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Labour got what it deserved – and so did the BNP

The Labour party is dying, and fascism is on the rise. Where does the working class go from here?

‘May you live in interesting times’ is an old Chinese saying. You might be forgiven for assuming it is a blessing but in actual fact it is intended as a curse. Of course, how you might regard the inherent implications of some major political or social upheaval most probably depends on what end of the political or social spectrum you inhabit.

In any event, for good or ill, ‘interesting times’ we are certainly in.

In 1994, at the beginning of the Blair era, Labour MP Roy Hattersley suggested that ‘the working class would continue to vote for Labour whatever the party does’. A number of years after New Labour had taken power in 1997, when the cracks between the governing party and the working class electorate were already beginning to emerge, mostly in the form of a collapsing turnout at elections, it was all airily waved away by current Justice Minister Jack Straw. He described the gathering disengagement as ‘the politics of contentment.’

The quotes are a useful reminder that New Labour’s problems did not begin with the ascension to power of Gordon Brown, or the credit crunch, or MP’s expenses. The real damage was done far earlier, goes far deeper and may indeed be irreversible.

In last weeks Euro elections the SNP won the popular vote in Scotland for the first time ever, while the Tories trumped Labour in Wales. With the South-East in almost complete meltdown – Labour taking a mere 8 per cent of votes cast – there must now be some serious question marks against Labour ever again being a party with a true national reach.

In short, New and indeed Old Labour have got what they deserved and so, predictably, have the BNP. Tony Lecomber’s forecast in 1997 that ‘The people who have been abandoned by Labour and have never been represented by the Tories will, in their desperation, turn to us’ has been handsomely vindicated. The BNP’s steady climb from obscurity also began in 1994 when they abandoned their battle to control the streets.

Approximately a decade ago the modernised BNP, under the control of a new leader Nick Griffin, gave cause for concern when they took 26% of the vote in a council by-election in Bexley in Kent. An alarmed Guardian covered the story on page two but despite the evidence, then and since, their true potential has consistently been underestimated and decried, particularly by ‘professional’ anti-fascists and the orthodox Left.

In the run up to the local elections one poll commissioned by The Observer put their support level at just one per cent. If accurate it meant the BNP would do five times less well than in 2004. So don’t be fooled when they tell you that the recent success was purely down to the expenses row — if that benefitted anyone it was UKIP, who were down and out prior to the election. This has been a long time coming. Wishful thinking fools no one, least of all the BNP.

Worse, it fatally impregnates any counter-strategy with the same false optimism, to the extent that 45 year-old photos of former leader John Tyndall resplendent in brown shirt and swastika, with equally aged quotes to match, will still be considered stellar anti-fascist propaganda in five years time. Already, Labour MP Glenda Jackson is telling us that ‘this wasn’t the triumph Griffin and his acolytes had been hoping for … the number of people voting for his unique cocktail of racism and hate actually fell compared to five years ago.’

An internet search will reveal identical comments following the BNP’s first councillor in 2002 and after they came second in Barking & Dagenham and again when they took their first London Assembly seat last year. This whistling past the graveyard flows from a simple failure of nerve. Rather than try and take on the BNP in a political way, the proffered counter-strategy has deliberately been restricted to one of technical opposition only: bans, boycotts, censorship, no platform, smears and innuendo.

Of course, to pursue a strategy of winning-over rather than side-lining the alienated working class voter would mean addressing ticklish subjects such as immigration and its impact on jobs, services and housing, and ditching the conservative anti-fascist strategy pursued by Searchlight/The Mirror/Unite Against Facism (UAF) which is committed to stopping the BNP at almost any cost outside of upsetting the political equilibrium. UAF, for instance, merely called for ‘a vote for the mainstream parties’. Their conclusion? Vote right wing by all means but not too right wing! This is not anti-fascism, it is anti-extremism. (It should be noted in passing that the tactics pioneered by Searchlight for use against the BNP have also been used by the favoured ‘mainstream parties’ against the ‘extremist IWCA’. Once, a particularly reckless libel cost Labour a cool £15,000 plus a hefty chunk for legal costs).

And even though Searchlight has conceded the BNP needs to be ‘defeated politically’ it nevertheless insists, almost as if it has the likes of the IWCA in mind, that ‘those who argue for a solely class based approach to anti-fascism … will only hand dozens of seats to the BNP and quicken its electoral advance.’ As an analysis it is thoroughly risible. For if, as they have correctly concluded, New Labour’s ‘drifting to the centre’ helped cause the BNP advance, how can the cross-class political alternative they propose be anything but a compound on what is already happening?

Now that the BNP have captured two MEP seats anyway, the refusal to engage with working class concerns and voters looks even more absurd. And what, after all in the scheme of things, are a couple of dozen extra BNP seats in the short term when both the price of strategic failure and the potential reward of strategic success are so great?

The need for a new nationally-based working class federation/party

Nonetheless, such an admission of strategic review is to be welcomed as it helps make the case for one thing even more clear: the need for a new nationally-based working class federation/party. And unlike in 1998 the need for it is surely beyond even speculative challenge now.

A month prior to Labour tanking The Observer (3 May) called precisely for such a formation: ‘The best antidote to the far right would be a movement that aspires to represent everyone who feels disenfranchised, alienated, excluded, regardless of race; a movement that promotes solidarity among poorer voters instead of dividing them. It would speak with moral authority against a political system that looks, to many voters, grotesquely skewed in the interests of a narrow, wealthy elite. That no Westminster party can credibly deliver such a message shames the government.’

Another welcome reality check is the growing recognition that ‘anti-racist’ policies that effectively work to widen the racial divide – in either direction – and leave the BNP as sole beneficiary, cannot any longer be justified in the name of either anti-fascism or class solidarity. As the London Evening Standard columnist Andrew Gilligan put it following the BNP success at the 2008 GLA elections: ‘The endless focus on race alienated many white working class Londoners, who got the impression that Labour was not interested in them and was even trying to deny their place in London. Though you’d never know it from the Ken GLA, the white working class remains the largest single group in the city – something of which it reminded us on election day, by voting almost as one for Boris. He won two-thirds of the wards in Barking and Dagenham, truly astonishing for a Tory.’

Back in 1995 when anti-fascists first called for the formation of an independent working class organisation, it was met with incomprehension and no little ridicule from more or less all sides. Back then, with the Tory Party limping towards defeat and New Labour appearing buoyant and progressive, multiculturalism still in good order and the benefits of affirmative action and identity politics largely unquestioned, the notion that there would indeed need to be ‘a working class antidote to the far-right’ was regarded as an irritant at best. In any event, ‘we’re all middle class now’ we were informed.

A full seven years away from their initial breakthrough in Burnley in 2002, the BNP too was written off, while the organisational weight of the old left, mainly in the shape of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) seemed indefatigable. Back in 1995 the phrase ‘Labour heartlands’ still made sense. And as practically no one had heard of ‘neo-liberalism’, ‘Vote New Labour with no illusions’ remained the order of the day. How very different does it all look now?

For some time there has been evidence a-plenty that the New Labour project was breaking apart. Not just at a leadership level but organisationally as well. For the first time in living memory membership has dipped beneath the 175,000 mark and that figure was from nine months ago. Who knows what it is now and when it will bottom out? It is hard to imagine a decade or more in opposition providing the necessary fillip. A staggering £24 million of debt is another sign of terminal decay. And this, remember, is still the party of government.

Writing in the New Statesman, one time Brown groupie Polly Toynbee now labels New Labour ‘bankrupt financially, bereft of ideas, it is skidding toward near-oblivion for a long time – and it is horrible to watch.’ This is now a given. Where the real interest lies is in the level of carnage the party suffers in a general election rout.

The loss of huge numbers of MPs apart, how will New Labour be able to explain its reason for continuing to exist once the famed triangulation strategy is rejected by the electorate? It would be bad enough to be lumbered with a seriously moth-eaten stratagem but not to have a core philosophy to return to in order to get your bearings could prove terminal. Or as lefty comedian Mark Steel put it: ‘They sacrificed principles, debates, humanity, purpose and personality for the purpose of getting elected. But now they can’t get elected to anything so there is nothing left.’

