Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Lonely leftists vs fantasy fascists
Why, when the far right is falling apart, do leftists keep on scaremongering about these ‘bloody nasty people’? BOOK REVIEW of Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right by Daniel Trilling
In the conclusion to his book Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right, Daniel Trilling lists ‘10 myths about Britain’s far right’, and begins first and foremost with the ‘myth’ that ‘the threat has passed’. His attempt to puncture this myth is lame – the British National Party (BNP), he acknowledges, is now a ‘failed project’. It has been all but wiped out in elections and is riddled with internal divisions. All he can do is point to the English Defence League’s (EDL’s) declaration of support for the recently formed British Freedom Party (BFP) in April this year as evidence of a ‘new vehicle’ for the far right.
Unfortunately for Trilling, EDL leader Tommy Robinson has already quit the BFP and currently languishes in jail, accused of entering the US under a false identity. The EDL itself is now having problems mobilising more than a couple of hundred people for a demo and its central Facebook page, with its 79,000 ‘supporters’ that Trilling cites as evidence of its ascendancy, has shut down.
A reader of Trilling’s book may then be puzzled. Why is a left-wing journalist dedicating his time to writing a book subtitled ‘the rise of the far right’ at a time when the far right in Britain is in no way on the rise? The only way Trilling’s subtitle is accurate is if you see it as giving a historical account of the rise of the BNP following the collapse of the National Front. But Trilling is no historian. A far more interesting phenomenon to discuss at the moment would be the decline of far-right groups in the UK at present and their failure to gain significant purchase with the public.
But this is not the story Trilling wants to tell. It seems only too important to him that the spectre of the far right remains. Indeed, his use of the word ‘vehicle’ to describe the need for the emergence of the EDL after the collapse of the BNP is telling. Often in the book, he makes it sound like an evil fascist entity plagues Britain through the ages, continually changing form, looking for new host bodies through which to infect cultural and political life. ‘The EDL’, he says, in one revealing sentence, ‘is further evidence of how the far right has had to accommodate to the reality of modern Britain’. He writes repeatedly about how the EDL has strategic and tactical advantages over the BNP, as if its emergence was a manoeuvre by a great Lord of the Rings Sauron-like figure who has commanded the dark forces of Britain’s right-wing extremes since time immemorial.
From the outset of the book, however, Trilling fails to define his terms. He is nervous about using the term ‘fascism’ and opts instead for what he calls the more neutral catch-all term the ‘far right’. Where he does attempt to define fascism, he chooses a quote from US historian Robert Paxton, who said ‘fascism is a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline’.
According to this definition, then, the possibility of fascism lurks among any communities that are critical of liberal democracy. Wary of the idea of multiculturalism? Concerned about the intolerance of Tony Blair’s rallying call to ‘liberate Britain from the old class divisions, old structures, old prejudices, old ways of working and doing things that will not do in this world of change’? According to Trilling - who comes across as a great cheerleader for a New Labour-esque vision of multicultural Britain - to have such concerns is seemingly to be on the path towards fascism.
“Trilling’s tilting at ‘fascist’ windmills reeks of a certain desperation that is shared by many on the traditional left”
Despite noting that the EDL’s Tommy Robinson became disillusioned with the BNP because his black friends weren’t able to join, and that the EDL is a big supporter of Israel and had Asian spokespeople, Trilling is keen to highlight common threads between the two groups. He cites the findings of a survey of EDL sympathisers that reveals what he believes to be the tell-tale ‘familiar factors’ of far-right thinking. These sympathisers share ‘pessimism about the UK’s future, worries about immigration and joblessness… mixed by a proactive pride in Britain, British history and British values’.
The extent to which, during a double-dip recession, concerns about the future of the UK or joblessness might be perfectly legitimate isn’t explored. And any questioning of immigration policy is portrayed as sign of wrongheadedness. It seems that Trilling would have been right alongside Gordon Brown when, in the run-up to the 2010 UK General Election, he generated a furore by branding Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy a ‘bigoted woman’ for raising issues of immigration and joblessness. If we accept Trilling’s understanding of far-right thinking, Duffy must have been infected by fascism. Certainly he is keen to bash historian David Starkey for ‘willingly repeating’ on the BBC’s Newsnight the BNP’s ‘mainline of propaganda – that Britain was being undermined from within by racial mixing and an undeserving poor’.
For someone adept at making the most tenuous links to fascism, however, Trilling seems blind to the more authoritarian tendencies of left-wing activists and the state. He has no words of criticism for the erosion of free speech that comes with ‘no platform’ policies, or the censorious nature of campaigners who tried to prevent the BBC from airing an edition of its topical debate programme Question Time featuring BNP leader Nick Griffin in 2009 - despite the fact that Griffin was an elected member of the European Parliament (MEP).
