**Warning: Rambling, brackets and tortured analogies ahead. No muttering at the back about 'So what's new?' - all right?**
Here is a picture of an apple.
Now to you it might look like a nice juicy apple, but to me it's a hovercraft. And I'm going to prove it's a hovercraft, through the power of my own brilliant political analysis.
Yes, it may look like an apple. I grant you, it's green, as many apples are. And yes, it does indeed appear to be the shape of an apple. If it were in front of you, your olfactory organ might well tell you that it smells of what your brain recognises as apple. But it's not an apple; it's a hovercraft. The reason why I know this and you are struggling to get to grips with the concept is that I am very dazzlingly clever and you are, intellectually, a mere silly person scratching round in the mud looking for chewing gum and fag-butts. Do you see?
You see, I can't see anything that it has in common with apples. In fact, I think it has far more in common with hovercrafts. Hovercrafts, for example, float on water, and so does this object. Admittedly you may not see many children bobbing in a washing-up bowl for hovercrafts, but this object is a hovercraft. Also, the object pictured above, if you chucked it into the water off Folkestone or Dover or one of those places, could well find its way to Calais or Boulogne or somewhere like that, given a bit of luck and a prevailing current. I ask you - does that sound like the behaviour of an apple - or can we think of something else that crosses the channel by floating on the water... a hovercraft, perhaps? Aha! Yes! That must be it, mustn't it?*
Yes, I'm talking about the silliness regarding the BNP and whether it's on the left or the right. Is it left-wing? In some ways. Is it right-wing? In some ways. Is it a bunch of fascist bastards and scum? Yes, I think there's something we can all agree on, isn't it?
The BNP are both left and right wing. They’re also neither. They take what they think is popular policies and feelings and adopt them adding their own racist spin on them.
Isn’t that enough to be going on with? Do you really need anything else to distance yourself from them? Are you such a complete twat that you need to keep repeating the fact that they are left/right wing hoping that people will take it in and equate all people of that stripe a fascists?
Sadly, a lot of people are such complete twats.
No-one wants to be linked with the BNP, fairly understandably, because they're a shit-shower of hatred and racism aiming to divide society, they lie about stuff, their supporters are quite often Nazis and they are really unpleasant people. Sure, they may want to nationalise some things but that doesn't mean they're a cigarette paper away from the Greens. Sure, they may want to stop immigration but that doesn't mean they're right next door to UKIP... oh. Bad example. But you get the general idea. Politics isn't an easy grid where you can try to nail people down to one side or the other; to imagine it is you have to be pretty unambitious about your brain. We all know people who are economically liberal and socially conservative, and vice versa.
(By the way, those of us who consider ourselves to be (broadly) on the left (if we must use such terms) will be familiar with the tendency of the left to hate themselves more than anyone else. That's something which has led to the usual recriminations about "It was all No2EU's fault, it was all Socialist Labour's fault, if only we'd all voted Green then it would've been all right and the BNP wouldn't have got in..." Which is toss. It's not as if there isn't any difference between the parties. If the Greens wanted more people to vote for them, they should have had more attractive policies, not just relied on people holding their noses to keep out the fascists. That time may come under first-past-the-post in a general election, of course, but it's not for now. A Very Public Sociologist says it a bit more articulately than me:
Underpinning this is the naive assumption electoral support for political parties can be wielded like trade union block votes. Had No2EU avoided the North West, then all or a good proportion of those votes would have been drawn to the Greens. But is is never as simple as that.
Exactly. It's not as simple as saying: "You're on the left, you must do this, if you don't it's all your fault". Things aren't that simple and people do have different priorities. The Greens are largely in favour of the EU, for example, and No2EU, well the clue's in the name, isn't it? You can't just suppose that a vote for one is exactly the same as a vote for the other - going back to what I was saying earlier, a vote for UKIP has some things in common with a vote for No2EU, but there are an awful lot of things different, and it's not just 'left' and 'right' which are at play.
In the meantime, here's a juicy apple.
* I am aware that cross-channel hovercrafts actually stopped several years ago. Don't write in. I don't care. Tortured analogies do not care for pedants; they carry on into the distance like a small child juggling with tins of sardines while a Space Invaders arcade machine from 1983 dances at their feet.