking the BNP, but this just seemed obviously set-up from way beyond the people involved. I thought you needed a license and special permission to protest that near to Parliament. Couldn’t help thinking, would a Labour MP have been similarly allowed to be heckled and egged whilst giving an interview in support of the Iraq war? Just looks a bit cack handed and hypocritical imo.

Sabre // Posted 10 June 2009 at 5:48 pm

Good article Laura, I agree with everything you said. I did take a great immature delight at the egg photos but I know that won’t have done much to delfate the BNP’s following.

I’m interested to hear more about conservative feminism.

polly styrene // Posted 10 June 2009 at 8:55 pm

Sorry but I can’t agree that merely throwing eggs at Griffin vindicates his claims that he’s oppressed.

Egg throwing (and other objects) is a political tradition that goes back hundreds of years (read Anthony Trollope, who has some good descriptions of it). Plenty of politicians have been targeted. And as Anne Widdecombe (who’s been hit by the odd flying object herself) said in today’s Metro, Griffin should just get used to it.

Carolyn // Posted 10 June 2009 at 8:56 pm

Quite right Laura, and well said.

Paul // Posted 10 June 2009 at 8:58 pm

Don’t believe everything you read in the popular press. How many times have most people found untruths or distortions printed about a story that they know personally?

Now have a look at the BNP website and manifesto. It does not say forced repatriation of legal immigrants – only illegals and bogus asylum seekers.

The UAF who organised the demonstration and admit to the egg throwing are supported by the main parties – again have a look at the signaturies on their website: http://www.uaf.org.uk/aboutUAF.asp?choice=4

If free speech is only allowed for state approved organisations then we are on the slippery slope to a facist dictatorship.

Cassandra // Posted 10 June 2009 at 9:36 pm

“But I would be interested in hearing the viewpoint of a conservative feminist, certainly. I wouldn’t call her scum, or even “disgusting”.’

Pleased to hear it – lol!

Feminist Avatar // Posted 10 June 2009 at 10:32 pm

Egg-throwing has long been a symbol of the dissatisfaction of the masses. It is thrown by crowds, who while often physically large and even noisy, do not have a voice. Crowds come together to support people as well as to revolt and egg-throwing highights where the crowds stands; it makes its unhappiness clear. They also allow the direct target of the crowd’s anger to be highlighted, especially if there are several other people at an event.

Throwing eggs at somebody who has access to cameras and microphones and whose words will be heard, recorded and written down, is a way making sure that the crowd are not seen to endorse that voice. It gives a mass group a voice.

Perhaps, with blogs and other media outlets, the crowd have other ways of voicing their feelings and is outdated. On the other hand, it is effective and while not very nice, usually not particularly dangerous. Furthermore, the long history of egg-throwing ties a modern crowd to a long history of participation in the democratic process- it speaks to past victories and failures and well as to the present context, and that is why it is symbollically powerful.

Shea // Posted 10 June 2009 at 10:33 pm

I’m sorry I just fail to see the problem in this. Didn’t someone throw an egg at John Prescott and I think everyone lauded it a as a legitimate form of protest, ditto cream pie in the face of Bill Gates?

As Liz said, it was an egg, not a rock, and believe me, the thugs in the BNP have thrown alot worse (including all kinds of missiles during the riots in Bradford). They would also do alot worse if they gain further power. Why are we allowing them to play the innocent and utilise the hard won democratic rights that people in this country and elsewhere have fought and died for?

There was a story this week about how British veterans of the Spanish Civil war have been given Spanish citizenship in recognition of their courage. These were people who had no duty or obligation to go and fight, but did in order to stop the rise of fascism under Franco. They were quite rightly appalled to see the same right wing fascist hatred being perpetuated around Europe once more. (It makes me beyond angry that the BNP are using the imagery and language of WW2, to corrupt and steal the sacrifice of so many brave people, many of them from the colonies (I would easily count the Gurkhas as more British than anyone in the BNP), in fighting against the Nazi’s whilst simultaneously spouting the same lies, hatred and racism that the Nazi’s would have recognised and applauded.

I would also be “voluntarily repatriated” both of my parents were immigrants and my husband is also foreign. Both of my grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought for the British Empire, as was. It is because of their courage and bravery that cowards like Griffin can walk about freely and spout this hate-filled garbage.

