Lord Roger Roberts writes…We must unite against the scaremongering of the far right

Manhattan Central Park - Imagine MosaicThis week the BNP released its party political broadcast in the run-up to May’s local council and European elections. The BNP youth has also made its own poisonous contribution to the debate. The BNP have released a hurriedly edited version following complaints from the BBC that the broadcast did not meet its editorial guidelines, which state that such broadcasts have:

An obligation to observe the law (for example on libel, copyright and incitement to racial hatred and violence) and [must follow] the BBC Editorial Guidelines on harm and offence.

The BBC evidently did not believe the video met these guidelines. Instead, it featured caricatured ‘Muslim’ grooming gangs, a woman in a burqa begging, and a bloodied silhouette of Michael Adebolajo, the killer of soldier Lee Rigby. The other half of the video is given over to ‘man on the street’-type interviews with, amongst others, someone dressed as a member of the armed forces, and someone the viewer is meant to assume is a member of the clergy (i.e. a man in apparently clerical garb outside a locked Church). This man is a Mr Robert West, some-time BNP party activist. He is not a vicar.

As a Supernumerary Methodist Minister, I cannot recognise anything of the Christian faith I espouse in the fear-mongering of the man outside that church. He says:

The BNP is the only political party which will stop the Islamification of Britain, ban the Burqa, and do its utmost to uphold your culture, heritage, and identity.

To you, Robert, if you happen to read this blog, I say this: we need to talk. Perhaps we should speak about faith. In particular, I feel that we should talk about the ways in which tolerance, pluralism and basic human kindness are foundational tenets of both Christianity and British culture, heritage and identity. Your church door might be locked, but mine is open.

The response to the BNP from various religious figures in the UK in recent years gives a rather different impression of what the Christian response to the BNP is, and should be. The Lord Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, took out an anti-BNP advert in the run-up to local council elections in 2007. In 2009, when a BNP advert asked – ‘What would Jesus do?’ – the Methodists, Baptists and United Reformed Church put out a statement condemning the adverts. Many more faith leaders came together to sign an anti-BNP pledge. Indeed, the Church of England general synod voted overwhelmingly to ban its clergy and some lay members from joining the BNP.

Those who reject the far-right’s scaremongering must remain united in the fight against extremism. Only then can being to create the democracy we long for.

* Lord Roberts of Llandudno is a Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords

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12 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 14th May '14 - 7:18pm

    We need to not panic about the BNP. If there is one way to lose an election it is to get into a headspin about a few extremists in the country. This is effectively what the far right does.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th May '14 - 7:22pm

    By the way, if we need new laws to protect people from the BNP then so be it, but they are not a campaign threat.

  • Richard Dean 15th May '14 - 1:29am

    I’m afraid that “uniting against the BNP” doesn’t sound to me like any kind of attractive political message. It doesn’t seem far from using the same tactics as the BNP – stirring up hate against a group of citizens. And there are valid and important differences between the various parties who fall under the broken umbrella of “Not the BNP”.

  • Chris Randall 15th May '14 - 8:19am

    This is what happens when all the parties are to the right of centre except the Socialist workers party what do you expect we are all fighting for the very same ground because to win the BNP would need some of our right of centre voters. Is there any wonder that turnouts fall.

  • Charles Rothwell 15th May '14 - 8:26am

    I agree. The BNP are washed up (for the moment; like all ultra-right parties in Britain since the time of Moseley, I am sure some reincarnation will emerge at some point (e.g. we had a group called “Britain First” in our region who walked into a mosque in Bradford carrying bibles which they placed in the mosque, confronted the imam who was alone in the building and started lecturing him on how he was damned to eternal flames unless he embraced Jesus)) but combatting what is left of the BNP would be a waste of (limited) resources given that there are other (infinitely better resourced) peddlers of lies, half-truths and xenophobia at work. In some ways, I even think the BNP are more ‘honest’ as their PPB on the BBC made it clear that they would ban ALL immigration into Britain, no matter where it came from! (They obviously intend to stay as fit as possible and never need to use the NHS etc!) Seems more honest to me than saying you would ban immigration from certain parts of the world while at precisely the same time advocating some ultra-Thatcherite neoliberal/devil take the hindmost economic policy (which you probably hope your voters are too stupid to notice!)

  • Charles Rothwell 15th May '14 - 9:27am

    Further to the above, Griffin is obviously attempting to win back supporters who have deserted him for the Kippers. Anti-immigration is a game others can play as well:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27406316?utm_source=British+Influence+supporters&utm_campaign=ecb42bf935-EuropeWatch+2013-07-04&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c24f34caff-ecb42bf935-315233213

  • Charles Rothwell 15th May '14 - 9:38am

    I must say that, even though we are coming from different angles, I do find Owen Jones’s articles very readable (e.g. re the point in the closing part of my first posting above:

    “Those who really will patronise you treat you as though you’re just Tories having a temper tantrum, voters who can be bought off with a referendum. It’s the UKIP leadership, using your concerns over immigration to piggy-back extreme free-market dogma which would shovel even more wealth into the hands of their millionaire donors. There’s lots you won’t agree with people like me on, sure: but enough, maybe, to start talking.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/an-open-letter-from-owen-jones-to-ukip-voters-9061968.html

  • More irrelevance.
    We must stop going on about others and GET OUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER OTHERWISE WE ARE CLOSE TO DEATH..

  • “……..which you probably hope your voters are too stupid to notice!)”

    Indeed. On another thread on this Forum just a few days ago someone called us voters “un-sophisticates” !

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th May '14 - 10:44am

    I absolutely agree with you Lord Roberts.

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