Monday, 7 September 2009

The end for 'No Platform'

The news today that the BBC are to allow the BNP onto question time is something of a watershed for Anti-Fascists. 'No Platform’ has been around for such a long time that it is in danger of becoming a mantra. At times I confess that I have been guilty of joining in with that mantra. But in reality it is/was a tactic not a point of principle.

‘No Platform’ makes sense when it can be used to freeze the Fascists out of our communities – as happens when they find that they can’t book rooms managed by local groups . Putting forward ‘No Platform’ to be adopted as the policy of these groups is an opportunity to raise all the political questions about who the Fascists really are and what they represent.

But ‘No Platform doesn’t make sense when it is tantamount to calling for a state ban or some kind of prescribed list. That just plays into the hands of Fascists when they portray themselves as persecuted tribunes of the politically dis-enfranchised. Even worse state bans are lazy liberal -thinking – the same kind of thinking that believes it is enough to proclaim that ‘the British National Party is a Nazi party’ and call upon voters to support anybody rather than the BNP.

The reasons for dropping 'No Platform' isn’t, as some are claiming, because some dubious electoral successes give the BNP a democratic mandate, or because they are now just another party with the same rights to freedom of speech as any other. The BNP are the same hateful bunch of Fascist thugs they have always been. But the simple truth if it is that the politics of the BNP today are not those of the Mosleyites in the 30’s, or the NF in the 70’s, or Combat18 in the 90’s. Nor is the threat they now pose. (In many respects it is a worse threat because of the vacuum of class politics created by New Labour).

And the same tactics used in the past won’t work now: So by all means confront them physically when the opportunity arises and it isn’t counter productive, by all means expose their links with head-banging neo-Nazis - but above all; take up the issues of jobs, services and housing in the communities where they are building support.

Letting Nick Griffin onto Question Time isn’t going to do this of itself - but it plays more of a part in the process of challenging them politically than standing outside waving a placard and chanting that this ‘shouldn’t be allowed.’

No comments: