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.