Saturday, January 12, 2019

What happens when mainstream politicians talk up the far right's prospects: A warning from the Isle of Dogs

Copyright © Mike Seaborne
Chris Grayling has been talking to the Daily Mail.
"It will open the door to extremist populist political forces in this country of the kind we see in other countries in Europe," Mr Grayling told the paper. 
"If MPs who represent seats that voted 70% to leave say 'sorry guys, we're still going to have freedom of movement', they will turn against the political mainstream," he added. 
"There's already a nastiness and unpleasantness in our politics, more people with extreme views, more people willing to behave in an uncivilised way," he said.
In other words, MPs must allow Brexit or the far right will benefit.

When a politician resorts to this argument, it is always a sign of desperation and can end badly. Let me give you a little history lesson.

Back in 1993 the Liberal Democrats ran the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. And the Labour opposition had a problem.

For the second time in less than a year one of their councillors in the Isle of Dogs had resigned, which had done nothing for Labour's popularity in the ward. They were worried about holding the by-election.

The strategy they hit upon was to talk up the threat the BNP posed. People were told they had to vote Labour or they would let the fascists in.

I don't know if this was meant to fight of the BNP or to prevent the Liberals get a foothold in a ward where they had never done very well. But, either way, it proved a disaster.

The voters were looking for a way to punish Labour, and the Liberals would not do as a protest vote as they ran the council.

And the message the voters heard was that if they wanted to punish Labour the way to do it was vote BNP.

With the result that the BNP won the by-election.

As soon as they had done so, the Labour Party - locally and nationally - launched an assault on the Liberals, blaming their racist campaigning for the BNP's success.

I spent a morning delivering in the by-election and there was nothing wrong with the leaflet I was given, but that is beside the point here.

Because it was Labour's tactic of talking them up that did much to help the BNP to victoryin an area of traditional Labour strength.

Similarly, what voters who are angry about the way Brexit has gone will hear today is Chris Grayling telling them that they should turn to the far right.

What they should do is turn their anger on the mainstream Conservatives who made them impossible promises in the referendum campaign and have continued to do so to this day.
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
Chris Grayling is a good example of such a politician.


nigel hunter said...

Grayling can also be called out AS selling Project Fear what the remainers were blamed for in the past, now he is selling it what a crazy U-turn.

nigel hunter said...

Graylings comments also remind me of Chamberlains comment when visiting Hitler. Appeasement did not work then or now.