note: Re-publication of this post from the ISG does not necessarily mean endorsement of the ISG’s perspective on Scottish Independence. Self-determination for oppressed nationalities is a key principle of revolutionary Marxism, but whether the Scottish people are indeed an oppressed nationality is an open question.
How to deal with fascism is a critical question. We don’t rely on capitalist politicians, courts or cops to defend outr class from fascists. The best method for opposing fascists is still the united front and the mass counter-mobilization of the broadest forces against fascists. We also reassert that the working class and oppressed people have the right to self-defense against fascist attacks and the right to build self-defense organizations for these purposes (defense guards, workers’ militias)
It is also critical tactically not to issue calls for the suppression of the speech of fascists. This does not mean that we support free speech for fascists. calling for the suppression of the free speech of fascists hands the ultraright a weapon to wield against their opponents. They can easily paint us as opponents of democratic rights.
The Crisis of the British Far-Right
David Jamieson analyses the decline and fracturing of the British far-right, but warns that we should take their renewed attempts to intervene in Scotland seriously
source: International Socialist Group
The far-right in Britain is collapsing. Since their peak in the 2008 council elections, when the BNP won two MSP’s and had anywhere between 10 and 15 thousand members, they have been tearing each other apart. The rout began with a thorough defeat in the 2009 general election when the party failed to win a seat, and Nick Griffin was battered by an overwhelming anti-fascist vote in their Barking strong hold. Richard Barnbrook, the party’s GLA member attempted to push Griffin out and was expelled. The BNP have since lost all but 2 of their 55 councillors and have split down the middle. Nick Griffin maintains the miserable rump of the BNP, and his erstwhile colleague and fellow MSP Andrew Brons leads the major dissident faction.
BNP activists split about 30% to 70% in favour of the Brons faction, which has rotted in demoralisation. Brons himself laments “The plight of British Nationalism could not be worse!” The self-appointed saviour of the British far right goes on – “I warned the Leadership and its supporters against driving dissentient members out of the Party; they took no notice. I warned dissenting members against leaving and joining other parties; they took no notice. I warned advocates of the establishment of yet more new parties against doing so; they took no notice”.
He concludes – “Our opponents accuse us of being petty, stupid, irrational and self-defeating. I wonder why?” It is appropriate at this point to smirk. The utter derangement of the fascist right has proved its undoing, but anti-fascists deserve to congratulate themselves. Critical though I am of the strategic sensibilities of our anti-fascist movement in Britain, we deserve credit for blocking the BNP and its allies at every turn and working to expose its true fascist credentials against the obfuscation of the BNP and EDL. We are proof that an active anti-fascism is necessary to counter the far-right challenge.
Fascism outside the BNP
The EDL is by no means suffering the same degree of malaise as the BNP. But its anti-Muslim crusade has all but run out of puff, and they are now hosting feeble protests against everyone from the organised left, strikers and protestors of all stripes to fried chicken outlets. Their recent protests against Gay Pride marchers saw them humiliated. They are slowly calcifying into warring factions and sects in the wilderness.
A multitude of splinters have emitted from the BNP’s collapse – almost all stillborn. The English Democrats, a right wing populist party which blames Scotland for British decline has had to repel an influx of Nazis to protect its flimsy reputation. One splinter, the miniscule British Freedom Party, has promoted itself as the parliamentary wing of the failing EDL; so far it has met with no success despite wealthy backers and the EDL’s profile.
Some have drifted into small fascist reading circles like‘The New Right’ which engage in the kind of dotty pretension that produces statements of the calibre; “We are opposed to liberalism, democracy and egalitarianism and fight to restore the eternal values and principles that have become submerged beneath the corrosive tsunami of the modern world” – in a confused publication staffed by ex and current secret service types, old Monday Club members and self-described ‘national anarchists’.
Much of the electoral ground lost by the BNP has been gobbled up by UKIP lending some weight to the right of the Conservative party who argue those votes naturally belong to the Tories. The ‘Traditional Britain Group’ in particular have cultivated a slurry of posh proto-fascists and monarchists – there is, as ever, a thin membrane between mainstream conservative thought and the outbreaks of its logical conclusion.
In recent weeks and months Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has suffered a series of travelling freak shows courtesy of the BNP and various EDL type factions (there is, apparently, little distinction between the two currents in Scotland on a street level). Scotland has little tradition of extensive far right organisation – unless one includes various protestant movements and orders in that category. And it is this latter point which is the meaning of the occasion and venue for recent far right activity in Glasgow. Scottish bigotry has naturally gravitated around an element of Rangers supporters due to the clubs historic entanglement with anti- Irish Catholic, British nationalist reaction. With Rangers in meltdown and the Independence referendum looming, the BNP and EDL seek to capitalise on a loyalist element enraged by the dislocation of their identity.
At the time of the last general election Nick Griffin urged his Scottish supporters to forget hatred of the Irish Catholic community in favour of a focus on demonising Muslims. This has been the seminal strategy of the British far right in recent years, with thugs on the street and at the ballot box benefiting from incessant government and media attacks on Muslims necessary to promote the ‘War on Terror’. Whilst Muslims are still the public focus of BNP and EDL activism, anti- Irish Catholic bigotry is back on the scene in a way it hasn’t been for some time.
The far-right hope to harness the new mood of bitterness that has spread amongst loyalist bigots – in order to bring some much needed attention and energy to the slow dying BNP. It is a desperate move (recent attempts by the BNP to organise at Ibrox were shunned by rangers fans) but it is still one that anti-fascists should resist with vigour. We mustn’t allow a precedent to be set that racist thugs have free access to Glasgow’s streets. If Griffin’s mob is forced to retreat we can send a clear message, and hammer another nail in the BNP’s coffin.