In such circumstances it is likely the ‘project’ will be formally ditched in it’s entirety with someone like, say, Jon Cruddas taking the helm and steering the Labour party back in a social-democratic direction. Eighteen months ago the BBC was posing the question as to whether Old Labour would succeed New Labour. But the real poser now is in what state it will actually survive New Labour? Some smart money may already be on the project’s trailing mast disabling or even sinking the Old Labour mother ship.

An organisational as well as an ideological vacuum

In the background too the economic fundamentals have altered dramatically. Home and abroad the Reagan/Thatcher/Blair/Brown legacy of de-regulation once famously described as ‘voodoo economics’ will, following the credit crunch, be forever looked at in a very different light. This welcome retrospective will not be confined to their reforms in the economic arena either as the political and social certainties identified with neo-liberalism are being studied with increasing scepticism as well.

As a consequence it is not an exaggeration to say that the political situation unfolding has a once-in-a-century feel about it. It is a crisis so wide-reaching it touches everything. Not least because the free market philosophy recommended by the ruling elites, particularly in America and Britain, is shown not to work even on their terms.

The ‘trickle down’ hypothesis is utterly eviscerated. Recently the head of the Audit Commission forecast ‘Armageddon’ if the strategy pursued by the government climaxes in Britain itself being bailed out.

But to say that progressive elements are ill-prepared to take advantage is to underestimate the scale of the disarray. Putting it bluntly, the working class and its allies are utterly adrift. What is lacking most is a counter philosophy. For without such a vision there cannot be any proper analysis, organisation, strategy or tactics.

As a consequence you get NO2 EU – YES TO DEMOCRACY! instead. The name selection alone (described as a ‘temporary workers party’ by one arch optimist) illustrates the utter loss of direction. For the first time in living memory there is no identifiable working class/left leadership visible anywhere in Britain.  For very sound reasons both the largely white collar trade union movement and the Labour Left are devoid of credibility within working class areas. Neither is there an individual figurehead, standard bearer or even self-serving grandstander of note. Galloway and Sheridan are fit only for reality TV, while others like Benn, Livingstone and Scargill are either yesterday’s men or mentally equipped to fight just the odd skirmish in some previous class war.

Thus, New Labour flirting with oblivion, the BNP threatening to soon become the fourth biggest party and the ignominious failure of the various vanity projects and consequent loss of prestige all means that in contrast to 1998 there is now not just an ideological vacuum but an organisational one as well.

Ideology aside, perhaps the one key ingredient missing from all of the failed unity efforts was the failure of any one of the groups or prominent individuals to engage with the process in a way designed to meet the political needs of the working class as a whole rather than those of themselves as individuals or their groups.

Even when IWCA pilot schemes proved again and again that the mainstream parties were as vulnerable to an attack from a progressive working class party as they were to the BNP, this critical lesson was not taken on board. The example was not imitated. And though it is unlikely there will be any retrospective drum rolls for us getting it right, the overall terrain is nonetheless simplified to enormous advantage. Potentially, that is.

Wherever you look there is evidence to suggest that the tectonic plates of British party politics are shifting and much more besides. Routinely being compared to the ‘Great Depression’, the credit crunch promises to expose some spectacular societal fault lines. In broad terms we can expect higher taxes and less public spending – whoever’s in government. And though the working class will catch it in the neck it will arguably be even more traumatic for ‘Middle England’.

A rise in unemployment will of course affect all classes but for the middle classes, or for the working class elements encouraged to believe they had jumped a class simply by the fact of putting a deposit on a house and thereafter paying rent to the bank, there is the additional anxiety that their rising living standards were nothing more than a blip and a future of ever growing prosperity something of a chimera.

For a considerable time international experts have argued that house prices need to fall at least 30 per cent in real terms before finding a floor so we are still some distance out from full social and political impact. And with the notion of being able to borrow a way out already barred off by an existing £1.44 trillion of personal debt, the borders of the seemingly endlessly expanding middle class are sure to suffer the sharpest of contractions. This is the real motor for the rage at the disclosure about MP’s expenses. Expect more gnashing of teeth and rending of garments as redundancy, re-possession and bankruptcy become routine.

And if that wasn’t bad enough and if Nick Griffin is even half right (and at least some of his forecasts have actually been accurate before) racial/religious demarcations are due for a dramatic expansion too. Recently Griffin confidently announced that he expects the lid to come off the multicultural experiment some time soon. ‘Inter-communal violence’ will likely be a fact of life for many working class communities within, he believes, ‘three years’. The seemingly spontaneous demonstrations in Luton recently may be a portent. It is difficult to predict the short-term winners and losers from such a collective meltdown but it’s a fair bet it won’t be pretty.

Being in the right place when Labour is no more

At the same time it is important not to panic. The BNP are building incrementally. This is not the politics of putsch but of drift. At the same time they have endless ambition and with the extra £4 million in the coffers will undoubtedly build on what they already have. Just over a decade ago the IWCA set up its pilot schemes in a number of areas around the country. We got our first councillor in 2002. The BNP too made a modest breakthrough in Burnley when it captured three seats. By 2006, when the IWCA had four councillors, the BNP had something like 54 elected. They are now firmly ensconsed in the public mind as the radical alternative so it has to be back to the drawing board.

At a political level we will renew the search for a way forward with other progressive forces. The strategic objective would be to eventually match the reach of the BNP nationally. Ideology aside, the BNP has established a benchmark for how smaller parties can advance. There are lessons to be learned there and it is futile to deny it.

Systematically building an infrastructure to rival the BNP’s is not simply out of a desire to compete with the Far-Right for working class hearts and minds on the ground in the here and now. Instead we will be encouraging other independent groups and individuals of a like mind to set our sights on being in the right place when Labour as a ‘natural party of government’ is no more.

Of course even if the emerging situation in Scotland is eventually mirrored in Wales in the general election, Labour would still be a party with a national reach but at the same time the notion of it ever forming another government without help from a coalition partner or partners would be in the past. Inevitably, that in turn would lead to an even greater fusing of the neo-liberals in the centre. Which in turn would force ever-greater sections of the population already squeezed to the electoral margins to actively look elsewhere for a political voice.

Crucially, what has been lost in the whirlwind of liberal hysteria about the ‘Nazis’ is that a substantial part of the BNP appeal within working class communities comes from its depiction of its policies as ‘socialism of the old school’. Former Tory party chairman Norman Tebbit has said ‘I have carefully re-read the BNP manifesto of 2005 and am unable to find evidence of Right-wing tendencies. On the other hand, there is plenty of anti-capitalism, opposition to free trade, commitments to “use all non-destructive means to reduce income inequality”, to institute worker ownership, to favour workers’ co-operatives, to return parts of the railways to state ownership, to nationalise the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and to withdraw from NATO. That sounds pretty Left-wing to me.’

At the moment this is something the BNP take particular delight in admitting. But this is also their Achilles heel. Currently they are effortlessly riding two horses. Alongside their work in former Labour heartlands they are equally at home in tapping into a sort of ‘hang ‘em and flog ‘em’ time-honoured conservatism in the more upmarket neighbourhoods.

Therefore, either as a result of achieving greater national prominence or as a consequence of being faced with an authentic working class challenge down the line, the contradictions in their philosophical underpinning must be revealed, forcing them at critical moments to bend in one direction or the other.  Historically, when given the choice between opting for the nationalist or ‘socialist’ fork, the gravitational pull for fascism is nearly always toward the former.

When that time comes, if a progressive working class party were in a position to do so, rather than advance piecemeal on a ward-by-ward basis it could very well mop up across entire boroughs where previously Labour and then the BNP had once ruled the roost. Why such a possibility exists is because as Searchlight admits ‘in some places such as Barking and Dagenham, one of the fundamental problems is the absence of any mainstream alternative to Labour, so the BNP is the sole beneficiary of the anti-Labour protest vote.’ As the big three continue to shed activists (according to one report the Tories have shed 40,000 members since Cameron took over) and atrophy in terms of popular support, it is a trend that can only become more widespread.

