In fewer than fifty words he had tied in all the themes of the right-wing threat narrative – everything from terrorism to xenophobia and white genocide – and was leaping on this awful and as yet largely unreported tragedy. So much credit has to be given to the people of Glasgow – well, people make Glasgow – and the whole of Scotland; they didn’t buy his obvious race baiting comment, and in short order told him what to do with his pathetic racist opinions. But, then, this tweet wasn’t directed at Scotland. Farage knows how poorly he’s thought of in our country.
There is no difference between British nationalism and neo-Nazism and fascism. British nationalists are simply England’s neo-Nazis and fascists. I’m saying ‘England’s’ here quite deliberately, because British nationalism in Scotland, while exactly the same thing, takes on a slightly different form; that of Scottish unionism. While in England, British nationalism is entirely devoted to pushing the agenda of a Britain in which ‘there ain’t no black in the union jack,’ in Scotland – as it is in Ireland and Wales, unionists have the added burden of fighting a culture war to keep their nations British.
As if on cue, no sooner was Brexit Day over than news began circulating of a notice posted for residents in a Norwich tower block telling people to speak English or go home. ‘We do not tolerate people speaking other languages than English in the flats,’ said the notice, before going on to encourage immigrants to return to their own countries and free up housing for white English-speaking British people. Monika Wiśniewska, a Polish author living in England, took to social media to describe how Polish people were now being described as ‘vermin.’
We may pretend that this could never happen here, but mass murder was thought out of the question in Srebrenica. The reality is that this can happen here, and it will happen here if we do not find a way of stopping the temperature rising. Already we have reached boiling point. All that is holding the old order in place is the democratic habit of a few generations, but this is eroding. It seems perfectly clear to me that we have reached a critical moment.
In may respects, Brexit and all the turmoil and chaos that has brought Britain to this point has brought us full circle, right back to the revolutionary potential of the late 20s and 30s. The political left has disengaged from the politics of the street and the centre has completely come apart. The only real political strength in England today is the right and the racist far-right. Given this, the yellow vests movement – with its overt “neon-Nazi” leanings – should be a cause for serious concern.
In Scotland we know the score. This brand of neo-Nazi, white supremacist, British ethno-nationalism – complete with the Sieg Heil salute – has already hit the streets. It has been mobilised all over Scotland against the civic and voluntary nationalism of the independence movement. On the 19 September 2014 it was on full triumphalist show to mark its territory on George Square, Glasgow, and it has been visible at every single pro-union demonstration and counterdemonstration since.
Racism and violence are inseparable because racism itself is violence. It stands to reason then that these people, emboldened by the sharp right turn in British politics and the overt xenophobia of Brexit, see violence and the threat of violence as political instruments. None of this comes as a surprise. We need look no further than Brexit, in fact, for the hardest evidence of this violence. Thomas Mair, the man who hacked Labour MP Jo Cox to death during the EU referendum campaign was a white supremacist and British nationalist.
Do we negotiate with these thugs? How did that pan out for the socialists, communists, church leaders, and liberal politicians in Germany after 1933? Not very well! Before the roundups of Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Gypsies began these “traitors” – wasn’t that what Jo Cox’s killer was shouting as he hacked her to death? – were picked up in short order and interned in concentration camps like Buchenwald, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen, where they were tortured and murdered.