Thursday, October 01, 2009

Identity Crisis

Listening to: 'Time After Time' by Eva Cassidy [Time After Time]

I've wanted to blog about the British National Party (BNP) for a while now. Aside from the usual excuses, I've been putting it off because I didn't actually want to check out their website, but I also didn't want to base my opinion on hearsay. Today Radio 1 ran two interviews on Newsbeat: a pre-recorded interview with two 'young' BNP members (you can read the transcript here), and a live interview with the BNP leader (based on listener responses to the first interview). After hearing those interviews (and - as a result - wanting to punch something for most of the afternoon), I had a look at the website (which I won't link to; google it yourself if you must) and decided it's time to blog about it.

The BNP presents itself as a political party, but it speaks like a lobbying group. It seems to base all its solutions to Britain's problems on one principle: that Britain exists solely for the ethnically British - everyone else is unwelcome. The mission statement begins with -
The British National Party exists to secure a future for the indigenous peoples of these islands in the North Atlantic which have been our homeland for millennia.
Their definition of indigenous Brits is
...the people whose ancestors were the earliest settlers here after the last great Ice Age and which have been complemented by the historic migrations from mainland Europe.
They go on to say that -
The migrations of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Norse and closely related kindred peoples have been, over the past few thousands years, instrumental in defining the character of our family of nations.
OK yes, technically they're right. Descendants of these European communities are the only people qualified to call themselves ethnically British. The problem I have, is that they believe that Britain doesn't belong to anyone else. Not the descendants of African slaves forcibly brought to the UK by these 'pure-bred' Brits themselves, not the offspring of mixed marriages between pure-bred Brits and others...not anyone that considers themselves culturally (but not ethnically) British.

The BNP seems to think that everything bad in this country is the fault of immigrants. There appears to be a fear that ethnic Brits will be wiped out because of immigrants (though considering the birth rate amongst chavs, I think that's highly unlikely). Multiculturalism is bad for Britain, apparently. OK, if that's the case, let's get rid of every single foreign influence in modern Britain. We're left with half a national cricket team, half a national football team (and virtually no Premier League), no 'favourite national food', no spices, no tropical fruits, no Guy Fawkes' night, no tea, no coffee...I could go on. Yes I'm exaggerating, but you get my point. The idea that someone could think that multiculturalism is bad for a country is beyond me. Positive evidence is all around us. I'm not saying that there aren't negative repercussions of heavy immigration, but to replace one extreme with another is totally and utterly, for lack of a better word, daft.

What the BNP is doing (and scarily becoming more successful at doing) is exploiting the xenophobic tendencies of the average ethnic Brit. I've said before that xenophobia is rampant and normal in a multicultural society...the BNP are acting as firestarters and turning that xenophobia into racism. As disappointed as I am that people are voting for the BNP, I can't say I'm surprised. Different sections of British society have been let down time and again by the major political players, and this romantic notion of birthright is attractive to many. I just hope Labour and the Tories (and the LibDems, in theory at least) wake up in time.

But all this talk of being 'ethnically' British versus 'culturally' British has got me thinking: do we have to be ethnically linked to a place in order to call it home? Using a similar definition to that used by the BNP, I am 'ethnically' Sri Lankan (they don't differentiate between races, so neither will I)...but 'culturally'? I guess Sri Lankan and British. Now does being culturally British mean I have to stop thinking of myself as culturally Sri Lankan? Does being ethnically Sri Lankan mean that I can't think of myself as culturally British? Does one have to be both ethnically and culturally 'pure' in order to be accepted by a society? I have touched on this topic before, but I'm nowhere nearer to finding an answer. Will I ever find one? Only time will tell.


  1. You can think of you as a Kalu Suddha. That'll do.

  2. The BNP are cunts. That's all there is to say about them. I can't say I'm surprised people vote for them because there are plenty of stupid people in this country (or world for that matter!). Hey back in the day the Germans elected a certain Mr Adolf remember?

    Any group that defines itself and excludes others based on something the members never had any say over (such as race and ethnicity) get my goat. I guess that's why I'm not a racist but I can be somewhat 'religion-ist'.

  3. Well, the sun has set on the British Empire and it is slowly falling in to the abyss. British politics have gone to the dogs – corruption reigns morally and physically. These theories of land ownership is rubbish; its just like the Jews claiming Palestine. Where, or at which century, do we draw the line? If we turn back the clock, Australia belongs to the aborigines and America belongs to the (Red) Indians. I think the parties that are built on petty politics and personal agendas should be banned, wherever they are – be it in the UK, Sri Lanka or Australia.


    And thank you for not including the links.

  4. Very wise to principally omit the links. The BNP will die, how long it will take is hard to say, the day radicalism of any other ethnic group dies the radicalism of the BNP Ideology will die too. I dont have to say that I am against the BNP ideology, now thats quite obvious by all things written in my blog - but the BNP will always have reason to exist so long as the ethnically non british/or even the supposedly original british behave in manners which may be "culturally" un-british.

    One radical ideology complements the other, with tamil nationalism in the north ceasing to exist (momentarily or not is hard to say) sinhala radicalism in the south is fast running out of options to exist, the JVP and JHU are rapidly losing reasons or targets to attack - so their only means of survival is to create another radical front - call me a conspiracy theorist, but i wont be surprised if in Sri Lanka some Muslim mafia group is portrayed as a Jihad group to necessitate survival of the JHU/JVP.

    I had to take that diversion to explain my point - BNP will always exist, with the same name or another the BNP ideology will linger for generations to come, and the only way it can be crushed is by eradicating reasons for its survival.

    When a society is intellectually bankrupt nationalism will be rampant. Every time in history when there has been a semblance of nationalism it has always been teh result of the society being intellectually bankrupt.Just look at Sri Lanka now.

  5. Sach - Actually, no. On both counts.

    Darwin - Hehe yeah, you're right...and people only get the government they deserve, no?
    As for a group that uses ethnicity as an eligibility criterion, I think that policy is acceptable for a lobbying group that's only concerned with the welfare of that particular group of people, but it's totally unacceptable for a political party that has aspirations to govern the entire country.

    Serendib_Isle - I totally agree with your comments on land ownership. To bring your examples closer to home, many Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans would be Indian, and Sri Lanka would belong only to the Veddahs!
    And as for omitting the links, I wasn't about to give their website any more hits than I needed to write this post! :-)

    aufidius - You introduce a very interesting argument of radicalism feeding off opposing radicalism. I suppose it's a bit of a 'chicken and egg' situation with regards to the real cause. I hope your conspiracy theory is proven wrong, though!

    As for Sri Lanka being intellectually bankrupt, I'd say we've been that way for a long, long time.


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