But how to get from the present to there is the tricky bit. One factor is certain. A long-term strategy is now required. It is unlikely there will be any short cuts. So it is the long game or nothing. A daunting prospect. But on the plus side the opportunities unfolding before our eyes do have an undeniable once-in-a-century feel about them.

64 Responses to “Labour got what it deserved – and so did the BNP”

  1. huejack Says:

    At last an analaysis for grown-ups. Well done. That said we certainly have our work cut-out. One problem I see is that well -funded groups like Searchlight understand only too well the importance of getting their ‘propaganda in first’. Since Sunday it has become accepted wisdom that the numbers voting BNP actually went down. I was sort of taken in myself.

    But last night watching Andrew Neils This Week, Michael Portillo no less, contradicted some one or other; ‘saying that he studied the figures’ and the BNP vote was well up, on 2004, even though votes for almost everyone else were in steep reverse. (The other exception were the Greens, but then as they have zero resonance in working class areas they are al but irrelevant.)

    The thing that struck me is that even Portillo had to study the figures for himself – they are readily available in the media – which goes to show the influence of Searchlight and co. They are going to be a serious obstacle to rational debate.

  2. huejack Says:

    ….meant to say the 950,000 BNP vote up from (800,000 in 2004) is NOT made readily available by the media…

  3. Mondallant Says:

    Back in the 1980s you could respect the old Labour Right to some extent. We disagreed with them of course but at least they had an ideological footing in social democracy. More importantly, the party had a political footing amongst the working class. Now it is ideologically emptied out and support fades fast.

    Back then, the prospect of a resurgent Left was always something of a lifeline for the party. While workers often disagreed with the Right, there was always the idea that a Bennite Left might emerge, or perhaps something better! Now, there is no Left and Right in the party and little prospect of a recovery.

    Instead, the fascists make progress. They gain a foothold amongst the working class. I’m sure this will continue in the years ahead. We’ll all get to feel the sting of the counter-revolution. The two scenarios go together of course: the decline of the establishment and the rise of the right. But, as you say, all of this means there are opportunities for the progressive forces as well. The fascists may be ahead right now but that can change. There’s a long way to go.

  4. modernityblog Says:

    agreed, very worthwhile political analysis

  5. Tricksy Mix Says:

    “At a political level we will renew the search for a way forward with other progressive forces. The strategic objective would be to eventually match the reach of the BNP nationally. Ideology aside, the BNP has established a benchmark for how smaller parties can advance. There are lessons to be learned there and it is futile to deny it.

    Systematically building an infrastructure to rival the BNP’s is not simply out of a desire to compete with the Far-Right for working class hearts and minds on the ground in the here and now. Instead we will be encouraging other independent groups and individuals of a like mind to set our sights on being in the right place when Labour as a ‘natural party of government’ is no more.”
    Excellent article.
    Where you talk about ‘progressive forces’, I take it you mean pro-working class groups. How many of these are there around. Apart from the IWCA and one or two local groups, I’m not aware of any others that spring to mind. The crux of the matter anyway is that this needs to be do sharpish or it will be too late.

  6. DC Says:

    The analysis is spot on, as ever. But how the hell can the leap be made from the apparently moribund IWCA “pilot schemes” to the national, progressive working class organisation required?

  7. Paul Says:

    As others have said, the IWCA analysis hits the nail firmly on the head – as usual. I was beginning to think IWCA had folded as this site has been so quiet recently.

    DC raises a vital point and hopefully someone from IWCA wil answer the question he/she poses with a full reply.

    I would add to DC and others thoughts that if IWCA has the resources:

    1. IWCA need to put forward a lot more material which can be circulated elsewhere – for example i’ve sent this article to everyone in my union.
    2. There needs to be a discussion board on here so we can discuss how we ‘systematically build an infrastructure to rival the BNP’s’ and share ideas and activity.
    3. IWCA needs to call an open meeting to discuss how we might build on the lessons learnt from the pilots. All progressive forces should be invited to attend.
    4. IWCA should appeal to workers to join – and union Branches, others to affiliate to IWCA – the rest of us need to get involved. If there was an IWCA Branch in South London I’d join it, and hopefully one of the outcomes of the open meeting would be new structures being created.

  8. T.C Says:

    According to Glenda Jackson, if it wasn’t for Searchlight the BNP would have won 12 Euro seats. And who suggested the BNP could win 7 to 12 seats in the first place? Why none other than Searchlight!

    Boiled down all the Hope not Hate strategy is about is ‘making the world save for the mainstream parties’.

    As for the UAF: “Anyone who thinks you can fight fascism by throwing eggs at it has got their brains scrambled.” (Tony Parsons, The Mirror, 13.6.09)

    Broadly speaking what is outlined above IS the antidote. But as the article admits how to get from here to there is the tricky bit.

  9. Todd Says:

    An excelent analysis. However, TC (above) it was not Searclight saying that the BNP could win 7-12 seats, it was Searchlight stating the bloody obvious based on the last set of results.

    The endless nonsense from the left now will continue to suggest that only they can defeat the BNP by having a workers party or whatever.

    The left is as finished as new labour. Now is the real winter of our discontent

  10. durruti02 Says:

    excellent article and simply following on from the analysis of Filling The Vacuum back in 1995 http://classagainstclass.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=250:filling-the-vacuum&catid=21:general-pamphlets-texts-and-articles&Itemid=15

    I am interested to see though that the IWCA are now referring to areas they are active in as ‘pilot schemes’. I think this is very honest, as clearly while at first the successes in Oxford, Islington, Hackney and Havering appeared sustainable, and clearly extraordinarily dramatic, they have not been, whether as IWCA or Hackney Independent. But as pilot schemes they have demonstrated clearly how this form of radical community politics is attractive to working class people. That more on the left have not taken notice i think says more about the dominant leftism sectarianism, though the bigger question is why did the strategy not spread out of the few areas it worked.

    Clearly something need to happen. A debate needs to held over the way forward.

    I think IWCA have enough kudos and a proven track record to call a national conference of people and groups interested in ‘local and community based’ politics, and hope to see this soon.

  11. Tricksy Mix Says:

    The above posts are very encouraging. People such as Durruti, should ask their groups to contact the IWCA if they want to get involved in a broad working class organisation. The outcome will be to everyone’s benefit.

    Glenda Jackson’s support for the Searchlight position might have something to do with the fact that her son, Dan Hodges is a spokesman for them.

  12. GOS Says:

    REPLY TO DC/DURRUTTI…

    We are putting the final touches to something at the moment. But what needs to be understood from the outset and it is accepted within the IWCA that there will not necessarily be any ‘leap’ from the pilot schemes to the nationally based organisation that is required to compete on something like an equal footing with the BNP.

    Especially now as the political vacuum is showing every sign of expanding even further. Indeed from the analysis offered above, even if the IWCA pilot schemes shown to be most competitive electorally, eg Glasgow,Havering, Islington, Hackney, Oxford had maxed out and delivered a return of say 10 councillors, due to the speed of the BNP advance, it would profit us (IWCA credibility apart) next to nothing.

    Even with a full compliment of councillors there would in other words still have to be a serious strategy review. Which is where we are at now. At present work is being conducted at a sub-committe level. After that there will be an EGM to discuss their conclusions. When the time is right we will be able to say more.

  13. Twotone Says:

    Apparently 24 Labour MP’s under left-winger John McDonnell are threatning to stand under the own manifesto at the General Election. Which makes the IWCA analysis all the more pertinent. Particularly at the orthodox left are becoming even more introverted and self-serving. The lastest SWP offering on the BNP’s gains pretends that their return to the streets is imminent. This is utterly cynical designed to draw in impressionable students. Whether they actually believe this or it is mere pretence hardly matters. The utter lack of self respect for their own reputation proves they are utterly washed up. Over the last couple of years the have morphed into the WRP – ‘General Strike Now!’

