Saturday, December 06, 2003

They Haven't Gone Away, You Know

This seems as good a time as any to blog about the BNP. They've lost a few council seats and have pretty much fallen off the political radar since they gained 17 (or thereabouts) council seats in May, accompanied by many Guardian articles and much soul-searching by decent sorts like Harry.

But no-one in the media commented upon July's staggering revelation that the BNP site had risen in eighteen months from pretty much nowhere to become the most popular site of any UK political party, according to Alexa.

I knew little about Alexa at the time. It's an Amazon subsidiary offering a free browser toolbar which blocks popups and also gives information about the site you're browsing. Of course to get the info, it has to tell Alexa which sites you're visiting, giving the company a tremendous analytical tool. Several million people have downloaded the toolbar so they have a fair sample of Web users, thugh probably US and Euro-biased.

Using the information, Alexa can rank the website and can extrapolate (comparing the number of toolbar users online with the total number of Web users online) to give a rough idea of what they call the reach - the number of people per million surfers who will visit the site in a given day.

The BNP site was ranked at 40,000-odd in August, compared to Labour's 80,000 and the BBC's 25th, Guardian 350th, Telegraph 750th, Spectator 15,000th. So it's the 40,000th most popular site among Alexa users.

The last 3 months have been quiet ones with little media coverage. Yet the site has risen by 10,000 places and is now ranked at 30,000 over the last 3 months. That doesn't sound like a party that's peaked. 'Reach' is 50 people per million. I tried to translate this into visits, using as a template a site I ran for a couple of years which had a reach of 0.15. This equates to about 20,000 unique sessions a year from the site's stats. Scale up for a reach of 50 (approx 300 times 0.15) and you're looking at maybe 600,000 hits a year. That's not a small number.

This doesn't mean that we should be manning the barricades yet. The BNP will only become a credible political force when self-proclaimed nationalist bands are in the charts and the hippest rebels in school identify with them. I see no signs at all of such a culture change (and think it likely that such a change would not be pleasant).

But it does mean that the sky is darkening and occasional clucking is audible as a few more liberal chickens come home to roost. Interesting times.

UPDATE 14/12/03 - Great maths - 300 times 20,000 equates to 6 million hits per year, not 600,000. That does sound improbable I admit ... but the site has since risen another couple of thousand places ... and a Calderdale councillor has defected from the Tories. Mind you, the Socialist Party won a council seat a week or two back - but that doesn't get the publicity that a BNP win does. The BBC and Guardian devote attention to the BNP for the same reason people watch horror films or read crime novels - that little liberal frisson of vicarious contact with unknown evil. They'll live to regret it, I tell you ...

Friday, December 05, 2003

Targeted Recruitment ?

London's police are worried about black gun crime.

Advert for the MOD Police in The Voice, 'Britain's Best Black Newpaper'.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Just The Thing For Christmas

Hat-tip to strategypage, the site for all armchair generals.

What Is It

With Welsh Labour MPs ? First Ron 'Badger' Davies, now this. "I will not myself be distracted from standing up for the people of the Rhondda." Could you rephrase that ?

Are such incidents the real reason why red-blooded Paul Marsden left Labour for the party of Lloyd George - a Welshman who knew one end of a woman from the other ?

At least George Thomas was discreet.

Left-Wing Anti-Semitism

The suppressed EU Report on anti-semitism is now available online, and it contains a couple of fascinating asides in the section devoted to the UK. Apparently "assaults on Jews since October 2000 “have often been sustained beating leading to hospitalisation, compared with the `roughing up` by neo-Nazis that more typically occurred before. The data of the CST show that an increasing number of incidents are “caused by Muslims or Palestinian sympathisers, whether or not they are Muslims”"

I certainly hadn't heard before about the Edinburgh Church with the mural depicting Roman and Israeli soldiers around the dead Christ. They killed Jesus ! Along with the Independent cartoon featuring a baby-eating Sharon, it looks as if the arguments against Jewry which were so convincing to our 12th-century forebears are back.

"Many British Jews are of the opinion that the press reporting on Israeli policy is spiced with a tone of animosity, “as to smell of anti-Semitism” as The Economist put it. In their opinion this is above all the case with the two quality papers, the Guardian and the Independent. "

"The Economist spoke of a “steady shift of sympathy away from Israel, especially on the left”."

Why, Oh Why ? I'm old enough to remember when a few months on a kibbutz was almost compulsory for a young leftie. And during the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars the jokes in England were, fairly or not, all at the expense of the Arabs ('five reverse gears and one forward in case of attack from behind'). What's happened ?

Now what follows is painted with a pretty broad brush, and takes no account of the many valid criticisms that can be made of the State of Israel. I'm looking not so much at the rights and wrongs as at motivations - and motivations differ. Once, some wanted to build strong unions and help their comrades - others - on the same political side - wanted to despoil plutocrats. Some wanted to build socialism - some wanted to kick fascists. Some love animals - others hate fox-hunters. Some support the rights of the Afghans and Iraqis to sovereignty, be that sovereignty manifested in a theocracy or dictatorship - others (a lot more) simply hate George Bush.

