LC!


In the Wake of Last Night’s European Parliamentary Election Results… by Gareth
June 8, 2009, 1:22 pm
Filed under: CHAFF

BNP leader, Nick Griffin.

In the past fortnight I have on numerous occasions drafted and deleted blog posts about what was the forthcoming European Election. About why it was important for people to vote and to stop the BNP. Every time I came close to posting the message, I stopped myself, reminded of how embarassing it often (always?) is when people in bands concern themselves with politics, and attempt to push their views onto other people.

But today, after a number of my countrymen have deigned to elect two BNP politicians to the European Parliament, and even more didn’t deem it important enough to vote at all, the realisation that there are racists representing me (and you) in Europe has become too much.

I asked my friend Colin Roberts (a man whom musically and intellectually I respect a whole lot, and who is far more capable of writing intelligently than I am) to write something, explaining why now, more than ever, it is vital that you consider how important your role is in ensuring the BNP are not allowed to progress any further.

*****

“It’s a shame that it’s got to this stage, but as a nation we’re now in a situation where the collective apathy could end up destroying a great deal of things that make the Britain such a fabulous place to be creative, live and express yourself.

You’ve probably read that the British National Party took two seats in European Parliament, going to their candidates Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons. There are a few reasons as to why this is a bad thing and why, in eleven months time you simply MUST go and vote and I’d like to tell you them.

1) Andrew Brons, now a member of European Parliament for Yorkshire and Humber was a member of a Neo-Nazi organisation until the age of 17, a prominent member of the National Front and led a march in Leeds in the 80s where he chanted, “white power,” and “death to Jews.”

2) Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP and now an MEP for the North West region was also a member of the National Front and in 1998 was convicted of incitement to racial hatred, as editor of racist magazine ‘The Rune’, whilst also denying the Holocaust and again being charged with racial hatred in 2005.

3) Both of these are just the public face of an organisation that has, time and time again been exposed to be an inherently racist, homophobic, anti-semitic political party. There is no getting away from it, whatsoever.

Unfortunately, the main reason that the BNP took seats last night was not because people are voting for them in droves, it’s because so many just aren’t voting at all. In Yorkshire, 6,900 FEWER people than in 2005 voted for the BNP, yet because the turnout was so low, they took power.

Saying “I didn’t vote, but I didn’t vote for the BNP either, so it’s fine,” is NOT fine. We need to unite against these people and show that this country will not tolerate this bloody-minded hatred any longer.

Your apathy is as dangerous as anything else. It doesn’t matter if you vote Labour, Green, Liberal Democrat, Conservative, whatever, just make sure you vote in 2010.”

*****

Today is a very sad day, and the first that I can truly remember feeling ashamed to be English. I do not want to feel like this, and I’m sure you do not either. I am nearly as annoyed today with those people who didn’t vote, as I am those who voted BNP. For all the people I see on twitter or numerous message boards, bemoaning the BNP’s ascension, I wonder how many of them cared enough about the threat to go out and vote for a party other than the BNP. If you live in the UK, please make a promise to yourself now that next time you will make your voice heard and ensure that racism and hatred is not allowed to become any more prevalent than it already is. Yesterday’s slim margins of defeat are proof that your single vote IS important and DOES count, and if we all treat it with the seriousness it deserves we can make a difference.

I have learnt from this, that I should have blogged about the EU elections earlier. I’m very uncomfortable with the fact that my being in a pop group, gives me a platform to speak to a wider audience than I’d have otherwise, and that a very few people would pay more attention to what I say than they may have otherwise, but if I had blogged on this, and one single person in Yorkshire or Lancashire or Humber had gone out and voted against the BNP, then that would have been a success. From now on I am going to be more vocal on matters such as this. It may be embarrassing, but I think it’s worse to remain silent.

Thank you for reading.

Gareth

ps. How to register for a postal vote.

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44 Comments so far
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I’m totally registering to vote – right now!