This is a party that openly links to the KKK and Combat 18 and has among its supporters a suspected murderer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/08/bnp-nick-griffin-arthur-kemp (and not just one)

I really don’t think “scum” even comes close to what the BNP are. I don’t think there are words in the English language.

(And actually the BNP have used the word scum about the police, politicans, asylum seekers etc, just to bring some balance)

I think we need to oppose them at every turn. And yes, Liz is absolutely correct, deny them a platform, don’t let them have any chance to spout their incendiary views or gain even a modicum of political legitimacy. They have adopted a mask of moderation- but don’t be fooled, this is the National Front, in all but name.

It was touched on somewhere else, so I’m sorry I’m not trying to derail the thread- I actually think that the BNP and the Islamic fundamentalists have an lot in common. We are talking about generations of people, who have been marginalised in their communities, have very little in terms of education and employment opportunities and feel let down by the mainstream political parties. They feel the effects of globalisation and the govt pandering to a neo-liberal agenda, that weakens worker’s rights and de-stabilises communities. So a few turn that feeling of desperation and abandonment towards radicalism and violence. The roots of both are the same.

As Nick said “Its a sad reflection

that the ‘main’ political parties have a vacuum that the BNP have exploited.”

The way to stop this is to re-engage ordinary people at a political level, bring about key changes and re-generation to these communities. Give the ordinary person a greater stake in politics. I think we need to shake up the whole damn, rotten system, to prevent the BNP, Islamic fundamentalists and voter apathy that lets either have any voice.

But until then – well, eggs work just fine. ;-)

Laura // Posted 11 June 2009 at 12:39 am

@ Paul. You really think that when people don’t ‘voluntarily’ choose to repatriate themselves a BNP government would leave them alone? As for ‘illegals’ and bogus asylum seekers – we’ve already got survivors of rape and violence being sent away from the UK, I dread to think just how much worse the situation would become under the BNP. And ‘illegals’ is an offensive, oppressive term and concept: human beings are not illegal, they deserve help and support, not criminalisation and being sent back to violent and abusive situations.

Jesswa // Posted 11 June 2009 at 3:29 am

Is the egg-throwing radically different from the stink-bombing of the Miss London beauty pagent?

I’d love to egg that man. There’s so much anger in the BNP and their followers…and it’s met by the anger of people who hate their racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. People who so desperately fight for equality, but don’t have two seats in the EU to voice this.

The difference being that the latter group shout Nazi and chuck eggs, and the former are slowly inching their way to political popularity. If anything, this seems wonderfully anti-authoritarian. People without political power egging those with it…maybe it doesn’t make the BNP look any more racist, but a lot of people support them because of their racism.

I like that people who hate the BNP have something to support; some way of expressing their anger.

Using eggs.

Paul // Posted 11 June 2009 at 8:52 am

Laura, Thank you for your comments, I’m sorry I used the term “illegals” – I shouldn’t have been lazy with my words. I meant illegal immigrants i.e. migrants who have “gate-crashed” this country without the appropriate work visa. These people are now working without paying taxes for a low wage and don’t receive the backing of employment laws, etc. or they are receiving benefit from a system they have not paid into. I don’t begrudge anybody with a genuine need for help and support but asylum seekers are supposed to request help in the first safe country they get to and most of our borders are with reasonable states. This country cannot accept everybody from anywhere in the world with a problem – we just don’t have the resourses and I do not think that we should try to put the whole world to right. America seems to try to do that, but they only like to get involved when oil or business is on the agenda.

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 11 June 2009 at 9:12 am

As a stunt to raise awareness that the BNP are deemed Not Okay for their political views as opposed to, ooh, say, the colour of their skin or the shape of their genitalia (which is what oppression Nick griffin seems to think “people like him” suffer!), the egg-throwing is fine, and from the theatre side of politics, yes, it has a long and honest tradition.

But stunts alone do not win campaigns. As the OP says, if the BNP are to be defeated it has to be in the arena of rational debate. They have to be challenged on their policies, their activities and their opinions. The best way to kill a bad idea is not to try to silence its proponents, but to meet them in public debate, with your own, better, idea.

Saranga // Posted 11 June 2009 at 9:20 am

I also have no problem with the egg throwing. I support what was done. AS Polly said, having an egg chucked at you does not constitute oppression.

