I’ve spent a good hour today, in between hacking my guts up with the worst cough I think I’ve ever had, reading the manifestos of the minor parties: I’m not talking about the Greens, UKIP and the like – but the real minorities, the ones fielding a handful of candidates nationwide, and amongst the protest votes, the independents and the novelty parties there are some genuinely terrifying viewpoints out there being promoted as utterly devoted parties.
Of course in a democracy you should always expect that politics will be defined by shades of grey, some much darker than others, some much lighter than perhaps is good for what is after all a serious business – but good god, the hate in certain sections of society is so high that we really are in danger of letting some sections of the politically ignored fall into the hands of real extremists.
We talk a lot in the Westminster Village about extremists picking up followers in our multicultural areas, but we pay little attention to extremists picking up followers in our ‘less than’ multicultural areas: and you know what – we need to start taking it seriously. The Euro elections saw the BNP, the ‘respectable’ face of national socialism, elected to the European parliament – it’s seriously looking like they could be a contender in Barking and Dagenham for a seat in the Mother of all Parliaments, our very own House of Commons: and what’s the response? Ignore them – that’s not worked, and if we’re shooting from the hip Brown’s Bigotgate, and the media whirlwind that followed it, will only have reinforced the viewpoint amongst those people who feel that they’re ignored in our society, that they are indeed ignored as bigots by the elite Westminster class, so what to do?
Some facts are what’s needed first and foremost, facts that politicians need to start talking about more openly, yes these are dirty topics – but to confront them is to shine the spotlight on them, it opens up the debates to the public in areas that perhaps now we might consider taboo – and surely that can only be a good thing: if for no other reason than to make people aware that there is always a middle ground that can be found without lurching to extremes and that there are issue which the mainstream parties can tackle that’ll rip away the support for the extremists because the main issues will be being discussed openly and dealt with in one way or another.
Sure that’s not going to avoid extremism in one fell swoop, but it will help. Let’s not forget that before 7/7 became the most recent and remembered example of terrorism, the last major example of home grown terror came from David Copeland – a Neo-Nazi former member of the BNP and the National Socialist Movement, this was a man who some argue was easily swayed, who assembled and set off nail bombs with the intent to kill and maim those in the Bangladeshi and Black immigrant populations of Brixton and Shoreditch, and the predominantly white homosexual population of the Admiral Duncan in Soho. This was a man influenced by the extreme fringes of British politics, fringes which from Today’s little foray into the manifestos of some of the people standing for election in this General Election are still very much active to this day without so much as a peep from our mainstream politics to discredit them.
Ignoring the issue is the favourite tool of politicians worldwide: and time after time it’s been proved to be the wrong answer. So let’s see some real leadership in the next parliament to properly address the extreme edges of our political system, to bring more people into the political fold, engaging them properly to prove that their fears, worries, hopes and dreams can be (in most cases) addressed by mature, centre right and centre left politics.