  14. Napier Says:

    My experience of the IWCA is that their members lacked talent. Words can’t describe how many talented people I have met in the BNP with skills ranging from public speaking, to artwork and graphics design, to knowledge about the EU and foreign affairs, to expertise with computers, to horticulture and food production, to home education, to film and video production. I’m not trying to imply that all BNP members are experts in these fields. About 90% of the membership I have met are fairly ordinary people, but having access to people with the right talents builds a political movement much faster than stomping around some housing estate in a black bomber jacket.

  15. Christian Evans Says:

    A thoughtful article, well done. I do think that despite the previously oft expressed reservations about the tenancy for Anarchists to carry out stunts, the IWCA could do much better when it comes to trumpeting their achievements. Please remember how popular the “Red Action in Action” column was in the paper Red Action all those years ago.

    Shout out your achievements, publicise them. You will enthuse others and help gain you a national profile with all that means in combating the BNP and their ilk.

    Best wishes

  16. Matt D Says:

    I think the IWCA’s analysis is once again spot on, as it was when the original “Filling the Vaccum” document was written.

    I think that lots of us over the last few years, not just the IWCA, but groups like Haringey Solidarity Group, Hackney Independent, and recently Liberty and Solidarity have been banging on about the importance of a responsive community based alternative – and now is the time to put our money where our mouth is and step things up to the next level. This will mean working together on the issues where we agree, and putting our differences to one side where possible.

    I think the current process of reflection within the IWCA is really welcome, and I look forward to any discussion that comes out of it.

  17. nash Says:

    Napier

    ‘My experience of the IWCA is that their members lacked talent. Words can’t describe how many talented people I have met in the BNP …’

    What is your experience of the IWCA? Your previous posts suggest you have little if any direct experience of it.

    Presumably, though, the relatively much greater size of the BNP does mean it has access to more talent across an important range of skillsets.

    Clearly, the only useful response to this is to aim to build an organisation/federation that can rival the BNP in size of membership and influence, which is surely the point of the article.

  18. Christian Evans Says:

    But to build a national organisation you need to publicise your achievements. The dropping of the councillors diary was in my humble opinion a mistake. It gave a unique insight into the day to day life of being a £for the working class” councillor and is much missed. You must have some people who have PR experience, use them!

  19. hue jack Says:

    One of the advantages the BNP have as evidenced by the return of Andrew Brons to the fold after a protracted absence from the nationalist scene is that they have access to a sort of middle management, organisers, writers, stretching back to the NF that they have gradually been drawn back in, now that it is safer, since the street work was abandoned in the mid 90′s. In terms of starting new branches and controlling iniatives in new regions this sort of resource must be invaluable.

  20. HUBIE Says:

    Genuine query. If i’m reading the analysis correctly then the IWCA strategy will have to go head to head with Searchlight’s. They will prove a formidable enemy. Their influence in the media is astonishing. Every utterance is handled like a tablet of stone, even though their projections are often contradictory and the strategy pursued failing. Equally impressive is the finacial resources seemingly at the their disposal. Simple question – where does the money come from – mainstream parties, the Mirror Group, unions or all three?

  21. Benn Says:

    This a friendly reply from the “enemy” camp so I hope it will not be deleted.

    I am dissapointed to see from the replies to this article that people refer to the BNP as far right and fascist, mimicking the rhetoric from the establishment media. The BNP are neither far right or Fascist, I would recommend you to read the 1919 manifesto of the Italian Fascist party (its on Wikipedia), then read the BNP manifesto, if you are being honest you would have to conclude that the BNP are a left wing Party with an anti immigration stance. A position which appeals to a huge majority of the white working class (and middle class), the only reason the BNP vote is not far higher is due to the demonisation and outright lies from the establishment but as time goes by people are beginning to see through the lies and realising that the LibLabCons are all part of the establishment Party.

  22. William Laws Says:

    I agree with the analysis except for one thing. I think its important not to confuse a critique of multiculturalism with a wholesale rejection of the right of asylum, right of free movement etc. What the BNP do is play the multi-culturalist left at their own game-why not rights for whites if we can have rights for other minorities etc? In rejecting the “fighting over the crumbs of the local state” multi-culti approach we can’t deny the reality that minority groups are oppressed. The BNP have provided a very useful smokescreen for New Labour in that, while New Labour have engineered a further transfer of resources from poor to rich. the BNP have portrayed it to the white working class as a transfer from white native to black, brown,eastern European etc-ie instead of robbery of one class by another the BNP porttray it as a leeching of resources from one poor community to another. We need to argue for a real return to class politics-including an analysis of how working class communities are stripped of resources at present through taxation-how tax redistributes wealth from poor to rich and how this can be reversed. I also think we shouldnt shirk the “Iraq” question. More working class voters who identified with Labour dont vote than vote BNP.Many of them are disgusted by the Iraq invasion. When hospitals, schools etc are being closed to pay for the banking bail-out we should also point out the cost in cuts and in lives that Iraq brought about.

    Its important to recognise that we’re not just battling for the BNP voters-we’re seeking to re-invigorte those working class voters burned out by the experiences of the last 15 years, who see no alternatives but wont vote for the BNP.

    Its not possible anymore to contest with the BNP over old ground that doesnt touch on the race question-the arguments for the BNP being anti-democratic etc dont cut it anymore. Their local election manifesto embraces the creation of parish councils sending recallable delegates to further tiers of local government, an English parliament elected by proportional representation etc. The key issue we have to win on is, unavoidably, race. The BNP is an anti-working class current within the working class. It is anti-working class because it racialises class questions. We have to turn them back into class questions. We know we cant win by running the SWP “Theyre welcome here” bullshit but we cant win by fudging the race v class issue either.

    I wonder if those around Antifa realise their attempts at re-running the 1980s are an obstacle to effective opposition to the BNP. Their alternative to the “vote anyone but BNP” argument was “Dont vote-organise” which sounds all well and good except that it neglects the fact that in an electoral situation organising other than around the election is actually a call to do nothing. Local elections are far more important than the anarchist argument allows-they are means of intervening over issues of local distribution of resources-as the BNP have realised and acted on. All effective class politics short of a revolution are battles over resources-so organisation has to be over issues of housing, education, health, debt, bailiffs, etc The Antifa approach offers nothing in relation to these questions beyond a call to organise-in a vacuum already being filled over these issues by an organisation-the BNP! Faced with the redundancy of this strategy, Antifa then ofer up the straw man of the BPP who they’ll be kicking round Yorkshire shouting No Pasaran when the BNP take their first MP’s seat!

  23. huejack Says:

    The latest bulleting regarding the possible financial bankruptcy of the Labour Party shows that they have reduced their debt substantially by £11 million and have been signed off by auditors as ‘a going concern’. Crucially however this upbeat assesment failed to take account of the £18-20 mill needed to fight the next general election. How the books will look this time next year is when the IWCA prophecy regarding their future will kick in.

  24. Napier Says:

    nash

    ‘What is your experience of the IWCA? Your previous posts suggest you have little if any direct experience of it.’

    I was a member (possibly the only one) in an area the IWCA was not active in. My local work verged on being an almost solo effort because members from more active areas were reluctant to get involved and campaign in my area to try and start a local branch. The parochial nature of the IWCA by targetting a handful of areas with a reluctance to parachute campaigning members into fertile working class areas with no IWCA presence came across to me as a serious downfall of the party. In contrast, the BNP has a campaign team and truth truck touring the country to establish support in areas where the BNP is weak or not well known.

    ‘Presumably, though, the relatively much greater size of the BNP does mean it has access to more talent across an important range of skillsets.’

    My findings are that the skilled and talented members in the BNP are overwhelmingly middle class, and reasonably well educated or self educated. Most working class BNP members are no more talented than those in the IWCA but make up the bulk of the BNP membership.

    ‘Clearly, the only useful response to this is to aim to build an organisation/federation that can rival the BNP in size of membership and influence, which is surely the point of the article.’

    Read my second point. If the working class is severely devoid of the right talents then the IWCA may be doomed from the outset.