The tradition of egg throwing, as explained by Polly and Feminist Avatar, also gives it legitimacy I think. It’s part of the culture of political protest and is a symbolic, accessible and immediate way to show your dissatisfaction with a political figure. The only possible way I see it could harm someone is if they were grossly allergic to eggs.

Maybe we could add rotten fruit into the mix?

Laura // Posted 11 June 2009 at 11:30 am

@ Jesswa

I agree egg-throwing is a good way of expressing anger and protesting against something you object to – I’d love to throw eggs at Griffin! (I wasn’t aware of the historical contest of it, so thanks to those who pointed that out.) But I don’t think expressing our anger towards the BNP is going to stop anyone voting for them. It’s important that the majority show that the BNP don’t represent us, but it’s even more important to try and engage with and win over those who sympathise with them or supoprt them but who aren’t necessarily of the same out-and-out racist, white supremacist, holocaust denying ilk as their members. I don’t think egging Nick Griffin and spewing vitriol at him is going to do that.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 11 June 2009 at 11:44 am

I think a custard pie would be better than eggs.

I’m serious. :)

David // Posted 11 June 2009 at 12:34 pm

Any interviwer should ask Griffin if he espouses ‘racial nationalism’. It’s at that point I’d happily sanction calling someone ‘scum’, as opposed to those whose policies I merely strongly opposed, to answer Paul’s point. The term ‘racist’ is a bit redundant, being so broad as to be used to describe critics of unfettered multiculturalism, in some quarters.

Also, I’m not the best person to answer this [I’m Jewish, a relatively privileged minority], but wouldn’t vociferous protests, with or without missiles, serve a purpose in assuaging the fear felt by minorites [alluded to by Anne Onne in the other thread]?

Kristel // Posted 11 June 2009 at 1:05 pm

Shea, like you, I felt outraged that the BNP were appropriating World War 2 imagery and language for their own ends. I saw one press conference where they had a picture of a Spitfire, and I thought how fucking DARE they use that image! Those pilots (of many nationalities) were fighting against all the things the British NAZI Party stand for.

Anon // Posted 11 June 2009 at 2:12 pm

Slightly concerned that “Paul” is being given a platform here. The BNP are becoming increasingly adept at trawling the interent and posting “reasonable” responses to attacks on their policies. The BNP is distinctly anti-feminist and I have no time for reading their words here. The F Word is one of the few blogs I can still stomach reading because of it’s efforts to screen comments.

Queue lots of people defending the BNP’s right to free speech. Too bad they wouldn’t extend the same courtersy to you…

Jesswa // Posted 11 June 2009 at 3:15 pm

…..can we throw eggs as well?

Pretty please? :D

Laura // Posted 11 June 2009 at 3:44 pm

@ anon The BNP have no right to post here, they can speak elsewhere, but Paul hasn’t broken our comments policy (and has given no indication that he is a BNP member) and I felt his comments should be addressed, given the spirit of this post. Please rest assured that I am moderating comments on this, and a number have not been published.

Aimee // Posted 11 June 2009 at 4:58 pm

Where do people get this idea that ‘illegals’ are coming here and not paying taxes and ‘stealing our jobs’ and all the other paranoid bullshit spouted in the Daily Mail? There’s NO evidence for this.. it doesn’t happen. I’m not going to go to work tomorrow to discover that my job has been randomly given to a muslim. It doesn’t happen! Asylum seekers are just that.. people seeking asylum! People who need help! People who face fear, death, opression… What the hell is wrong with People!??! AGHRR!

Jehenna // Posted 12 June 2009 at 3:30 am

Illegal immigrants. Being paid in cash and not paying taxes. Hmm.

Who’d be paying them? People with businesses. People with businesses generally are legal immigrants, or nationals.

Why would people who are legally in UK want to pay illegal immigrants in such a way that they’re not taxed? To avoid paying tax themselves? So that they can pay wages that no person in UK would actually accept?

I have read, over and over, articles in the various UK papers about the conditions faced by illegal immigrants. Outside the law, they work for whatever someone will pay them, with no recourse to the concept of a minimum wage, or safety, or freedom from harassment.

I wonder about how desperate someone would have to be, to move somewhere knowing that justice and fairness wouldn’t be applied to them.

I wonder about the ‘legitimate’ businesses who knowingly employ illegal immigrants because they know that they have no recourse to the law when they are illtreated, lowpaid or unpaid, assaulted or even killed in the pursuit of their work.

