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The British Far-Right: Made In The Establishment UK

The last decade has witnessed something of a sea-change in the perception of internet media and publishing by journalists and politicians across the world, from being the slightly suspect poor relations of the print media to its senior partners, with content creators finding it necessary to follow the preferences of consumers. The era of innovative and slightly unruly online reporting and commentary, when many newspapers left their branded websites to their own devices, is long gone as publishers gradually abandon the hardcopy market for the softcopy one (arguably, some media companies are subsidising loss-making print editions solely because of the journalistic “legitimacy” it provides). This has led to some interesting cultural clashes between old and new media, with the former determined to claim the space occupied by the latter. It has also raised questions of authority or authenticity between competing online publications.

Politico, the globally-ambitious American politics website, has just published the first in a series of three articles examining the alleged and not so alleged use of the internet to spread propaganda and misinformation by right-wing nationalists in the United Kingdom. It’s an interesting piece, touching upon attempts by the UK authorities to counter far-right extremism, though it is let down by a lack of context. After all, the advocacy of Brexit, a form of xenophobic-tinged populism, is now part and parcel of the political and media landscape in Britain, from the governing Conservative Party to elements of the opposition Labour Party, from the establishment Daily Telegraph newspaper to the tabloid Express. Indeed, the latter has become notorious for its slanted and prejudicial reporting, occasionally skirting with explicit hate-speech directed towards targets it views as insufficiently “patriotic” or simply “foreign” and therefore suspect. Yet it is regarded as a significant representative of the established press in London.

Labelling some fringe publications as concerning while glossing over the nationalist rhetoric emerging from their mainstream counterparts, and especially those employed by them, is highly questionable. The last point is of particular note since Irish readers will be very familiar with the wave of hibernophobic declarations and opinions being offered on Twitter and Facebook by British journalists over the last two years. These are not minor or relatively unknown bloggers or online commentators but well-known newspaper, radio and television editors and presenters, columnists and correspondents, who actually shape and deliver the news in Britain. And a startling number of these individuals believe that publishing chauvinistic posts or dog-whistle tweets is a key to gaining influence and career advancement.

While Politico may talk of Britain purposefully grappling with a supposedly fringe “nationalist dark web”, in the context of Brexit the ideological darkness spread from the centre outwards, not the other way around.

11 comments on “The British Far-Right: Made In The Establishment UK

  1. Yes. And exactly the same sort of slanted smearing is used on ‘dissident’ countries such as Russia, Iran, Syria and Venezuela – and any others who dissent from the ‘western’ mind set. Ireland actually gets off lightly, as it just the enfeebled UK who are ‘dissing’ them.

  2. The whole thing is very, very strange.

    I’ve heard some very contrary schools of thought on the whole idea of a “Devolved English Parliament”. One group says it would give the English the sense of control over their society that otherwise they would seek through crazy ventures like Brexit.

    The other group says that any such venture will simply dominate the devolved Parliaments of the 3 other nations of the UK, or even compete with the actual British governments. And that the very idea is a right-wing English nationalist idea, driven by a jealous sense of false equivalence with the Celtic nations.

    I don’t know quite what to make of all that. Would an English parliament reign in this stuff or feed it further?

    I know to me it looks odd that an area England’s size isn’t Federalized.

    • I’ve heard it is precisely the problem you point to that it would dominate the other 3 (or 2.5 as might be more accurate). And there’s further complications, as you also point to that in a way England should be federalised, it could easily to 2 or 3 federated regions.

      • One outside the-box idea that I’ve heard proposed for other situations (but to my knowledge never applied by any nation or even region) that MIGHT accommodate the concerns from all sides of this issue is this.

        Some suggestions exist, that in an area where you would like to balance giving a particular area status as a distinct political identity, while not allowing its size to let it dominate the other parts of the nation is this. Have a case where each region (for England any number from 3 to 9 would be plausible) has a distinct unicameral lower house, while all the regions share an upper house with very limited powers. This upper house could be limited to things such as revising or recommending revisions to legislation and/or referring it to the courts if they see Constitutional issues, but in most cases no straight-up power to vote whether it passes or fails.

