Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Tensions ran high this week after Gabor Vona, leader of far-right Hungarian political party Jobbik, came to the UK to speak at a central London rally.  Despite 14,000 signatures being added to a petition to Theresa May calling for Vona to be banned, the leader of Hungary’s third-party was eventually permitted to speak. In a letter to May London Assembly member and former Labour MP Andrew Dismore wrote, “I think it’s very important to send the message that we won’t have hatred spread on our streets”, and as I wrote for Shifting Grounds earlier in the week, I believe we should not have allowed him to come.

Jobbik’s visit to the UK was designed to woo the 50,000 Hungarians currently living here. With elections approaching, Vona – whose party have 43 seats in the parliament there – is looking to win the absentee votes of Hungarian ex-pats. Jobbik’s policies are highly controversial, echoing the language and rhetoric of Fascist movements in the 1930s and 1940s. Travellers and Jewish people come under particular attack: “The integration of gypsies has failed. In most cases, segregation would be the most effective way of educating these people,” Vona is on record as saying.

In the end Vona’s speech, which had been scheduled to be held in Holborn on Sunday, had to be relocated after Unite Against Fascism (UAF) gathered there and prevented his supporters from leaving the station. UAF’s Sabby Dhalu said Jobbik’s views “had no place in a modern society”, adding that “Wherever fascists have a presence, racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks increase”. Vona eventually managed to find a platform in Hyde Park, where he spoke for around an hour, addressing the crowd in his native Hungarian.

It is easy to associate Jobbik with a strain of Fascistic Eastern European politics which has no equivalent here in the UK. The BNP, after all, is a faded force which has never won a single parliamentary seat, let alone 43, and the EDL appear to have lost support. Yet we must not be complacent. The widespread scaremongering over Christmas about a Roma ‘invasion’ is just one illustration of how, in straitened times, dangerous myths can gain traction. With the issue of Europe acting as a lightening rod, those who oppose the EU and want a more insular Britain often play into people’s worst fears.

Vona himself eschews the traditional left-right perspective on politics, saying “The true division is between those who want globalisation and those who do not”. Just as UKIP are seeking electoral success off the back of an unholy coalition of white collar Eurosceptic Tories and blue collar voters worried about immigration, Jobbik have garnered their support from both ends of the political spectrum.

This is not to compare UKIP with Jobbik – although it is worth noting the number of UKIP representatives who have flirted with right-wing politics – but rather to point out the danger of allowing populist narratives to take hold. In a European Election year those of us on the left must engage with voters who feel alienated by globalisation, and make a positive case for why Britain does better by working with its neighbours.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, the trial of footballers Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema began in France. The two players, who are accused of having sex with an Algerian-born prostitute while she was under 18, face prison sentences if found guilty. In a week where my prostitution report (which recommends the Swedish Model) went through the parliament, the Ribery-Benzema case illustrates the need for a change in how we tackle prostitution. The sad fact is that, had the woman in question been a year or so older, it would have been perfectly legal for two multimillionaire footballers in their late twenties to buy her body for sex.

Gábor Vona is Not Welcome in the UK

Labour Party

Theresa May is being asked to stop the leader of the Hungarian extreme right-wing political party, Jobbik, from entering the UK this weekend.

Vona is coming to Holborn on Sunday to speak at a rally that he says is for the Hungarian community living in London, in advance of this year’s European elections.  This is made all the more troubling as his visit falls the day before Holocaust Memorial day.

Home Secretary Theresa May has been urged to ban a Hungarian extreme right leader from the UK, as he prepares to come to a meeting in London on Sunday.

Labour’s Frank Dobson MP and London Assembly Members Andrew Dismore and Murad Qureshi have urged the Home Office and the Met to take action to prevent any potential unrest provoked by the arrival Gábor Vona.

The party is the most successful extreme right organisation in Europe, with three seats in the EU parliament and 44 in the Hungarian Parliament. They are aligned in the European Parliament with parties such as the BNP, Front National and Greece’s Golden Dawn.

But even Nick Griffin would shrink from publicly stating some of the things that Jobbik members feel perfectly comfortable with.  Mr Vona stated recently whilst protesting the World Jewish Congress in Budapest:

“The Israeli conquerors, these investors, should look for another country in the world for themselves because Hungary is not for sale,” party chairman Gabor Vona told the rally, according to Reuters news agency.

Marton Gyongyosi, deputy leader of Jobbik, said Hungary had “become subjugated to Zionism, it has become a target of colonisation while we, the indigenous people, can play only the role of extras”.

Recently, Mr Gyongyosi sparked outrage by saying all government officials of Jewish origin should be officially listed, as they might be a “national security risk”.

Let Theresa May know that we do not want this sort of hate speech on our street.  Please sign the petition here and stop Gábor Vona from being given a platform on Sunday.