Monday, May 04, 2009

Vote BNP or Vote Green Party

The official Green Party position is that we will be boycotting any platform that includes the BNP. Although I can see the rationale, and feel the same repugnance as others at sitting alongside authoritarian candidates, we could find ourselves to be self - excluded from the political debate, and could play into their hands, by associating ourselves with the self-satisfied political elite of the Westminster parties if they also boycott, and on the other hand, if the ConLabLibdems do show up at hustings platforms, we would simply lose out.

Euro elections are regarded by the electorate as unimportant, and so present a chance for them to make a protest vote. We benefited from this in the 80s, UKIP had their boost last time, and now it looks as if the BNP is going to cash in this time. There is a phenomenal disaffection with conventional politics at present, with the credit crunch, bonuses, MP allowances, police brutality and surveillance, not to mention really big things like climate change. Greens should be positioning ourselves as the valid, constructive alternative to the mainstream parties, and to do this we have to challenge the BNP head on. We are diametrically opposed to their approach: we stand for wide democracy, they stand for authoritarianism. We stand for social inclusion and they stand for social exclusion.

In any debate, their strength is in the popular opposition to immigration (built up by the daily drip-drip of right wing press reportage), and they will make political capital by characterising our policy as "open door".

We should open any debate by regretting that we are having to reopen discussion on a matter that was settled in 1945, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of British lives, and expressing our regret that the sacrifices of patriotic British servicemen who were injured and died in WWII in the fight against fascism is being set aside. We should be ready as we do so to make a precise and detailed comparison between Nazi and BNP policies.

The sound psychological analysis of the BNP and Nazis is that they both use the psychological defence mechanism of projection to load all the negative things in their lives onto an identifiably separate group, in Hitler's case, the Jews, and in Griffin's case, the immigrants.

Greens make an uncompromising stand for the absolute rights of political asylum seekers to come here, and make no apology for our desire to speed up and simplify the acceptance process for asylum seekers.

We should emphasise that our global approach to politics means a preventive solution to immigration. Why do people leave Afghanistan to come here? War. (Our solution to Afghanistan - buy and use the opium) Why are Iraqis coming here? War. (We opposed the BushBlair invasion) Why Somalis? War (We seek a comprehensive UN/OAU solution in Somalia).

Repression, torture and political imprisonment drive people to leave their homes and families and come here. We propose a Global Human Rights Index.

Endemic poverty drives "economic migrants". We advocate global equity and non-violent resolution of conflict. Global warming will increase the wave of migration, as people flee flooded and arid lands. We should be calling for an amnesty for all illegal migrants (for their own sake, and to take them out of the hands of the criminal gang masters). We should be calling for a big drive against the criminal, exploitative people traffickers. We should set up refuges and channels for sexually exploited migrants to escape their captors.

Joblessness and housing shortage are the burners that lift the BNP hot air balloon.
GND+ and Right to Rent, with re-use of empty properties and new build of eco-homes is our answer.

In summary, the debate with the BNP offers us a chance to set out our relevant and radical policies clearly, a chance to give leadership to the grey parties on how to defeat the BNP arguments.

It is a difficult question, and I accept that the majority position of the GP is to boycott, but there is a strong case for us to go on the platform and challenge the BNP, setting out our claim to the vote of those who are angry and disaffected by the mess that grey politicians have made, and making clear that there is a humane, constructive and Green way of expressing that disaffection in the ballot box.

To avoid the debate is to deny ourselves the chance to put ourselves forward as the sensible way to make a protest vote, and may well be exploited by our opponents in all parties as political priggery, cowardice, and laziness (because those, sadly, are the kind of terms that are used in the electoral debate).


Glenn Vowles said...

Great post Richard. I agree with your thrust on this.

Peter Cranie said...

A serious question Richard, would you expect me to sit down on a platform with Nick Griffin?

In 2004 I received emails and nuisance phone calls from the BNP in Liverpool.

One of my fellow members of Merseyside Coalition Against Racism and Fascism experienced this assault ( and was nearly blinded.

I've seen the local organiser of the BNP taking photos of us at anti-racism demos, and they appear on Redwatch within a couple of weeks. They also targeted Alec since then (

Now let's get off our moral high horses here. The BNP are not some theoretically entity to be debated with. They are still closely associated with violence and intimidation, and they bar British Asian or British Black individuals from even joining.

If you want to take a personal view that we should give equal platform to such moral standards, then that is your right. But how far do you want to take it and why do you think right now, in the middle of the Euro campaign, where people want to clearly know where the Greens stand against the BNP, that this is the time to debate it?

Let's be absolutely clear Richard that yours is an extreme minority view within the party, and for those of us on the front line against the BNP, entirely unhelpful at this point.

My family and I have to move house very quickly after this election. We are doing so because while the BNP aren't stupid enough to target people like me during a campaign, they may be prepared to do it afterwards, particularly if we prevent them making a Euro breakthrough.

weggis said...

Since when has it been "The official Green Party position is that we will be boycotting any platform that includes the BNP."?

RR804: Speakers and Officers of The Green Party will only share platforms with groups who endorse racial, ethnic or national hatred at a public or private meeting where that offers an opportunity to confront and oppose racism.

Hustings are an opportunity to confront racism and more importantly engage with the electorate and show what we stand FOR as opposed to stand Against.

I agree with Richard, we have to put forward a positive alternative. Majoring on an anti-BNP theme is playing on people's fears, which is EXACTLY what they do!!!!

Rob said...

I agree with Richard. I dont think there is an easily right or wrong thing to do in human relationships and politics. But just as I think the Green party should share a platform, when seen as advantageous to help improve human lives, with figures such as Hamas or Leiberman, the racist Israeli foreign minister there probably will be occasions when it is necessary to share a debate with Nick Griffin.
Thanks also Richard for a very clear potted Green election manifesto. Helpful to me in my attempts to canvas and stand as counsellor in the Gloucester area.

DocRichard said...


You ask why right now, in the middle of the Euro campaign, where people want to clearly know where the Greens stand against the BNP, that this is the time to debate whether we should share platforms with the BNP?

The answer is that we in the South west are debating this exact question, with regard to an all-party platform in Bath. If we do not turn up because the BNP is there, and the others do, we lose out.

However, the information that you give is important, and could give a basis for a no-platform-sharing stance. It might be very useful to issue a national press release about BNP violence and intimidation against Green Party members, which would counter Griffin's attempts to clean up their image.

Only you can say whether you would sit down with Nick Griffin at a multi party hustings, based on your perceived risk to your physical safety. If you did, you could publicise the violence that you have mentioned here, and could counter his false arguments.

Is this an extreme minority viewpoint? Well, the minority includes at least three of us. Free thought and free speech is an important part of what we stand for.

Anonymous said...

The Green Party's stated policy of not sharing platforms with racists is simply a lie. Green Party candidate Jean Lambert plans to share a platform with Daud Abdullah, a man who supported the Istanbul declaration calling for murder of Jews. Ms Lambert will not be there to expose Abdullah's lies or point to the moral obscenity of advocating racist murder: they are sharing a common platform to celebrate what they have in common. Perhaps someone should ask Ms Lambert exactly what that might be.

DocRichard said...

Hi Rafe
I agree there is some inconsistency in not sharing a platform with the BNP, but sharing with Daud Abdullah, who did sign up to an pretty antisemitic document, as I recall.

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