        That way the upper house provides some unity as a political entity, while the real power lies with the lower houses. That way there’s some recognition of England as a distinct nation politically while also providing the Federalization a nation of 50 plus million probably needs, and the more local control many English say they actually want more than any govt specific to England, and allaying any fears that this entity will dominate the other nations or compete with the UK government itself. Furthermore this makes the argument on where to locate the place a bit easier to solve since multiple cities will get a House. They could give the Upper House to one of those historic English cities like York some have suggested, while more modern relevant cities get the lower ones. It also seems highly probable that The English would tend to “balk” at the expense, since they’ve defunded the local government so much.

        Also in this scenario it might make sense to establish Governors even if each lower house elects a “First Minister”. And local government in general would likely be up for a large rethink. But one cool thing about Federalization, is that there is no requirement for all the Federal Regions to do local government the same way….usually the different regions could design their own local governments-within reason.

        Federalization might also mean localizing the NHS, and it would probably also mean massive education reform.

        I know this idea is more than a little “out there”. But sometimes even a wild idea might be better than an endless stalemate. The idea is eccentric, but they say The English love eccentric so there you go!!!

      • But that said. Having looked quite a bit at British Government since Brexit, I tried thinking up different questions that could be asked to to make sense of the situation and look at it from different angles.

        One was “How much more political representation does an Englishman or Englishwoman today enjoy, than say…….an American colonist (male; not marginalized by religion, color, culture, or origins) had around 1750-1774. Of course, that’s a tough comparison given that not all 13 colonies had the same “deal” with Britain. But I find that even being very generous towards today’s British government and as harsh as I can be on how they treated their American colonies, the answer still comes out as: Remarkably little!!!

        Basically the only thing they “have” in terms of representation that those colonists didn’t have is that they get to vote for their MP, and that’s it. And The House of Commons only has a quorum of 40, in a house with 650 seats. And most of Britain has a much more anemic local govt than most of 13 colonies (even those with a Royal Governor or Proprietor who answered directly to The King) did-other colonies were charter and had a right to make many of their own rules.

        Especially for a comparison between England today to some of Britain’s rebel colonies from around 250 year ago-that’s just weak.

        Which isn’t to dismiss things like human rights, universal suffrage, women’s suffrage, abolition of slavery, religious freedom, or even things like NHS, state schools, and minimum wage laws etc. It’s just a way of showing how weak British government actually is.

    • There were proposals to federalise England, with nine directly elected regional assemblies. In fact, The North-East – the region that was thought to be most likely to support an elected regional assembly – was chosen as a test-rum and held a referendum in 2004. The proposal was rejected by 696,519 votes to 197,310.

      • Yes. I’ve heard of that. Assuming this reflect a long term POV that dominates most of England…..as opposed to something where public opinion can swing. Or where a test run failed to generate enthusiasm for some reason.

        Well then, I honestly don’t know how things will procede. In my mind once a country hits about 40 million people Federalization would become a necessity.

        Perhaps nations of 30 odd million can get away with foregoing Federalization, if local government really has it together and national cohesiveness is high. But 54 million?

        Shakes head!! (Considered a mildly crass metaphor of what it reminds me of, but thought better of it.) Hope they find some solution to this, that the people can get behind.

  3. The Anti- Irish rhetoric went on for years in the UK press, going back to the time Ireland was portrayed as Apes in John Bull and Punch. The problem is that the Irish Establishment wants to be “loved” by the Brits and its a case of the beaten child syndrome. The current economic threat posed by the UK should awaken people to the fact that the UK is our strategic enemy and a mature and more business-like attitude needs to be adopted.

    • Sometimes it seems like the whole world thinks that way. Whether or not they’ve even a past as a British colony.

    • To be clear!!! I mean people in nearly every country on earth -former colony of not-seem to think that British people are simply their betters.

      This DOES NOT automatically mean they are anti-Irish.

      The only country that seems truly unimpressed by alleged British sophistication, would be France.

  4. The Brit establishment(spooks) have had long practice in controlling people and bodies. Not least Tommy Robinson and the perceived spokes party for brexit, UKIP. Just saying.

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