I think that everyone who complains about the illegal immigrants who come in and take jobs, should take a very hard look at the businesses who are employing those people, and recognise that if there were not employers happy to employ illegal immigrants, there would be no jobs for them to take.

Complaining about those who take the jobs, and turning a blind eye to the exploitation and knowingly illegal and unethical practices of those who employ them, is hypocracy of the worst degree, and shows this complaint to be little more than dressing for a racist view.

polly styrene // Posted 12 June 2009 at 7:14 am

Also what’s with the ‘bogus’ asylum seekers? It’s impossible to be a bogus asylum seeker, unless you’re only pretending to be seeking asylum. So if for instance I were to claim political asylum in England (I’m actually wondering if I can claim it anywhere else at the moment?) I would indeed be a ‘bogus’ asylum seeker. Folks from other countries aren’t.

I suppose what Paul means is people who he thinks don’t have a good reason for seeking asylum. Well when they’ve gone through the due process of the immigration appeals system, they’re deported anyway.

Maybe he’s talking about people like Florence -who thankfully has now got permission to stay here after a lot of people campaigned and fundraised on her behalf, so she could get proper legal help. Other women in her position aren’t always so lucky.

“Florence is from Sierra Leone and is seeking asylum for herself and her young son, Michael. Florence fled Sierra Leone because she was suffering physical abuse including beatings by her parents and rape by her cousin, who she had been forced to marry. This all happened because Florence told her parents she is a lesbian, a fact that she had previously kept secret.

When Florence turned to the police for help they turned her away, saying it was a family matter. She tried to find a safe place to stay but could not and was forced to return home to face more abuse and violence.

She was horrified when told her parents were planning to force her to undergo female genital mutilation, commonly called female circumcision, as they believed this would ‘cure’ her. This process involves mutilating a woman‘s genitals, often resulting in serious infection and illness, and sometimes death.

The Home Office, and courts, have turned down Florence‘s application for asylum on the basis that her story is not credible, and that she could simply move to another area of Sierra Leone. Homosexuality is illegal all over Sierra Leone and it is a very homophobic society.

This judgement does not account for Florence’s distressed state when she arrived here, pregnant as a result of the rape, alone and scared. Nor the fact that she did not have legal representation as she did not have money for solicitor, or legal aid.

Florence has suffered from depression due to the stress and trauma of her life, and her son, Michael, is suffering with her. His speech and development have been seriously affected by their unsettled life. Florence and Michael have been moved six times since she arrived by the National Asylum Support Service, on whom she is dependent.

Florence has been let down by many people, by friends and family as well as by the authorities in the UK. Her application has been refused because she could not prove that there was “a sustained pattern or campaign of persecution against you which was knowingly tolerated by the authorities…” Yet in September 2004 Fannyann Eddy, the founder and director of Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Foundation (SLLAGA) was brutally attacked, gang raped and murdered in her office at SLLAGA. The police have yet to arrest anyone. If a person in Fannyann‘s position could not get protection from the Sierra Leone government, then what chance does Florence stand?

David // Posted 12 June 2009 at 11:30 am

Bella Gerens on why ‘hate speech’ shouldn’t be illegal:

“Now, a ban on speech that incites violence is possibly understandable, though I don’t agree with it. But there is a material difference between violence – initiation of force against another’s bodily integrity – and hatred, which is an emotion or state of mind. I grant that hatred may lead to violence; I grant that there are certainly crimes motivated by hatred. But to outlaw speech that incites hatred is equivalent to outlawing speech that incites boredom, or frustration, or joy – these are states of mind, and those who hold them can never be proven guilty of doing so, for how does one prove the possession of an emotion or state of mind except through the actions that betray it? And the action of initiating force against another person’s bodily integrity is already illegal.

It was already a crime to incite violence, regardless of whether the speaker participated in the violence himself; now it is a crime to incite an emotion, regardless of whether the speaker holds it himself. These laws make the speaker, regardless of intent or participation, responsible for the feelings and actions of others.”

http://bellagerens.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/freedom-of-speech/

Aimee // Posted 12 June 2009 at 12:07 pm

“I wonder about how desperate someone would have to be, to move somewhere knowing that justice and fairness wouldn’t be applied to them.”

Absolutely. Spot. On.

