As a short follow up to both my review of Phillip Blond’s Red Tory and my post asking ‘Is anti-fascism a waste of time?‘ I would like to combine the two to compound the argument I forwarded in the latter post. In this post I questioned the wisdom, given the limited resources of the left, of structuring activities around opposing the BNP. Rather, I advocated targeting our ire at the liberal racism of the mainstream political parties, where they use the ‘threat’ of the BNP as a justification for their own much more powerful and influential anti-immigrant discourse and legislation.
If there is one book in which the bogeyman of the BNP is blatantly used for forwarding a parochial, nationalistic and quietly anti-immigrant politics it is Phillip Blond’s Red Tory. In the introduction Blond attributes the growth of the BNP—no figures are actually quoted, of course (that would actually derail the BNP’s rhetorical usefulness as a threat)—-to a “collapse of British culture, virtue and belief.” (p.2) From herein the twin strategy of denouncing BNP fascists in order to argue for various nationalistic cultural and economically protectionist policies becomes something of a reliable trope in Red Tory, as it also is for the Tories as a whole, as well as Labour and the Lib Dems. In this sense Red Tory acts as a case study for the cynical use of the BNP in propping up the rationale of mainstream liberal racism.
For instance, Blond writes conspiracy think resentiment such as: “We became multi-cultural and cosmopolitan but at the price of an open borders policy that looked at times designed to destroy the prospects and outcomes of the white working class.” (p. 128) This could, of course, be straight out of the textbook of BNP canvassing lines. Not further on in the text he discusses the BBC—whose new generation of employees have all, apparently, suffered from a miseducation in “bad, French philosophy” (p. 140) [damn those frogs!]—and approves that it “rightly refuses to reflect back the values and beliefs of the BNP”, but argues that ‘we’ need to go further to “recover instead the Reithian belief in the sort of people we British ought to be and what sort of culture we should have as a result.” (p. 141)
The same sort of thing is replete throughout Red Tory. Condemn some easy racist target and use it as an excuse to advocate a remarkably similar sugar-coated nationalistic vision. If even a Tory prop like Blond can find some easy moral pivot for advocating an extremely backward looking vision of society and politics, the left should really question whether running around screaming at the BNP and penning raging polemics against the ‘Nazi BNP’ is really a good use of our time and energies?