Comment by Ben

I have to say…I completely agree. I feel the same way, and am sickened by this whole farce. BUT, as Colin Roberts correctly said, it isn’t due to British support of these fascists, but due to a lack of overall votes. So while they bleat today about their ‘progress’, as long as people start voting, tomorrow will be different. And I have every faith that once the apathy surrounding British politics fades, people will vote, and NOT for the BNP.

Comment by w.x

I feel really bad. I didn’t know where to go vote, asked a friend (he didn’t know), even walked up to my university and asked the woman on the desk and she was a Pole who had no idea (can’t vote.) So I went home. I don’t live in one of those two districts but still shouldn’t be so apathetic. Of course it didn’t help that the month leading up to the elections every fucking MP was found with their hand in our pockets, leading people like me finding it hard to not really want to throw a vote either way. (Would have voted Green but like that old rubbish advert, have accepted that I’m a hypocrite if I mention politics until I vote next time.)

Comment by Samuel

As an American I have always been fascinated by the BNP, and how it is able to exist in a country that has so many more politically progressive things than we do. I guess it has something to do with Newton’s laws and reactionary politics, but it still blows my mind that people who would have done well in the 1950s American South are even on ballots in Britain. Gareth, looks like you’re gonna have to be one of those obnoxious political bands from now on.

Comment by Garrett

I have always voted, but I live overseas, and was (wrongly) awaiting my EU forms in the Netherlands – so I could vote for anybody but Wilders… unfortunately they never arrived, and it appears that I was not eligible to vote in the EU elections, local only apparently – The post has prompted me to register as a British citizen living overseas.

Comment by Dean

In light of last night’s results I have discovered far too many of my friends support the BNP and their racist views. It makes me sick to realise people (who used to be) so close to me voted for them and tell me that I “know they are right, but don’t want to admit it.”

Comment by Lois

I actually can’t believe that upwards of 900,000 people, almost a million, fell for that fucking ‘we’re not racists, oh no, ignore the fact we don’t allow black people into the party’ schtick. But apparently I overestimated people’s intelligence.

I’m not sure how exactly the BNP ought to be tackled. Nothing really works: No platform might have worked in an age before mass media, but now it’s like trying to block a river with cotton wool; giving them a platform makes their views seem legitimate. I think to actually tackle the issue of voter apathy which seems to have let them in here, those eligible to vote need something to vote positively for as opposed to against; having candidates & parties who people really get excited about does wonders for turnout, as shown in the last US election. Trouble is.. where do we find those candidates in Britain? Politics here is stale and it takes years of sycophancy and toeing the party line to get there, sucking all the enthusiasm out of those who manage to get to the top.

Um, that turned into a bit of a ramble. Sorry. Also, Gareth, I don’t think it’s necessarily that everyone’s more likely to value your opinion because you’re in a band; I think it’s more that you’ve got far more of a platform, and as that’s the case then by all means you should use it. I’d be more inclined to talk about politics if people actually listened but they always switch off.. if you’ve got such an opportunity to open someone’s eyes, then go for it.

Comment by Charlotte

That guy totally looks like a bond villain

Comment by Bernie B

Gareth, I agree with Charlotte on her last point. If you’ve got the opportunity to open some eyes or maybe make people stop to think a little tiny bit it’s probably worth it, as long as you don’t get heavy handed with it like Thom Yorke and Bono and certain others do.

During the presidential primaries here last summer, Superchunk and the Arcade Fire played a free show that probably 3-4,000 attended, and it was right next to an early voting station, so a lot of people voted there that may not have otherwise (it is sort of far away from where most people live). These were all college and some high school kids and like 20-somethings who aren’t the most reliable voting block. It’s not like Superchunk was like “vote obama!” and it changed anybody’s mind, but they got probably a few thousand extra votes because they advocated.

you guys should have an anti-BNP block party or something, but no songs about global warming, please?

Comment by Garrett

I’ll be honest and say that just because you are in a popular band (of which I like very much) doesn’t mean that I find your opinion more worthy or deserving than any others, it’s just far easier for you to communicate to a large audience.