Those people harping on about how ‘they’ come over here and get given council houses and cars and champagne filled jacuzzies and other such absolute bullshit need to do some research before spouting their ill informed, bigotted opinions.

The BNP does incite violence. They stir up racial hatred, they perpetuate lies and propaganda about race, which incited people to violence, they directly are the cause of racially motivated violence. That is reason enough for them to be banned.

Paul // Posted 12 June 2009 at 1:04 pm

Thank you for your support Laura. I originally posted on this site because I am concerned that the right to free speech (that does not incite someone to commit a criminal or violent act) is being erroded. We all remember the rediculous time when we could see Gerry Adams but heard an actors voice. I agree with a previous comment; banning an organisation does not stop them. What does stop them is reasoned debate with them which then exposes flaws in their ideology. I look forward to seeing a BNP representative on the BBC’s Question Time.

Re. Illegal immigrants working for low pay/cash in hand etc. I don’t believe many of them who have been smuggled in thought that the reallity of life in Britain would be that bad. Most of them probably only have word-of-mouth stories of “streets paved with gold” to go on before they hand over fortunes to be transported.

Butterflywings // Posted 12 June 2009 at 3:13 pm

Bella Gerens is talking rubbish; the crime of incitement to racial hatred is actually very specific and not just ‘a state of mind’ at all:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/news/racial-religious-hatred-bill?version=2

Jehenna, Polly, Aimee – completely agree. If there’s one thing the Daily FAil type morons love to believe exist, more than women who invent rape for like, a laugh or something, it’s people who decide it would be super fun to pretend to seek asylum.

So they can live on the magnificient largesse of the state, er, I mean, can get pathetic amounts in vouchers.

I’m sure there is a tiny minority who are trying it on, they are probably actually economic migrants, they’re not leaving their home, family, friends, everything behind for nothing. They are just trying to improve their lives and maybe have a naive view of the life people have in the UK, but neither of which is a crime. And given the scepticism of the Home Office, I don’t believe any of those would get through.

And they wouldn’t have to move if they weren’t deprived due to inequality anyway.

The vast majority of course have excellent reasons to flee.

Polly, that is a truly awful story about Florence. Is there anything we can do – a petition to sign, anything?

And I never understood the ‘but they should go to the nearest safe country’ objection. FFS. If someone is in fear for their life, they want to get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible – anyone who can afford a plane ticket is going to buy one, on the next flight they can get on, to anywhere.

Aimee // Posted 12 June 2009 at 4:34 pm

I never understood that one either… nor did i ever understand the ‘it’s too easy to seek asylum in this country’… is it really? It doesn’t seem that easy to me.

David // Posted 12 June 2009 at 5:55 pm

What do we mean by ‘incitement to violence’? If it means permeating someone’s mind completely, such that they are incapable of opting not to commit violence then I’m wholeheartedly for making it a crime. As far as I know, the BNP don’t do this; though they’d like to corrupt, people have a free choice how they respond to its rhetoric. Correlation doesn’t imply causation. People who’ve drunk alcohol are more likely to commit violent acts; does that mean alcohol should be banned?

Anne Onne // Posted 12 June 2009 at 7:47 pm

And I never understood the ‘but they should go to the nearest safe country’ objection. FFS. If someone is in fear for their life, they want to get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible – anyone who can afford a plane ticket is going to buy one, on the next flight they can get on, to anywhere.

Plus not all countries (or areas within a country) are as welcoming of asylum seekers. Where are you more likely to want to go? A country with lots of people like you, more support, and less xenophobia, or somewhere where you will be made to feel much more othered? The UK has a reputation of being multicultural, for tolerating immigrants more than many other European countries. One I hope it still deserves.

I don’t believe many of them who have been smuggled in thought that the reallity of life in Britain would be that bad. Most of them probably only have word-of-mouth stories of “streets paved with gold” to go on before they hand over fortunes to be transported.

Well I wouldn’t say that most of them believe that it will be easy, ‘streets paved with gold’, or for that matter that most of them are ‘smuggled’ in. Smuggling is only a part of immigration or even illegal imigration. Many people who are illegal immigrants are so because they have stayed longer than their visa allows, not because they rode in on the back of a lorry. It’s important to remember that immigrants, legal or illegal are not the borg, they all have different circumstances and motivations. Some come here lured by lies told by people smugglers so they can be trafficked in, because they are desperate. Others know the reality, but feel even a low paid job here is worth it. Others may get more lucrative work: after all, not all immigrants are scraping by on minimum wage! They are as diverse a group of people as ‘native’ ones, and a big problem is how they, we, are talked about as if one big mass of identical people, all out to cause trouble.

