Sunday, 7 June 2009

Signs of the Times?

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m driving home into Birmingham. I’ve just come off the M42 and am stopped at the traffic lights on the junction. The car in front of me has a clearly visible BNP poster in the back window – ‘People like you voting BNP.’

I saw an identical one last week in the front window of a house in Shrewsbury. When I was younger I used to be active in an anti-fascist group, and so things like this grab my attention. Before these elections I had never seen this kind of open, everyday identification with the BNP anywhere.

The trouble for the Left these days is that Labour have not only discredited themselves, but have dragged down a lot of good ideas with them. By pursuing equality along such lines as race, gender, and sexuality while attempting to sweep the class divide under the carpet they have not only alienated a large part of their traditional constituency, but have created the impression in that constituency that equality is something that happens to other people at your expense.

I think there are a lot of white working class people who are wondering who exactly is on their side anymore (or even prepared to acknowledge their existence) and who are coming to the sorry conclusion that it is the BNP or no-one.

I look at the guy in the car in front, but all I can really see is the back of his head. Maybe a few years ago he would have been looking nervously around him whenever he had to stop in traffic, and maybe the residents of the house in Shrewsbury would have found themselves needing a glazier.

But perhaps this is the beginnings of a sea-change in the kind of politics that it is socially acceptable to support? How many Labour posters have you seen in peoples’ cars and houses this time round?

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