The recent anti-foreign worker protests in the UK are not some isolated incident to be ignored. They are, in fact, a variable that could contribute to the rise in Britain, as in the rest of the EU, of an effective far right nationalist movement. Mix in people perceiving to lose their jobs to foriegners, a fear about immigration, the insecurity of globalisation, and a convenient scape goat, whether it is the political establishment, the EU, or immigrants, and you have all the factors of a perfect political storm within which to create a viable far right party.
Right up until the 1990s, the far right has always managed to be the key to its own self destruction, with its obsession with historical continuity (Waving swastikas around, parading in uniforms and trying to deny the holocaust.) and also general weird obsessiveness with obscure matters such as the maintaining of “pure” bloodlines. That’s not forgetting the peculiar propensity of the far right for infighting and denouncing each others as sellouts, a trait they share with their brethren on the far left.
But that all changed. The late Jorg Haider, and, to an extent, the late Pym Fortyn both proved that their message could, if communicated by an attractive, articulate individual, find fertile ground. Filip Dewinter, the nationalist Flemish leader in Belgium has recently started trying to co-opt the Jewish vote into the far right by pointing out that the Jewish community integrates into European society easier than Muslim immigrants. The fact is, their tactics are changing. They will find a message that resonates with more than just the racists and the bigots, portraying themselves not as fascist thugs but as fair minded patriots, as the BNP are beginning to do so on a “British Jobs for British People.” platform.
The Left in particular need to wake up to this, because it is working class votes that are most susceptible to the appeal of the far right. In Britain, the Labour core vote has been shown to be open to the BNP, and in Ireland Sinn Fein (On the citizenship referendum, immigration and abortion) has found itself to be to the considerable left of its own voters.
We are not immune to this in Ireland. We need to be vigilant as to the rise of an attractive individual or party, claiming to be patriots and anti-establishment and riding populist issues on behalf of “the real people of Ireland.”
The next Hitler will not look like Hitler. He or she will be attractive and sound reasonable. They always do.
As some folklore tells us, a vampire cannot cross the threshold of a home, he has to be invited in. We need to be very careful whom we invite in.