The Times has two reports up today about the BNP. One is a story and the other is an editorial. Needless to say, the BNP doesn’t come out looking well in either one.
First, the story – which reminds me of the 2007 post about Swedish postal authorities refusing to deliver the Sweden Democrats’ campaign materials.
Do Britain’s postal workers have a different set of rules than those in the US? Or is this a new trend? For the moment, I can say “it’s not happening here”, but who knows, maybe this new “freedom” the postmen have in the UK will begin to blossom in America, too:
Postal workers are refusing to deliver British National Party election leaflets because they object to its “right-wing rubbish”.
About 100 workers in the West Country have told union leaders that they will not carry the leaflets, which bear an anti-immigration message.
They have accused Royal Mail chiefs in Bristol and Somerset of “bullying”, with one office allegedly threatening workers with dismissal if they do not comply.
The Communication Workers Union says that Royal Mail is breaking a “conscience clause” agreed four years ago that allows staff to refuse to deliver literature they find offensive.
A “conscience clause”??? For the mail??? Are these people serious? So if I’m hired to deliver the mail and I don’t like the magazines you’ve subscribed to, I can just dump them in the nearest bin? Hmm…I can see the temptations. One could conveniently “lose” a great many solicitation letters from groups that didn’t meet one’s personal standards of the true and the good.
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Dave Wilshire, spokesman for the Bristol and District Branch of the CWU, said: “Over the past 48 hours I’ve had around 32 calls from individual members and those speaking on behalf of groups, saying they don’t want to deliver the material.
“That is fair enough. The clause says members don’t have to deliver material if they feel threatened or if it is against their personal beliefs.
“In Bristol we have the St Paul’s area which has a very high density of those from ethnic backgrounds. Anyone being expected to post BNP stuff through there is going to feel at risk.
What he’s saying is that Bristol has an area of Britain in which the rule of law has ceased to operate. That is pitiful.
“Managers in Bristol are effectively bullying people.”
He added that it was “outrageous” that some had been threatened with losing their jobs.
One postman working in the Fishponds area of Bristol, said that his route bordered two ethnic-minority areas and it was “concerning” to be made to deliver inflammatory material.
He told the Western Daily Press: “We are being forced by management to give out the BNP material even though it’s against my beliefs – everyone knows what they stand for.
I love this: indoctrination really works. “everyone knows”…this is not a democratic culture, this is being a bully, using the tactic of shunning. In this case, shunning the BNP, because “everyone knows what they stand for.”
This person has had the full re-education camp training:
“We are being made to dish out this rubbish. I’ve read the BNP literature and although there isn’t anything racist or fascist on it, it does say ‘No to immigration’.”
This is surreal. No racism, no fascism, but those awful BNP leaflets want to limit immigration to a country that is already overwhelmed with immigrants, thus they are “rubbish”.
Simon Darby, BNP spokesman, said: “We have a contract with the Royal Mail to deliver some 29 million BNP leaflets. Some will be binned by Labour-supporting postmen who want to corrupt the democratic process, but it is a question of cutting that down.
“People will make up their own minds about the Communication Workers Union telling people what to do. This is the sort of thing that is happening in Zimbabwe.”
So if they have a contract with the Royal Mail, can the British National Party sue them for breach of contract? If this conscience clause in the workers’ union allows for pick-and-choose mail delivery, then the Royal-Pain-in-the-Ass-Mail should have told the BNP that due to their workers’ “rights”, management could not guarantee delivery. Somehow I doubt they did that. In a world where reality was still on top, the BNP would be able to bring suit against these people.
Royal Mail said: “Where possible we will try to be flexible and sensitive to individual personal circumstances or beliefs.
“However, we need to balance this with Royal Mail’s legal obligations under the Representation of the People Act, to deliver election material.”
Good luck with reconciling those two principles, Jack.
But that’s not all The Times has on offer today about the BNP. Here’s a follow-up editorial on the party’s tactics to win over voters by putting the skinhead members in the closet:
British National party (BNP) skinheads are being urged to cover up their shaven scalps as the far-right group seeks to present a new, more respectable image, according to a leaked internal “war book”.
Polling experts believe the antiimmigration party led by Nick Griffin has a chance of picking up its first seats in the European parliament in June by capitalising on recession-fuelled rows over “British jobs for British workers”.
A handbook distributed to activists discloses how the BNP, which has already won a string of council by-elections, plans to soften its extremist reputation and appeal to potential supporters as an “alternative extended family”.
The manual for activists includes: Orders to “make sure your team are tidily dressed and look presentable. No naked torsos in summer, unshaven scruffs or skinhead haircuts (put them in caps or hats)”. Suggestions for the use of internet blogs to attack opponents, including ostensibly independent local blogs that “help us to collect and disseminate material damaging to other parties”. Ideas for reviving St George’s Day traditions to combat the “growing power of Islam”.
Interesting. This sounds like the handbook any political party or community organizing group distributes to volunteers. As one commenter on this editorial put it:
“ Is this article serious?
As a steadfast Tory I look in on the BNP website from time to time to see what policies they are trying to steal this week. This handbook has been freely available for at least a year, probably longer.
My wife now votes BNP, this kind of journalism is partly why.
Ah, yes. But now that the elections draw nearer, the Times has to put the paranoid spin on the BNP, complete with hex signs:
The handbook urges activists to rebrand the BNP by always using its full name. “The initials BNP have to an extent been turned into a demonised tag by the media,” it says. “‘British National party’ sounds more reasonable and comfortable.”
Obviously, the writer doesn’t see the irony in choosing this quote from the handbook, since he is one of those very same demonisers.
The handbook adds: “Millions of people live very lonely and isolated lives. The decline of the family and the break-up of communities mean there is a big gap in [their] lives. Filling that gap, giving people an ‘alternative extended family’, is the most powerful recruiting tool.”
A spokesman for the campaign group Searchlight said: “This booklet exposes the reality behind the BNP mask of respectability. What other political party feels the need to ask its senior organisers to be careful not to get caught discussing their plans for violent behaviour on the internet?”
Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP, defended its tactics: “We switched to recruiting on the net because we do not get a fair crack from the traditional media.”
“Searchlight”, at least from reading its website, is hardly a campaign group unless you define as a “campaign” their apparent mission to harass the BNP out of existence.
I recommend looking at the comments sections on both of the Times articles. Here’s one representative response (and more than 90% of them are positive):
Surely the media should declare an interest in BNP bashing. If the BNP receive more votes and seats the media will be forced to report on them impartially and in a balanced fashion – something that does not happen at present. This balanced reporting would require reports from non NUJ members.
Britain is definitely living in interesting times. It will take great intestinal fortitude not to cut and run from this top-down mess.
Not that America is not in a similar pickle…