Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Selective law enforcement directed at the BNP. Pete James writes:
Hi ,
You might want to hold your nose and go here [Link to British National Party site] and watch 6 minutes odd of video shot of the Manchester police 'dealing' with a BNP vehicle. What we're talking about here is a cherrypicker - one of those erectable platforms used to change streetlight bulbs- mounted on the back of a truck and adorned with BNP banners. The police have stopped the vehicle and force the driver to remove the advertising.

The question I'm asking is why?

OK the driver or the vehicle may have committed a traffic offence. Any copper worth his salt can prove anybody's committed a traffic offence - even a 3 y.o. in a pedal car. But what's that got to do with election material? I can't see that they're doing anything the other parties don't do. Earlier today I was following a Haringey Council minibus, yellow & black with the lightning bolt on the side plastered with Labour Party stickers. I'm pretty sure that's illegal, using a council vehicle for party electoral purposes, but in this Peoples Republic who would I complain to?

Anyway, back to the BNP. Watch the vid and see if you can work out what's going on. Taxation class of vehicle?- but I've seen farm tractors used in canvassing and don't tell me they drain out all the red diesel and refill at the garage pump because of the VAT issue.

I keep thinking of this quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller

'First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.' (Incidentally as far as I can ascertain this is the actual quote, some versions put the Jews first)

It just makes me feel very, very uncomfortable. This is a legal party, whatever else may be said about it. This is s'posed to be a democracy. I don't suppose we are exactly enamoured of Gorgeous George but we wouldn't want Respect hassled by the Met would we?

I couldn't make the media player thingy work, but, as you all know, that's not exactly unusual for me. Nothing would suprise me less than to see the police seeking to win favour with the government and the Guardian-reading classes by hassling the BNP. Rod Liddle (the journalist and former editor of Radio 4's Today programme who has me cursing and cheering in equal amounts but who cannot be credibly presented as a closet fascist) has written well in the Spectator on a related topic. Some time ago the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, was arrested for making speeches that said that... er, actually, not even the cops arresting him could clearly put their finger on what words of his broke the law. His words were just generally offensive, they said. They probably were, but that's not the point. As Rod Liddle said:
... don’t you suspect that this was precisely a politically motivated and, indeed, directed operation which will, in the end, do nothing to improve race relations and only ensured that a few more burglars and other such recidivists, who are a genuine menace to the public, were able to go about their business unhindered because of the priorities of this government? Would West Yorkshire police have spent so much time and effort on the case had it not been for political involvement from — as that errant officer put it — ‘higher than that’?
"Higher than that" means the Home Office, the government department concerned with ensuring the laws are enforced without fear or favour.