  25. Napier Says:

    ‘I think that lots of us over the last few years, not just the IWCA, but groups like Haringey Solidarity Group, Hackney Independent, and recently Liberty and Solidarity have been banging on about the importance of a responsive community based alternative’

    I’ve analysed the Euro election results and identified that inner London boroughs show very low support for both anti-EU parties and far left parties, combined with a high level of support for the Greens.

    I’m not a Londoner but I’m getting the message that inner London could be long dead territory for working class politics in the same way that Tower Hamlets is dead and mouldy for the BNP. A strong Green vote clearly shows an alternative to Lib-Lab-Con has made inroads into inner London and will probably capture much of the protest vote.

  26. huejack Says:

    The problem with the Greens as a protest vote is that they have near zero resonance and indeed near zero interest in working class areas. Any ward by ward breakdown across London would demonstrate this reality. On top of that the notion that the Greens are inantely progressive or radical only brings you so far. In Oxford Council the Greens routinely sided with the lib/lab/con against the IWCA.

  27. Paul Says:

    William Laws says “Its important to recognise that we’re not just battling for the BNP voters-we’re seeking to re-invigorte those working class voters burned out by the experiences of the last 15 years, who see no alternatives but wont vote for the BNP.” but lists the right of asylum, right of free movement and the Iraq war as key issues.

    I would suggest that the more pressing issues that we face are crime/anti social behaviour/people living in fear and the impact that this has on the confidence of our class; decent affordable housing; crap transport, acess to public services and facilities; job cuts in areas already hammered by the last recession/soul destroying low paid work and the financialising of our lives. The left never talks about some of these things for reasons that speak volumes about them.

    In contrast the left talked about nothing but Iraq for 2 years, reasonance with the working class? Zero.

  28. nash Says:

    Benn, thanks for your comments: ‘I am dissapointed to see from the replies to this article that people refer to the BNP as far right and fascist, mimicking the rhetoric from the establishment media. The BNP are neither far right or Fascist … if you are being honest you would have to conclude that the BNP are a left wing Party with an anti immigration stance.’

    The BNP are indeed to the left of New Labour on the economy. However, a closer analysis of the BNP would suggest there are two key aspects to their political position: A more state-controlled vision of the economy and an obsession with identity politics. These are both entirely consistent with historical facsist parties, although the BNPs current policies couldn’t accurately be described as fascist in the same way.

    By presenting itself as ‘left wing’ and also by addressing people’s fears in relation to identity politics ensures the BNP is seen as a credible alternative to the mainstream by a significant section of the working class.

    This sets out the challenge for a pro-working class alternative: a clear political alternative to both the mainstream and the BNP will have to be devised, addressing amongst other things, the key aspects of the economy and identity politics (or the rejection of them).

  29. nash Says:

    Napier: ‘I was a member (possibly the only one) in an area the IWCA was not active in. My local work verged on being an almost solo effort because members from more active areas were reluctant to get involved and campaign in my area to try and start a local branch. The parochial nature of the IWCA by targetting a handful of areas with a reluctance to parachute campaigning members into fertile working class areas with no IWCA presence came across to me as a serious downfall of the party. In contrast, the BNP has a campaign team and truth truck touring the country to establish support in areas where the BNP is weak or not well known.’

    Clearly the BNP method is something to emulate but I think you misundersand the situation. The IWCA never had the membership levels to ‘parachute campaigning members’ around the country. It isn’t a question of strategy but of resources.

    However, that does mean a strategy will have to be devised, hopefully involving a wider federation/organisation that addresses the question of resources.

    ‘Read my second point. If the working class is severely devoid of the right talents then the IWCA may be doomed from the outset.’

    I suppose that remains to be seen – if you believe that from the start then the whole notion of a pro-working class movement is pointless. Historically that’s not been shown to be the case, though for the last 30 years or so working class people have generally been discouraged from engaging in political and campaigning activity. Whether or not you think it’s worth trying to re-activate people and change this presumably goes to the heart of where you’re coming from politically.

  30. William Laws Says:

    In response to Paul-further on I said “All effective class politics short of a revolution are battles over resources-so organisation has to be over issues of housing, education, health, debt, bailiffs, etc ” The point about Iraq is that it did have a resonance within the base of the Labour Party by demoralising yet further the people who used to be the activists for Old Labour.(As well as those working class families whose sons and daughters were killed there ) It also has implications in terms of cuts, funding of health, education etc. The point was that the BNP want to say that resources leech from the white working class to other sections of the working class when in fact resources are cut to fund tax cuts for businesses, bail out banks, fund a war etc.We need a coherent analysis of the redistribution of wealth away from the working class and that has to include footing the bill for Iraq.

    Part of rebuilding a working class movement in this country has to involve stating the facts, against the bullshit of everyone from Gordon Brown to the BNP-not just running with whats popular.

  31. Napier Says:

    nash

    ‘Clearly the BNP method is something to emulate but I think you misundersand the situation. The IWCA never had the membership levels to ‘parachute campaigning members’ around the country. It isn’t a question of strategy but of resources.’

    When Nick Griffin took over the BNP from John Tyndall in 1999 the party had just under 400 members and was nearly bankrupt after losing tens of thousands of pounds on the Euro elections that year with nothing to show from it. Only two of these members lived in Burnley.

    ‘I suppose that remains to be seen – if you believe that from the start then the whole notion of a pro-working class movement is pointless.’

    The point I am trying to make is that to build a successful political movement requires people with the right talents in the same way that to build a Lego model requires the right parts. Does the working class even have people with these talents?

  32. huejack Says:

    I was amused to see the complaint from the BNP supporter in regard to use of the term ‘fascist’ in the article.
    The euro-nationalist strategy is a sophisticated strategy to be sure, but if you check the provenance of the IWCA membership it will become apparent that they and the leadership of the BNP have crossed paths before.

    Before the replacement of brutes with suits. It is hardly ‘media led’.

    So if the IWCA are happy describing the BNP as ‘fascist’ it is because they know what of they speak.

  33. Napier Says:

    What is the IWCA policy regarding the EU? I have never been able to obtain an answer to this question.

    The formation of No2Eu could indicate that a bunch of lefties and trade unions that previously either had no policy on the EU or were pro-EU have finally seen the light. There is plenty of stuff on the No2Eu website concerning how the EU is detrimental to working class people, public services, jobs, etc. that theoretically could be pushed by the IWCA as well.

  34. nash Says:

    Napier: ‘Does the working class even have people with these talents?’

    First of all I’d direct you to my previous answer to this (which you haven’t responded to). But if that wasn’t sufficient: do you think we have sufficient evidence at this point to decide? If so what do you think? If your answer is no then I’m at a loss as to why you’re bothering to post on this site.

    ‘What is the IWCA policy regarding the EU? I have never been able to obtain an answer to this question.’

    When exactly did you ask it and who did you ask? If you’d looked at the IWCA manifesto you would see the answer to this question. Given that you say you used to be a member (heroically working on your own) I’m somewhat surprised you haven’t read the manifesto. Do you usually join/campaign for parties without checking what they stand for?

    For the benefit of other readers, though, the manifesto has no policy on the EU. When it drew up the manifesto the IWCA was deliberately at pains to avoid the trap of the Left, which is to draw up policies on absolutely everything, without the slightest chance of influencing anything. That said, circumstances have changed and policy addressing the EU may have to be drawn up.

