In which I thought it’d be clever to catalogue two-days of Britain First posts to see what they talk about – the answer won’t shock you.
If you’re like me (and I grant this isn’t entirely likely as the majority of the English-speaking internet is American), you’ve probably spent the last week concerned about two major events. They’re two events of extremely insular national self-interest.
- Almost the entire NHS is on strike over working contracts being imposed by the government.
- Some leaked documents confirm what we’ve always known – rich people avoid tax by parking it out of the country, and our Prime Minister is amongst them.
You may have also been following issues with the UK steel industry, and at this point I throw my hands in the air and say that’s just one of those things I haven’t had the brain-space for. I know it’s a thing, I know not the intimate details.
Anyway, these are stories of insular, national self-interest. So the US election and the rise (and, may the gods be willing, eventual fall) of Donald Trump and the on-going refugee crisis across Europe and whatever shit Daesh have done this time aren’t things I’m counting. Why? Because of a little quasi-political organisation known as Britain First.
They don’t need an introduction, really. We know what they’re like. At best, concerned citizens who are disheartened, disenfranchised and unfortunately misinformed; and at worst, violent, nasty, illiterate, “send-all-the-nig-nog-towelheads-back-to-bongo-bongo-land” hardcore racialists.
Anyway, in light of these 2-3 stories of, I reiterate, national self-interest, I wondered if Britain First did indeed, and as advertised, put Britain first?
Do they show interest in what is happening in this country? Do they show interest in our politics? Our leaders? Our health service? Our education?
At this point, you probably won’t express surprise that the answer is “do they fuck“. I went to their Facebook page, scrolled down, and started categorising fairly broadly. Here’s the post breakdown from the last 48 hours, April 7th and 8th:
First observation: they post a lot. It works out as a post every half-hour or so.
Second observation: they mostly post about themselves and Muslims, and after that almost entirely about other countries. They want to take our country back; and while they seem to have plenty of idea who they want to take it back from, they aren’t too clear on where they want to take it back to.
A few explanations of the categories.
- Self promotion: Britain First do a lot of this, as you can tell. They advertise their protests, put up vlogs by their figureheads, and post pictures about how you should vote for them in London. Buried in these stories might be things relevant to the United Kingdom, but it’s encapsulated and subsumed entirely within their brand.
- Muslims: This includes any story about a Muslim that was posted only because they were Muslim. Man raped woman? Only counts if they were brown! White Muslim found? Well, that proves it’s not racist! You know, that sort of thing. Two of these posts could be considered “British” as they feature Winston Churchill.
- European events: Indeed, their major source of news is stuff happening overseas. A lot of these were about the Dutch vote on the EU, and a lot were about Muslims in Europe – making it hard to distinguish between this category and the one above.
- US Politics: Yes, the United States were a big thing due to a massive surge across one of these days (see below). They have quite literally said “VOTE TRUMP” more times than they’ve said “SAVE UK STEEL”. Because Britain should come first.
- EU Referendum: And this is the first category that might be considered about Britain. As far as importance go, Britain seems to be fifth in line for their priorities.
- ISIS: I originally had this as “middle east events” to make it as generic as the “European events” category – but, let’s be honest, these are their “brown people make big boomy bang-bangs in sandy faraway land” stories.
- Im’grints: It was hard to split things between this and “the towelheads are coming”, but this is anything that’s a bit more general and aimed any migrants of any ethno-religious grouping.
- Clickbait: Britain First are famous for this. They’ve put up misleading “donate to save the animals!” posters to attract attention, but in this sample they haven’t done much of it.
The rest are effectively “misc”. I will point out the “Fucking commies!” section. One of these stories is about Jeremy Corbyn getting The Morning Star delivered to him.
I broke it down by two days. This shows that their God Bless America fetish was a bit of a one-day spike, so perhaps not representative. As you can also see from this one, their posts about the Panama Papers came in day 2 (April 8th), and only in the last few hours – so they’re a little late to a party that’s been going on all week.
Now, in fairness, they have actually used one of these Panama Papers posts to call for David Cameron to resign – in line with a lot of liberal thought on this.”Wait, Britain First and the UK left agreeing? Surely not!” I hear you cry. And you’d be right. Given the details of their posts on the EU referendum, a lot from the last day have objected to Cameron being on the pro-EU (the “in” campaign) side, and seek to punish him for it. After all, if anyone can sway the UK right to stay in the EU it will be Cameron, and it’s probably in our selfish interest to support him on that, rather than call for him to resign over something comparatively minor. You can also back through Britain First’s comments on the Panama papers, where many resort to the “but it’s legal” defence, suggesting they really aren’t too bothered about the wealthy fleecing them, but are happy to see a Left-wing Socialist Communist Liberal like David Cameron fall on his sword regardless.
Anyway… why, again?
Britain First is followed by over a million people, and are slowly becoming what counts as mainstream thought in the UK – regardless of what they claim about the ‘mainstream media’ they are not as far onto the fringes as they claim. They’ve grown from obscurity to having quite a voice amongst real, actual people, with actual voting powers.
And remember, this is 48 hours where the major events of national self-interest have been the NHS going on strike and the Prime Minister’s involvement in a tax scandal. These are not stories that only affect Guardianistas who are snorting their third line of avodaco, either – the entire country relies on the health service for emergency care, ambulances, accident and emergency, and most medical training. We rely on its scale and purchasing power to negotiate better rates for medical drugs and treatments. We rely on its doctors for cutting edge research. Meanwhile, tax avoidance by the wealthy accumulates into the Tax Gap, which is one of the largest government expenditures and a firm contributor to the government deficit – and it’s the working class, average person, not the millionaire, that gets punished in their attempt to close this gap. They are definitely important and, as I’ve said, very much within our insular national self-interest.
These are big things ignored in favour of posts about how all Pakistanis are rapists.
For anyone who really wants to put this country first, and put the people who live here first, these are major stories. For anyone who doesn’t care about those particular things, this is a country of 64 million people and so it can’t be hard to find some relevant news about us if we want to be selfish. Why is a page that puts Britain, supposedly, first, hardly talking about us? Why are they talking about a “foreign” religious group more than their own religion? Why are they talking about a non-EU county more than they’re talking about the upcoming EU referendum?
So it’s time to stop pretending this is even remotely about “patriotism”.