Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 23 November 2008

BNP List - My Thoughts

I have a few points to make about this whole BNP debacle that has occured recently. I have been away abroad on business so have only been dipping in and out of it.

1) I very strongly feel that it is a bad idea and dangerous to ban people from certain jobs because of their politcal views or membership of a political party. I understand that it is not illegal for BNP members to work for the police and that it is the police themselves who stipulate this rule but it is still a bad idea. Doing this will not prevent people with views that are abhorrent (to me and most others) from joining the police etc. It will just make them more furtive in their views and activities. And this way it will make it harder for others to engage with them and challenge them on their views.

2) I have heard people make the point about McCarthyism and also seen it casually dismissed but it is dangerous to dismiss the comparison so lightly. Of course we are not in a situation as extreme as the US with respect to Communism in the 50's but it is the thin end of the same wedge. Persecuting people because of their politcal views will not improve things. It will only make them worse and allow them to play the victim card.

3) I am a strong advocate of electoral reform as I have mentioned before on this blog (I favour the ERS model of STV in case anyone is interested) and have been active in and around the movement for a few years. One of the arguments used against reform of the current system is that extreme parties like the BNP may end up with seats in parliament (although that is unlikely with the ERS model but I concede it could happen in certain cases) if PR was introduced. There is a reticence to engage with this issue within the electoral reform movement in my experience and I have often heard things like "we can set a threshold so they won't get in" etc. I have said a number of times to others in the movement that as far as I am concerned, if 2% of the population of this country vote for the BNP, they should get 2% of the seats in parliament. This is a very unpopular view amongst many but I stick by it. The only way to change peoples views on this (over time) is to engage in debate. If this means allowing the representation and then taking them on then so be it. Gerrymandering the system to avoid the respresentation is anti-democratic in my view.

4) I would like to end on a personal note. One of my childhood friends who I am still in touch with is a long time supporter of the BNP's views. I am not sure if he is a member although I have certainly heard him talking about potentially joining them. He is an articulate intelligent middle class man with a wife and children. I profoundly disagree with his views in this area and have had a number of arguments with him over the years. I get the feeling his views have mellowed somewhat in the last few years but I think he still holds the same core views. However I am still his friend and I value his friendship - he is a great guy in a lot of other ways (funny, fiercely loyal, brave etc.). He is not a monster, or an idiot, he is just in my view very misguided in some of the views he holds. I am hopeful that he will eventually come around to my way of thinking but I cannot force him to and I will not ditch him as a friend because of these views he holds. I have many friends with many different views on many different things and I consider him falling within this rich tapestry.

I suppose some may say that I am in a fairly privileged, middle class position living in a nice town in the SE, good job, wife etc. and that I am being naive because I do not have to daily face the ugly reality and consequences of these sorts of views. I do not have to daily and that would be a fair point which I readily concede. However I would just come back to what is my core point that you don't win arguments by banning people from the table of debate.

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