From the Observer.
Never underestimate how fast fear can swell in Britain. Sophisticated politicians and commentators analyse the “moral panics” of the masses about immigration and crime while remaining unaware of their own irrational prejudices. For in its nervous moments, polite society is just as panicky as the most hysterical tabloid reader. The veil of good manners slips and it describes its fellow citizens as tattooed and shaven-headed brutes who, given the right circumstances, would vote for the modern equivalent of the Nazi party.
The conditions ought to be right this summer. Indeed, I cannot imagine better conditions for a neo-fascist advance. Britain is coming to the end of the longest wave of immigration in her history. I argued when it was at its height that we could take a modest pride in the absence of rioting mobs and burning crosses, but I had to temper my patriotic sentiments with the admission that mass immigration came while the economy was booming and the public was more interested in shopping than taking to the streets. At the risk of stating the obvious, the boom is over. Unemployment is rising and anger at foreigners taking British jobs is rising with it.
To make matters worse – or better from the point of view of extremists – this parliament has disgraced itself. Its frauds turned Westminster into a tax haven and the House of Commons fees office into a cash machine that kept on giving. The electorate has gone from its normal state of surly acquiescence into a righteous fury.
Even before the scandal broke, no less an authority than the Archbishop of Canterbury warned that Britain needed to heed the lessons of Nazi Germany and accept “a very high risk of financial stringency leading to political extremes – anger finding its expression in xenophobia. The fact that the BNP can win a seat in Sevenoaks is a straw in the wind and we have to watch the horizon very, very carefully for the tempest that might be behind that”.
I would mock him for imagining the leaders of the British National party crying: “Today Sevenoaks! Tomorrow the world!” But then it is just the kind of thing the leaders of the BNP would say
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