  35. DBrum Says:

    Excellent analysis as always. I still cite the Filling the Vacuum document now to younger activists as being an astute and prophetic peice of political analysis. I was involved in militant anti-fascism in the early 90s and was also involved in initial IWCA projects in the East and West Midlands. I have had many conversations with people over the years, who were involved at the time, as to why the IWCA never progressed and the BNP have:
    1. Transition
    The nucleus of the initial IWCA groups came out of militant anti-fascist groups. Most of these people were used to operating and organising covertly. Combine this with a healthy dose of paranoia at either being nicked or attacked by fascists. Conversely, the IWCA required people to be organising openly within their communities. I also felt that this transition from one polar opposite to another required a longer time period. The initial IWCA groups moved on too quickly and left waning activists behind. There was a feeling that you were in or out and if you were out then you were cut off. This process also left people excluded and with hindsight people should have had more ownership of the decision making process.
    2. Experience
    The initial groups, having come from this militant anti-fascist background, simply didn’t have the experience, skills or diversity to move the group forward. It was predominantly young white men inexperienced in organising in a way that the IWCA required by its very nature.
    3. Size and Commitment
    Due to the issues outlined above the initial groupings were small and pooled in certain regions. This therefore restricted the IWCAs operations and influence across the country. This new way of organising also polarised the commitment of those involved. The essential aspects of organising were viewed as boring and tedious in comparison to physically confronting Fascists. This rather infantile and selfish view was more prevalent than you could imagine. People did like to think of themselves as being part of a semi-clandestine anti-fascist group and got a buzz out of physical confrontation. This is exactly where Antifa carried on from and continues to languish. Having been involved in the group a while ago, I can see the limitation in their (lack of) strategy. I can also see their unwillingness to use a variety of tactics because it’s not seen as militant enough.

    I think that the IWCA have been viewed as an anomaly. The established left view them with suspicion and confusion because they don’t fill pre-described pigeon hole. The Working Class electorate see them as a small independent fringe group. However, I see both as being attributes.
    We’ve gone beyond tipping point with the BNP and the left have no answers apart from regurgitating out-moded rhetoric. The IWCA are now more essential than ever for Working Class communities across the British Isles.

  36. Napier Says:

    The established left are irrelevant. Why lose any sleep over them or their slurs and sniping?

  37. Napier Says:

    DBrum

    ’1. Transition
    The nucleus of the initial IWCA groups came out of militant anti-fascist groups. Most of these people were used to operating and organising covertly. Combine this with a healthy dose of paranoia at either being nicked or attacked by fascists. Conversely, the IWCA required people to be organising openly within their communities. I also felt that this transition from one polar opposite to another required a longer time period. The initial IWCA groups moved on too quickly and left waning activists behind. There was a feeling that you were in or out and if you were out then you were cut off. This process also left people excluded and with hindsight people should have had more ownership of the decision making process.
    2. Experience
    The initial groups, having come from this militant anti-fascist background, simply didn’t have the experience, skills or diversity to move the group forward. It was predominantly young white men inexperienced in organising in a way that the IWCA required by its very nature.
    3. Size and Commitment
    Due to the issues outlined above the initial groupings were small and pooled in certain regions. This therefore restricted the IWCAs operations and influence across the country. This new way of organising also polarised the commitment of those involved. The essential aspects of organising were viewed as boring and tedious in comparison to physically confronting Fascists. This rather infantile and selfish view was more prevalent than you could imagine. People did like to think of themselves as being part of a semi-clandestine anti-fascist group and got a buzz out of physical confrontation. This is exactly where Antifa carried on from and continues to languish. Having been involved in the group a while ago, I can see the limitation in their (lack of) strategy. I can also see their unwillingness to use a variety of tactics because it’s not seen as militant enough.’

    The stuff about the anti-fascist groups was probably before my time but I can second other things you have said. I certainly got the feeling that an aura of secrecy hung over the IWCA and that it was operating more as a semi-clandestine society rather than an open political party. There’s plenty of secrecy in the BNP too but nothing like what I experienced in the IWCA. Eventually I concluded that the senior figures in the IWCA were hiding something – probably embarrassing – but what. Living in an inactive area made me feel that I was cut out of the loop most of the time. I believe that other members living in inactive areas were in a similar situation, being denied information from the top or allowed to contribute in decision making and policies. Longer established members regularly belittled the ideas and input of newer members and wasted the talents they had to offer. I certainly encountered members who found Lib-Dem style cracked pavement campaigning tiresome and boring. Many of these people appeared to lack the experience, or even the desire, to organise effective campaigns and came across as people who would much prefer to give their opponents a smashed face. All in all, I felt that the IWCA lacked the required calibre of people with the talents to move the outfit into a viable political force which is why I resigned from it.

  38. nash Says:

    Well, to respond to Napiers comment above:

    It’s very easy to make slurs lacking in specifics

    ‘Eventually I concluded that the senior figures in the IWCA were hiding something – probably embarrassing – but what’ – this is a typical allegation that can never be properly responded to – however open people in the IWCA are they can always be accused of harbouring secrets – no doubt embarrassing for good measure.

    ‘Living in an inactive area made me feel that I was cut out of the loop most of the time. I believe that other members living in inactive areas were in a similar situation, being denied information from the top or allowed to contribute in decision making and policies.’ – I agree that people in inactive areas were/are left out of the loop to an extent purely because of the practicalities. However, no-one was ‘denied information from the top’ or prevented from contributing to decision making. All members have the right to attend the AGM where the decision-making on policy and strategy takes place. If you couldn’t make it, too bad. Of course, activities conducted by other branches were largely under the control of those branches – that’s a consequence of autonomy.

    ‘I certainly encountered members who found Lib-Dem style cracked pavement campaigning tiresome and boring. Many of these people appeared to lack the experience, or even the desire, to organise effective campaigns and came across as people who would much prefer to give their opponents a smashed face.’ – perhaps true but any such people (presumably originally from AFA)largely chose not to get involved in the IWCA. The idea that these would have been people ‘making decisions’ from the top, or were even playing a major role in any of the active branches is ludicrous.

    ‘Longer established members regularly belittled the ideas and input of newer members and wasted the talents they had to offer.’ – perhaps the IWCA hasn’t been able to use all the talents of newer people as effectively as it might but on the other hand you also have to accept that it’s a democratic organisation. Views are argued on and decided by the majority. If other members thought you were wrong they would have said so and argued the case. How else should it be – that people should be patronised, that the majoirty to bend to the will of the minority for the sake of being nice?

    I’m also curious as to what you propose as the way forward? Fair enough, if you just want to have a go at the IWCA, but is there a point to all this?

  39. Jonathan Says:

    “Approximately a decade ago the modernised BNP, under the control of a new leader Nick Griffin, gave cause for concern when they took 26% of the vote in a council by-election in Bexley in Kent.”

    Maybe people are finally waking up to the evil, nation-wrecking ideology of “multiculturalism”?

  40. Paul Says:

    There have been some excellent points and contributions on this thread – the points from DBrum are particularly interesting (but Napier, I think we’ve all got the message now mate)

    I totally agree with DBrum that the need for the development of the IWCA is vital.

    The ‘left’ – as well as the Labour Party and the BNP also got what they deserved.

    The middle class left damage us hugely – they can only talk at the class, secretly resent it for not getting the correctness of the programme comrade, and openly express their dislike when we don’t share their snooty liberalism.

    At present they are floundering around in response to their hopeless performance electorally and banging on about reformations, popular frontism and unity. The limited analysis indicates that predicatbly they are already drawing entirely the wrong conclusions to the recent election results. However once they have decoded what Trotsky would have said they will be back – and like the BNP will be a problem if not THE problem – that needs to be countered and dealt with.

    I await IWCA developing thinking with interest, it is important work.

  41. JR Says:

    Just to take up a point with Napier. He claims that the BNP is left wing. But that is not the perception of it supporters. During the 2004 mayoral London election the Tory/ukip/bnp was demonstrably a right wing voting bloc. They shared ist and 2nd preferences between them. By contrast the overwhelming majority of the 50,000 iwca votes came from or went to Labour. The traffic between the iWCA and BNP was lower than any other party including bizarrely Respect!

  42. Paul Bartron Says:

    There are two forces in the world, one is the power of the purse or money and the other is the power of the sword. Political Power grows out of the barrel of a firearm. Chairman Mao. In the end the power of the sword always wins. In any ecomony the working class is about 95% of the population. Therefore whoever wins the loyalty of the working class will win.
    We now have a race war instead of a class war. It was the conservatives who adopted immigration as a means of destroying the power of the unions. As a result of supporting immigration Labour has committed political suicide. No worker in his right mind is going to support giving his job away to any immigrant. In 1929 the National Socialist German Labour Party had only 1.75% of the vote in 1933 Hitler came to power. If the economy continues to crash it looks like the BNP will come to power.

