Friday, May 30, 2008

Environmentalism is a fading fashion in Britain

As long-predicted on GWP, the environment - more correctly, perhaps, environmentalism - is on the way out. The signs of organic decay are everywhere, even in bien pensant newspapers like The Observer. And the reaction to a decade of being lectured to about `global warming', `organic' food, set-aside, and pretty birdies can be surprisingly angry, as I recently witnessed at an agricultural conference where the speaker from the RSPB was attacked with quite extraordinary venom.

Today, the papers are full of it, from Guardianista, Catherine Bennett, twittering in The Observer [`Green politics, like all fashions, has proved sadly transient', The Observer, May 25] to libertarian, James Delingpole, blasting off in The Sunday Telegraph [`Credit crunch means organic food is toast', The Sunday Telegraph, May 25].

Ms Bennett is scathing about her liberal readers and their Anya Hindmarch `I'm Not a Plastic Bag' fashionet(h)ics: "The credit crunch is already known to have had an impact on bag fever. And one which is likely to be exaggerated when the bag in question is, like the INAPB, so plainly last year's model ... But Anya prices might also have suffered from widespread consumer disillusion. Some ethical shoppers are minded, apparently, to return bags which have conspicuously failed, even after a whole year of regular use, to save the world."

Mr. Delingpole is even more trenchant about "the organic craze": "In times of rising food prices (partly the result of eco-fanatics obsessing about organic and biofuels, and rejecting genuinely productive technologies like GM) and falling incomes, the last thing a hard-pressed family wants to spend money on is the warm glow of ecological righteousness. All it wants is a full stomach, and the more cheaply-filled that stomach the happier it will be. Organic will be off the menu for some time to come."

And then there is Senior Royal Disapproval (poor Old Charlie), "Sir!": "The first blow was struck this month by the Duke of Edinburgh who - with a fearless disregard for his elder son's Christmas card list - said in an interview: `It is not an absolute certainty that [organic farming] is as useful as it sounds.'"

Ms Bennett further reminds us that our politicians are likewise rowing back from the green algae: "So Brown won't make himself more unpopular by reducing airline emissions or introducing personal carbon allowances. Neither he nor Cameron nor Clegg will ... unite behind an effective carbon policy which, appearing identically in every manifesto like the nasty nougat in every box of chocolates, may put the interests of future generations before contemporary self-pity. And when Cameron, versatile friend of both glacier and motorist, finally prevails, his strategy for `green growth' has as much chance of holding back the rising seas as did the Anya Hindmarch bag."

Brava! "Versatile friend of both glacier and motorist" - wonderful stuff on `Our Dave', Catherine. Meanwhile, the reasons for this change in fashion are superbly encapsulated in another piece today by the ever-excellent Nick Cohen [`People loathe Labour's elitists, not toffs', The Observer, May 25]: "Labour would do better to realise that millions of working- and middle-class people who can't see the subtle social differences between Ed Balls's private school and George Osborne's are lying awake and wondering if the ground is shifting from under them. They are sweating about debt, unemployment, repossession, pensions and inflation. Old Etonians are the least of their problems."

As are `organic' elitism, `global warming' hot air, and the pretty birdies. They are all going to be set-aside, not just the bags


Mr Brown

In the latest policy screw-up, Labour back-benchers are screaming about a planned 200 pound ($396) tax increase on any high-carbon-emitting vehicle registered in the past seven years. Even green-minded politicians realize that punishing citizens for their past purchases won't shrink Britain's carbon footprint today.

Lawmakers are also panning a prospective 2-pence-per-liter hike in the fuel tax just weeks after the Brown government had to abandon separate plans to effectively raise the lowest income-tax rate to 20% from 10%. The latter move, which would have raised taxes on millions of workers at the bottom of the pay scale, figured heavily in Labour's disastrous results in the May 1 local elections and last Thursday's loss of an ultrasafe parliamentary seat in a by-election.

Mr. Brown doesn't only soak the poor. There's also been tremendous blowback from the œ30,000-a-year levy he and Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling want to slap on wealthy foreigners who live and work in Britain but claim residency - and keep most of their taxable assets - elsewhere. The government finally agreed to modify this new tax on "nondomiciled" residents. But it remains to be seen whether the tax drives away some of the very workers who have helped London become a financial powerhouse.

Some of Mr. Brown's policy problems are older than his premiership. Take the collapse of mortgage lender Northern Rock last autumn, a situation that the government promptly and repeatedly botched. It quickly became apparent that part of the blame lay in Mr. Brown's decision years earlier, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to divide banking supervision among three different departments. This unwieldy "tripartite" arrangement made it more difficult for regulators to spot banks in danger before it was too late and to respond to a snowballing crisis.

Mr. Brown's once-solid reputation as an able steward of the economy is fading. As in the U.S., British homeowners worry that their country's housing bubble will burst; consumers are struggling with soaring grocery and gasoline bills. One wonders whether Britain was simply riding the wave of world-wide growth in the past decade of Labour rule - and if it might have done even better had the Chancellor not increased public spending from 37% of GDP in 1999-2000 to more than 41% in each of the last four budgets.

More here

BNP seeks to make a martyr of activist killed by rich Muslim

The British National Party sought yesterday to present the killing of one of its activists by a Muslim elder as an act of white martyrdom. On the steps of Stafford Crown Court, Michael Coleman, a BNP councillor and organiser of the party's Stoke-on-Trent branch, said: "We advise anybody who gets angry: get involved with the BNP." He was speaking at the end of the trial into the killing of Keith Brown, 52, a former boxer and friend of the BNP leader Nick Griffin, who collapsed and died after being knifed in the back by his next-door neighbour Habib Khan. Mr Griffin attended his funeral.