In a bizarre, Orwellian moment, Trilling attempts to rewrite history to suggest that the EDL was prevented from protesting outside a mosque in Tower Hamlets last year due to the actions of Unite Against Fascism activists ‘blocking the road, joined by several thousand local residents’. More importantly, the UK Home Office had slapped a ban on the EDL marching in the borough, enforced by an almost-unprecedented mobilisation of police officers from across the country who significantly outnumbered the EDL’s marchers (see The Battle of Cable Street it wasn’t). No matter how you spin it, these ‘jubilant’ anti-fascist protesters were in reality cheering the actions of the state clamping down on the freedom to assemble – the only way they were responsible for preventing the EDL march was to the extent that they lobbied the state to ban the demonstration beforehand.
Trilling’s blinkered account of the triumph of the anti-fascist left over the far right, coupled with his continual refrain - against all the evidence - that the far right is still in the ascendancy, reveals far more about his own outlook than about reality. Trilling’s tilting at ‘fascist’ windmills reeks of a certain desperation that is shared by many on the traditional left. Devoid of any sense of what they are for, left-wing campaigners seek to gain a sense of purpose by saying what they are against: cuts, naturally, but more than anything, fascists.
After the resounding electoral defeats of the BNP, the emergence of the EDL was a wet dream for directionless lefties. Now the EDL is on the wane, all left-wing activists can cling to is the idea of the persistence of an amorphous blob of ‘bloody nasty people’, who will flock to the dark forces of fascism should the correct ‘vehicle’ appear. You would have to be a Bloody Naive Person to believe such baseless scaremongering.
Police tell Morris Dancers to down sticks and hankies after complaints the traditional routine was 'offensive'
A group of Morris Dancers were ordered to stop performing in the middle of a routine after police received a complaint that their dancing was ‘offensive’.
The 15-strong group of English folk dancers from the respected Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris troupe were told to ‘stop making a din’ during a performance outside The White Lion pub in Warlingham, Surrey.
The folk dancers were performing in spooky costumes for a free Halloween show outside the 15th century pub to an audience of around 30 customers, but were cut short after just six dances.
The group had planned at least 10 other dances, but were interrupted by two police officers who told them to ‘down’ their handkerchiefs and sticks and ‘move on’ as they were causing a noise nuisance.
Despite pleading with the officers to continue their routine - which includes songs like Thor’s Hammer, Maiden Castle and Half a Farthing Candle, they were told to leave in the ‘interest of community relations’ last Tuesday.
Morris dancer David Young, who has been dancing with the troupe for the past seven years, said he was disgusted that folk dancers were treated ‘like yobs’. The 69-year-old said: 'We did six dances and then, at about 9pm, we went in to have a drink before going back out to perform again. 'The next thing we know, two policemen arrived. They said, in the interest of "community relations", we think you should stop dancing.'
He told the Croydon Advertiser newspaper: 'You would think the police would have let us carry on. 'It’s the first time we’ve encountered anything like it. 'We felt treated like yobs. But we’ve got ex-oil executives, business owners and a school secretary in our group.
'We just feel aggrieved that something that has such a long history in the country, at a time when it is hard to keep the old traditions alive, should not be allowed.'
The respected troupe, which perform in masks and flamboyant costumes, performed at the Tower of London’s Ceremony of the Keys - a 700-year-old tradition in which the tower is locked up for the night - in September this year to celebrate the group’s 21st anniversary.
Martin Saunders, 54, who was watching the dancing last Tuesday, said he was ‘appalled’ when they were ordered to stop. He said: 'The police came along while the Morris dancers were on a break and told them to move on as they were upsetting neighbours with their offensive dance routine.
'The police officers were a little shame-faced about it all, but really they should have just ignored it and let the dancing continue - it was only just after 9pm.'
One pub worker, who asked not to be named, said: 'The police came because they got a complaint from a neighbour. 'I think everyone was a bit surprised really. Morris dancers have been dancing around in the area for years.'
A Surrey Police spokesman said: 'We received a report from a member of the public about noisy revellers outside the White Lion pub in Warlingham. 'A neighbourhood police officer attended and spoke to a group.
'The noise had already stopped and no formal allegations were made and the group left the area without incident.'
In August last year a group of Morris dancers from the Slubbing Billys troupe were booted out of the Swan and Three Cygnets pub in Durham after a barmaid said the bells on their shoes broke the bar’s music ban.
