Yesterday it was revealed that Theresa May’s government is working with advertising firm M&C Saatchi to begin a campaign to “to tackle racist myths perpetuated online by the far right”, as reported by the Guardian.
At first glance this seems like the kind of arrangement which should garner cross party support as well as nationwide backing. Who doesn’t want to stop the rise of the far right and all that it entails?
However, it is important to remember how we got to this point, and most importantly, who and what facilitated the rebirth of the far right in the UK.
The current Tory government and its immediate predecessor has much to answer for in this regard, without, of course, forgetting the role played by both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair before him, as well as figures in the press and Nigel Farage.
Yet it is the Conservatives who are most to blame as they have been in power since 2010, determining the direction of the country and setting the policy agenda.
And that agenda was austerity; the false promise of rebalancing the budget, to reign the state’s largesse and encourage private sector growth, all in the name of eradicating the budget deficit by 2015.
Of course, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne missed all his targets, initially succeeding in worsening the recession and increasing the budget deficit, only to insist on further austerity.
As a result of these ideologically implemented measures, in the form of obliterated local council budgets, NHS privatisations, council housing sell offs and more, a scapegoat was needed to assuage the public’s increasing anger and frustration.
And there have been many, from the disabled, the unemployed and the young, but no one social group received as much widespread blame and hatred as the loosely labelled as foreigners.
As jobs became harder to come by and in turn more precarious, foreigners were blamed for simultaneously taking our jobs and stealing benefits – make of that inherent contradiction what you may.
The age of old myth that there would be jobs a plenty for the natives if only all the immigrants were kicked out was once again adopted and the genuine frustration, fear and anger felt by millions was diverted from those responsible for their suffering, namely those in and around Whitehall, as well as the City and other such centres of power, and wrongly focused on some society’s most weak and vulnerable.
There is, of course, nothing new in British politicians blaming The Other for the country’s woes, and there has long been a relatively small sector of British society in favour of repatriation and the like, but bar moments of intense economic suffering, like in the 1970s, such views have remained more or less sidelined, with political parties choosing to adopt just as damaging but simply less overt mantras.
However, the stance taken by David Cameron and the Tories, aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats, especially after the success of Ukip in the 2014 European elections, has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Out of fear that Nigel Farage’s party would take voters away from its base because of the frustration brought about by years of brutal and unnecessary austerity, the Conservatives, as well as Labour, adopted a tough on immigration stance, continually trying to one up each other in the vain hope of being perceived as the only party standing up for the British worker.
In the end the Tories won a slender majority and Ukip was limited to just one MP, despite receiving more than 3.8 million votes, thanks in no small part to unproportional nature of the UK’s electoral system.
Yet things became so ludicrous that comments made by David Cameron, regarding people crossing the Mediterranean because of war, sectarian violence and unrest in their home nations, were cited by the UN as being partly responsible for the rise in hate crimes following last year’s referendum.
And that’s not even the worst of it: Tory MP David Davies called for the teeth of child refugees to be checked before they were allowed to enter the country to make sure they weren’t really adults – there are plenty of other examples.
In short, it cannot be stressed enough that the Tories have overseen the deterioration of British society over the last six and half years, to the point now where a female MP was murdered by a white British male radicalised online by far right propaganda and a Polish man was killed by a group of white British teenagers as he spoke on the phone.
This isn’t happening in Hungary or in Trump’s nightmarish US of A but right here in sunny old England.
How is an ad campaign by M&C Saatchi, the firm behind the Conservatives 2015 general election campaign as well as the “Tax Bombshell” posters that helped John Major win in 1992, going to combat years of online radicalisation alongside the state’s complicit approval?
Data recently released by the National Police Chiefs Council shows that the number of far-right referrals in England and Wales had increased by 74% over the last year, with over half the cases involving minors.
Dangerous right wing beliefs have penetrated swathes of society and no current political party, especially the Tories, can tackle the problem as they have all been complicit in, and in some cases actively encouraged and even led the line in regards to open xenophobia and racism.
Until those responsible for the economic turmoil that has caused so much of the social unrest and anguish are identified and held to account, nothing will stop the rise of the far right and the continued persecution of The Other in British society.