Not Waving, RA Vol 4, Issue 4, Dec '99/Jan '00

Searchlight Conference in Birmingham

Of late the Searchlight team have circumnavigated the difficult questions that arise from any credible analysis of the state of British politics, and it’s possible consequences for the Far Right. However on November 10th Searchlight, in conjunction with B’ham Racial Attacks Monitoring Unit (BRAMU) hosted the first of three one-day conferences entitled ‘Combating Fascism in the Community’. Most of the ‘workshops’ were of no particular interest to AFA, and were as far ‘off the mark’ as not to warrant attention. However, one of the early seminars set out to summarise a recent history of fascism and anti-fascism in the Midlands, the discussion being led by Searchlight assistant editor Nick Lowles. Along the way the nervously honest Lowles made a number of interesting statements that confirm Searchlight magazine’s tendentious avoidance of political reality.

Under the ‘younger, more dynamic, media friendly’ Griffin ‘the quality of intake is getting better - attracting people with more money from a less overtly nazi background.’ The BNP, according to Lowles is now ‘much more effective, and led by much more able people’. He also cited a 41% membership growth in the last twelve months, estimating a paid membership of around 1,500 (in spite of the fact that the BNP issued 2,000 postal ballot papers for the Tyndall/Griffin contest). He went on to outline the BNP’s orientation towards community politics, be it in the Green belt or the inner cities (‘the BNP have been making a big issue of pedophilia’ - the alternative view of course is that pedophiles are a big issue because communities say so, and rightly so, and the BNP just set their sails to the wind).

Searchlight concludes that most of the new recruitment has come through the Internet - ‘where the BNP can relay their message uncontested: No mention of AFA, and no actual examples of how that ‘contest’ was fought.

The national BNP focus for next May’s elections, Lowles reckoned, would be the Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall areas. ‘The BNP have set themselves a target of gaining a West Midlands seat within the next two years’, he stated. ‘A victory like this would make people think that a vote for the BNP was no longer a wasted vote, and open the doors for the future.’ Yet when asked five minutes later whether he believed there would be a repetition of Europe here he replied, ‘I say no -although they will probably secure members and votes from London, West Midlands, the northwest, Dewsbury, Halifax and West Yorkshire.’ Allowing for areas missed off the list, such as the southwest and north­east, that’s just about every city and conurbation in England covered anyway. A glaring contradiction from his earlier dirge.

If Searchlight can privately admit that ‘anybody but fascists’ is not enough to address working class grievances then they should do so publicly, consequently severing State ties, and abandoning their liberal bourgeois clientele in the process. Instead their analysis is so diluted and censored the reader could be forgiven for thinking that British fascists are inept to the point of virtual extinction. ‘The BNP will not enter the British mainstream’, he reported confidently, because of ‘the inevitable conflict between urban racism and middle England. Also Britain hasn’t got a tradition of fascism. Our own nationalism is geared towards competing within Europe’. Perhaps this confused and hastily beat together analysis explains why Searchlight and all their minions don’t actually have a plan, because they feel they don’t need one. However, Nick Lowles returned to his confessional to conclude the seminar with a single line postscript, ‘We need to offer political, economic and cultural alternatives to the BNP.’ A series of fund-raising cheese and wine evenings perhaps, followed by some hearty after dinner endorsement of the prevention of terrorism bill; there, that should do it.

Bob Martin

Reproduced from RA Vol 4, Issue 4, Dec '99/Jan '00