Anti Fascism,  UK Politics

Not to be baneful

I find it extrodinary that there is an issue over flying the flag of the United Kingdom over the City Hall of the country’s capital city.

I find it even more extraordinary that the issue has been ceded to the vicious, divisive and racist BNP. That the sensible people of a country might feel so collectively embarrassed by what ought to be a potent symbol of their unity that the forfeit it to be used as a rallying point for racist neanderthals can only make an outsider gasp with astonishment.

The Times reports that this idiot Barnbrook has called for the “the Union Jack to be flown permanently over City Hall.” The fact that it isn’t currently flown is the real surprise.

On Saturday afternoon I went along to an anti-BNP demo outside City Hall. While I’m always happy to support such demonstrations, I must admit on this occassion I felt a little ridiculous. Wasn’t the protest three days late. Protesting against the election of a BNP councilor seemed to be a protest against democracy itself. Like it or not, 5.6% of our fellow-Londoners had spoken, however incoherently and stupidly, and shouting “BNP-RACIST” outside City Hall seemed like so much impotent rage. Putting our backs into the barnyard door when the proverbial horse already bolted was unlikely to achieve anything. All this noise should have been made earlier, and with more vigour.

It occurred to me that, for example, the free concert organised by ‘Love Music, Hate Racism‘ should have only been free to those who could show a valid voter’s card. Perhaps discounted tickets could have been offered to those who registered to vote at the event. The notion that giving something away for free to generate publicity will magically galvanise people into action is naive.

One of the slogans at the protest was that the BNP “have no answers”. But perhaps we’ve simply misunderstood the question. Clearly they’re answering someone’s question. It is our job to find out what that question is and provide a better answer.

As my husband quipped, shouting “BNP! BNP! RACIST! RACIST! RACSIT!” is unlikey to stop anyone voting BNP because there surely cannot be anyone who doesn’t already know that. There isn’t anyone who hears this and thinks: “The BNP are racist? Really? Well, I shan’t be voting for them then!”

Perhaps people vote BNP because they are racist. Perhaps for some twisted reason racism seems the answer to their concerns. Us pointing out the bleedin’ obvious changes nothing.

The common complaint seems to be that some people – an increasing number if the depressing voting stats are anything to go by – feel “strangers in their own land”.  Is being ashamed of the Union Flag not making matters worse? Is it not setting up the liberal/left opposition to the BNP part of the problem, not an ‘alternative’ solution. Is it not, as I started out saying, ceding to the BNP a potent symbol of our national unity?

For good or ill, the flag is one of the nation’s great assets.  It is something we can all look at – regardless of our other divisions – and enjoy the comfort and safety of being ‘British’, of dying with both our hands untied, knowing no regime can buy or sell us – to paraphrase one of  LMHR’s benefactors.

Or we can just give it to the nazis…

The choice is ours.