Radio 4 keep blurting out interviews with various smaller party leaders – UKIP, the Greens, the BNP – I think just to keep people’s interest up in what is other wise a surreal but not particularly interesting special edition of Strictly Come Bullshitting.
What struck me was the total difference in the way Caroline Lucas (Green Party leader) and Nick Griffin (BNP) were treated in interview. John Humphrys, the bulldog of broadcasting, completely grilled Caroline Lucas last week. He asked her if she would be a ‘responsible’ leader, and if the Greens were a responsible party. When she said yes, he denied this was the case, asking whether a self-defining anti-capitalist could be trusted in charge of the UK economy. He continually brought up this point: you’re an anti-capitalist, aren’t you, aren’t you. Yes, as a leader of a party, she should be able to take the heat. But as someone who’s done a fair bit of media work for anti-capitalist groups, I really sympathised with her position. Humphrys spent the most part of the interview not talking about or attacking her policies, but using anti-capitalist as a curse word against her. He felt this was insult and exposé enough.
Jump forward a week to yesterday’s interview: Nick Griffin. No Mr Humphrys here, and all round a far more peaceful, amenable bit of radio. The interviewer felt that the correct tactic to deal with the BNP leader wasn’t to call him a fascist, a racist, a pseudo-Nazi. No, the correct tactic apparently was to just let him talk through his policies. The closest she got to criticizing him was asking a leading question over the legitimacy of internationally binding treaties.
And here’s why: the BNP are extremists, the Greens are not. The BNP could say what they wanted to about race, immigration and borders because they’re views are an extreme of what we have already. Their fascism is no more than an exaggeration of what Clegg, Cameron and Gordo already say and want.
The Greens however (along with others like TUSC and Animals Count), put forward a genuinely different ideal. Our politics are ridiculous and we’re ridiculed, because Anti-Capitalism is not an extremism, it’s a total non-conformism. It’s not some magnification of what already exists. When push comes to shove it’s not the police that are protecting the fascists: it’s the right-wing appeasement by self agrandizing liberals in the political class and the media.