|Tony Martin and a Common Sentiment||Jeffrey Turner looks behind a startling headline|
"Vote BNP and give Britain a dictator, says Tony Martin." That was the headline to an article covering more than half of page 17 of the Sunday Telegraph on the 18th April.
Doubtless, the paper's editor thought that by coupling these two injunctions by Mr. Martin, the Norfolk farmer who was jailed for shooting dead an intruder on his property, he would get across the idea that the British National Party favours dictatorship. In fact, it is strenuously at pains to deny any such thing. The party's literature abounds with assurances that it is absolutely committed to democratic government - and quite rightly so, though the habit can sometimes be overdone. No one in his right mind would suggest that the BNP come out with a proposal to set up a Hitler, a Mussolini or even a Cromwell at the head of a government in Britain which would outlaw elections, gag the press and jail the opposition. This has not been put forward since the party was founded in 1982 and it would be ridiculous to put it forward now.
And I fully expect this point to be made if the party's representatives are asked to comment on Mr. Martin's proposals. Yes, they welcome his support but no, they are not seeking dictatorship. Fair enough. The media, particularly the left-wing press, will continue to maintain otherwise; but they would, wouldn't they? In the climate of the times, a party resolutely opposed to globalism and multi-racialism will inevitably be labelled an 'enemy of democracy', no matter how far from the truth this may be.
The serious side
But Mr. Martin's advocacy of a dictator deserves a little more serious consideration than might appear on first reading. Is he some out-of-touch nutter prone to come out with wild statements calculated to shock? Well, he is regarded as something of an eccentric and not part of the 'mainstream' of the population. But there is another side to that. We British are rather fond of eccentrics - not least because experience has told us that the eccentrics sometimes turn out to be right. John Logie Baird was no doubt written off as an eccentric when he was seen dabbling with wires and cathode-ray tubes in a makeshift lab in Hastings in the 1920s, but it turned out that he had in his hands one of the most brilliant inventions in history: television. But enough of eccentricity. Is Mr. Martin expressing quite such 'way-out' thinking as might be supposed? The record of my ears in pubs, supermarkets and bus stops all over the place in the past decade or so suggests not. Quite a few times I have heard folk say, with reference to the pathetic bunch running this country and the joke of a system that keeps them in office: "What we need is a dictator!" One does not have to agree with them to understand what makes them say this. Maybe they are not really so serious when they do say it but are merely letting off a bit of steam, giving vent to a series of angry thoughts and frustrations that have built up over some time as they have witnessed the long catalogue of failures on the political scene, the seeming impotence of anyone in this country to get anything done.
I would suspect that for every Tony Martin who is prepared to say openly to a newspaper that he favours a dictator there are some tens of thousands who think that way but would rather not have themselves named in print as doing so, and perhaps some hundreds of thousands more who mutter the same thoughts to themselves under their breath but would be reluctant to confess them even to their friends.
The vast majority of people in Britain would certainly still oppose the idea of a dictator in charge of the nation - indeed not least because that is the very light in which they have come to see Tony Blair! Here is a tin-pot tyrant who rides roughshod over public opinion, treats parliament as a rubber stamp and is determined to impose upon us all policies for which he has no popular mandate. Blair is, of course, a caricature of a real dictator. Such men, whatever their faults, tend to be strong, tough, masculine types who operate out in the open, declare fairly honestly what they intend to do and are not afraid of making enemies. They do not creep about in the long grass, wheeling and dealing with powerful vested interests in order to stay in office; they usually grapple with those vested interests and put them firmly in their place - subordinating them to the national will. No, Tony is definitely not dictator material, though he does indeed display some of the worst characteristics that people associate with the genre.