British parish council scraps Christmas lights switch on over health and safety fears villagers may overcrowd the green
Parish councillors have pulled the plug on a Christmas lights switch on ceremony in a decision described as ‘health and safety gone berserk’. The event, which usually attracts several hundred people every year, was axed by councillors in Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire who feared the village green would become overcrowded. Instead, the lights will be quietly switched without fanfare.
Peter Badham, vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the decision was ‘health and safety gone berserk’. He said: ‘We’re talking about responsible adults bringing children to a community event and nothing more than that. I think it’s a perfect location.
‘In terms of space, we’ve looked at it and we think there’s more than enough room for everybody to come and have a great time. ‘There is nowhere else to go now. The parish council has really let the community down.’
In previous years, the ceremony has been held in a local supermarket car park with Santa’s grotto inside the community centre but this year the Bishop’s Cleeve Parish Council withdrew permission for the use of the centre because organisers failed to ‘sign in’ everyone who entered the building.
To resolve the issue, the chamber, which has organised the switch on for the last 11 years, suggested the event be held on the village green. But the parish council blocked those plans on health and safety grounds.
Chair of the parish council, Peter Lightfoot said: ‘The plans we voted against were using our little green area. The key reason for that is it’s quite a small area and normally we get hundreds to the light switch on.
‘I think the problem is that they approached us with about four weeks to go and essentially held a gun to our head and said “either you let us use the green or it won’t happen”.
‘We just can’t see how they could fit it on that particular piece of land. ‘We’re in favour of the lights. We’re just not in favour of holding it on the parish green.’
Concerns were also raised about event licences, the lack of stewards, the weight of the fairground roundabout, notices for road closures, adequate risk assessment and insurance to parish council property.
Mr Lightfoot said of the plans: ‘We are concerned as we have dry-stone walls, a fountain and a rockery and an adjacent main road. Our concern is that it is just totally unsafe and unsuitable.
Mr Badham said: ‘If the parish council doesn’t want to co-operate, then we will just turn the lights on without the event.
‘The council is supposed to be working with the community, not having all this in-fighting. ‘They have also given us nothing in terms of cash.
‘It’s truly a highlight of the year in the village - it’s a delightful event. ‘It’s all about the community, it’s all about the children and for those children who come, it’s absolutely wonderful and marks the start of Christmas.’
Health and safety guidelines for public events state that organisers need to have crowd management, planning for emergencies and event stewards.
Foolish woman gives a painfully honest account of how she came to be living alone in middle-age
Women who are looking for Mr Perfect often fail to consider whether they are Miss Perfect from a man's point of view. The woman below would seem to be someone who has overlooked that. A big ego is not attractive -- JR
Like everyone, I think and worry about the future and wonder where I’ll be in the final decade or so of my life.
With at least another 20 years of work ahead of me, I don’t know whether I’ll be comfortably off or stony broke, and I hope that the good health I’ve enjoyed so far won’t desert me later on.
One thing I’m pretty sure of, though, is that I’ll be on my own, with no spouse to look out for me or children to visit.
At the age of 46, I accept that my opportunity to have a family has gone and the chances of meeting a decent man aren’t looking too rosy either.
Not exactly a cheery thought, but at least I can console myself with the knowledge that, in one sense at least, I will be far from alone — because today, in the UK, there are record numbers of us middle-aged singletons. Figures released last week by the Office of National Statistics showed that there are now 7.6 million people living alone in the UK.
And the fastest rising group of ‘aloners’ — 2.5 million — are people like me, who fall between the ages of 45 and 64 and live alone in our own properties with no spouse, partner or children.
The figure represents a mind-blowing 50 per cent increase since the mid-Nineties. Materially well-off but emotionally bereft, we represent the loneliest generation ever known — and as a member of this fast-growing club, I have to say, it’s not a membership I look forward to renewing annually.
For me, the single girl lifestyle that I embraced and celebrated with so much enthusiasm in the Eighties and Nineties has lost much of its gloss, and is starting to look a little hollow.
I was part of the Sex And The City generation — successful, feisty women who made their own money, answered to no one and lived life to the full.
When it came to men, our attitude to them was the same as it was towards the latest must-have handbag: only the best would do, no compromises should be made, and even then it would be quickly tired of and cast aside.
What none of us spent too long thinking about in our 20s and 30s was how our lifestyles would impact on us once we reached middle-age, when we didn’t want to go out and get sozzled on cocktails and had replaced our stilettos and skinny jeans with flat shoes and elasticated waists.
When I look around at all my single friends — and there are a lot of them — not one of them is truly happy being on her own. Suddenly, all those women we pitied for giving up their freedom for marriage and children are the ones feeling sorry for us.
Freedom is great when you can exploit it; but when you have so much that you don’t know what to do with it, then it all becomes a little pointless.
