Should we be manning the barricades as a new generation of Blackshirts takes over the country? According to reports in yesterday's newspapers, "almost half the country would back a far Right party" that dissociated itself from violence and fascist imagery.
The reports - based on the results of a poll of 5,054 people conducted by the anti-fascist organisation Searchlight - stirred up a good deal of shock-horror as, I suppose, they were intended to. Searchlight is a campaigning organisation. Saying "Eek! Look out! Fascists! They're everywhere!" is - not to impugn the good work they do - slightly the point of its existence.
When you look at the question that this 48 per cent figure ("almost half the country", natch, rather than, say, "less than half") answered yes to, the story unravels. These interviewees were asked whether they would "definitely support" or "consider supporting" a non-violent political party that "wants to defend the English, create an English parliament, control immigration and challenge Islamic extremism".
Are these the four key indicators of fascism? "Defend the English" is an almost meaningless phrase - and could just as easily cover the people who bore on about celebrating St George's Day or campaign for authentic Cornish pasties as neo-Nazi boot-boys. The creation of an English Parliament is no more than the logical conclusion of New Labour's wet-blanket plans for a succession of regional talking shops. To "control immigration" was the stated aim of all three main political parties at the last election (well, duh: I challenge you to find the party that stands for abolishing passports and throwing the borders wide open).
And how many people do you see sticking up for Islamic extremism? The aspiration to "challenge" it is hardly a mark of the far Right, unless we're to imagine jackbooted hordes marching in lockstep down Whitehall threatening "firm words and a searching dialogue".
My guess is that 52% were put off supporting this blandly centrist imaginary political party only by the thought of finding unctuous English Assembly Members in cheap suits on their doorsteps at election time.
It is only by wilfully interpreting these things as code-phrases for "send them home", "outlaw Islam" and "kill all the Welsh" do you arrive at the idea that 48% of people would vote for fascists given the chance. And, of course, it's bollocks: they wouldn't and they don't.
A poll on actual parties of the Right gets conducted, for real, and with a much larger sample size, every time we have an election. The BNP is a far Right party that doesn't use fascist imagery and does its best to dissociate itself from violence - and its share of the vote remains more or less what it has always been: that is, pathetic.
London Evening Standard