  43. Napier Says:

    The BNP refrains from thinking along the rigid, artificial, and outmoded lines of left wing and right wing. It much prefers to think in terms of policies. The BNP also knows that the working class is more interested in policies that appeal to them and benefit them rather than bland and vague left or right wing ideology.

    As for the 2004 mayoral elections in London, there is anecdotal evidence that people voted for the lesser of the evils. It was clear that the two winners of the first round would be Labour and Conservative, which led many voters to vote whichever was less evil for them, along with the party they really support. This resulted in a notable Conservative / UKIP / BNP bloc along with a Labour / Lib-Dem / Green / Respect bloc. Another point is that a higher than average level of Labour support in London is for NuLab meaning that ballot slips with both Labour and the BNP are likely to be rarer in percentage terms than in a similar election held in areas with large scale Old Labour support such as Durham or South Wales where the Conservatives are loathed.

  44. greenman Says:

    huejack is factually incorrect about the Green vote of late. Analysis will show that they expanded their Euro vote chiefly by going *beyond* their middle class environmentalist core vote – their Euro and council election broadcasts seem to have been specifically designed with this objective. If you look at their core target areas – particularly Norwich, they have been most successful in former Labour and Lib Dem held working class areas, some with a high level of deprivation. This has been achieved through the time honoured methods deployed by the BNP (and learnt from the Liberals) of long term community campaigning.
    The fact that the incrementally growing BNP and the growing Greens both are cross class parties currently appealing on economically left platforms (i.e. the old labour mixture) might give pause for thought to those who see the way forward as a purist working class only approach – sometimes interpreted not just income wise but culturally. Labour, even in its heyday has never been *exclusively* working class, nor even was the CPGB in the immediate pre and post war years. It is good that the IWCA is engaging in the debate about the way forward, but I would suggest that you need to seriously look at whether some of the classist/exclusivist baggage has and is likely to get in your way (as your renegade ex-member above – who now seems more favourably disposed to the BNP unfortunately – suggests)
    Being for the working class, and seeing the working class as the key to progressive political change does not have to be accompanied by an exclusivist approach. As the BNP effectively bars the talents of anyone with a different cultural/ethnic background to their narrow definition which may limit their progress (fortunately) so it seems to outsiders the IWCA rejects those who can be seen as “culturally” middle class, and as the renegade above suggests this may well restrict growth on the current political terrain as some of the skills required by modern politics are more easily found amongst culturally bourgeois or petty-bourgeois elements than amongst a *narrowly defined* working class (this is not to argue as your renegade does that these skills do not exist or cannot exist in that population sector, but that it does make conventional political progress likely to be slower and more restricted.)
    As regards the broader left, the problem with building any kind of workers party can probably be stated in one word – Trotskyism. (Variants of this ideology are probably single handedly responsible for the failure of all previous projects along these lines) Unfortunately Trotskyism remains the ideological basis of much of the British left beyond Labour and the Greens.

  45. TC Says:

    Did anyone else notice an interesting little stat in the Hazel Blears de-selection row. She survived, but the vote was 33 for 12 against her being the candidate. Now this is probably the most emotional and high profile media wise the constituency is ever likely to have. A turnout of less than 50 – whereas well supported constituencies could expect 300 -bears out the IWCA projection that not only New Labour but the ‘mother ship’ may well be on its last legs. Not exactly ‘happy days!’ considering the possible alternatives but it looks like the iWCA has called it right again.

  46. Rosa Simonetti Says:

    The IWCA is not the definitive voice of the indigenous British working class of which I am a member and I and many other indigenous British working classes support the actions of Searchlight and the UAF. Consequently, I do not agree with the IWCA’s implication that multiculturalism encourages segregation and has contributed to the ascent of the BNP who the majority of the indigenous British working class have demonstrated no solidarity for in the recent elections.

    The BNP is and will probably continue to remain a minority party as it has done since its’ inception and now the only alternative for the working class is a new type of revolutionary politics, which is in transition, referred to as anarcho primitivism or green anarchy. In paradox, for anarcho primitivism to be a success, it will initially be a political party and require election to implement a manifesto to gradually deconstruct the office of government and institutions and thus, return Britain to a status which allows for the adoption of anarcho primitivism as a viable alternative to a government.

  47. nash Says:

    Greenman is wrong about the IWCA being exclusive. It is a pro-working class party in terms of orientation, not in the sense that it retricts participants to a ‘narrowly defined’ working class.

    The Lib Dems have also, on occasions, moved into working class areas through local campaigning, just as Greenman says the Greens have. There is no evidence, though, that the Lib Dems are likely to become a major force there, so why would the Greens be?

    The problem with a cross-class appeal, as the article highlights for the BNP, is that it is impossible to reconcile the interests of two classes where these are mutually exclusive. The cross-class approach tries to pretend that such difficulties don’t exist – historically at the expense of the working class.

    The implication of Greenman’s statement that ‘some of the skills required by modern politics are more easily found amongst culturally bourgeois or petty-bourgeois elements’ and that this invalidates the IWCA approach, is effectively that the policitcal leadership of the working class must come from the middle class. This is simply unacceptable, and would be to the working class electorate if it were not fudged and class differences glossed over.

    No one is saying it will be easy but unless the working class can build a political movement of and for itself it will only continue to get worse off.

  48. Colin C. Says:

    Rosa Simonetti: “The IWCA is not the definitive voice of the indigenous British working class of which I am a member and I and many other indigenous British working classes support the actions of Searchlight and the UAF. Consequently, I do not agree with the IWCA’s implication that multiculturalism encourages segregation and has contributed to the ascent of the BNP who the majority of the indigenous British working class have demonstrated no solidarity for in the recent elections. ”
    The point is Rosa, that the IWCA has never claimed to be THE VOICE of the working class in any way. Sure that is who we want to join us and working class political ideas are what we put forward but unlike the old left, whether Labour, Leninist or whatever, we don’t claim to be handing down tablets of stone to a grateful working class. Oh, and your use of the term ‘indigenous’ suggests you’ve either never read any of the material on the IWCA website or you’re getting us mixed up with someone else.
    You’re perfectly entitled to disagree with our views on multiculturalism but I expect in that case, you also wouldn’t notice the proverbial Elephant in the sitting room.

  49. greenman Says:

    Nash – that is not what I said, or meant, at all.
    I did not say that the Greens, or the BNP for that matter are likely to become a “major force” in the same way as Labour have been, in working class communities, just that they are able to have success in overwhelmingly working class areas so long as they put the work in (as both the Greens, the BNP and earlier the Liberals have shown is possible). At the moment it looks like the main thing to replace Labour will be anti-politics and an angry feeling of powerlessness and apathy. I implied in what I said that I favoured a strategy that acknowledged the centrality of the organised working class (and the key word there is organised!) in long term political change of the type that I suspect both the IWCA, Left Greens, independent socialists and the more mature parts of the anarchists would favour. I do not draw the implication you do about the middle class leading the working class from what I observe about relevant skillsets as I do not see the conventional electoral battlefield as the most important eventually – though it has importance at this stage when a battle of ideas is going on. The most important structures for the type of change we want are workplace and community orgs, not councils or Parliament (though these have their role) – hence the leadership role is firmly the remit of working class people.
    The BNP will find incompatability in their class alliance because the reactionary elements of the middle class will seek leadership of their key power-wielding organisations – this would not be the case for a radically democratic organisation that puts workplace and community democracy in a central position.
    And that stuff about anarcho-primitivism from Rosa Simonetti is just nonsense – an ideology with few supporters beyond whacked out students, Trustafarians and the mentally ill, IMO. There is zero chance of primmos getting any foothold in the British working class (fortunately) this side of complete societal breakdown, and probably not even then.

  50. nash Says:

    Interesting points Greenman, sorry if I misinterpreted what you were saying.

