I’ve pondered long and hard about writing a political post, but on reflection I need the thoughts I have to be out there. My thoughts may not meet with everyone’s approval.
The past couple of years or so have been frightening politically, the legitimisation of right wing, fascist so-called politicians being given an increasing platform to peddle their views has had the effect of normalising these extreme views. So much so that we have seen not only a disastrous (in mine and 48% of voters view) referendum result for the UK, a disastrous (in mine and the majority of American voters views) election result in the US and to cap it all the BBC decides it’s ok to give publicity to the Leader of the Front National of France in the form of, what I have heard, what was a very soft, unchallenging interview on the Andrew Marr show on Remembrance Sunday.
There was a time, not so long ago that giving a legitimised voice to the National Front (UK), the BNP and any other form of extreme right wing ‘party’ would have struck horror in the minds of the majority of the UK population. I remember disgust that they were allowed to have a slot on the Party Political broadcasts. To the credit of TV companies during the 70s-90s we were generally spared these people appearing on respected tv and radio programmes. Where they did appear it was often to highlight their extremism and to have a balanced view represented.
Then along came UKIP who hid their extremism by putting on a PR face, suits and ties replaced shaven heads, bomber jackets and bovver boots. The voice and face of UKIP was someone from a very privileged background who had the contacts to lever him into the public eye. He adopted the ‘common’ man image being pictured with a pint in his hand down the local. TV, radio and newspaper companies and undoubtedly ‘smart(?)’ young things in management roles thought that giving this person some time in the spotlight would raise their profile in the world of media; they could add to their CV that they increased the viewing share of their particular area. But all they have done is legitimise this vile mans views. After all aren’t the public clever enough to see through his rhetoric? Well actually No they’re not. Many people see the likes of this person on prime time slots and front pages as a way of saying actually he’s ok, he’s not scary, he’s not like the BNP/NF/Nazi party because if he was the media wouldn’t be seeking his views on day to day matters, would they?
Apparently this vile privileged man represents the views of the downtrodden working class (just like his mate in the USA). Well as someone who comes from a working class background of centuries standing, I’ve never felt that someone of privilege could ever understand, let alone represent, me (the lack of choice for representation in mainstream political parties is another subject for another day).
Blaming the working class for the rise of these people is wrong. It wasn’t the working class who booked them to appear on the BBC virtually every week for the last few years, it wasn’t the working class but the newspaper magnates that gave this man front page headlines for the past few years. And those people that booked this person or wrote about this person weren’t doing it for the good of the working class, they were doing it to increase audiences or sell newspapers to put more money into the hands of the executives and magnates.
Yes understanding that people have these views is important but reporting on their presence is very different to legitimising their views by giving them prime spots in the media which has been at the expense of our mainstream parties and politicians. That man should be treated the same way as the leaders of the BNP, NF etc were treated as they share the same views.
Some blame also lies in the hands of the mainstream parties for not using their voices, loudly, frequently and united across parties, to denounce and debunk the rhetoric of UKIP. The silence has, at times, been deafening, and during the referendum astonishing that the brexiters happily allowed UKIP to assist them in getting the outcome they wanted, again legitimising and normalising their policies.
I’ve seen comments on social media saying we need to respect these people’s views. Well I’m sorry, I’ll say it again and again, I cannot and will not respect their views. I respect their right to have alternative views, but in the same way I would never respect Hitler’s views I will not respect any other extreme right wing views. We are in grave danger of seeing the 1930s happen again. Are we asked to respect the views of terrorists? Are terrorists given a media platform to express their views and comment on government policies? That ‘respectable’ view being given to UKIP masks some very nasty policies, that will destroy all the decency that was fought for in WWII.
Normalising extremism leads to more extremism.