Published on May 29th, 2013 |
by Caroline Williamson
Image © Gavin Lynn
Rise of the Far-Right
As I’m sure anyone who has been on Facebook in the last week will be aware, the Far Right have been, in a not terribly subtle way, building an absolute barrage of support. The senseless killing of a father, son, husband and, coincidentally, soldier in Woolwich this week seems to have been to the far right movement what the 2011 killing of Mark Duggan was to youth unrest. A tragic event turned news story which sparked the already smouldering embers of political unrest.
Although recent events have brought out a cavalcade of extreme right wing comments on social media platforms (and indeed some areas of the mainstream media) anecdotal evidence suggests far right parties have been dramatically increasing in both influence and membership for several years and now seem to be increasing at a disturbing rate within previously neutral groups. Undoubtedly there are many different reasons why previously disengaged voters would start to take up not only an interest in politics but also to lean increasingly towards these views and there is no one answer to explain the phenomenon but for many people the answer may lie in their disillusionment with contemporary politics and a feeling that change is needed. The current economic recession has now continued for so long and, despite the attempts of two separate governments and the promises of all 3 major parties that the uphill slop is just around the corner, the general public appear to have lost patience. As every economist in the country has been reminding us since the beginning of the recession, massive international economies are not rebuilt overnight. There is no magic policy that will fill the deficit, kick start growth and have enough left over to reinvest in our public health and education systems overnight but unfortunately this is not the news the general public want to hear.
History has shown us that in these times of recession and national crisis, people do not accept that there is no one simple factor or person to blame. Looking around for people to blame, we begin the process of ‘Othering’ and start assigning blame to anyone considered outside the ‘norm’. While common sense dictates that, in varied, multi-cultural Britain there is no ‘norm’, a warped and outdated view of what it means to be ‘British’ is none the less applied and blame assigned to anyone outside of this image. Although entirely inexcusable, it is an understandable, natural human instinct to attempt to avoid blame and to assume the problems in our lives are all caused by someone else’s actions. This does not, however, make the rise of right wing extremism in British society any less disturbing. A simple scroll through my Facebook timeline and a quick scan of the dreaded right wing press websites has shown me that austerity Britain is quickly becoming a hostile, accusatory place, that curses the amazing multicultural heritage which allowed the growth of our large economy in the first place.
Separating yourself from the right wing extremists is not a hard thing to do, reading carefully chosen newspapers and getting a bit click happy with the ‘Block’ button on social media sites will allow pretty much anyone to believe that we still living in a country embracing it’s heritage, whatever that might be, but sadly burying our heads in the sand won’t stop the extremists multiplying their support. Reminding people of their common sense, making the glaringly obvious flaws in their presumptions obvious to them and, above all, making sure that, however loud and overbearing the far right gets, there is always a voice of reason shouting over them is the only viable option. That way, when this sudden uptake in far right beliefs is shown to be the historical anomaly, the blip in statistics we hope it is, we’ll at least know that we kept our heads and did all we can to allow the next generation the opportunity to grow up in the same country we did. A truly multicultural, embracing home to those who want it.
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