Saturday, 18 April 2009

Is there no such thing as 'bad' publicity?

This is the question that was troubling me when I read an article in Thursday's South Wales Evening Post on the BNP's forays into Carmarthenshire. Even in an article where this unpleasant little far right outfit is being condemned by all the mainstream political parties I wondered, could they possibly benefit from their profile being raised in this way?

As a Muslim I am well aware of the debates going on within Muslim communities across Britain about the best way to marginalise extremists in our own midst and it is always a question of 'Let them be heard so their arguments can be challenged publicly, don't force them underground or you increase their mystique and appeal' versus 'Don't help their message of hate reach further than their limited appeal or finances already allows'.

How many people are aware of the BNP's origins and their real views? The BBC's Panorama programme 'Under the Skin' exposed them brilliantly in November 2001, but how many of us remember the documentary? So now they have memorised new lines for use on the doorstep, hiding the language of the past that would instantly repel the ordinary decent person. They have worked hard at disguising themselves, discarding the thug's uniform in favour of the politician's suit. I worried how many people might be taken in by the political equivalent of the confidence trickster who pretends to be a workman (fluorescent jacket, hard hat etc) in order to gain entry into an unsuspecting elderly person's home. I felt a bit let down that a Welsh newspaper with a decent circulation would give them a platform in this way.

Then I spotted the article directly across from it on the opposite page 'Bid to halt con artists' about a new initiative launched in Swansea called 'Scambusters' that would help tackle the con merchants who prey upon the trusting public. I would like to think the positioning of the article by the editorial staff was not co-incidental.


  1. I was out on an anti-BNP march a couple of weeks ago in Llanelli and we were all asking the same questions.

    The reality is that the leaderships of all the mainstream political parties seem so out of touch with the electorate. That gives parties like the BNP the space to recruit more supporters.

  2. Totally agree. The mainstream political parties must accept a certain amount of responsibility for the improvement in the fortunes of the BNP of late.
    The mainstream parties must address the issues of concern to the average man and woman in the street. Some of these concerns are legitimate and require urgent attention; others have resulted from real and imagined threats often talked up in the media to give a distorted sense of proportion. We expect the mainstream parties to know the difference between the two and make the arguments to the electorate.
    The current climate of terrorism and economic uncertainty is fertile ground for fascist groups, especially when the major parties look either weak or ineffectual, or are dogged by sleaze and scandal. Into this vacuum will step the likes of the BNP and their sister parties in Europe. They will play to every fear and popular need of the general public and promise the sky. If we have learnt anything from European history it is that we know how all this will end - IF those who can still discern right from wrong remain complacent about the threat we face.