EU Budget: How did British MEPs vote?

Posted on March 15, 2013

The EU Budget negotiations have not run as smoothly as in previous years. In the past, the process was simple: everyone sits down, agrees to pay more cash to Brussels then off for champagne and canapes.

Then David Cameron shook things up a bit, pressing for an EU budget cut given the austerity member states are implementing. He secured an agreement with the other national leaders – which should have gone further, but was still an improvement on what went before.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted against the proposal. It wasn’t the final vote, but it was intended as a blocking measure to force the collected national governments to rethink their decision. The fact that various federalists in the Parliament tried to make the ballot secret – a scandalous attempt to avoid public scrutiny – shows that they know how unpopular that step is.

You would be hard-pressed in Britain to find anyone who thinks that while we are trying to save money at home, we should be paying even more to wasteful, undemocratic EU institutions. So how did British MEPs vote in our name?

Voted for the budget cut

Conservatives: Marta Andreasen, Richard Ashworth, Robert Atkins, Philip Bradbourn, Martin Callanan, Giles Chichester, Nirj Deva, Vicky Ford, Jacqueline Foster, Ashley Fox, Julie Girling, Daniel Hannan, Malcolm Harbour, Syed Kamall, Sajjad Karim, Timothy Kirkhope, Emma McClarkin, Anthea McIntyre, Jim Nicholson, Struan Stevenson, Robert Sturdy, Kay Swinburne, Charles Tannock, Geoffrey van Orden and Marina Yannakoudakis.

Labour: Michael Cashman, Mary Honeyball, David Martin, Linda McAvan, Arlene McCarthy, Brian Simpson, Catherine Stihler, and Glenis Wilmott

DUP: Diane Dodds

Ex-BNP: Andrew Brons

Voted against the budget cut

Liberal Democrats: Catherine Bearder, Philip Bennion, Chris Davies, Andrew Duff, Fiona Hall, Sarah Ludford, Edward McMillan-Scott, Rebecca Taylor and Graham Watson

UKIP: Stuart Agnew, Gerard Batten, Godfrey Bloom, Derek Clark, Nigel Farage, Roger Helmer and Mike Nattrass

Labour: Claude Moraes, Peter Skinner

Greens: Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor

Plaid Cymru: Jill Evans

BNP: Nick Griffin

So there we have it. I imagine that the Lib Dems are going to have some explaining to do, voting against the deal that their own party supported in Westminster.

As for UKIP, they are trying to rationalise away voting against a measure to save British taxpayers’ money by explaining that they want there to be no EU budget at all. That’s fine, but it isn’t a justification for voting for a bigger, more expensive Brussels right now.

As a Tory source points out, if UKIP vote this way in the final budget ballot then they may well be lining up with federalists to deliver an EU budget that grows every year…probably not the story they want to tell back home.

The BNP fires up the youth leader’s clown car. Again.

Posted on February 22, 2013

It can’t be easy trying to make the BNP look youthful and relevant. After all, Gangnam Style isn’t rapped in English, the Harlem Shake comes from a nation almost entirely made up of immigrants and even though One Direction’s name implies they might advocate a totalitarian focus on national unity, in reality they are so anti-Aryan they’re currently engaged in publicly murdering Blondie.

This is presumably the reason Griffin’s barmy outfit always come full-circle to the same idea: organise a media interview with whichever fresh-faced youth leader is the most latest to do the solo in “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”.

And so it has come to pass. The latest, err, Great White Hope is Jack Buckby – who, judging from his photo, has finally brought hipsters and political loons together in their shared love of lapel pin-badges. The chosen publication is Vice magazine, who have picked up several fascinating features in the last few weeks.

As usual, the interview starts off with hair-splitting. He’s not a fascist, or a racist, he’s a “culturist”:

In essence, culturism is the opposite of multi-culturalism. So it believes that diversity can only exist with culturism, because multi-culturalism doesn’t promote diversity, it brings too many cultures together and creates a world where every country is the same.

Ok. So “culturism” believes in diversity but opposes diversity when it means, you know, a diverse range of people being in the same place?

Diversity is ensuring that all national identities are preserved so that there’s a diverse range of cultures across the world, rather than them being pushed into borders.

Ah, right. So “culturism” is in fact true diversity because they’re talking about cultures being extremely diverse – in a geographical way. A wide range of people in the literal sense of their being wide, open ranges between them.

And what are the indicators of which culture someone is from? The food, music or God they prefer? The clothes they wear? The passport they hold, or the cricket team they support?

I grew up in an area that I think is about 97.8 percent white; it’s quite a British area.

Oh.

Currently there’s this idea that the BNP is racist, as I’m sure you know. I don’t believe that.

Where have people got such a silly idea from?

I just believe that every country should be populated predominantly by its own people. I do believe in the racial aspect of that.

