Friday, 27 March 2009

1930s Depression Any Parallels?

There has been an increasing amount of articles over the last few weeks on terrorism and immigration. From Jacqui Smith being the bearer of the news that dirty bombs will kill us all, immigration numbers being the equivalent to the population of Birmingham and all that falls in-between.

I've noticed from the responses to these articles an increasing hostility directed at immigrates, this has been particularly oblivious with regard to Binyam Mohamed. I'm reminded of an interview I listened to with Eric Hobsbawn. When asked about the consequence of the 1930s depression i.e Hitler's election, and if anything like that could happen again he replied.
In the 1930s the net political effect in the short run of the great depression was an amorous strengthening of the right. With two exceptions one was Scandinavia which managed to succeed in moving left towards it's sort of social democratic thing and interestingly enough the United States. Where in fact they reacted against the equivalent of Bush . . .
It's an interesting parallel given of the elections so far, America voted for Obama, and Iceland has moved from a centre right Prime Minster to social democrat. The main reason however I raise this is, part of the reason Hitler was elected was immigration, blame and fear was focused surrounding the depression on a group of people. I'm not suggesting however that Cameron is just waiting to be elected to grow a small moustache! More that it concerns me given Labour's immigration and terrorist policies have already created a lot of ill feeling, without adding a financial crisis on top.

So what parties in Britain stand to benefit? Though the Conservatives will gain votes, they won't really benefit from that fear. Parties like the BNP with a more decisive approach stand to gain and Labour themselves if they stoke the fire of fear enough. As by doing so they're effectively saying "only we can save you". Is that agenda what we are seeing by being more up front with data surrounding terrorism and immigration? The cynic in me says yes, yet I hope not, as George Santayana famously said “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

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