Staying here illegally doesn’t mean a person has no rights any more than any other crime negates a person’s personhood. After all, the UK doesn’t abandon murderers or rapists to the wolves to starve, so why should someone who actually commits a far lesser crime be seen as deserving of less rights?

And, because I forgot to add this (longer comment still in moderation, as long as moderators think it’s on topic enough :) ): I don’t believe that the NBP should, or even could, be banned. That is not to say that they shouldn’t be scrutinised, but that people really need to see what they stand for, and why that is bad. This is one thing I find the media lacking considerably. There is a lot of condemnation of the BNP, even from The Mail, where every week is immigrant bashing week, but there is not much of a focus on WHY the BNP are awful, what their policies would mean, and why that would be bad, not just for ‘non-natives’ but for everyone.

Polly styrene // Posted 13 June 2009 at 8:34 am

Hi Butterflywings. I did mention it, but Florence has now, thankfully, won her asylum campaign because a local group campaigned and fundraised on her behalf so she could afford a proper lawyer. I quoted that because it was a good example of what thousands of women who seek asylum in the UK have gone through.

And anyone who’s met Florence would realise how genuine her trauma is.

Asylum Aid have a report here on lesbian Asylum seekers in the UK.

http://www.asylumaid.org.uk/publications.php?id=97

Polly Styrene // Posted 13 June 2009 at 8:51 am

Paul, I don’t think allowing your comments is the same as supporting you, but whatevs. I agree with Laura that it’s often better to address comments of this type, as many people have done.

” Illegal immigrants working for low pay/cash in hand etc. I don’t believe many of them who have been smuggled in thought that the reallity of life in Britain would be that bad. Most of them probably only have word-of-mouth stories of “streets paved with gold” to go on before they hand over fortunes to be transported.”

Yes and many of them are ‘in debt’ to the people who smuggled them in, such as the snakehead gangs in China. The point being that people smuggling of this sort is already illegal.

And a great many people trafficked in this way are horribly abused and are virtually slaves. Particularly women who will often be sexually abused/raped, even if they’re not specifically trafficked as sex workers.

So should we then be deporting them if they’re discovered to be here illegally? Or treating them as the victims they in fact are?

Polly styrene // Posted 13 June 2009 at 9:13 am

There are details of currently active anti deportation campaigns on the NCADC website.

http://www.ncadc.org.uk/

“Roodabeh is a 30-year-old lesbian woman who left Iran in February 2008 to flee from the persecution that the regime of President Ahmadinejad reserves for homosexuals; persecution that foresees in many cases ˆ according to a ruthless interpretation of Islamic law ˆ prison sentences, torture and even death. Ali is a 29-year-old gay. He too was forced to leave Iran to escape the repression in January 2008. Once in Turkey, Roodabeh and Ali applied for asylum to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (Ankara section) on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

rita // Posted 14 June 2009 at 10:30 am

There is hardly anything like illegal immigrants not contributing to taxes and what not. There is something called emergency tax, i am sure everyone is aware of it. And this usually is alot of percentage taken off from one’s wages if they do not possess a national insurance number. Do not be fooled that “illegal immigrants” do not contribute coz they do alot. Even all those who use false identification have to have a national insurance number of some sort, coz rarely do they get employed without it. And well, the taxes are still deducted. The government well knows this and so does the BNP party, and they benefit from it.

As for the jobs issue, i do not believe that anyone’s job is being taken, i know of employers who would rather employ foreigners because they say they are more reliable, will always turn up. And anyway, with the racial priviledges in place, the jobs i notice many immigrants in, are mostly low paid jobs, which some people honestly hate doing, and need them when xmas, or holidays are coming along. Care jobs, which some cannot stand doing for all sorts of reasons. If you had not noticed, the care sector is the most short staffed and yet most important. Why??? People really need to get informed of these things.

Children dropping out of school, expensive education at higher levels. Hence the increased overseas students. There are so many reasons why those borders are open and why governments do not tighten them and that is mainly for economic reasons. I will never be convinced that immigrants are a financial inconvenience. They contribute their share as far as i know.

Can anyone enlighten us more about this?

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