That being said, I agree completely with what you say and apathy is a terrible thing; especially when it ends in BNP wins. I’m glad you are choosing to share your view because – as you say – something really does need to be done.

Comment by Olivia

i’m unfortunately too young to vote but i had a big “debate” (it turned into a bit of an argument)with one of my friends who said politics didn’t matter or affect her, that’s how problems like this are caused by closed minds and apathy.
good on you Gareth for saying this and don’t worry about being annoyingly political thats allowed if its making a good point 🙂
i find it mad that in this supposedly modern country, somewhere that is desireable to live, allows parties like the bnp. Free speech is all well and good until a complete idiot (or more than one complete idiot) comes along and abuses it making it an excuse to be racist.
x love to los camp!

Comment by mel

Sorry guys, I’ve just edited that last paragraph to make it more clear what I meant. Made me seem a bit of a douche as it was.

Thank you for your responses.

Comment by Gareth

a similar thing happened seven years ago here in France.People even been in the streets,protesting against racists and promised to vote more,and against such a party.
yesterday, 50% of us french people didn’t vote for the EU elections.Esp young adults.
So, if you or anyone in a band/who has the chance to touch a large audience raise yr voice, give an opinion and explain it,it can’t be bad at all.
x

Comment by Veee

I don’t want to sound like I’m jumping on the bandwagon here, but I went out and voted for the first time (I’m 18) on Thursday, hoping that my vote would negate at least one BNP vote. I was concerned because of the parallels to the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, at least in my naive, A-level view of history. I know that sounds hysterical, but it’s an unsettling thought nonetheless. Today was the first time I have seen a BNP support poster in a window in Troedyrhiw, and it was horribly depressing and demoralising almost too.

Comment by Daniel

Like Daniel, I returned home form being away last month, and saw my first BNP support poster in a window on my street, I then later learned I had missed a local by election for Moston in April, when away, here the BNP came a second to the Labour Party. I was shocked but not surprised as teh amount of rascism in my area has increased heavily over the last couple of years.It makes me feel scared to live here I do. this saddens me.

Comment by s

Voter apathy is becoming more and more of a problem, not only in the UK, but everywhere that fortunate enough to allow its citizens to have a say in the political affairs of their country.

Comment by Melissa

I voted. It didn’t matter.

Comment by arafatasheq

He looks like Phil Mickleson.

Comment by Jamie

Too young to vote unfortunately. Live in the North West so it makes me a bit sick too tbh. But i think this kinda shows the weakness’ of PR and i wouldn’t back it to be used in the commons.

Comment by Ste

Great post Gareth, I think it’s great that you’re using this opportunity to really inform people as to the enormity of the threat that the BNP actually pose. I don’t think it’s enough to take the Conservative stance of pretending they don’t exist, despite not being a mainstream party their support is growing at a dangerous rate. We need to be active and not passive in fighting this “political party” who spread nothing but hatred and bigotted discrimination. I’m not old enough to vote but I’ve made sure to spread the word. It truely is a sad day to be British when we allow Holocaust denier to represent our national interests.

Comment by Liv

My fella and I voted Green in the North West because they have some decent policies and we really wanted try and stop the BNP getting in. Sadly, our votes weren’t enough.

Most of my family live in the Humberside region. So, both regions I call home managed to prove themselves at best apathetic or at worst racist and ignorant. Yup – sick is definitely the feeling.

Daniel – you’re not being hysterical. The parallels are there. It was the anniversary of D-Day last Saturday – just why did we bother to fight in WWII if we’re now going to openly encourage fascism into our country?

Gareth – Thank you for posting.

Comment by Gem

I don’t live in the UK, but I’m glad that you’re standing up against racism. It’s important that popular figures speak out on important issues. Thanks Gareth.