Those who hate the existing order will find allies where they can, and if those who personify the existing order dislike your new allies, so much more do you have in common.

Way back in homogenous 20s and 30s England, when the exotic (but relatively tiny) immigrant quarters of London, with their Jews, Russians, Letts and seafaring communities provided colour for a generation of crime and adventure writers, from Dorothy L Sayers to Dornford Yates, the Jews were about the most exotic 'other' that existed. And there was a fair amount of anti-semitism in the ruling class. It was natural for those opposed to the existing order to make common cause with them - and of course at that time Israel was only a dream. The Jews of Germany had literally nowhere to go - Baldwin's refugee appeal poster 'Get Them Out Before It Is Too Late' was tragically prophetic. Nigel Balchin's middlebrow novel 'The Fall Of the Sparrow' gives a picture of middle-class anti-Fascist action on the streets of 30s London.

A few things have happened since those days.

The Jews, for the first time in millennia, have a homeland.

White liberal guilt and self-loathing, belief in political Original Sin, has increased in inverse relation to belief in religious Original Sin. We are natural racists, polluters, misogynists, homophobes. We have sinned against our fellow man and our planet. And the greatest sinners are straight white males, subject to inspection and criticism of a sort which would be intolerable if applied to any other minority. The obverse of this is that members of other races are cut a good deal more slack than Whitey is. I chanted outside South Africa House with 25,000 others eighteen years ago. Where are the mobs waiting to sack the Zimbabwe Embassy ?

And now England has much more interesting 'others' - like the British Muslims. For those who hate 'stupid white men', use phrases like 'hideously white' to describe an organisation, or complain, as a recent Guardian piece did, that Poland is an unbelievably dull place due to its all-white population, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poses few dilemmas.

On one side, dark-skinned people with a strange religion, who blow things up and are very angry. On the other, white-skinned (they don't know what a Sephardic Jew is, never mind a Falasha), educated, Westernised people who read the Bible and have the only functioning democracy in the Middle East. No argument, really, is it ?

For what passes for the Left in the post-Soviet world, the Jews have outlived their usefulness.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

I Have A Vision Of The Future, Chum

It used to be said that California was our future - that whatever was hot there would inevitably come to pass in our own land. This has been pretty accurate as far as the last half-century's concerned - from sex/drugs/r'n'r to counselling, fitness centres and the rise of the me generation, California led the way.

I like to think though that Scotland is a model of England's future. The politics of the country is dominated by the Central Belt from Glasgow to Edinburgh, where the majority of the population live. Labour have controlled things for a century, with the usual mix of idealism alongside corruption.

But of course, despite having its own legal and education system, arguably both superior to the English one. the country was part of the UK, subject to the laws of Westminster. No more (in many though of course not all areas), since the Scottish Parliament came into existence.

Now the left in Scotland is in a most happy situation. Total control of the legislative body, a massive budget to spend, a host of quangos to subsidise and appoint your friends to - and the whole thing heavily subsidised by the oppressor across the Border !

So we can expect to see in Scotland the agenda which the left would like to see in England.

Massively increased NHS spending, up to European averages. Done. Oh dear - Scotland has the worst health in the UK.

Abolish hunting. Done.

Republicanism, anti-Americanism and integration into an EU superstate. Can't be done. Such constitutional matters haven't been devolved. Otherwise Blair would have had to fight Iraq without Scottish regiments, Britain's submarines would have left Faslane, Lossiemouth and Kinloss would be empty of aircraft. And what would happen to the 'secret' US base in Kintyre ?

Make it illegal for a parent to smack their child. Half way. When French tourists are banged up for disciplining their child in a restaurant, or a teacher is sacked for smacking a daughter who plays up in the dentist's waiting room, the message gets useful reinforcement. Thank God we spend our holidays in the (socially conservative though politically radical) Highlands and Islands (Though children rarely seem to misbehave carving down ski-slopes or wandering Arran's beaches).

Of course, once you've completed this, you're well on the way to the nationalisation of children, to that happy state described by Polly Toynbee where the state is 'the best possible nanny to all babies'.

Strange that as this progressive movement increases its influence, so increases the background noise from teachers and others bemoaning the rise in badly-behaved children.

But it's the (relatively) smaller politically correct things that make a culture. Fancy a job on this quango ?

"Transsexuals will be given new birth certificates and will have the right to marry if they can satisfy a gender recognition panel that they have changed sex."

What a job. Coming soon, the gender recognition consultant ? Professor of Gender Recognition at the University of South-West Scotland, formerly Annan Working Men's Club ? The Institute Of Gender Recognition ? And just imagine the appeal procedures.

Or the NHS hospital that amputates the legs of otherwise healthy people with "Body Dysmorphic Disorder" - a condition in which people are dissatisfied with their bodies as they are, and wish they were different. Which means 95% of the population and 100% of women suffer from it.

You couldn't make up the fact that the amputee 'now feels like a complete person' or surgeon Robert Smith's remark that for the patient, having both legs was a 'quite seriously disabling condition'.