Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The ugly face of the far right

Not so long ago, when my children were little, British Rail offered cheap day-returns from Norwich to Nottingham which included entry to the 'Tales of Robin Hood' attraction.

We travelled in some excitement with packed lunches and various of their cousins three times altogether. Each time we went there was a different craftsman demonstrating some medieval skill such as minting coins, which was painlessly 'educative'. Each child earned an 'Outlaw' certificate from letting arrows fly more or less towards a target. It was fun

Extra to the trip was a visit to Nottingham Castle, and tour of the tunnels beneath. I wanted the children to get a feel of the place, to understand that whilst much of Robin Hood was fantasy, the castle was real. An enduring memory of our past and our heritage.

A picnic in the grounds of the Castle was another highlight of the day, if the rain was not too heavy.

This is the way millions of ordinary people explore British history, with a packed lunch and raincoats, all over our great country. No fuss, no fanfare.

And then along comes a political party that proclaims itself the "only" patriotic party interested in "preserving" British culture and heritage.

Whilst the BNP and its activist wing the EDL stake a claim to being Britain's "only true nationalists" and elect themselves as "guardians" of British culture, there is very little proof of such respect for or even much knowledge of our heritage in their words or in their actions.

Nick Griffin once waxed lyrical, writing in his 'Chairman's Column':
Apart from that we're all enjoying the fantastic weather. The whole countryside is starting to take on that dusty, hazy, almost tired end of summer look that we see more often at the close of August and the start of Shakespeare's month of mist and mellow fruitfulness.
A surprising mistake for such a self-described patriot, as the pharase he quotes is quite a well-known one from another great British poet, Keats.

The BNP, and its militant arm, the EDL, have a carefully polished veneer of themselves as "guardians of British culture and heritage", but that veneer is paper-thin.

Which brings me back to the walls of Nottingham Castle and the behaviour of some EDL and BNP activists after their march last weekend.

The "guardians" of British traditions and culture expressing themselves.

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