It will surely seem counter-intuitive to decent folks, but I genuinely believe we should be heartened by the anti-independence campaign’s descent into extremism. It tends to be the case that the more extreme a movement becomes, and the closer the extremists get to real political power, the more people choose to reject them. People vote for far right parties, like the BNP, as a way of protesting about particular issues, such as the EU or immigration. But they don’t want extremists in government. Nothing better ensures the demise of extremist movements than a wee run of electoral success. Look at the BNP. Look at UKIP. Where are they now?
This process works in a number of ways. As extremists gain prominence so they are subject to greater scrutiny. Nick Griffin’s appearance on BBC Question Time did more to bring about the collapse of the BNP than any amount of protest against their policies and activities.
Success affects the leadership of these extremist parties in one of two ways. Either they are emboldened to be ever more explicit about their bigotry, in which case they put off the protest voters; or they feel the need to moderate their rhetoric, in which case they alienate their own supporters. Some combination of both these factors invariably brings any run of electoral success to a fairly catastrophic end.
Ruth Davidson got herself crowned Queen of the British Nationalists by appealing to the furthest fringes of ‘blood and soil’ devotion to the British state among both Tory and Labour voters. But it is this very elevation by the British media that spells her doom. The more the British establishment’s propaganda machine trumpets a ‘surge’ in support for the extremists, the more voters will be pulled up short by their natural caution.
We may not yet have quite reached ‘peak British nationalism’, but I suspect it’s not far off.
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