There is a lively debate in comments on my posting on neo-con bloggers pretending they are libertarians. Prominent among them, of course, is Paul Staines who blogs as Guido Fawkes. Paul has commented thus:
I have not ever flirted with racism. I have always been anti-racist. Nutter.
I would argue that proposing any kind of arrangement with the BNP is to flirt with racism. This is from The Guardian of 31 May 1986.
Tory student leader in ‘ racist ‘ party link / Paul Delarie-Staines of FCS attempts to form pact with British National Party in Hull
By David Rose
A leader of the Federation of Conservative Students wrote to an organiser of the British National Party proposing joint ‘direct action’ to disrupt the meetings of leftwing students. Secrecy, he emphasised, was essential: ‘The Reds would simply go wild if they got to hear of a BNP-FCS link. I would personally be in danger of being expelled from the Conservative Party.’
The author of the letter is Mr Paul Delarie-Staines, the chairman of the federation’s 50-strong branch at the Humberside college of Higher Education. Mr Delarie-Staines, who is in his first year of a degree course in business information studies, wrote on May 22 to Mr Ian Walker, a BNP organiser in Hull.
He was, he said, against several of the aims of the BNP, which campaigns for the repatriation of black citizens. Several of its members have been convicted of offences under the Race Relations Act, and others for crimes of violence against ethnic minorities. Its leader, Mr John Tyndall, is a former chairman of the National Front.
Mr Delarie-Staines said he did not share the BNP view on immigration: as a member of the ‘libertarian’ faction of the FCS he advocated the free movement of labour, albeit with the caveat that ‘you come here to work – or starve. ‘
He went on: ‘I share a lot of your objectives.’ These included a return to leadership and statesmanship, the abolition of the welfare state, and ‘the elimination of Communism in Britain – the mass media, the trade unions, and the schoolroom. ‘
Mr Delaire-Staines continued: ‘Nevertheless, even though we have our differences, I know a lot of BNP people at college do support the FCS (some are members of the FCS). I can certainly envisage some degree of cooperation.
‘For instance, we are moving away from just the normal political debate and towards more direct action – anti-Communist slogans on bridges, disrupting the leftist meetings by posing as leftists and then causing trouble, and also convincing individual leftists of the error of their ways.
‘Perhaps members of the BNP would care to join us in our anti-leftist activities. We can arrange a meeting to discuss possible joint future activities. ‘
Other examples of Mr Delaire-Staines work reached the Guardian, including a number of songs. One, entitled FCS Bootboys, reads: ‘Gas them all, gas them all, the Tribune group trendies and all. Crush Wedgwood Benn and make glue from his bones, Burn the broad left in their middle class homes.
‘Yes we’re saying goodbye to the Left, as safe in their graveyards they rest. ‘Cos they’ll get no further, we’ll stop with murder, the bootboys of FCS. ‘
In a letter to a friend, Mr Delaire-Staines said that he had been on a ‘community arts course – well. not exactly community arts, more spraypainting a bridge at 3am. Quite good fun really, ducking out of sight of passing police cars’
Mr Delaire-Staines told the Guardian that he had not meant violence by direct action at leftist meetings, only ‘causing as much noise as possible’. He said that he had tried to forge links with the BNP because ‘we share their anti-Communist view’.
He added: ‘They’re not far-right. They’re just racists, they believe in one colour. ‘
Mr John Barrow, the national chairman of FCS and a Lambeth councillor, said that Mr Delaire-Staines was ‘a bit silly. I wouldn’t hold it against him. I’m sure he’ll grow out of it.’ After hearing extracts from the letter to the BNP he added. ‘He’s absolutely right that he’s in danger of being thrown out of the Conservative Party.’
Mr James Goodsman, the Conservative Central Office official responsible for the FCS, said: ‘If the evidence comes my way I will certainly look into it.
Readers may make up their own mind whether Paul Staines or I appears to be the nutter.
I was myself a student in the 1980’s and I rmember the FCS in their full glory. I remember watching almost the entire National leadership of FCS in St Andrews one day standing on chairs and singing “Tomorrow belongs to me” while giving Nazi salutes. I can certainly confirm that jokes about gas chambers were common in FCS circles, in exaclty the kind of vein referred to in the song quoted in The Guardian article, whether or not it is correctly attributed to Paul Staines.
The Federation of Conservative Students in the mid 1980s was not the sort of organisation which would be immediately attractive to an anti-racist activist. The Conservative Party eventually moved against it because of its embarassing excesses.
Paul Staines may be telling the truth, that he has never been a racist. But anybody who proposes an alliance with the BNP is certainly “Flirting with racism”.
As to his claim to have always been an anti-racist, that is to claim more than simply to claim not to be racist. To suggest any alliance with the BNP is certainly a rather eccentric thing for an anti-racist to do.
I would cllaim I have always been an anti-racist. In the early 1980s, for example, I was a member of the Anti Apartheid Movement and the Anti Nazi League. I have plenty of witnesses to that, and most reasonable people would take that as evidence tending to show I am an anti-racist. What evidence does Paul Staines have to offer us of his anti-racist activism?