As well-intentioned as this article is, it’s a further example of the kind of patronising approach to ‘the working class’ which infuriates me. The vast majority of working-class people do not engage with far-right groups and have little sympathy with them. With this in mind, the approach of ‘let’s look at the problems which these people face which drive them into the hands of the far-right’ is rather misguided. Clearly social problems do play a role – but most people who face those problems don’t become involved with the EDL. There is also evidence (James Rhodes in the Sociology journal, cited by Leninology) that the groups most likely to be represented in the BNP’s membership are “‘skilled workers’, and the lower middle class”, which obviously does not support the theory that serious deprivation and social exclusion pushes people towards the far-right.
It is something I have noticed in much of the writing about ‘Blue Labour’ – middle-class people writing about a ‘working-class’ which exists largely in their heads, in order to further their own agenda.
As an aside – even if an excluded working-class were embracing the far-right – while it would be positive to understand it, we must never, ever attempt to excuse it. ‘Liberal’ commentators and politicians seem terrified of calling EDL/BNP supporters ‘racist’ and instead go out of their way to speak about ‘engaging’ with these people and ‘understanding’ their problems. I happen to think that the vast, vast majority of people involved in these groups know exactly what they’re doing and aren’t brainless morons thrown into racism by circumstance. And a working-class racist is no more deserving or noble than any other.