24 May 2009

For a Church that supposedly lacks moral leadership, these guys are doing a damned good job

Absolutely excellent intervention by Church of England Archbishops Rowan Williams and John Sentamu on the BNP today. Basically saying "please do not vote for these people under any circumstances". 

The C of E is often accused of lacking "moral leadership" but on this issue the archbishops have grasped the nettle and rightly so. 

The BNP's Nick Griffin says it is time the church "grew up" and started talking to them about issues. 

Well, one issue is that a message of hate for anyone non-British (which is the BNP's basic stance - that's what the 'voluntary repatriation policy' boils down to) seems to my, admittedly not well-informed religious compass, fundamentally at odds with any reasonable interpretation of the Christian message. 

I went to a (C of E) Christening service for a family relative's baby in Halifax a few years back. The priest's sermon was in many ways woeful - he went on a diatribe against gay priests while saying that although he himself had split up with his wife, that was OK because "it's above board and everybody knows about it". It was like something out of a David Peace novel. So the guy was objectionable and woefully inconsistent, but even so, he still spent ten minutes explaining why it was important to mobilise against the BNP in Halifax and encouraging people to attend public marches and demonstrations. 

The Church of England has many faults (although not as many, I would argue, as the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches, both of which are far more reactionary in most ways)  but putting up with fascism isn't one of them. And Amen to that.

Also big props to Polly Toynbee of the British Humanist Association, who issued a statement supporting the archbishops. If we can get (sane) non-religious people and (sane) religious people pulling in the same direction on these issues, that's got to be the way forward. 


Van Patten said...

What's bizarre here is that if you actually tap into the BNP website and examine what they're advocating, effectively their policies are in many ways more similar to the Hard Left then New Labour. Massively increased public expenditure (not admittedly in every area that you have advocated) but their way of tackling the recession seems to have taken a leaf straight out of your book, with huge increases in, for example, infrastructure spending on things such as social housing and the transport network.

I think you're right to suggest, however, an approach along the lines of that advocated (and practised) by Jon Cruddas. The days of the BNP relying on ' their mate Dave' to come up with the economic policy are sadly departed. These people need to be tackled on a street by street basis. Furthermore, measures such as ensuring that in constituencies where ethnic tensions run high Elderly people from ethnic minorities are not prevented from voting at polling stations will hopefully do something to mitigate their impact. High turnouts are usually the enemy of extremist parties.

However, I think the underlying cause of their seemingly inexorable ascent is immigration, and the management thereof. Sadly wishful thinking will not allow 200,000 more people a year into an area as crowded as the South East of England. (The most crowded part of the EU) Until certain underlying problems and infrastructure issues are resolved regarding this, I hate to say it , but they look to be ploughing a rather bountiful furrow, and a BNP MEP looks to have an air of inevitability about it, especially in the wake of Expensegate, and the general contempt in which the political class are held.

My last post indicating that I was 'hopeful' that they would gain 5th place is not meant as an expression of approval for this rather ramshackle mishmash of contradictory policies. However, I apologise for any wrong impression that may have been given

giroscoper said...

That's interesting. The fascist prescription for economic success was of course built on the Keynesian insight that infrastructure spending creates increases in GDP via multiplier effects. Of course this was also the US prescription for economic growth from the end of the World War 2 onwards via Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex".

That's a very important point about getting people to the polling station, and I hope all the major parties will be combining their efforts to stop intimidation at polling stations. Low turnout is a persistent feature of the Euro elections though - which in part explains the failure of UKIP to break through. If people really were that bothered about the EU, turnout for the Euro election would be at the level of national elections - or higher.

I agree that additional population density in the South East of England does create huge pressures on infrastructure, and this is a huge issue that the main parties need to face - not by sending people 'home' or limiting immigration further, but by providing the infrastructure (which would boost the economy via the multiplier effects anyway - ironically this is the small part of the equation that the BNP have actually got right).

I didn't think you were seriously advocating a strong BNP performance but the danger was that taken out of context your comment on the previous post could have been misinterpreted.