White City, which is just down the road from me, seems to have become the frontline in the struggle between national and international socialism. When I went past TV Centre just after midday on my way to the post office (to collect a copy of “The Best Seat in the House – the Wit and Parliamentary Chronicles of Frank Johnson”) bleary-eyed members of the Socialist Workers’ Party, representatives of international socialism whose electoral support wavers between nil and ten per constituency, were setting up their stalls and rather half-heartedly trying to buttonhole people and get them to sign a petition. They were not very successful – in Shepherds Bush and White City we get very agile in avoiding bores who try to hand us something, get us to sign something or harangue us about something.
All the same, I wish they had stopped me. I was longing to ask them why they disliked the BNP’s collectivist agenda. Ah well, maybe when I go out again to head towards the BBC Russian Service where we shall be discussing … yes, you’ve guessed it …. the BNP.
So there were about two dozen all together, manning and womanning stalls and demonstrating with placards, easily outnumbered by media photographers and cameramen. The local police was gathering in numbers and the helicopters are flying as I write. Any excuse will do to play with nice toys. One can but hope that no gang killings are scheduled for this afternoon or evening.
At present, international socialism may think it is winning the propaganda battle but it is national socialism that has representatives in one or two elected assemblies and whose leader is on Question Time.
I am not convinced even about the propaganda battle. Peter Hain’s announcement that the BBC was acting illegally by inviting Nick Griffin was not only swatted aside by lawyers but was greeted with derision by the few people who were paying attention. Presumably, he was fulfilling his usual role of the pit canary. It is always our Peter who makes some outlandish pronouncement while the Labour leadership watches. If there is an outcry, he is disowned as it happened this time.
It is sad to see Conservatives getting involved in this fight and giving the BNP extra amounts of publicity in the process. Nothing British, a slightly odd organization, that is dedicated to proving that there is nothing British about the BNP even organized a breakfast this morning (a terrible idea, in my opinion) to proclaim this fact. When the invitation arrived yesterday I thought it was going to be a breakfast at which no British food was going to be served and was about to direct them towards some excellent British bacon. Sadly, these people do not care about food.
Nor am I terribly impressed by all this whining about the reputation of the British military being under attack. If generals kept out of party politics, as their constitutional duty requires, there would be no attacks and no besmirching. Blame Generals Dannatt, Jackson and Guthrie for the unhappy state of affairs.
Meanwhile, the Evening Standard is covering the story in an interesting fashion and great detail. Its front page news article is entitled “BBC attacked from all sides in BNP storm”. Paul Waugh, the Deputy Political Editor then quotes the former Mayor, Ken Livingstone, at length. Another article refers to the opinions of Diane Abbott, a few other London MPs (unnamed but presumably Labour), the obligatory pop singers and Kawsar Zaman of the Muslim Council of Britain, that well known standard bearer of freedom and tolerance. Ahem, all sides?
On page 14 the Editorial strikes a somewhat different tone. “BNP on Question Time” – the say, - “is not the real problem.” The problem, in their opinion, is the mess that all political parties, particularly the one in government, have made over the issue of immigration (though, curiously, they do not mention the EU and its role). Let us also add, that the refusal to discuss all the ramifications of the subject help the BNP quite considerably.
Towards the back of the newspaper (opposite the page where the various crosswords and suchlike delights are) there is the usual online poll. Yesterday’s question was “Should the BBC Trust block Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time?” 17 per cent said Yes and 83 per cent said No.
I am not convinced that international socialism is really winning that battle of propaganda.