should BNP members be allowed to work in the public sector? They already are not if they are police officers or prison officers. But teachers? Nurses? Civil servants? Benefit officers? Nick Cohen has a good piece on this here, published in the Observer on Sunday 28th June. I will answer the question myself. Yes. Including if they are police officers or prison officers. Because the BNP is a legally constituted political party. If its members are to be discriminated against in terms of employment then the next step is to make membership of the BNP illegal. And what does that mean for those who have been elected as BNP councillors, MEPs, maybe even an MP at the next election? And worse than that (those who are elected for the BNP have a sorry record of getting disqualified for violent behaviour, benefit fraud and so on) do we really want to have in Britain tribunals saying "Are you now or have you ever been"?
Pride is often expressed in the tolerance and fairness of British society. That way can lie complacency, it is true. But wasn't it right for Britain to shelter American film directors and others who could no longer work in the US because they were or had been communists, or were thought to have been? Remember that even in those times there was a US Communist Party (I think it still exists today) and you did not go to prison for being a member of it. And if it was right then why is it also right today to deny employment to people on the grounds of their political beliefs?
Here in France holocaust denial is a crime, which it is not in the UK. The comedian Dieudonne, who has expressed such views and has publicly supported the Front National, is not however banned from working (though I have never seen him on mainstream TV, perhaps I am watching the wrong channels). Dieudonne is black. So it all starts getting complicated. Let's have laws against incitement to racial hatred, and let's have public servants dismissed if they break them. Let's not allow teachers to indoctrinate their pupils politically (it happened all the time when I was going to school). Let's make the BNP comply with UK laws by not restricting membership to whites (there is all kinds of nonsense on their website about the Norse Folk, you have to go to Iceland to find them chaps these days), which the Front National has to do here.
My sister had a teacher at primary school who was a Jehovah's Witness and who terrified some of the children with her proselytising. I submit that teacher should have been disciplined, instructed never to express their own religious views in class again, and allowed to continue working - if they did not comply then they should have been dismissed. In fact what happened back then (the 1960s) is that sympathetic noises were made to worried parents, the possibly traumatised children were ignored or not believed, and the teacher carried on working. But I still think that banning Jehovah's Witnesses from working in schools would be wrong.
Where are the old certainties? Give me Stalin and St Paul, as the man once sang - go on tell, me who sang that.