How will the BBC cope with Britain First?

Matthew Collins - 06 10 15

BBC3 is soon to be flung from our television screens and into the dustbin of internet broadcasting, paying the price perhaps, for there not being enough quality programming on the Beeb worth repeating on BBC3. Or BBC3 one could argue, is simply paying the price for having what good content it did occasionally provide, stolen by BBC’s One and Two.

Such is life, those with bigger brothers and sisters will testify. I for one won’t particularly miss it. Sometimes it was hard to know when Little Britain had finished and BBC3 documentaries began.

But when BBC3 gets it right, it does so quite brilliantly. The current ‘Race’ season, where it explores, funnily enough, issues around race, has been up until last night, quite brilliant.

A few minor clangers- or perhaps best described as missed opportunities, didn’t ruin an interesting look at life with the Klan and this was followed up by the excellent look at life in Ferguson by Reggie Yates.

Last night BBC3 decided to ask the big question: Is Britain Racist? By the time presenter Mona Chalabi was having her hand stroked to convince her she had a black arm or by the time she had trawled a pub asking blokes if they found particular women attractive, I began to get the feeling that sometimes, asking the question is just about enough.

I’m not really sure what the programme actually concluded. It had three “undercover” reporters. A Muslim playing a Muslim, a Jew playing a Jew and a black man playing a black man. It’s not the sort of ‘undercover’ journalism I had expected.

After a while, I kind of wished I had watched the Rooney documentary on BBC1 instead. There is, after all, one burning question that the whole nation would like to have put to that young man..

Instead I persevered because I could sense a mate of mine in Bradford was in his back garden banging his head against a brick wall over not just missed opportunities, but so many doughnuts taking ages to get eaten.

Taking a racist to Upton Park didn’t really prove much, nor did going to an EDL rally prove much other than that some racists don’t get a lot of loving and some quite obviously drink too much.

How will BBC3 fare tonight with Britain First remains to be seen. I do feel like I have said all there is to say and remain salient on that front. I could spend all of my day trawling their Facebook page comparing limited signs of sensitive life against signs of obscene idiocy and stupidity-and some do, or I could simply warn others that no other party has ever been so exaggerated about in the history of the internet.

Yes, Britain First are unpleasant. Yes, they have close to a million likes on Facebook, and yes, they have the most bizarre and unpleasant beliefs and modus operandi.

They have done just about everything possible to gain notoriety, including popping lots of diet pills and vodka and driving their armoured vehicles around East London looking for a punch up with Anjem Choudary.

Worryingly, they have also tried to start racial and religous conflict by invading Mosques. They’ve pulled back from this, because, well, things like Rotherham have been too much of a gift for them. But then, no-one in Rotherham voted either Britain First or BNP at the last election.

Britain First are not going to win any elections, and I do not even think they are the most dangerous of British political far-right parties. In fact, of late, they are somewhat of a busted flush continuing to run up and down the country living on the same old lies and fears that we have about our country being racist, religiously intolerant, a bit backwards, insular, unsure of itself etc, etc.

One of the finest lies about Britain First is that it has 6,000 members. Repeat that lie often enough and the soar-away Sun and the BBC will repeat it for you.

Founded in 2011 by Jim Dowson, Britain First has an evangelical hatred of multicultural Britain. It believes it is not racist and will of course, swear that it is not. Having a conversation with them about the many things they get wrong is utterly pointless. Their founder found them so bad for business, that he upped and left them. Then came back again, and has left again.

There’s not a lot Britain First will not do for a few quid and they’re quite unashamed about it. They’d stick a poppy on a dog turd if they thought they could flog it.

They have numerous different scales of membership, but even so, they linger at around 2,000 paid up members, but in realistic terms, they’re not that much bigger than the tiny British National Party (BNP) when it comes to actively engaged members. Most of those near one million likes on Facebook are paid for or gained by deceit, and their Twitter feed has a very modest and more honest 4,000 followers. I explained that here.

But all the press, the publicity and exaggeration that follows our Mosque invaders is enough to keep them happy, ticking over and sending begging letters to curious followers. The Huffington Post seems to report every time Britain First does something outrageous or stupid. It’s getting to the point now that if Paul Golding or Jayda Fransen forget to flush the loo, it’s guaranteed a horrified blog.

Last week it was said that Britain First wanted to hang their opponents. This was just as the party announced their leader Paul Golding was planning to run for London Mayor.

The problem is, I may even be wrong, but I cannot find any record of them actually saying that. They said they wanted to hang traitors to this country. I oppose them, but I am not a traitor to Britain. I pay my taxes and observe Remembrance Sunday with more dignity than any fascist does.

Britain First even thanked everyone for the publicity. They should do. They are small, they are nasty, but they are not the test as to whether Britain is a racist country or not. That is an institutional question, not a question for blokes in pubs.


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