I wrote something for Crikey this morning on the stunning successes of the far-Right in the European election. I can’t link to it since the new Crikey website continues to baffle me (like, I’m sure the article is there somewhere but I have no idea where) but here’s the start:
Yorkshire has just returned as its representative in the European Parliament Andrew Brons, a man who cut his political teeth in the National Socialist Movement. Yes, that’s right. National Socialist, as in sieg-heiling, formed-on-Hitler’s-birthday, send- them-all-the-gas-chambers, National Socialist.
In those days, Andrew Brons once overheard another NSM member discussing (as one does) bombing some synagogues. Brons himself equivocated over the plan. “I realise that he is well intentioned,” he explained to a third colleague, “[but] I feel that our public image may suffer considerable damage as a result of these activities. I am however open to correction on this point.”
Today, Brons seems to be more decided. In the recent elections, he campaigned for the British National Party, promising to seek Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. No mention of bombing synagogues — and no mention, either, of the slogans of the National Front, the organisation he led after his NSM days. In that capacity Brons distinguished with an arrest for breaching the peace for shouting “Death to the Jews” and “White Power” in a suburban shopping mall.
Brons’ election, along with that of the BNP leader Nick Griffin, came amidst a swag of successes for fascist and racist groups across the continent.
In Hungary, Jobbik — or Movement for a Better Hungary — won 14.8 per cent of the vote, nearly trebling the result of the ruling socialists. Jobbik openly parades its members in the colours of the Arrow Cross, the party responsible for murdering Hungary’s Jews during the Second World War.
Slovakia saw the triumph of the Slovak National party, which honours the wartime leader Jozef Tiso, executed in 1946 after deporting between 60,000 and 70,000 Jews to concentration camps. In Austria, the combined vote of 17.7 per cent for the anti-immigrant Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria came in the context of a resurgent neo-Nazi movement with which both groups have links, while in Denmark, the far-right Danish People’s Party won two seats with 14.4 per cent of the vote.
Geert Wilders — a man recently banned from Britain — was one of the biggest winners, with his Freedom Party moving into second place behind the Christian Democrats. Wilders group, unlike so many of the European rightists, has no historical association with Second World War-era fascist groups, and has built its profile almost exclusively out of bigotry against Muslims. Increasingly, that’s the model that others are following: toning down the anti-Semitism, ramping up the Islamophobia (and, in the east, racism against those forgotten victims of genocide, the gypsies).
Anyway, what I wanted to raise here is the obvious question: why haven’t the far-Right made inroads in Australia? If the BNP can get a million votes in the UK, you’d think there’d be a fascist or right-wing populist group here of some significance. But there isn’t, as far as I know. Obviously, that’s good news. But given Cronulla, given the attacks on the Indian student, it seems odd that there isn’t a little antipodean Nick Griffin somewhere.