Flutes in Whitehall, Fascists on the Streets
The arrival of the Livingston True Blues Flute Band in Whitehall with their Confederate flag brings the two referenda of 2014 and 2016 neatly together. The same people who rioted in Glasgow the day after the referendum result in 2014 were present in Whitehall at the Leave Means Leave rally.
While the media wrung its hands about an egg thrown at Jim Murphy, Better Together supporters organised a full-on riot.
As the outpouring of white nationalism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia and racism mingled in a spew of hate in London yesterday, the ascendancy of the far-right into the mainstream is complete.
As the state shudders in the harsh light of self-inflicted national humiliation and constitutional crisis, British fascism needs the tunes of the Loyalist bands to dance to. Even the Daily Record reports: “Brexit nightmare may yet get darker as far right seeks to reap dividend from broken politics”.
It’s worth remembering who they are, what forces they represent and why a confederate flag is mingling with the red white and blue of the Union Jack.
The British media stuttered in complete incomprehension about the flute band, Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News called it a “pipe band”.
It’s worth joining the dots between hyper-British nationalism, race hate and sectarianism. As the Irish News reported in 2015 (`Billy Boys’ link to the Ku Klux Klan) the links between loyalism and racism are explicit:
“A HIGH profile Scottish loyalist who took part in Twelfth marches in Belfast in the 1930s, went on to start a branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Glasgow. Billy Fullerton led a notorious gang, the Brigtown Boys, whose signature tune was “The Billy Boys”, an infamous sectarian song which was associated with the Orange Order and Rangers Football Club. The song, which includes the line: “We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood”, was banned from football grounds by the Scottish government in 2011. Born in the Bridgeton area of Glasgow, Fullerton formed the Brigton Billy Boys, an anti-Catholic gang from Bridgeton Cross, in 1924. At its height, the gang had 800 members. According to reports, Fullerton led the Bridgeton Purple and Crown Flute Band which marched during the Twelfth in Belfast in the 1930s. When the Billy Boys went into decline in the late 1930s, Billy Fullerton joined Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and went on to start a Glasgow branch of the Ku Klux Klan.”
That’s what the confederate flags doing on their banner.
As Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage, Claire Fox and Toby Young gather on Newsnight, the toxic hatred of the media that has dominated the Trump movement in America manifested itself on the streets:
— Georgina Stubbs (@georginafstubbs) March 29, 2019
None of this is by accident.
The far-right has been putting huge energy and resources into organising in Britain around Brexit.
“US Christian right ‘fundamentalists’ linked to the Trump administration and Steve Bannon are among a dozen American groups that have poured at least $50 million of ‘dark money’ into Europe over the last decade, openDemocracy can reveal today. Between them, these groups have backed ‘armies’ of ultra-conservative lawyers and political activists, as well as ‘family values’ campaigns against LGBT rights, sex education and abortion – and a number appear to have increasing links with Europe’s far right. They are spending money on a scale “not previously imagined”, according to lawmakers and human rights advocates, who have called our findings “shocking”. Reacting to openDemocracy’s findings, a cross-party group of more than 40 MEPs has called on the EU’s transparency tsar Frans Timmermans to look into the influence of “US Christian fundamentalists… with the greatest urgency” ahead of May’s European Parliament elections. Among the biggest spenders is a group whose chief counsel is also Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow. Another organisation has collaborated with a controversial Rome-based ‘institute’ backed by Steve Bannon. And a number of the groups are connected to the World Congress of Families: a network of ultra-conservative activists which has links to far-right politicians and movements in several European countries, including Italy, Hungary, Poland, Spain and Serbia.”
Parallel to this is the money pouring into the Spiked/LM Network which has done more than most to facilitate and curate the far-right under the relentless patter of “free-speech”.
We’ve charted their funding and networks here:
All of which is ironic if we remember that Claire Fox and Brendan O’Neill once considered Sinn Feinn sell outs for the Good Friday Agreement. Now they’re tapping along to Livingston True Blues Flute Band.
As John Rogan asks (“Spiked, Ireland and Brexit”):
“How is it possible to explain the political evolution from the RCP to Spiked? From unconditional support for physical-force Irish Republicanism to their support for Brexiter “traditional jingoistic prejudices of … die-hard Tory Empire loyalists”.
Brexiteers links to the far-right isn’t confined to the “staunch” forces of Loyalism.
Channel 4 News’s Andy Davies exposed the links between Aaron Brown the spokesman for Fishing for Leave, and white power extremism.
Understanding the rise of fascism in Britain through Brexit and resurgent nationalism will also require bringing the historical role of loyalism into the light.
Counter movements will need to organise and resist the dark forces at play on the streets and bring values of solidarity respect and mutualism in place of the hate that is consuming people.