Posts Tagged ‘BNP’, the British Constitution Group and the attack on Council Tax

13 March, 2011

A number of my Facebook friends have recently been putting up links to posts on refusal to pay council tax, YouTube videos showing attempts to arrest judges for treason, and the like. However, there are grounds to be deeply suspicious of the organisations behind these activities, and I remain unconvinced that their cause is a progressive one.

The organisations

The organisations are, The British Constitution Group and Lawful Rebellion. They all have a similar focus: an emphasis on ancient rights under Magna Carta, British sovereignty and conspiracy theories about Zionism, the Bildeberg Group and the New World Order. A whois search shows that the domains are registered to different people, but they link to each other, and there is a certain similarity in visual style. A tenuous connection, maybe, but it seems to me that a connection is there.

Footer of the Lawful Rebellion site

Footer of the Lawful Rebellion site

I can see why their message is attractive to people. At a time of attacks on our standards of living, our jobs and public services, these groups are calling lively protests and sticking it to the man. What’s more, their style is different from the mainstream protest groups. There is a certain new-age-iness and “positivity” about it.

However, these groups have uncomfortable bed-fellows. At a time of rising international resistance to authoritarian governments, austerity, unemployment and cuts, they place an emphasis on Britishness. This tends to lead away from internationalism, and bind them to (elements of) our own ruling class. What’s more, Liverpool antifascists in Liverpool reported the involvment of the BNP in British Constitution Group activities. It seems likely that, similarly to the EDL, these groups have been set up as a kind of united front of the right, aiming to draw in people from autonomist tendencies / the unorganised left.

Is their cause progressive?

One of the campaigns being run from is a challenge to the lawfulness of council tax. For instance, they claim that Wirral Council has admitted to an anonymous person referred to as “Jim” that Council Tax is unlawful. The scanned letters they have posted up, in fact contain no such admission. Assuming they are genuine, all they show is that, in one case, Wirral Council declined to contest a legal challenge.

I admit that I have not taken the time to properly assess the large number of legal assertions contained on the sites of these groups, and that I do not have the legal background to properly assess them, without months or years of study. I also do believe that Council Tax needs to be replaced by a fairer system. However, let’s assume they have proved their case, and Council Tax is unlawful. What would be the implications?

As I see it, if we were all free to refuse to pay our council tax, and all did so, it would mean less funding for councils at a time of cuts by central government. This would mean further cuts to our public services. More libraries would close. Bins would go un-emptied. Social care services for older and disabled people would be cut back further. This would not, of course, affect millionaires in their mansions and gated communities. It would only mean a lower standard of living for people on average incomes and below. It is a campaign that runs in the opposite direction to the attempts by UK Uncut and related groups to raise the issues of tax-avoidance by the rich.

It seems to me that the political standpoint of these groups, while new to the UK, is a familiar one in the US, where conservative libertarian groups such as the Tea Party Movement organise to push for tax breaks for the rich, and  to oppose immigration, socialised healthcare decent welfare benefits, and many other hallmarks of a civilised society. It is a devil-take-the-hindmost political philosophy, where the freedom you enjoy depends on your wealth or ability to impose your will on others. It is something to be opposed.


A sad time for democracy

7 June, 2009

We have just had the news that the Nazi British National Party has won its first seat in Europe, in my home region (Yorkshire and the Humber). A party which, whatever their slick PR, stands for racism and homophobia, who wish to do in Britain what Hitler did in Germany. Their candidate, Andrew Brons, is a former member of the National Front. Meanwhile, a member of the “Nazi-lite” English Democrats was elected mayor of Doncaster.

It is true, I believe, as the mainstream parties say, that this does not mean that all (or possibly even the majority) of the people who voted for them are racist. That is not how the BNP are selling themselves these days, as anyone who has read one of their leaflets will know. However, they have gained by their lies about immigration, their lies about Muslims, and by the the failure of new Labour to challenge them on these issues. On the contrary, the government has been falling over itself to “look tough” on immigration and to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about Muslims. While doing this, they have also betrayed their core supporters, and thus been the most effective recruiters that the BNP could have wished for.

Meanwhile, the electoral left in Britain is weak, after the self-destruction of Respect, and the Greens are just too nice to steal the protest vote from the fascists. The far-right feed on people’s anger. To win voters away from them, there is a need to engage with that anger. By comparison, in France the Front de Gauche (Left Front) has come out in front of the Front Nationale (National Front).

Postscript: Of course, the news followed shortly afterwards that Nick Griffin had also been elected in the North West. I know things must be getting really bad when I find myself hoping for a UKIP victory to keep the Nazis out.

Demonstrate against the BNP

Saturday, 13th June, 2009 at 11am
Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds

“BNP members [being] targeted…” are they?

19 November, 2008

I am trying to feel some sympathy for the BNP members whose details were published online. Trying, but mainly failing. Along with many other socialists, trade unionists, teachers, journalists, my details and my photo have been on the despicable redwatch website for some time. Leading members of the BNP have links with this site, which tries to intimidate those who stand up to the peddlers of hate, fear and division in our society.

Unfortuantely, this story has gained them a fair amount of attention in the media, including most of the front page of today’s Metro free paper. They quote an unnamed person in the story as saying “God help anyone who is in the army, the prison service, health care, police officer [sic] or a teacher.” No. God help anyone who has to look to a BNP member for education, justice or care. Police and Prison Officers are banned from membership of the party. If this results in a few fascists being removed from positions of authority, then it will be a good thing.

If and when the BNP condemns redwatch, and makes a sincere effort to get it taken down, I might feel a little sympathy for their members. Doubtful, though.