Bradford is a wicked city. I went to Uni there, worked there, married there, and spend an awful lot of time there. It has more than it’s share of deprivation, and is much more culturally diverse (and I mean DIVERSE-very) than more affluent cities. Austerity will hit hard. The combination of these factors is not as explosive as you’d think. You wouldn’t know that from the recent Channel4 season.
I think we need to get something straight about racism and the working classes. Media types going to cities like Bradford to flesh out their preconceived ideas about thick poor people who need to be shown howto be tolerant. When I see the companies and organisations dominated by our progressive media types, cultural diversity is not as apparent as it is in Bradford. Nor is it in the Westminster that dictates a narrative that politicians need to play on fear and difference to justify economic stances. Or in the City who dictate an economic recovery where inequality is exploited for austerity.
The EDL are rapidly running out of steam. Like most other groups who have to rely on the creation of a group think bubble and regular mobilisation to maintain the appearance of support, they are finding this difficult to maintain. They are mainly sustained by the anti-fascists and the left, whose hobby is fighting them. Using the excuse that if they don’t, the thick nasty working classes somehow risk plunging this country into the dark days of nazism. Some of the anti-fascists I have met in the last year, who dine out and are defined by their opposition to the EDL, are mostly nasty bullying fascists.
Searchlight and Hope not Hate did some research about the fear of difference and implications for the rise of organisations like the EDL. Sam Tarry, more concerned with his place in the Labour trough, then said nothing as Labour utilised the findings of that research to create an idological platform which exploited that fear and essentially put those fascist values at the heart of Labour policy.
Few people I know will add a like to the Hope not Hate facebook page once they have seen the level of self rightous vitriol it contains. These bullies, and middle class ‘progressives’ descend onto working class areas, to not only shout down the EDL, but educate the poor intolerant communities they invade. They are doing nothing more than having a good day out every now and again and providing the only reason for being the EDL has, fuellingg their persecution complex. When local communities do face off the EDL or similar organisations, the descent of the exogenous movements who dine out on this stuff are rarely helpful or welcome. Watch twitter when the EDL are on Newsnight you find grammar and clothing choice are more offensive than the views.
They create the EDL publicity. Political parties use it.
Between the EDL and the so called anti-fascists, government and opposition are given legitimacy when they treat the working class as racist fuckwits, and channels like four can go to town on reinforcing that impression. Blue Labour and Red Toryism both have alarmingly fascist themes, but challenging Labour v unlikely ever to be done by Sam Tarry and his ilk.
Many of our self defining anti-fascists like to have an outlet for their nasty streaks, and a public ruck is a way to do it while polishing your halo. While aggressively attacking anyone who challenging you as clearly supportive of fascism and needing the same bullying treatment.
The thing that makes the EDL and our current brand of racists different from their past incarnations, is that they are mainly using rhetoric provided by successive mainstream parties. The EDL didn’t make Islam the new bogey man. That they are one of the few political forces using working class communities as recruiting grounds, does not mean they are having any success.
This is not an organisation outside the mainstream playing on alienation and fear of difference and offering unheard of racism to un unsuspecting public. This isn’t Hitler and a suprise emergency of National Socialism in a political vacuum during economic decline. The forces offering fascism and racism are completely rejected, that’s why it’s a political vacuum.
The EDL are reselling this message and still having no success. No platform is pointless these days, as the tropes shouted are recycled from mainstream politics and are at the core of the required mainstream narrative. THe necessity of us being treated as thick racists, while institutional racism is projected on to us, to justify the austerity policies which disenfranchise us, is a step too far.
The EDL is an organisation whose narrative amplifies and concentrates the message that our mainstream parties give out, and applies it in the way they do, to communities who have been abandoned by mainstream politics over generations. Tthey are rejected by everyone but the left, who like to have an easily identifiable foe. Working class doesn’t mean stupid or racist, even if we all know someone like those people made caricatures in Channel 4’s documentaries. The BNP failed because only racists voted for them. Britain’ systemic racism as a nation isn’t coming from Bradford.
The picture of Bradford put forward by Channel4 is misleading and offensive. That it fits so well into the narratives of competing mainstream political forces means we don’t really get to say that very often. Austerity means inequality will be deliberately exploited, and as we have seen with unemployment rates, race(like gender and disability) will decide who pays. That isn’t racism by the working class though. They don’t set government policy, or own the media companies and they certainly aren’t funding an EDL they are rejecting. I could show you two pubs in this town full of racist wankers. They have to drink in those pubs cos they aren’t welcome anywhere else, and couldn’;t get away with that kind of nastiness in the wider community.