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The far right, the cuts, and what to do about it

July 29, 2011

So, in the aftermath of the whole Norway thing, there’s a lot of people talking about how awful the far right are, the misguided opinions of the EDL, and how these people are just _wrong_.

Well, yes, but there’s more to it than that. There are currently a lot of people in this country who are priced out of education, who look around their towns and cities and see no jobs. They see their friends working hard, they see children whose clothes don’t fit. They see parents going hungry so their children can eat, and sleeping on sofas because they can’t afford a bigger house, and Jake and Sarah can’t share a room now they’re teenagers.

And they see weekly, sometimes daily, news stories about apparently extravagant state support for other people, and moral panic about immigration.

The left needs to engage with these people. Their concerns are legitimate. I can’t currently link to other blog posts, cos I’m on my phone, but there have been various people much cleverer than me talking about a couple of things which are relevant here; the need for better and clearer literature about the causes of the current economic situation, about how that affects individuals (economics is hard – some simple primers would be useful), who is really responsible, and most importantly, what we can do about it.

It is very tempting to dismiss everyone who sympathises with the EDL and it’s related organisation, tempting, but unproductive and maybe even damaging. We would do far better to try and recruit them. We can offer a far more accurate explaination of the reasons for their current situation – one many of us share – and a more productive and friendly response.

Or, y’know, we could carry on letting the politicians/bankers/police/right wing press whup our asses with their current individualist divide and conquer strategy.


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  1. Anonymous permalink

    I’ve been saying exactly this for a while – usually in response to someone saying something like ‘anyone who supports these nutters must be either thick or just plain wrong’. The kind of support people like the EDL or the BNP have in my hometown is insane. If you ask some of them, they’ll say they don’t really agree with the more extreme parts of this kind of stuff – but they don’t see anyone else standing up for them. Hell, there’s examples of this in my family, much as I wish there weren’t.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    If you want me to explain to you the whole thing with financial deregulation, CDOs, CDSs, Subprime mortgages etc, then no probs, happy to. I can also lend you “inside job” which is a really good watch for this stuff.

    Who is reponisble (for the recession) – politicians for about thirty years of all persuasions and economoists/bank presidents. The UK has not been helped because of all the borrowing we did 2001-2007; billions in consumer debt and government debt. People were borrowing aganist artificially inflated house prices and spending on holidays. If you can’t see the lunacy in turning unsecured debt into secured debt, I can explain that too. The Labour Gov borrowed billions of pounds and spent it on all sorts of things, and resorted to off balance sheet debt to cover other things. PFI deal anyone?

    On folks that you would have “the left” connect with, you may wish to consider what happened to them (or not), the last time that the left connected. Thatcher had closed heavy industry (more accurately, globalisation did), and they were waiting for Tony and Gordon to fix it. Which they didn’t. The guys looking at the EDL etc were in Old Labour’s pockets; New Labour really dropped the ball for them. Remember that woman that Gordon called a racist during the election?

    Good Luck though. And as I said, very happy to point you to some resources on this stuff, or talk through in person.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    I’m aware of the causes of the recession, have seen Inside Job, read Treasure Islands and keep up to date with all of that stuff. My point wasn’t that I would like this information, but that it would be good to have this information in an easier format. I have had a hard time getting up to date with all of this information, and I have a generally good level of education and am quite advantaged to start with. My point was that a lot of people who end up siding with the EDL don’t have those advantages. A lot of people are intimidated by the steep learning curve involved with understanding economics.

    I take your point about being careful what you wish for when connecting with groups, but I think the dangers of not doing so are greater. There is a lot of fear around at the moment, and it is very easy for scared people to do things without thinking them through. In the case of the EDL, it seems that they are looking at the wrong bogey-man. Their website talks about the dangers of sharia law, and of there being different laws for different people in the same country. However, if there is anything that the recent NOTW revelations and the crash of 2008 and it’s consequences has shown us, it is that there are a fairly large number of very powerful people in this country who do not feel that criminal and tax law applies to them, and that we are letting them get away with it.

    Therefore, my point is that the conversation that the left is having at the moment (press regulation, parliamentary and police accountability, tax equality etc) really needs to engage with those who are seeing the same problems and coming up with different and more socially damaging solutions.

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