Comment by Wolf Black

It’s awful how this elections turned out. I know some people in Europe and they all are realy pissed off about this, but i guess that’s because I try to stay close to smart people and to stay away from extreme right fucks. I just can’t belive that people like Sarkozy, Berlusconi, and specially the BNP can still win something after all. I have to say that i am very concerned about the place where european politics are going… Anyway, probably the only thing I can do about this is to wish you and everyone good luck on whatever this awful people will do. We (Argentina) also have very important elections coming, and it’s interesting how here is the same than there: Neo-nazis, billionaires whos money no one can explain how they made it (not even themselfs), agains a few people who really wants to make thing a little better.

Anyway, good luck with everything and let’s hope people can think a bit better from now on !

Comment by Migue

its sort of like V for Vendetta. Crazy British party rises to power, and shit goes crazy. Perhaps Gareth could be V?

Comment by Doug

David Foster Wallace said:

In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.

Britain is an awesome country and it’s really sad to see you guys being represented by these BNP assholes.

Comment by Dan

best part of this blog is you picking out on the voter apathy.

i’m more annoyed at those who didn’t vote, too busy being wrapped up in a tedious bourgeois obsession with paying a billionth’s share of a bath plug. i have much more resentment towards them than to uninformed working class voters who saw the censored contextual BNP we’ve seen of the last few weeks as their best or last resort.

fascism isn’t the answer to anything, and never will be. yay to los campesinos for knowing that.

Comment by markcritchley

Though I appreciate what you’re saying Mark, be careful how you word things. Throwing around phrases like “uninformed working class”, is a dangerous business, and perhaps make you sound as bourgeois as those you’re slating. Though I know that’s not the message you’re trying to convey. 🙂

Thank you all for your responses and kind words.

Comment by Gareth

Mark- yeah, what Gareth said. I too often see the words uninformed and working class together and they leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Having had said phrase drummed in to my head throughout school and spending my entire adult life trying not to hear those words within the same sentence.
more votes is what’s needed. My mum had never voted her entire life until a few years back when I made her.
A lot of people just don’t bother.
sad, but true.

Comment by s

as gareth said, i’m not purposely trying to a leave a bitter taste in anyone’s mouth. i come from a working class area in the north west, a working class family, and i’d proudly call myself working class.

but this is what particularly makes it more difficult for me to accept that my friends and people i know would vote for the BNP in full knowledge of their anti-trade union and anti-working class ideology.

there’s an understanding of fascism missing from all class levels of society, but anglican working classes are their target and there needs to be a greater understanding in that area; that’s all i meant.

sorry if i offended you ‘s’, or anyone else!
must. write. better.

Comment by markcritchley

no, it’s ok, I agree with the points you were making, it’s just sometimes things can be easily taken out of context and misread.
I also understand what yr trying to say in you’re second post and coming from the area in Manchester that seemed to give the BNP a hell of a lot of votes, I would say there definately need to be a gretaer understanding in this area!
just a problem with phrasing, dodn’t mean to get so grrr, sorry!

Comment by s

Gareth,

I live in the US but has a friend who is incredibly interested in British politics. Upon your tweets the other day I actually asked her about it and she informed me of what a terrible, scary party the BNP is and how little the turnout was for the election this year. I’m very glad I got informed, even if I have no influence over the vote, and really want to keep looking into how such a racist, practically inhumane party was able to rise to power. I know it’s only two seats, but it’s two too many. Thank you for your post as well, you (and Colin) have only helped in my understanding of this whole situation from a foreigner’s standpoint.

–jeska

Comment by Jeska

Today, I too feel ashamed to be English, let alone from Lancashire (being part of one of the 2 areas that the majority voted BNP).
I am strongly against the BNP and I agree that there has been not a lot of publicity for the elections as there should have been.
It really is a rainy day for England.

