Monday, 17 November 2008

Richard Barnbrook and a joint conspiracy of silence

You may not have noticed, but Richard Barnbrook is now the country's most electorally successful Nazi politician. I say you may not have noticed, because as far as the press is concerned he no longer seems to exist.

There was a minor outrage after he was elected and an even more minor outrage when he was allowed a blog on the Telegraph Website (clue: everybody is).

But since May there has been nothing. Zero. Zilch. Type his name into a Google News and you will get nothing in return. 

But in the alternate universe that is the BNP blogosphere, Barnbrook is the stuff of legend. I mean literally.

Take this story which has been doing the rounds over there for some weeks:

"Tories, Labour, Lib-Dems, Greens and other Tweedle-Dee Tweedle-Dum parties on the Greater London Assembly were all shocked last week when the only GLA member to oppose their motion on granting amnesty to illegal immigrants was the BNP’s Richard Barnbrook."

The story had it all. The brave fearless white knight fighting for the white rights and the cowardly liblabcon betraying the masses once again.

The story had it all. It just wasn't true:

The problem is that in the absence of any mainstream press coverage, fantasy has taken the place of reality and the berk-in-brown has become a knight in shining silver.

Worse still, the Assembly and Mayor have done their best to ignore the man. Take this clip from Mayor's Question Time last week:

Picking up the theme he has pushed for months, that the 'white minority' in London are neglected in favour of the 'ethnic majority', Barnbrook is left almost entirely unchallenged by the Mayor.

Boris's tactic, to ignore, in fact not even to look at the man, is an understandable one. To anyone who has been watching him for the past six months, it is clear that Barnbrook is little more than a joke.

For all his bravado, Barnbrook has little real powers or following in the capital. His BNP entourage present for his first month or so of Assembly meetings has dwindled to almost nothing and his only real attempt to mobilise Londoners was a humiliating failure.

However, in April the Times reported that Barnbrook's election would:

"be the biggest prize the extremist Right has ever won in British politics," says Tony Travers, a local government expert at the London School of Economics. There are no neo-fascists on the councils of Berlin, Paris or New York, he adds. “For London to end up with such a thing would be an embarrassment and difficult to explain away.”

But rather than explain it away, the mainstream media and the Mayor have sought to pretend it hasn't happened. If we just don't mention him then he might just go away.

But if the BNP's flagship politician is given a free pass by the press and politicians, then it will be left to the BNP to invent his own record and to design their own future.

Dave Hill now has some more thoughts on Boris and Barnbrook over at his Guardian blog
This post now also appears over at Liberal Conspiracy


Sam said...

As tempting as it is to treat Barnbrook and company as irrelevant, in many parts of London they are not and their influence is spreading.

This weekend councillors across London have received copies of a leaflet called "Racism cuts both ways", detailing claims of racist violence against white young people. This is a glossy, well-produced pamphlet, and more worrying still is that they intend to send a copy to every new voter turning eighteen in London.

The only coverage I can find is from the Searchlight website.

The Troll said...

Thanks for highlighting again Sam. I did mention it the friday before last, but it's something I will return to once I get a hard copy. If anyone receives one can they contact me or email a scan. Thanks.

David Boothroyd said...

I haven't had mine yet, but I did see the BNP advan bearing the slogan driving up Grosvenor Gardens on Friday.

The Troll said...

Are you talking about the Truth Truck? I didn't know they had found their way to London in that yet.

Anonymous said...

Now they have a taste of some success, they will be pushing hard in London on 2012. The chances of them having a second assembly member in 2012 must be high. Things will be quite different for them if they actually had a bloc of members. Londoners from all parties must mobilize against them starting from now and not let us sleepwalk into disaster.

The Troll said...

I have now obtained a copy of 'Racism cuts both ways.' Thanks to the kind reader who passed it on. More on it later...

Jim Jay said...

I'm not sure I'm convinced by this - although it is a tempting argument and I'm open to it.

It seems to me there is a big difference betweeen not legitimising what he's saying in the chamber and not taking the rise of the BNP seriously.

Presumably what they'd like is for all the papers and the TV to report on Barnbrooke as much as possible. By refusing to engage with him he is denied that opportunity, certainly I think some of the headless chicken style reporting on the BNP over the years has helped rather than hindered them.

That doesn't mean not tackling them on the ground, only ensuring that they are starved of the oxygen of publicity. If that means he says something dishonest that goes unchallenged in the assembly that's something we might have to swallow in order to prevent the lie being spread further.

The Troll said...

You make a good case but it all goes back to the no-platform debate. Personally I think it is always better to defeat an argument out in the open. The BNP have built up a whole mythology about themselves that the other parties are in conspiracy to deny them a voice and to hide da truth from the masses. The more they are ignored, the more this is confirmed. It has led to the situation where the party is more of a cult than it is a political party and it's followers are now more adherents of a faith than they are followers of an ideology.

Kept out of the spotlight they have been able to create their own magical fantasy world in the shadows. I think it is up to others to turn on the house lights and point out the strings and wires.