Aaaaand the wheels have fallen off the clown car, just as the audience knew they would.

Indeed, as Tim Stanley points out poor Jack has even posted a video of himself online about “culturism” being a “spin” rebranding of the same, old ideology. Outing yourself as a fascist who is pretending otherwise is quite impressively stupid.

There’s a cringe-comedy element every time the BNP puts a youth leader in front of a journalist. I doubt they’d appreciate the comparison, but it’s like Meet The Fokkers (with fewer jews in the cast, for obvious reasons). It doesn’t matter how long they walk the tightrope of distinguish racism from disliking people of other races, it doesn’t matter how many times they manage to recite whatever new name they’ve come up with for their position, eventually the inevitable prat-fall occurs.

It’s as though the urge to tell everyone just how dapper armbands look and espouse the economic benefits of remilitarising the Rhineland is just too great to resist.

In fact, that’s almost exactly what one of Jack Buckby’s ill-fated predecessors did in a memorable interview a few years back. In 2002, Mark Collett was Nick Griffin’s chosen mini-me, and explained at length to Channel 4 why the BNP aren’t racist, before helpfully explaining that:

National Socialism was the best solution for the German people in the 1930s. I honestly can’t understand how a man who’s seen the inner city hell of Britain today can’t look back on that era [Hitler’s Germany] with a certain nostalgia and think yeah, those people marching through the streets and all those happy people out in the streets, you know, saluting and everything, was a bad thing. Honestly now, would you prefer your kid growing up in Oldham and Burnley or 1930s Germany? It would be better for your child to grow up there.

Ooh and the boots were so shiny, weren’t they?

To fight Breivik’s views, we need to understand this new, distinct extremism

Posted on July 25, 2011

Advance warning – the below article does include a quote from Breivik’s self-justifying manifesto, though I purposely have not linked to it

I’ve thought long and hard about how best to write this post, because the issue is so sensitive and (sadly) some are keen to leap on any poorly phrased comment about the recent horrors in Norway for political ends. Hopefully it does justice to the point that I’m trying to communicate, because it’s a point I feel that those of us who support freedom and democracy cannot afford to miss, at the risk of severe consequences.

The media are already struggling to characterise Breivik’s motivations and the views that led him to commit the appalling atrocities in Norway, and some interpretations are bordering on a serious misinterpretation.

It’s not the media’s fault (despite Breivik publishing a lengthy manifesto to provide his own justification) – the problem lies in the fact that we’ve got a deeply embedded understanding of the idea of neo-Nazism, a term which is now only partially accurate for the extremist threat that we face.

Neo-Nazis do exist and are a serious problem – as you can see from this Nothing British report on British neo-Nazism, there’s an extensive subculture characterised by anti-semitism, skinhead culture, heavily tattooed thrash metal bands and coded references to Hitler (such as Combat 18, the group whose number derives from Adolf Hitler’s initials as the 1st and 8th letters of the alphabet). If you’re looking for a pop culture shorthand for this neo-Nazism, you can find it pretty well summarised in the superb film American History X.

But it’s difficult to map that culture and ideology to Anders Behring Breivik, either in his appearance and lifestyle or in his self-declared motivations. Because he was clearly opposed to immigration, many have reached for the term “neo-Nazi” to describe him in that tradition. But where is the skinhead? Where is the swastika tattoo? Where’s the Hitler worship or the antisemitism? For that matter, where is the knuckle-dragging incompetence that has previously and mercilessly confounded most neo-Nazi terror plots?

That these factors don’t appear to be there (in the evidence produced so far, at least) appears to be because he is drawn from a linked but different ideology. An ideology which is just as evil and just as (or possibly even more) threatening to our free democracy, and one that we must understand and recognise as distinct in its own right if we are to defeat. You can even spot indications of his different roots in the reaction of neo-Nazis to his views; the deeply unpleasant neo-Nazi forum Stormfront is alive with condemnations of him because, in the words of one poster:

it’s a big disappointment and serious grounds for suspicion that he didn’t name the jew [as his enemy]

And there we have the core of this relatively new ideology – Breivik may well be a racist but it is primarily hatred of Muslims that seems to have motivated him, in stark comparison to the neo-Nazis’ antisemitism. Take this extract from his manifesto, for example:

Whenever I discuss the Middle East issue with a national socialist he presents the anti-Israeli and pro-Palestine argument…I was unable to discuss this issue further after I was banned and kicked out by Stormfront

For this reason, Breivik and those like him tend to look down on Nazis and sneer at, rather than venerate, Hitler. After all, in their view Hitler had the wrong target; Breivik has reportedly written that Hitler should have helped to clear the Muslims from Jerusalem.

