I know that, once again, I’m a little late with this story, but in my defense, I did see it unfolding during the week. In any case, I think it bears repeating.
According to the BBC,
“BNP members have told BBC News they have received threatening and abusive phone calls and e-mails after a leaked document was published online.
The membership list includes police officers, who are banned from BNP membership, teachers and soldiers.
It includes names, addresses, telephone numbers and jobs of 12,000 people.”
Before I start ripping into the party, I would like to say this:
No matter what these people think, there is no need to publish their addresses or phone numbers.
Names, yes. Jobs, yes – especially since some jobs are incompatible with BNP membership (or rather, it is unbecoming in some professions to have links to far-right nutjobs). But phone numbers? Addresses? That’s cruel and unnecessary.
And it’s still there. Not that I’m going to help anybody get to it, as such, but under ten minutes with Google and a bit of common sense, and I had a chance to get that list. I’m hardly a computer whizz-kid, and frankly, the idea that I could drum up a way into so many people’s lives like that is pretty scary.
Some people have also created “heat-maps” of the areas with most members, thanks again to Google – don’t you just love that handy map feature?! Although I won’t link to them, I will say that they, at least, have been appropriate with the data so far – in explaining the map, the creator says this:
“I deliberately only pulled out postcodes from the file, converted those to latitude/longitude, then stripped a chunk of precision off the end. It gives a vague location, probably to street level, but it’s certainly not accurate by any means.”
Because, you know what? Nobody deserves to have threatening phonecalls made to them for being a member of a political party. Not even Robert Kilroy-Silk, the most odious right-wing nutcase I can think of right now.
All of that said, this does give me an opportunity for semi-gratuitous self-reference. Because I don’t like the BNP. I’ve never liked the BNP and it feels nicely ironic that it should be the people who don’t agree with anything the EU does that have to invoke the Human Rights Act when something goes wrong.
I wrote about them back in May, fuming because they’d managed to get one of their candidates elected to the London Assembly.
In the interests of good writing, I went back to their website to check that what I’d written then still holds true. Unsurprisingly, nothing has changed, but in the course of my search, I came across the leaflets that they use when campaigning.
Which was nicely timed, in fact, because I see in the news today that 12 BNP members have been arrested, suspected of distributing racist material in Liverpool.
Their organiser says that “There was nothing unlawful in the leaflets – all the contents of the leaflets had been carefully vetted, or they would not have gone out.”
And, unfortunately, for most of those leaflets, he’s right. Although the underlying message shines through, they are – in the main – worded too carefully to be able to prove with quotes. Look at them together, though, and you start to see the pattern. There are 12 leaflets listed on the website, 3 of which have no racist content that I could find. They relate to Labour, the Lib Dems and crime. They’re revolting in other ways, but that’s not really what I want to think about right now.
Seven of the remaining nine leaflets mention – with differing levels of venom – immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees and the like, with the other two focussing on presenting Muslims in a negative light. Much of what they say is factually inaccurate, which already damns it in my eyes, but even those statements that are not technically untrue are disgusting.
For example, their anti-EU handout says that “millions of Eastern European gypsies… can now travel freely to Soft Touch Britain”. In the context of the leaflet, this is clearly being presented as a Bad Thing – but why? Could they be playing on people’s prejudices against gypsies, I wonder? Unfortunately, this is about the most obvious example I could find. And statements disguised better than this are very hard to call people out on.
Bizarrely, I find myself hoping that the leaflet that the 12 were handing out was as overtly racist as possible Forget what you’ve heard about “bleeding-heart liberals” – when it comes to bigotry, I’m about as intolerant as it gets!