I grew up in Sussex then moved to London to pursue my job as a journalist, where I threw myself into a heady social life. By the age of 29, I was earning enough to buy my first home — a three bedroom property that I lived in alone, and still do.
‘Why three bedrooms when it’s just you?’ I was often asked.
‘Because I can!’ I’d tell them, cockily.
I loved having so much space to myself, and the fact I could decorate just how I wanted. I can’t imagine many men would agree to the turquoise wallpaper with parrots that I have in my hall, or the huge chandeliers in my bedroom.
Back then, I’d shudder at the thought of a living room clogged up with toys. I loved being out until the early hours, and then coming home to a clean, peaceful home with everything just so.
When I had boyfriends and they stayed over, I was always relieved when they went home. None of them was allowed to leave a toothbrush or clean shirt for convenience: it was my flat for my stuff.
My 20s slipped into my 30s and I watched my friends marrying off. Still, I never envied them — or not for very long anyway. The only inconvenience was the pool of single girls on whom I could rely to keep me amused into the early hours starting to diminish.
When I first bought my home, I used to go out five nights a week. Now, I typically only have one night out a week, and the time alone that used to be an occasional occurrence now accounts for the best part of my week.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when I’m glad to be on my own. One of my great pleasures is still to curl up on the sofa with a takeaway and watch one of my favourite TV shows in blissful solace.
I’ve always agreed with the old saying that if you can’t enjoy your own company, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to. But just as you’d get bored with seeing the same old person night after night, you can also get bored with your own company.
On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself thinking that perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad, after all, to have someone to cook for, discuss the plot of Homeland with, or just offload to after a particularly bad day.
Then there are the practicalities of finding someone who can shift a heavy piece of furniture or jump-start a car. If my married sister needs something done, she asks her husband. But when I need help, I have to pay someone £200 or more.
In the Nineties, we professional, single women conducted our love-lives according to a best-selling book called The Rules — a dating bible that dictated that we should be aloof and hard to get, that we should not return phone calls, and we should always make a man pay on dates. Any man who didn’t conform was to be kicked to the curb until the next poor sap came along.
What I never considered, though, was that one day they’d stop coming along altogether. I really wish I’d known that once you’re in your late 30s, men are pretty thin on the ground. And once you’re in your 40s, it’s as though they’ve been wiped off the face of the Earth.
A woman over 45 on an internet dating site is made to feel as welcome as a parking ticket. The sites may be full of single men in their 40s, but they sure aren’t looking to meet women of the same age!
Then, of course, there is the matter of children. In my 30s, I really didn’t want them. It’s only now, as the choice is removed, that I begin to wonder what my life would be like with a family.
Last year, author Lori Gottlieb caused a sensation when she published her book Marry Him — The Case For Settling For Mr Good Enough. Gottlieb argued that too many women are ending up lonely and unfulfilled because they are brainwashed into believing only Mr Perfect will do. She stated that any well-educated, ambitious woman who was single after 35 was on her own because she was too picky — shopping for a husband with a ridiculously unrealistic checklist.
I think she’s right. I also think it’s an uncomfortable truth that the sort of high-flying alpha males we were all holding out for didn’t want women like us. All the successful men I know have married sweet, uncomplicated women who are happy to forfeit their careers to support their husbands.
It’s not all bad news, though, and I try not to waste too many nights crying big lonely tears into my cosmopolitan cocktail. Being single still has some incredible upsides — the biggest being the disposable income and the freedom to self-indulge.
If I had a family, I wouldn’t have been able to spend a month in Australia earlier this year, or a weekend shopping in Milan, and I would probably have felt too guilty ever to spend £3,000 on a rug (as I have just done).
And yes, we may be occupying homes that are too big for us, but at least we’re spending money and helping to keep the economy going — and putting enough in the pot to cover everyone else’s tax credits.
The brutal reality remains, however, that Carrie Bradshaw and Bridget Jones — our fictional, singleton poster girls — ended up living happily ever after. Even the writers behind those characters couldn’t accept that they’d be happy to stay single for ever — which does make me feel a little cheated.
Carrie and Bridget were lucky. The same can’t be said for the millions of women, like me, who were so inspired by them.
As women continue to match men on the salary front, and no longer need a partner to provide for them, I predict the numbers of middle-aged single women will continue to increase.
So, as all the sassy, single 30-somethings out there recover from a weekend of excess, drinking cocktails and dancing defiantly to I Will Survive and Single Ladies (both performed by happily married women, incidentally), I’d urge them to continue having the time of their life … but also, perhaps, to keep one eye on the lonely middle-age that is waiting to knock on their door.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.