A very good response from Unite Against Fascism to Searchlight’s dangerous and wrong-headed study last week.
A response to the Searchlight ‘Fear and Hope’ report
Celebrate and defend our multicultural society
By Sabby Dhalu, joint secretary, Unite Against Fascism
A report, ‘Fear and Hope’, on attitudes in Britain to race and immigration, was launched by the Searchlight Educational Trust in early March. The report interprets the results of a survey conducted by Populus for the educational charity. However, while the results of the survey are very interesting, and deserve close study, the conclusions drawn by the report are contentious to say the least.
The headline from the report, picked up widely in the media, is the contention that the survey results suggest that 48 per cent of those surveyed would support an extreme right-wing party if it were clearly ‘non-violent’. This conclusion is based on the percentage of respondents who would ‘definitely support’ or ‘consider supporting’ a political party that ‘defends the English’, wants an English Parliament, would control immigration and challenge Islamic extremism as long as they were ‘non-violent’.
The first and obvious point to make is that this is hardly the definition of a far right party – all major parties entered the last election on a platform of controlling immigration and challenging Islamic extremism, and the issue of defending the English and wanting an English Parliament does not describe modern-day fascism.
Moreover, even if the British National Party (BNP) puts off some voters because of its known neo-fascist background, the electoral performance of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), shows that even a ‘mainstream’ hard right party cannot pick up 48 per cent of the vote. Even its remarkable showing at the Barnsley by-election this week only put it on 12 per cent – in a seat which had previously recorded above trend votes for the far right. It would be nonsensical to suggest that UKIP could generally storm ahead of the Tories on the basis of support for an English parliament. The disaster for the Tories and the Lib Dems in the Barnsley by-election is not due to the attraction of racist parties but the impact of the economic situation in squeezing living standards, falling real wages and unemployment.
Read the rest of the report here.