Labour MP Jon Cruddas looks back on a very different Olympic year, 2000, in his review of Daniel Trillings Bloody Nasty People
in this weeks New Statesman
. Rather than the "positive national story" of this year's games, instead we saw the opening days of a decade of political and racial antagonism fostered by the far-right, unwittingly colluded in by both Conservative and Labour politicians who "swerved around the question of modern national identity and triangulated instead between the nationalist right and the liberal left".Bloody Nasty People
"offers sharp portraits while also keeping an eye on the increasingly harsh tone of political language driven by fear, polling and press dynamics", writes Cruddas, whilst also shining light on the successful campaigns both on the street and at the ballot box which eventually saw the BNP collapsing from the centre, falling into leadership challenges and infighting which destroyed it's role as Britain's pre-eminent voice of fascism.
Whilst he takes issue with what he sees as the "slightly reductive class component to his analysis" Cruddas nonetheless sees Bloody Nasty People
a cracking book that respectfully weaves together testimonies and stories – of people and places – with national political formations, examining them alongside the deeper economic and cultural questions posed by globalisation.
Meanwhile Bloody Nasty People
author Daniel Trilling explains some of the books themes in more detail in an interview with Live Magazine.
"There is a continuity between the groups," he states, tracing an organisation lineage between the National Front and the English Defence League, "every time one appears, they represent themselves as something different."
Trilling is far from complacent, yet still offers some possible reasons why the far-right have failed to make gains on the scale of other European fascist groups:
"First, the far-right have lacked a charismatic leader," he says. "Secondly, they're at a disadvantage with our First-Past-The-Post electoral system, so their voters often become demoralised. Thirdly, the far-right are also fascists – they all want to be leader, so people fall out with each other and their disagreements get blown into bigger things."
He also has a clear critique of the role of the press in formenting racial tensions:
"They take a tiny group who call themselves Muslim and blow them up as if they're representative of all Muslims. Muslims Against Crusades, there are not even 10 of them, and they get put on the front page of papers for burning poppies. The headline will read something like: 'Muslims demonstrate against our boys coming home from Afghanistan.' People will read it and say, 'Those Muslims'."
This is perhaps the legacy of the far-right in the UK today. Whilst the BNP is in the throes of death, Islamaphobia is almost a mainstream position, and the modus operandi
of politicians continue to stir up xenophobia and racism as an electoral asset.
The New Statesman
is on the newstands in the UK tomorrow.
Visit Live Magazine
to read Trilling's interview in full.