Critique of explanation on Marxist.com concerning the BNP

posted 13 May 2010, 16:33 by Admin uk   [ updated 21 May 2010, 03:03 ]

KarlMarx.net has received the following regarding a Socialist Appeal article by Rob Sewell and Fred Weston on In Defence of Marxism website  

http://www.marxist.com/britains-contradictory-election-results.htm 

The following is an excerpt from the article with critical comments in caps. 

<As we have seen, in the local elections, Labour did well. They managed to seize back Sheffield and Liverpool councils from the Lib Dems and wiped out the British National Party in Barking and Dagenham, which lost all its 12 councillors. The BNP were also hammered by Labour in Stoke, forcing it into third place, and in Burnley. Across the country they lost 24 seats and only managed to hold on to a mere 19. 

This shows the weakness of the BNP which can be swept aside when the class moves. CAN THIS ELECTION REALLY BE DESCRIBED AS “THE CLASS MOVES” ? I THOUGHT THE PREDOMINANT TREND WAS A SWING, ESEPCIALLY AMONG THAT SECTION OF THE WORKING CLASS THE RESEARCHERS CALL THE C2s, TO THE TORIES. Again, the analysis of the Marxists on the so-called “threat of fascism” was confirmed. NOT EVEN THE MOST ULTRA LEFT CLAIMED THERE WAS A THREAT OF FASCISM. BUT 12 BNP COUNCILLORS HAD BEEN ELECTED AND NOBODY COULD KNOW FOR SURE THAT THEY WOULD NOT MAKE FURTHER ADVANCES. We have explained that the historical basis for fascism has been whittled away during decades in which the overwhelming majority of the population has been proletarianised. THOUGH GENERALLY TRUE THIS COMPLETELY FAILS TO EXPLAIN HOW THE BNP GET 12 COUNCILLORS ELECTED. Not so long ago the media was full of reports about the “racism” of working class people in places like Dagenham. Now what will they have to say? With a greater turnout of working class voters, the BNP was smashed, and all its seats were lost to Labour. WHY WAS THERE A HIGHER TURNOUT – PERHAPS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT THE BNP SUCCESS AND THE MASSIVE PUBLICITY AND CAMPAIGN ALERTED MANY VOTERS TO THE DANGER? 

Labour succeeded in gaining fourteen councils, including Enfield, Coventry, Doncaster, Hartlepool, Oxford and St Helens, and increasing its number of councillors nationally by nearly 400. The London borough of Newham is 100% Labour, with all the opposition cleared out. It also regained Barnet. In Tower Hamlets, we have more Labour councillors today than at any time since 1982. In London as elsewhere, the areas where most Blacks and Asians live came out solidly for Labour. 

Labour held on and advanced in most of its working class strongholds. In Barking, Nick Griffin of the BNP was standing, hoping to build on their earlier successes in the council elections. But Labour pushed Nick Griffin into third place, a humiliating experience which will no doubt provoke a crisis inside the BNP, and possibly even splits at a later stage. 

It is a fact that the workers rallied to Labour to defeat the racists. The UAF’s role was minimal, simply trying to frighten people by shouting about the “dangers of fascism”. Apart from a few leaflets, all their propaganda was concentrated upon calling for workers to vote anything, including the Tories or UKIP, but not the BNP. This reveals the total lack of understanding of the UAF as to what is really required. Right-wing Tories and UKIP are equally racist. Therefore to call for a vote for these parties as if they were somehow better is utter nonsense, and working class people cannot connect to such propaganda. (our emphasis) DESPITE THE POLITICAL WEAKNESSES OF UAF THIS IS A PETTY SECTARIAN ATTACK WHICH INSULTS HUNDREDS, INDEED THOUSANDS OF SINCERE ACTIVISTS OVER THE PAST YEAR, WHO HAVE WORKED IN THE LOCAL AREA FROM THE BEST OF MOTIVES. A QUICK INTERNET SEARCH WOULD HAVE REVEALED TO THE AUTHORS THAT THERE HAS BEEN A BIG AND SUSTAINED CAMPAIGN WHICH ALMOST CERTAINLY CONTRIBUTED TO PUBLIC AWARENESS OF THE BNP DANGER. 

What the vote in Barking and Dagenham reveals is that after a period on the council the BNP has been exposed somewhat, and despite a poor official campaign by Labour, THE AUTHORS HAVE SPENT MUCH INK RIDICULING THE SO-CALLED ‘SECTS’ FOR THEIR ELECTORAL FAILURE AND LAUDING THEIR OWN UNDERSTANDING OF LABOUR’S ROLE FROM THE COMFORT OF THEIR OFFICES BUT THEY MADE NO CONTRIBUTION TO ANY REAL CAMAPIGN OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER  workers rallied to vote Labour into Parliament and the council, taking 51 seats out of 51.> 

THE PURPOSE OF THIS BIZARRE ATTACK IS UTTERLY SECTARIAN. Their much vaunted “analysis of fascism” is elevated to a timeless and totally unmarxist determinism that ignores the complex of factors at work in local situations. It's not true that there was some huge movement of the class. And local election results are often times for protest votes etc. Sewell and Weston are just smearing the other left groups (who do have a tendency to exaggerate the threat) in order to innoculate their own small group of supporters against them. These methods contribute nothing to the fight against the fascists, who do cause real and serious damage within many of our communities – and even less for the struggle to build support for the socialist alternative.

Note
although the following is not a Marxist analysis by any means it does demonstrate some familiarity with the realities of the campaign:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/14/general-election-2010-fall-bnp
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