Khan, 50, was unanimously cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter after a jury heard that he had endured racism, threats and violence from Mr Brown and his son, Ashley Barker, also a BNP activist. Khan was also convicted of wounding Mr Barker, 20. His son, Azir Habib Saddique, 24, was cleared of the same charge. Khan's sentencing was adjourned.

Simon Darby, Stoke BNP's deputy leader, has been blogging daily from the courtroom. The funeral is posted on YouTube. A DVD will be distributed, playing on voters' worries about violent attacks blamed on Asian men. Other BNP units are being urged to adopt the strategy of highlighting local Muslim-on-white attacks.

The potency of the far Right claiming its first martyr dawned last year as six BNP councillors shouldered their fallen comrade's coffin. To some white supremacist websites, Mr Brown is being built up as the Horst Wessel of the Potteries, a British equivalent of the Nazi songwriter shot dead by a Berlin communist in 1930. An online book of Condolence hails Mr Brown as "the first nationalist victim of Islamic jihad against Great Britain".

Behind the rhetoric lies a tale of two middle-aged, Middle England fathers whose rivalry descended into loathing. Khan dreamt of knocking down two semis and creating a single grand villa next to a pair of ageing end-terrace houses where Mr Brown, his girlfriend and their seven children lived in the Normacot district.

Mr Brown tried everything to stop the building work but Khan erected a miniature palace with carved stone pillars and huge decorative amphorae in the garden. Like most neighbourhood feuds, it boiled down to a row over boundaries. Mr Brown accused Khan of putting a fence on his land and said that the conservatory blocked his light. Mr Brown was a dangerous man with convictions for what Judge Simon Tonking called "extreme violence" in his twenties. In 2000 he was convicted for punching a man in the face.

Mr Brown turned to the local authority for assistance and was introduced to Steve Batkin, then the sole BNP member of Stoke council. Mr Batkin lodged a complaint that the Khans were behaving aggressively. The councillor took the police a DVD showing an Asian man apparently kicking out at Mr Brown from the Khans' side of the boundary. The Staffordshire force allegedly declined to view the disc. The Independent Police Complaints Authority is investigating a BNP complaint that the police failed to protect Mr Brown, and a mirror-image complaint from the Khans.

The BNP recruited Mr Brown. "We started talking about politics," said Mr Coleman. "We found he agreed with what we were saying. We have many angry young men in our ranks. Our aim is: don't put it on the streets, put your anger into politics." Although Mr Brown declined to join, he helped with campaigns. "He was an excellent activist," Mr Coleman said.

Stoke-on-Trent BNP's first campaign about an alleged Asian-on-white attack came after the death of a barman who collapsed eight days after being allegedly beaten and hit on the head with a wheelbrace by a group of men in 1998. Last summer the BNP leafleted about another Asian attack that left a white victim hospitalised. "We went from abstract politics - the European Union, the threat of floods of immigrants coming - to a grass-roots campaign," Mr Coleman said.

At this month's Stoke elections, the BNP received nearly 8,000 votes, exceeded only by Labour with 11,000. The far-right party won an extra three seats to reach a total of nine. Normacot is torn by racial tensions. Khan was a stalwart of his local mosque where, after the 9/11 attacks, a pig's head was dumped as an insult to Muslims arriving for prayers. The mosque treasurer Mohammed Hanif smiled sadly when asked about race relations. Some of his worshippers, he said, endured living beside whites who "didn't like it at all that they had coloured Asian neighbours".


Fears of `the Islamic problem' brought success at polls

The British National Party, the far-right, white-only movement founded in 1982 from the ruins of the National Front, now claims about 100 councillors, mainly in communities with large Muslim populations. The principal strategy of Nick Griffin, its Cambridge-educated leader, has been to escape the jackbooted, knuckle-dragging image of street-fighting neo-Nazis and to become a popular anti-immigration party. The East End of London has become a stronghold, with the BNP installed as the official opposition on Barking & Dagenham council under the leadership of the artist Richard Barnbrook. Mr Barnbrook made a breakthrough by winning the BNP's first seat in the London Assembly.

The party's electoral success came after it began concentrating its attacks on Muslims. Since 9/11 and the Asian riots in the North of England in 2001 it has gained representation on local authorities from Burnley, Kirklees and Rotherham in the North to Stoke-on-Trent, Sandwell and Nuneaton in the Midlands and Epping in Essex. The first sign of the success of Mr Griffin's strategy came when he stood as a candidate at Oldham West in the 2001 general election and came a close third with 16 per cent of the vote. By the European elections of 2004, he was focusing on what he described as the problem of attacks by Muslims.

After a BBC documentary recorded him calling Islam a "wicked and vicious faith", he was charged with stirring up racial hated. At the end of two trials, he was cleared and depicted himself as a champion of free speech. He has a previous conviction from 1998 for incitement to racial hatred. Recent BNP literature has expressed some sympathies with blacks and Hindus, portraying them as fellow victims of Muslims.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The party's electoral success came after it began concentrating its attacks on Muslims"

Yes that's right! I well remember the famous BNP riots in Bradford, the destruction of the Twin Towers by crazed BNP activists and the white nationalist attacks on the London transport system. The poor Muslims must be sick of being attacked. nasty, nasty BNP!