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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Seven months wasted

A Guardian journalist just spent seven months undercover as a member of the British National Party. Amazingly, he made it as high as London organiser for the party during his stint.

Splashed all over the paper's front page today are his exclusive revelations, gleaned as a result of his undercover efforts. These include:
  • Members are advised not to be racist or anti-semitic
  • They are told to act at all times in a way that brings credit to the party
  • They use encryption software to protect their member lists
  • They occasionally use false names while on party business for fear of losing their jobs otherwise, especially those in the public sector.
Is it just me, or do all of those 'revelations' seem perfectly sensible, and in some cases, admirable? I'm no fan of the far right, but from the sounds of these 'revelations', the BNP under Griffin has transformed itself from a fascist bootboy organisation into an anti-immigration party which is little further right than some Tories or PDs.

If this is the best the Guardian can do in terms of a smear job after having obtained unprecedented access to the party's inner circle for months on end, then perhaps it really is the case that the BNP of today is not the beast it once was.

In fact, to me the biggest concerns arising from the article are that the Guardian is prepared to 'out' people who are not politicians as members of a political party, and that people who are members of a legitimate political party fear losing their public sector jobs solely because of that membership.

If we're talking fascism, then publishing member lists of a political party in a newspaper or threatening people's jobs because of their political affiliations seem to be fairly fascist acts to me.

And it is very possible that the tame aspect of these 'revelations' will have the opposite effect to that intended by the Guardian - that of encouraging more people to think of the BNP as an increasingly mainstream organisation.

Of course, this is a process already underway. The BNP are gaining up to a hundred new members a week and obtained nearly 10% of the vote in recent British council elections.

There are of course major concerns with aspects of the British far right. Their policies in relation to Ireland for starters. Or the recent arrest of former BNP members in a bomb plot that was almost totally ignored by the media, including the Guardian.

But the weakness of these revelations about the current state of the party is likely to attract rather than repel people in the UK who are as concerned about the tidal wave of immigration they are experiencing and angry about the lies they have been told about immigration by more centrist parties.

And since I'm guessing that wasn't the intention of the Guardian when they set out on this undercover mission, I'd say that was seven months wasted.

kick it on kick.ie


Anonymous said...

Well they need to spend 7 months with the PSNI and see what they are trying to hide?

Bock the Robber said...

OK. I agree with you. But would it be all right to wish you and yours a happy Christmas and a peaceful new year?

Good. Consider it so wished.

R. Delevan said...

Can't really win with investigative journalism these days. Go undercover for 7 months in an extremist organisation and find that your Mum actually wouldn't mind having them 'round for tea because they've learned table manners and it's a tough sell.
The obvious thing is to do like the Ryanair 'expose' and show, shock horror, air crew using perfume to hide the smell of sick. Or you could drop it. Or you could run what you've got.
That the Guardian went big anyway and failed to sex it up says more about editorial standards winning over marketing - and why perhaps there will be less and less appetite from management to invest in investigations in future. No guaranteed ROI, no spondulix.

R. Delevan said...

Thus does the Rich List become the apogee of journalism.

JC Skinner said...

Bock, happy Christmas to you too!
Richard, you've just nailed exactly why we have no investigative journalism in Ireland. No one wants to roll the dice on the ROI.
And this, coupled with McDowell's new gag laws, will help all sorts of crooks to sleep easy in their beds in future.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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JC Skinner said...

Spam, especially random, unrelated spam delivered in a ranty manner, is permanently unwelcome here. Sorry to have to underline that fact, but an anonymous poster seems to feel that their inability to post unrelated rants on these comment pages is an infringement to their freedom of speech.
To which I suggest a number of solutions, in order of my preference.
1. Stay on topic. If it's on topic, it fuels the debate. So it stays.
2. Use an avatar or your own name. If I become familiar with someone's presence, I'm much less likely to remove their random, unrelated obsessions than if they just seem like the madness of, well, some randomer.
3. You could always set up your own blog, Mr A Nonymous. No censorship for you there. I might even come visit and you could censor me!
But here at the flicks, we have a few rules. Only a few, in order to maintain order and debate in a civilised fashion. Staying on topic is the big one. Hope that helps, Mr A.