Comment by Alex

I was dismayed this morning as I woke up listening to NPR to hear of the “victories” by the far-right, ultra-nationalist groups in the European elections. I understand in Britain that many are disillusioned with the current ruling party, and perhaps rightly so, but apathy is never a solution to government mismanagement. As a citizen, it is one’s duty to vote and be heard. The great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King justly chastised apathetic white Americans during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, writing that even if you agree with the cause of justice, doing nothing only gives tacit approval and authority to hate and those who practice it. Gareth, I understand your reluctance to make political statements. One, you may not wish to speak for all of Team LC!, but I think each Campesinos! has done fantastically to assert their own individual voice among the collective group. I think you’re safe in that respect. Two, it is hard to fight the “shut up and play/sing” mentality so prevalent among so-called fans. That said, we all have a responsibility to stand up and fight against hate and injustice. If one is lucky enough to have a public platform in which to do so, then all the better. Sometimes one voice must rise above so that others may hear the call. You’ve got my support.

Comment by Lomasney

Stuff like this makes me grateful to live in a country with compulsary voting.

Comment by Nicola

I live in Yorkshire (Bradford, to be precise) and I voted Green, because I thought that the votes would cascade down so far that one of the smaller parties might get a seat, and that the Greens would poll closest to the BNP – turns out I should have voted Labour – Greens needed 15000 more to get the seat, Labour needed 5000 more to get their second seat over the Nazi filth. Now we need to concentrate on how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Comment by Adam Hepton

It’s also important to remember that UKIP are racists too and the BNP makes their party look almost reasonable. The media may actually have been better off focusing less on the blatant fascist racism of the BNP and treating them like a real party as their other policies are almost equally awful and maybe would have put some ‘proud to be british’ people off voting for them. I cynically voted labour for the reason Adam said.

Comment by metamagical

[…] – who has always been outspoken on music in the past but not politics – wrote on their blog, after the BNP won two seats in the European Parliament, “Today is a very sad day, and the first […]

Pingback by Musicians against the BNP, European election fallout « PULLING SHAPES

Yeah, found out my girlfriends mum voted BNP. My gf said shes disowned her and tbh i dont know what to do, as i quite like her mum, but i dont agree with who she voted for and stuff. Advice?

Comment by Ste

buy some eggs

Comment by eden

I wish I was 18 😦

Comment by Andrew

Gareth, just wanted to chip in with what it seems most others have been saying. As a private citizen in a free democracy it is your right to post in a private blog your personal opinions. In cases such as this, it may have only turned out to be a drop in the ocean considering the general apathy of the nation at this European election. On the other hand considering I heard one person mentioning that their sister’s Uni had a 1 in 140 voter turn out and your bands reach is largely targeted at around that sort of age range it may have made a difference. Definitely, don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts coming up to the general elections.

I also agree 100% with the notion that non-voters are near as culpable as BNP voters.

@ Adap Hepton re: concerns at having voted Green rather than a larger party.

You’ve done no wrong and played no part in giving the BNP an advantage at getting a seat. Because the European Parliament vote works by proportional representation, a party requires something like 9% of the vote to become eligible to hold a seat. After the vote is counter all parties achieving that 9% will have the seats distributed according to proportion of the vote held. In voting for the Green party you were a) making a vote to increase the overall pool of votes (meaning the BNP needed more votes to achieve that 9%) and b) making a vote that was not the BNP (meaning they suffer negatively from your vote). Even if all Green Party voters in your area had voted Labour instead, although Labour’s number of seats may have been buoyed it would have made no difference to whether or not the BNP party got it’s seat.

Now, in the General Elections which are first past the post (the person with the plurality [most] of votes wins) it would be another matter.

However, in your case and in this instance if just sucked for you that your regions voter balance was thus distributed. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

Comment by Sam

good for gareth for a very honest blog, hope you dont mind but we’ve reposted it on the LMHR website and I suspect it may be how many people from bands who hadnt previously spoken out had been feeling. here’s hoping others share your conviction.

Comment by Lee

sorry shouldve posted the URL http://www.lovemusichateracism.com – Magazine section.

Comment by Lee

So a guy from my church managed to get hold of Nick Griffins mobile number, sent him a bible verse that talked about welcoming foreign brothers and sisters into your land, or something to that effect.

He got a reply telling him to go bugger a choir boy. So apparently Nick Griffin is a dick, who’d have thought it?

I reckon he should go public with that.

Comment by harry




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