The government’s economic, social and political schema alongside the inadequate political opposition (re Labour) for spelling out an alternative is a dangerous recipe for encouraging the growth of prejudice and hate.
Searchlight Educational Trust have only just produced a report on British attitudes regarding culture identity and race. Essentially, UKIP and the EDL are said to be adapting well to attracting individuals wanting to attach themselves to an extremist/racist politics of identity (the BNP aren’t).
The rise of the ‘individual’, or more the rising belief of the individual, is crucial. This, coupled alongside the rise of neo-liberal economic policies since the 1980s obviously plays a damaging complementary role. In turn, this diverts attention away from the social structural facets that influence extremist attitudes, such as inadequate welfare and prevailing levels of poverty.
But a mainstream political force against such a movement is lacking. Yes, parties such as the Greens combat these views as much as they can, but they are only slowly starting to get more media coverage.
The essential player here is the Labour party. If Miliband wants to counter-pose market structures within the NHS, if he wants to have an ethical foreign policy then we have to work with him to make him see that these are just failings of a larger systemic outlook the Labour party have adopted over the last decade or so, routed in market facilitation, profit and greed. They themselves encouraged (and still do) a politics of hate, an incessant fascination with the individual and a fear of the ‘outsider’ at the expense of social solidarity.
It is a worry that the BNP are said to possibly over take the LibDems in Barnsley. Yes, the LibDems are not expected to do well there anyway, but whilst Labour may be doing ok at the moment, the more Labour councils drive through the cuts, the more Ed Miliband repeats the ‘need’ for cuts and the more Labour continue to go down the path of reinforcing this idea there is no alternative, then the stronger extremist attitudes will get.
Whilst the politics of identity is governed by a narcissistic belief in the individual, this goes alongside an exclusionary policy of those not seen as meeting a specific individual regulatory ‘ideal’ – the same policy the government’s enact when dealing with groups that they perceive to be undermining their sacred work or family institutions:
There is a 50:50 split on the question of whether there is a ‘place for every kind of person in this country’ or ‘some people are just too different to fit in’ (see here for more findings)
This will not be helped with Cameron’s multiculturalism rubbish, again spreading fear and hate. Nor will it be helped by the government’s scapegoating economic policies. It breads a race to the top (and bottom – depending on how you look at it), and so shutting those seen as ‘inferior’ out of society is a way to keep one’s own base ‘safe’. Again, the government’s own ignorance to the social, economic and political effects of their egotistical economic illogicality spreads ignorance.
According to the report (note this link is to a Left Foot Forward analysis – that contains a link to the report, however), there are Identity Ambivalents and Cultural Integrationists, the former are more likely to be Labour and the latter Tory. Indeed, the report itself argues that both Cameron’s and Miliband’s approach is unlikely to challenge the former’s (especially) views, who are likely to hold such accounts because of their economic and social position – in fact, Cameron’s economic policies are cited as a problem. Whilst Ed Miliband has made some good rhetorical gestures of late, words are all they are so far.