Matt Sinclair echoes Norman Tebbit in saying that the BNP don't fit on the right and by extension must be of the left.

Giving definitions such as 'left-wing' and 'right-wing' are not in and of themselves good, but only by the extent of the usefullness.

Is it useful to describe the BNP as right-wing?

I would say that people of the right are generally more attached to nationalist ideas. The left would emphasise class distinctions in its place. The main right-wing party in the UK is officially the Conservative and Unionist Party. While that is entirely probably a historical nomenclature, it is not unreasonable to say that the Conservatives are the more patriotic and more nationalist party. From Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' to Smethwick, the Conservatives have had the problem of nationalism extending to racism. If that is too far back in time, it might be worth pointing out that Lord Taylor suffered from racist campaigning against him when seeking a parliamentary nomination. One one issue-axis that is the most important to the BNP, it is fair to say that the right, as it manifests itself today, is closer to the BNP than the left. That doesn't mean they are close to them; it means they are less far away than others. I think that's why people say that the BNP are far-right.

That having been said, the right is generally in favour of lower taxes, less state intervention and so on. That can certainly not be said of the BNP. In short, describing them as right-wing isn't useful; extending the positions that the right take to an extreme doesn't effectively describe the BNP.

Is it useful to describe the BNP as left-wing?

They are more statist than the espoused ideals of the right. I do, however, question that anti-statism of the right. Certainly, there is an ideology (which I am not immune to), but the tendency to want to grow the armed forces and the police - the most coercive elements of the state - suggests that there are statist tendencies, at least among certain parts of the right. Equally, there are traditionalist points of view on the right (and I would add that the BNP are very keen on certain traditions).

Economically, they do have more in common with the left; a greater role for the state and so on. I think the question is why they favour it. I would venture that the BNP are in favour of nationalisation as a secondary means because they see potential support amongst former Labour supporters who want nationalisation. For instance, the BNP favour abolishing all taxes for farmers - a right wing position? - but I would suggest that this is either because they see farmers, in a Francoist manner, as essential to the nation, both economically and because they prefer the rural life or because they see support starting to grow in rural areas and are playing a populist card.

I'm in favour of nationalisation of certain industries because I believe that they are necessary to provide a certain minimum standard of living so that people can exercise their liberty as they see fit. I would venture that the BNP aim to create (what they consider) a perfect society and see nationalisation as a means of doing that. The Soviets sought to eliminate the private sphere; I think this is more manipulating the private sphere so people agree with you anyway. That having been said, the BNP are more in favour of people having more, smaller (farming) properties and explicitly say they are against expropriation. Taking left-wing policies to extremes does not effectively describe the BNP.

Extreme left wing and extreme right wing are, I think, terms that are more useful because of the word 'extreme' rather than the words 'left' and 'right'.
To say they are extreme-right brings allegations that all right-wingers are racists and that they are extreme-left that all left-wingers want to control society.

In Denmark, there is a party simply called Venstre, meaning Left. They would be called rightwingers, espousing free market liberalism. They are known as the left because the Danish parliament was originally split between small landowners and large landownders; the former sat on the left, and Venstre are their successors. So far as I know, the issues of small- versus large- landowners are not currently major ones in Denmark. The point is that labels often grow from history, and are not invented to suit the needs of the day. Indeed, the modern terms of left and right come from where people sat in a chamber at the time of the French Revolution. Even if we decide that we must (perhaps for reasons of simplicity) use a single axis, Left-Right as it exists at the moment is not a useful one. Two axes would be more useful (see and there's a case for using more than two.

Usefullness here is in terms of describing them in political science terms and for the use of practical politics.

'Violent, racist, homophobic, populist Holocaust-deniers' seems to work.

Question is: what are we doing about it?



Links to this post:

Create a Link


Click here for my Blogger profile


Ubuntu - linux for human beings

Firefox 2

Add to Technorati Favorites

Locations of visitors to this page

Powered by Blogger

Click here to find out why.

  • Atom RSS Feed

recent posts


friends' blogs


political blogs


blogs i like


photography blogs




political tools




sadly gone