The unprecedented electoral success of the True Finns has sent the usual suspects into hysterics this morning; the BBC wasted no time in getting its classic hatchet-job online, the Telegraph calls them ‘far-right,’ and the Guardian was in a moral panic trying to decide which of its labels to use. ‘Populist,’ ‘far-right,’ ‘maverick,’ and even their old ‘anti-immigrant’ line were dusted off. Unlike the leaders of nominally right-wing parties in the United Kingdom, who bend over backwards to present an unrealistic image to appease the media, the leader of the True Finns does not seem bothered by the insults. He merely reminded the audience that his party are not extremists, and that was it.
Because, contrary to the familiar narrative of the BBC and others, the True Finns are not extremists. They are not far-right, nor are they nationalist. Twenty years ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were not even conservative. They are far from the ‘fascists’ that the liberal media envisions. Their policies on taxes and the welfare state would put them beyond the pale in any fascist state. The commentators on the Guardian rise to his defence:
‘The veil is lifting across Europe’ - SweetAlabama
‘Sounds like the Arab Spring is heading to Brussels’ - continent
‘What's extremist (or fascist) about wanting a referendum on treaty changes’ - karnage
‘Anything which hastens the end of this EU nightmare sounds remarkably constructive to me’ - bobdoney
That’s a selection of the highest-rated comments on the thread. One thing that the media, and many of the readers of those newspapers, irrespective of political allegiance, do not seem to understand is that the hatred of the EU goes far beyond their political boundaries. This is not a victory of the ‘far-right.’ It is not a victory of ‘fascists.’ It is not a victory of ‘Eurosceptics.’ This is a victory of the people. It may seem strange to hear commentators on the Guardian and the Telegraph saying exactly the same things, but, really, it makes perfect sense. If you read the comments in the BBC, in the Independent, and in the Telegraph, they all say roughly the same thing, and none of them match up to what they are told by the media. One Guardian commentator pretty much sums it up perfectly:
‘Three comments before some ill-informed bigot who could barely find Finland on the map uses the word fascist. Maybe if governments, bureaucrats and commentariats all over Europe weren't quite so quick to dismiss all populists (by definition, grassroots, working class, anti-establishment, popular) as fascists, then there might be some constructive debate about what is going wrong with the European project. People all over Europe are angry, confused, disenfranchised. Ignoring them, or branding them with absurdly emotive labels like 'fascist' just proves their point that no one is inclined to listen to their concerns’
Absolutely spot on, Lostin Sweden. You’ve just neatly summarised the cause and effect of the EU’s undemocratic nature. When parties that used to be wildly different in their policy and politics suddenly converge upon a consensus, they leave not only extremists disenfranchised, but many of their former voters. There hasn’t been a poll done where less than half of the British electorate wanted to reduce immigration or leave the EU. But far less than half of the electorate vote for the BNP, UKIP, the Greens, or other Eurosceptic parties. Those that continue to vote tribally are disenfranchised. They will cast around for alternatives, for parties that actually represent their views when they realise that those they used to vote for no longer do so. So parties that oppose mass-immigration and European integration are born; not out of fascist or nationalist ideology, but out of desperation, out of the lack of any real alternative.
The anti-immgiration and Eurosceptic parties have made breakthroughs across the continent ; they have gone from a few thousand votes to millions, with little or no neutral media exposure, internal feuds, and continual bankruptcy to contend with. The leaders of some of them have been put on trial for their views; the members of others have been sacked from their jobs and deprived of their income. But the tide of these parties - which, despite the claims of the media, come from across the spectrum, with both the Socialist Labour Party, UKIP, and the BNP opposing the EU and mass-immigration - cannot be stopped until the EU itself changes direction, or dissolves. They now hold the balance of power in several European countries; the head of the National Front is now more popular than the President of France. But, until now, they have been unable to have much of an impact on the actions of their governments or the European Union itself. The election of Timo Soini and the True Finns may change that.
This could be the first big victory of Euroscepticism.