Even supposing that Mr. Martin were right, and a dictator - strictly theoretically - would be a good thing for Britain in her present condition, it is all essentially academic because the political institutions of this country as they presently stand simply would not make such a thing possible. Those people who favour a dictator can romance about the idea in bars until closing time and beyond; let us deal with things as they are in the real world. The real world in which we live is one in which parliamentary institutions are the ones in which we have to operate, and the sensible thing to do is use those institutions to bring about the changes for the better that we know are needed. It is much the same with talk about armed uprisings and coups d'état. In banana republics these things are a practical possibility. With many people in Britain such talk only serves as an excuse for doing nothing within the system that we have.
Martin as a conduit
But we should not, at that point, leave Tony Martin's demands and just forget about them; they tell us something. More important than the question of whether proposing a dictatorship for Britain is right or wrong is the fact that more than a tiny few people are beginning to think that way.
And I suggest that this number is going to increase as time goes on and the failures of the present system and its rulers become ever more manifest. Martin is in fact a conduit; he is one of those who are thinking ahead of their time. These people are seeing a course of political affairs that is leading to national self-destruction and they are prepared to embrace some very radical solutions - some indeed perhaps too radical.
The BNP back in the 198Os and early to mid-1990s was also ahead of its time: it was calling for policies which the mass of the population were not yet ready to accept. But time - not the BNP itself - changed all that. As the disastrous effects of other policies became more and more evident, the new policies, not previously acceptable, were seen as acceptable.
What does all this mean? To put it another way, is there a bottom line? Yes, there is a bottom line, and this is what it all means: it means that great reforming movements must always be prepared to be a bit ahead of their times, to have the courage to espouse policies which not everybody will immediately see as right but which events will duly prove to be right. Then not only is popular agreement achieved but so also is popular respect - a commodity utterly lacking in the politics of today.
What do the mainstream politicians do? They run around with their ears constantly tuned in to what their beloved voters are currently thinking - or at least what they believe them to be thinking - and tailor their policies in accordance with that belief. Whether such policies are right or wrong for the nation is secondary; whether they will get the politicians in at the next election is paramount. Has it ever been otherwise?
Of course, what the politicians believe the voters to be thinking can often be very wide of the mark. This happens because the tendency of the politicians is to accept the interpretation of popular sentiment presented by the metropolitan élite who control the media and can create almost any phoney political climate they like, and then induce them (the politicians) to accept it as the real climate.
But, needless to say, the metropolitan élite has again and again been proved wrong. Still, however, the evidence of its wrongness does not always manifest itself overnight; and politicians, whose minds are always dominated by 'short-termism' cannot see the wrongness because their vision does not extend beyond the ends of their noses.
Statesmanship - a quality never to be expected in a run-of-the-mill professional party politician - requires that vision: the ability to see ahead to the consequences of a policy but also the ability to perceive a current for public opinion that is not immediately evident from today's opinion polls or tomorrow's leader article in the bought press.
A statesman, in just the same way as a run-of-the-mill politician, cannot place himself so far ahead of public opinion that he becomes alienated from it and incapable of winning the public support necessary to act. But by placing himself just a little way ahead of public opinion or perhaps rather by being acquainted with the reality of public opinion rather than the perception of it as given by journalists and broadcasters - he can tap into reserves of popular support that are not visible to the politician, and surprise everyone by demonstrating what leadership is able to do when the courage and vision are there.
There is one thing that this writer firmly believes, and that is that real public opinion in Britain right now inclines much further towards hard-line, nationalist and radical-rightist ideas than is seen on the surface, even by some nationalist thinkers themselves. Whilst there will not be for the foreseeable future a consensus in favour of outright 'dictatorship' as Mr. Martin has suggested, there is no doubt that there is a very strong and ever-growing consensus moving away from liberalism and in favour of a return to strong authority in every national sphere - that is a degree of authoritarianism in national affairs for which no politician, even the best, has yet been prepared to call.
Nationalists must be ready to tap into this consensus, and as such reveal themselves to be fundamentally different, in every fibre of their being, from the political jobsworths whom the people increasingly despise.