He’s not alone in that – the English Defence League, as I have written before, are Britain’s most recognisable example of a new evolution of extremism which is virulently anti-Muslim, often pro-Israel and has attempted to ally itself with Jews, Sikhs and gay people on the grounds that Shariah presents a common threat. It’s also true that in recent times the BNP have largely moved to focusing on Islam, though they are arguably motivated more by a strategic post-9/11 opportunism and new laws against racial hatred.

The point is that to characterise Breivik as a neo-Nazi in the recognisable, traditional mould is inaccurate and misleading in addressing the threat he and his ideology poses. Like many a neo-Nazi he is evidently a nut and is obviously attracted to violence as well as ludicrously pompous military imagery, as evidenced by his view that he’s a modern day Knight Templar, but it’s time we recognised this is a different school of extremism.

There is contact and sometimes overlap between neo-Nazism and whatever we want to call this new ideology – both are dangerous and evil, and it’s evident from Breivik’s own dabbling in neo-Nazi forums that the two sit very close to each other in various way.

We’re seeing calls in the UK for a strategy to address what you could loosely call White Power extremism. But one sole, catch-all strategy to fight both neo-Nazis who hate Jews and anti-Muslim “culture war” conspiracists will fail to defeat one or the other, or even both. We need a distinct strategy to combat each strand of thought.

A simple way to annoy lefty comedians

Posted on June 27, 2011

Work has been quite hectic lately, hence the very limited blogging over the last ten days. In all the whirl, I missed this report about The Freedom Association securing an apology from the BBC.

Back in December, Alan Davies and David Baddiel used a 5 Live slot to smear The Freedom Association as a “posher version of the BNP” and liken TFA’s founder, Norris McWhirter, to “Oswald Mosley” and Hitler’s Brownshirts. Sadly this was just the latest instance of lefty comedians forgetting that being good at jokes doesn’t make you the fount of all political truth.

Had Baddiel and Davies bothered to check the facts before slinging mud, they would have known that the Freedom Association – which I worked for 2005-2007 and on whose governing Council I am proud to sit – is dedicated to the seven principles of a free society:

  • Individual Freedom
  • Personal and Family Responsibility
  • The Rule of Law
  • Limited Government
  • Free Market Economy
  • National Parliamentary Democracy
  • Strong National Defences

In short, it is a libertarian organisation which is about as far from the oppressive, racist collectivism of the BNP or Oswald Mosley as you can possibly get.

As for Norris, he served tirelessly in the Royal Navy helping to defeat fascism in World War II and spent the bulk of his adult life supporting the fight to free the peoples of Eastern Europe from Communist totalitarianism. But apparently too long under the studio lights (or perhaps too many licence-fee-funded lunches) have blinded Alan Davies and David Baddiel to such inconvenient facts.

It’s good news that after pressure from Robert Halfon MP, criticism from DCMS Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt and complaints from many listeners, the BBC has acknowledged it was in the wrong. It would be better news if Davies and Baddiel were made to apologise personally for the lies they told on air with no attempt at balance, but that seems unlikely.

Perhaps the best way to fight back against their smears, and the best way to annoy some lefty comedians, would be to join The Freedom Association. You can do so here.

Love Music, Kick Police Officers

Posted on September 09, 2010

One of the worst threats to the campaign against fascism and racism is the thuggish and totalitarian nature of the hard left activists who squat at its core. Where you should have a mass movement refuting the BNP’s absurd arguments in a public forum, you have a minority clique like Unite Against Fascism who repel the general public, campaign for censorship and – ironically – have political views on economics and state power that are remarkably close to the fascists they claim to oppose.

Sadly, they show no sign of cleaning up their act.

Take, for example, the case of Martin Smith (pictured right, and yes he really did dress like that on Newsnight).

Smith is heavily involved in UAF and is the organiser of Love Music Hate Racism.

On Tuesday, Smith was convicted of assaulting a police officer during protests outside the BBC against Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time. A Magistrates’ Court found that he had kicked a policeman who was there to make sure the protest didn’t turn violent. As the Ian Tomlinson case showed, some police officers certainly can be violent themselves but there have been no such allegations in this case – this was a thuggish protester lashing out with no good reason.

The remarkable thing is that instead of condemning such violence and thuggery, Smith’s colleagues have rallied round to suggest the courts are somehow biased in favour of neo-Nazis. Even Mark Serwotka at the PCS Union has suggested that conviction in a free and fair court of law will “provide encouragement for the abhorrent views of racist and fascist organisations” and represents “the unequal way in which anti-fascist campaigners and activists are treated in comparison with racist and fascist thugs.”

The simple fact is that the UAF and their mates are just as totalitarian and unpleasant as the BNP – Smith’s aim is to secure the censoring political parties that he doesn’t like. Brands like Love Music Hate Racism are designed to suggest the UAF are mainstream, ordinary people – but how ordinary is it to go around kicking coppers because of production decisions on Question Time?