BNP shamelessly lying in anti-immigration campaign

The Independent today had a major feature on the practice of the British National Party of lying about immigration in order to scare working-class white voters in east London into voting for them. Most recently, the claims include one about a university campus being regenerated in order to provide houses for asylum seekers or other newcomers, and a preposterous one about Africans being given £50,000 grants to buy houses in the area (this is preposterous because that amount of money will not buy you a room in London, much less a whole home).

This practice of telling “big lies” is an acknowledged part of BNP strategy, as noted in this Searchlight article (Searchlight is a magazine which keeps watch on the far right). Among the lies they circulated is a story about a girl being raped by asylum seekers, and one about a plan to turn a public library into a mosque, both entirely fabricated. Earlier this month, they issued a “scoop” in which a conveniently anonymous source revealed an “Islamist plot” to explode a fifth bomb on the 7th of July last year, which was supposedly intended to flood the Underground. Any such plan would have needed to be massive, requiring an inside job by men able to access a shallow tunnel under the Thames; the so-called scoop has no reference to this.

Johann Hari also has an article in the Indie today (best read at his homepage) about what I consider the elephant in the living-room in the BNP/immigration debate: the content of the popular press.

The right-wing press has spent a decade pumping out day-after-day propaganda that depicts asylum seekers as swan-baking, benefit-snatching criminals who surge into Britain in their hundreds of thousands to scrounge, steal and rape. Yet this week, those same journalists have been open-mouthed and astonished to discover that their campaign has had a real political effect. They have reported with hushed horror that one quarter of British people is now sufficiently soaked in this invented hate to consider voting in the local elections for the nakedly racist British National Party. Well, what did they expect?

The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, Anotnio Guterres, took the unprecedented step last year of warning the British press that they were stoking “dangerous” levels of hate against refugees – but they continued unabated. They invented more slanders against refugees than an entire issue of the Independent could list – imaginary Kurdish asylum seekers who turn out to be terrorists, fantasy figures of over a million “illegals” streaming in every year, and countless cookie-cutter rants claiming that bitterly poor people living on £38 a week in a damp council flat were being “hosed down with benefits”.

Read the whole thing (yeah, Johann Hari does sometimes talk sense).

Note (from Harry’s Place): tomorrow there is to be a Day of Action against the BNP in Barking-Dagenham, Havering, Epping and Thurrock; leaflet downloadable here.

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