Thursday, November 29, 2007


Monday's demonstration at the so-called Oxford Union Society's building against its invitation to Nick Griffin and David Irving was a great success - though of course I heartily wish it had not been necessary. I reiterate my utter condemnation of the puerile Tory-boys who organised this self-indulgent shambles, and of the idiot Evan Harris who spoke alongside the fascists in the name of the "free speech" they want to crush. My still greater condemnation of the speakers themselves is, I hope, taken as read.

I was rather bemused by the two TV news vans outside and the number of journalists. I can't imagine why they are so interested in the "Oxford Union" and its doings. Still, it does reinforce my previous point that that organisation is often taken far too seriously, rather than being presented as the small group of inbred undergraduate wankers it is, and the invitations do therefore give the fascists publicity and lend them credibility.

My own report of the protest is here; other interesting reports and comments are here, here, here, here and here. Deborah Lipstadt, the historian unsuccessfully sued for libel by Irving, leading to his descriprtion by the court as a racist and anti-Semite, gives her take here.

Meanwhile, I'm very pleased to see that the noxious (ex!) Tory government of Australia got smashed in last week's general election, with (ex!) prime minister John Howard, surely a good candiate for the most unpleasant head of government in the developed world, losing his seat in Parliament. I'm especially pleased to see that their reactionary election propaganda attacking trade unions actually persuaded more people to vote Labor. It's Heath all over again!

One of the most important things that motivated Labor voters was trade union rights, and it is now up to the new Labor government to deliver. Unfortunately, despite their rhetoric about smashing the Howard anti-union laws, they don't look like doing so - so now it's over to the unions themselves to force the government's hand. They are fighting against anti-union laws that make Britain's look almost moderate by comparison; they have just won a great victory in getting rid of the government that brought those laws in, and they deserve our support in their continuing struggle.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fascists - and fascists' pandars - out of Oxford!

The Oxford Union Society, a student debating club, has refused to withdraw its invitation to Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, and David Irving, the nazi-propagandist "historian", to speak on its platform this evening, despite condemnation from all sections of the community: the representative bodies of Oxford students, Jewish and Muslim students, trade unionists and the people of Oxford; the City Council, both local MPs and many national organisations; former Oxford Union presidents; and even former Oxford Union members Edwina Currie, Boris Johnson and the Tory shadow defence minister! There will be a demonstration, which looks like it will be massive, outside the Oxford Union Society building in St. Michael's Street from 7pm today.

Both the men they have invited are convicted Holocaust deniers. Both are neo-nazis whose attempts to appear respectable have the sole aim of building up their stength to the point where they can settle quarrels with "well-directed boots and fists" (to use Griffin's phrase). Everywhere they speak, everywhere the BNP stands for election, racist violence increases, sometimes by as much as 300%. But to get votes in elections they have to put on a facade of rationality. This is why the BNP has described the Oxford Union's invitation to Griffin and Irving as a "big breakthrough for our party". This breakthrough has been handed on a plate to the BNP by Oxford Union hacks, a small proportion of the society's membership, who voted on Friday not to cancel the invitations to Britain's two most prominent neo-nazis. Of course, even to get a vote in the Oxford Union you have to pay £150 to join their organisation. This being the case, the Oxford Union Society is inevitably dominated, and has been for decades, by none-too-intelligent pubescent Tory boys. These privileged and stupid people have shown their contempt for the whole of the rest of society, with the sole exception of those few fascists who want to destroy it. They may be assured that the whole of the rest of society has nothing but contempt for them.

They have tried to do this before, inviting Irving to their platform several times over the last decade, but always chickening out when they saw the scale of the opposition. This time they seem to be hell-bent on digging themselves as far as they can into the putrid hole they have long been sctatching out. That is why we cannot stop after this evening's demonstration. We can and will ruin Griffin and Irving's evening, but unfortunately there are going to go on being fascists, and there are going to go on being upper-class adolescent morons who think it's a jolly jape to organise meetings for people who try to excuse the industrial mass slaughter of millions of human beings. No-platforming fascists when they are offered a platform is all well and good. But if a platform keeps being infested by the same vermin, time after time after time, then there is something structurally wrong with it and it has to be dismantled.

Keeping fascism permanently out of Oxford means driving the Oxford Union Society, as it is currently constituted, out of existence. Platforms within our community belong to our community and we, the people of Oxford, who are vitally affected by the presence of fascists here, have a right to veto it. The Oxford Union hacks say this is an issue about "free speech", but the assertion of the right of a privileged private members' club to ignore the public and do something outstandingly harmful to the public is a grotesque perversion of "free speech". They claim that their aim is to "crush the fascists in debate", but they are lying through their teeth. The event is advertised not as a "debate" but as a "forum" about free speech, at which the only two named speakers are Griffin and Irving. They will not be asked to justify their adherence to fascism or their racist views, but will be allowed to whine on in their usual demagogic way about how their right to "free speech" is being suppressed by laws against inciting racial hatred. Judging by the result of their private "vote" on Friday, the Oxford Union hacks seem to agree with the neo-nazis about this.

The Oxford Union hacks claim to have valid votes on issues like this, of such vital public interest, in which the right to vote has to be bought. With such a perverse idea of democracy it is no wonder they have such a perverse idea of free speech. It is the very idea of the Oxford Union, an exclusive "debating" club for people who can afford it, which is the root perversion leading structurally to their repeated invitations to fascists.

Everybody come to St. Michael's Street this evening at 7. Let us unite in defence of our city and its diverse community, and in the strongest human solidarity with all the millions who have been murdered by fascism, from the 20s and 30s through to Stephen Lawrence. As university Labour campaigner Joe Wales says, "History teaches us that we can defeat fascism only when we stand together, and at times like this our silence is morally indefensible".