British National Party Welcomes Hanson, Shines Light on Howard
“British ultra-right party woos Hanson”
This week, as former Australian politician Pauline Hanson announced she will be moving to Britain indefinitely to find new opportunities and ‘contentment’, she has been welcomed to her new nation by the leader of the British National Party Nick Griffin. Griffin said that the BNP had long observed Hanson’s career in the One Nation Party and felt sympathy because of her ‘persecution’ through the mainstream Australian political parties’ “politically correct intimidation and bullying”. He also warned that Hanson would have to choose her new home carefully because British Labour had let in “3 million spongers”, and that inner London was now like the “Third World”.
So it is clear that the British National Party are not really a bunch of open-minded and cosmopolitan chaps. In fact, on the British ‘Question Time’ programme in October last year the Conservative Party leader David Cameron called the BNP “a bunch of fascists” and “Nazi thugs”, while the Labour Party Home Secretary Alan Johnson, said that, “These people believe in the things that the fascists believed in the Second World War… They believe in the purity of the Aryan race. It is a foul and despicable party and however they change their constitution they will remain foul and despicable”.
So while Hanson was never as sophisticated as the British National Party, and there is little in the Australian political tradition that could link her movement with a fascist heritage, for many Australians it was always clear where her policies lay on the global political spectrum. Griffin’s welcome is a posthumous judgement on the policies that Hanson was able to make acceptably mainstream over a number of years. Hanson – go join your fascist buddies!
However, in addition to this is the implication it has for the government of John Howard. Why? Because the Howard government defined many of their years in power in terms of racist confrontations, and gradually stole One Nation’s policies and position on the ideological spectrum. Howard’s dictum, “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”, would certainly not be out of place inside a meeting of the UK’s fascist BNP.
On all the major issues of race, from refugees and immigration, to anti-Muslim fear surrounding the ‘War on Terror’, to the treatment of Australia’s indigenous population, the Howard government was at the forefront of scare-mongering and racial persecution. As the Australian newspaper’s Mike Steketee has written, Hanson “created space for Howard to reposition himself politically”. And the Howard government subsequently adopted many of her ideas on turning away asylum-seekers (giving those who did make it through only Temporary Protection Visas); denying Aborigines an apology on the stolen generation, attacking ATSIC and launching a national intervention in the Northern Territory; and perpetuating a campaign of fear about and state surveillance of Muslim Australians.
Hanson’s BNP welcome should not just be a judgement on how Hanson’s politics should be classified. It also shines a light on how unacceptably right-wing the policies of the Howard government were able to become. Possibly the only way they could have been worse was if they handed the leadership over to the real crazies, like Tony Abbot… And when we look at where the current Rudd government stands in relation to Howard, remember that whenever they have remained close to the Howard line, they make a fascist happy.