    However, I still don’t follow what exactly it is you’re proposing.

    ‘I ‘implied in what I said that I favoured a strategy that acknowledged the centrality of the organised working class’.

    The point is the working class is no longer organised to any significant extent. Perhaps you aren’t claiming they are but nonetheless the question then is: how are they to be organised?

    Again, I don’t see this happening via a cross-class electoral organisation that, according to what you did say, would have to be predominantly run by middle class campaigners.

  51. Napier Says:

    Where exactly does working class end and middle class begin? Can anybody come up with a concrete answer to this question?

  52. Rosa Simonetti Says:

    Colin C: In response to your comment: “Oh, and your use of the term ‘indigenous’ suggests you’ve either never read any of the material on the IWCA website or you’re getting us mixed up with someone else.” May I advise I am neither required nor obliged to read any of the material published by the IWCA other than the article I chose to read which is titled “Labour got what it deserved – and so did the BNP” which as a complete article in entirety should explain itself with comprehension to the reader without him or her having to read the ‘author’s’ biography.

    In addition you commented to me in your post: “You’re perfectly entitled to disagree with our views on multiculturalism but I expect in that case, you also wouldn’t notice the proverbial Elephant in the sitting room.” I would be grateful if you could identify to me who this ‘elephant’ exactly is.

  53. Rosa Simonetti Says:

    Greenman: May I ask from what point of reference do you condemn anarcho primitivism as “an ideology with few supporters beyond whacked out students, Trustafarians and the mentally ill, IMO.” and claim: “There is zero chance of primmos getting any foothold in the British working class (fortunately) this side of complete societal breakdown, and probably not even then.”???

    Are you or have you ever read any literature regarding anarcho primitivism or are you aware in transition???

    P.S.
    You’ll never be a working class hero Greenman.

  54. Sam Says:

    Bristol green party admited (after the euro election) theyve “always had trouble in working class areas” and never run for election there for a bloody good reason. they wont win. so imagine somone chating the same bollocks as poll pott at your door. anarcho primitivism… jesus christ.

  55. Rosa Simonetti Says:

    In view of the IWCA’s position with regard to multiculturalism, is the IWCA able to advise as to how many of its’ members are from ethnic minorities in Britain and, if relevant, from which ethnic minority are their members from?

  56. Napier Says:

    Rosa Simonetti

    ‘Are you or have you ever read any literature regarding anarcho primitivism or are you aware in transition???’

    I have read it and find that most of it ends up being inappropriate solutions for nonexistent problems.

  57. greenman Says:

    I agree with Bookchin’s views of Primitivism. In addition I have found many of those preaching it, online or in person, to be completely out of touch with reality.
    Transition Towns and the Transition movement are an entirely different thing and most of those involved would not thank you for trying to link a rational attempt to work out strategies to cope with coming energy crises, climate change and peak oil with the mock-radical student-philosophical intellectual masturbation that passes for Primitivist “theory”.

  58. Rosa Simonetti Says:

    Napier: Your comment posted in the current context of the ecological threat to our habitat and survival as a species reads to me as naive.

    Greenman: Bookchin was, I believe, an anarcho syndicalist and a libertarian socialist, which is a curious choice of author for an individual, such as yourself, in a working class forum as both anarcho syndicalism and a libertarian socialism reflect bourgeois ideology and your comment: “ I have found many of those preaching anarcho primitivism, online or in person, to be completely out of touch with reality.” is increasingly curious as it is from an assumed member of the working class who endorses books in support of bourgeois liberal theory which originated centuries ago and has no relevance today.

    However, in response to your comment above, may I advise you I am not, in fact, out of touch with reality and in response to your additional comment which claims: “Transition Towns and the Transition movement are an entirely different thing and most of those involved would not thank you for trying to link a rational attempt to work out strategies to cope with coming energy crises, climate change and peak oil with the mock-radical student-philosophical intellectual masturbation that passes for Primitivist “theory” may I also advise it has been my experience that these organisations have welcomed and respect my opinions upon anarcho primitivism.

  59. Rosa Simonetti Says:

    Or maybe you are a bourgeois Greenman which explains much regarding your politics.

  60. Napier Says:

    Rosa Simonetti

    ‘Your comment posted in the current context of the ecological threat to our habitat and survival as a species reads to me as naive.’

    My own experience of things tells me that working / lower class people and council tenants are by and large not interested in environmental issues. Global warming or peak oil are rarely high on their agenda. Few can afford organic or natural food as they are more concerned how to feed their family on 30 quid a week. In fact, many don’t even bother to use recycling facilities and sling all their rubbish in the same bin destined for landfill. Even the kids show a stronger preference for footie or PS2 games than saving planet earth.

    The Greens have succeeded in working / lower class areas by focusing and campaigning on local issues that affect the people and promoting policies on economic and financial reform, rather than abstract issues such as global warming.

  61. Rosa Simonetti Says:

    I’m surprised at your response Napier and am interested to learn if you live in a major city in Britain and if so, what is your experience of it. I have lived in inner London all my life where in excess of 300, 000 people a year die from diseases related to air pollution. In addition to an epidemic of asthma in inner London, there is also emerging a serious and debilitating disease referred to as multiple chemical sensitivity which has recently been recognised by the World Health Organisation which is believed now to be caused by irreparable damage to the autonomic nervous system by environmental pollutants acting as neurological toxins which is now associated with an additional condition referred to as electro sensitivity. As research continues into the effects of environmental pollutants upon humans, a number of additional diseases are now suspected to be attributed to environmental toxicology amongst which are Myalgic Encephalopathy and chronic fatigue syndrome and additional diseases are expected to emerge as research continues.

    Irrespective of environmental pollutants, we have historically, as a socio economic class, have had a reduced life expectancy in comparison to other socio economic classes. And now, with the advent of the reverberations of environmental pollutants beginning to be identified, I expect the historical trend of reduced life span to not only continue but begin to accelerate in the working class because many are still detained in cities by poverty and social immobility where the environmental pollutants which are attributable to such conditions are concentrated.

  62. Nick Says:

    Another great nail-on-the-head article.

    The IWCA pilot projects achieved great success in vindicating the theory with such a limited number of activists, and showing that door to door work talking to people about dog mess was more productive on election day than the global political issues of imperialism and war.

    Also, election day was always seen as a useful gauge of opinion and effectiveness of activist work, instead of being an end in itself.

    Whatever people might say, it seems unlikely that there is a sleeping majority of ‘left’ voters just waiting for a new group to appear and save them from the BNP. The Left (if it exists in any real form) must realise that it is square one for the socialist project, and activists must win the respect of ordinary people in the same way that the BNP already has, through community work, listening and responding. I’m sure I heard of BNP meals being provided for pensioners at christmas, bring and buy sales, and this kind of thing.

    This constant local activity IS socialism from the bottom up, and although it has worked for the fascists in the UK, in other countries like Italy it is the basis of strong socialist communities.

    With the SWP also arguing for a new project for the left, I was suspicious, but its heartening to hear for once ‘We do not believe we have all the answers or a perfect prescription for a left wing alternative;’ calls for a federation instead of a party are perhaps a loosening of the hands around textbooks, and a recognition that the belligerant united front tactic might not be what’s needed this time.

    So what’s the next step? Count me in.

  63. Rosa Simonetti Says:

    Sorry, got carried away wih the zeros. It’s 3000 deaths per year which are attributed to London air pollution.

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23684480-details/Boris+told:+Cut+air+pollution+to+save+3,000+deaths+a+year/article.do

  64. JR Says:

    There is a common misconception that street politics is totally restricted to dealing with the utterly mundane and with low level issues and politics. It is of course part of it, but it is just as inevitable that the big national policies that are afterall implemented at a local level must also be contended with.

    Issues like police accountablity. or lack of it, identity politics in terms of funding, drugs, anti-social behaviour, gentrification, to name a few, which the IWCA have at one time or another either as activists or cllrs have had to address. Indeed for the most part it was the iWCA that put these items on the agenda themselves often to the horror of the local establishments; greens included.