Why Jobbik’s leader should have been excluded from the UK

By giving Jobbik a platform, it allows fascism to grow.

Andrew Dismore AM is the Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden and PPC for Hendon. As a Labour MP between 1997-2010 he founded Holocaust Memorial Day

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a Hungarian student about Jobbik’s rally in Holborn. He was very concerned that this was to happen and desperately asked me to intervene. I then knew little about Jobbik, so I looked into them. This was so frightening it spurred me into the campaign for Vona’s exclusion.

Those who believe I was wrong to do so equate Jobbik to the UK’s right-wing fringe. They say that Jobbik should be debated and their views exposed. They say Jobbik are an irrelevance who should be laughed at, not excluded.

The problem with this argument is that Jobbik are far from a fringe extremist group like the EDL or BNP, with limited public support. They are the far-right party to which the rest of Europe’s fascists look. And it is easy to see why, given the parallels with the rise of 1930s fascism.

Jobbik’s black-uniformed paramilitaries are like the Mosleyite blackshirts and Nazi brownshirts – not just show but a precursor to extreme violence, projected against the Roma and Jewish communities.

They physically harrass the Roma and wish to force them to live apart, ghettoised and segregated. They have demanded the compilation of a list of prominent Jews in Hungarian society, seen as a threat to national security- one step from demanding the stigmatising yellow star. Jobbik are hostile to gays. They call not just for the death penalty but also forced chemical castration for sexual criminals.

In an uncanny reminder of the Nazis’ rise to power, what is happening with Jobbik and Hungary today is very similar to the dying days of the Weimar republic. Hitler was seen as the demagogue with a Charlie Chaplin moustache until he became Chancellor as a result of the traditional parties’ inability to address the impact of the 1920s crash and depression.

Hitler did not win a parliamentary majority or amongst the German people, but once in power he burned down the Reichstag to end German democracy.

In Hyde Park, Jobbik’s supporters waved the ‘Greater Hungary‘ flag, seeking the restoration of Hungary’s historic borders – like the Nazis’ Austrian Anschluss, Rhineland reoccupation, and Sudetenland invasion. Europe appeased Nazi demands till it was too late. A Jobbik ‘Greater Hungary’ policy does not add to stability in Mitteleuropa .

Of course, if Jobbik were a lunatic fringe with little support, there could be an argument that they should be ignored. But they are not- things have gone too far.

Jobbik is the third largest party in Hungary. They have 43 MPs and 3 MEPs. Mainstream Hungarian Parties are utterly impotent in challenging them: rather, they pander to Jobbik extremism.

Freedom of expression is not an unfettered right. We have laws against incitement to hatred, but there is little prospect of enforcement against a Hungarian fascist leader who flies in, speaks in Hungarian, and flies off.

Vona’s excuse was that he was speaking for the Hungarian elections. That makes no sense. Why address a few dozen supporters who will vote for him anyway, rather than campaign for many thousands of votes in Hungary? And why time it for the day before Holocaust Memorial Day, if not deliberately to cause offence to those his party demonises: Jews, Roma, gays and others?

Luckily a Labour councillor found the meeting hall Jobbik had booked under false pretences and got it closed down, as the police were hardly relishing attempting to escort the Jobbik gang to Covent Garden, when confronted by the large numbers of anti – fascists aiming to stop them.

The ‘battle of High Holborn’, unlike the 1936 Battle of Cable Street, ended non-violently, with the same outcome- the Jobbik fascists scuttled off to Speakers’ Corner for their Blackshirt rally huddled against the rain.

And the lessons of history remain the same: by giving them a platform, it allows the Jobbik fascists to grow, to lead their planned fascist group in the European Parliament, and to create a troubled future for all.

This article was written in response to a piece entitled ‘However unsavoury Jobbik’s views are, Theresa May was right not to ban them‘ that appeared on Left Foot Forward earlier today

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6 Responses to “Why Jobbik’s leader should have been excluded from the UK”

  1. Junius

    Fascism cannot be defeated by preventing people from hearing one side of the debate. The best defence of liberty is to allow all members of the public to flex their critical thinking muscles for themselves

  2. E Heinze

    RE: “I then knew little about Jobbik, so I looked into them.” That is precisely the sentence which un-does the rest of Dismore’s argument. It is not just Dismore who “knew little about Jobbik”, but most of Western Europe and the world. As Dismore writes, he only “looked into them” once it already appeared they were going to speak. The visit has now prompted people to become informed about intolerance in Eastern Europe, whose horrific dimensions are indeed things most people know all too little about. Few people take the time to investigate things rendered invisible.

  3. uglyfatbloke

    How about excluding Theresa may from the UK?….I’d probably vote for that.

  4. Michael Harris

    Andrew Dismore is wrong. His argument rests on the premise that at a certain point of popularity, freedom of expression should be curtailed. So free speech for the BNP, but err Jobbik are too popular so shouldn’t be given a platform. This argument is hardly going to win over the many Hungarian voters who currently back Jobbik’s vile racist platform.

    You beat fascism through argument, rather than attempting to silence them and censor them. I’ve written about this at length here: http://www.mjrharris.co.uk/dont-ban-jobbik-beat-them/

  5. thebetterview

    ‘Jobbik’s black-uniformed paramilitaries are like the Mosleyite blackshirts and Nazi brownshirts …’ LIE.

    ‘They physically harrass the Roma …’. LIE. There is not a single instance of this that holds against either Jobbik or the Garda.

    ‘… and wish to force them to live apart, ghettoised and segregated. LIE. There was once a suggestion in parliament from Jobbik that recidivist violent offenders who do not respond to corrective incarceration be kept indefinitely in places of confinement, pending their ability to rehabilitate. This call came in the wake of a series of gruesome murders of elderly people committed by Gypsies who already had a history of violence.

    ‘… they have demanded the compilation of a list of prominent Jews in Hungarian society…’ LIE. Jobbik made a recommendation in parliament that a list be compiled of all parliamentarians who hold nationalities other than Hungarian.

    ‘In Hyde Park, Jobbik’s supporters waved the ‘Greater Hungary‘ flag ..,’. LIE. There is no such flag. (And you were not at Hyde Park when Gabor Vona chatted with his constituents.)

    ‘…the large numbers of anti – fascists aiming to stop them’. LIE. At the very most, there were 100 UAF thugs (still boorish and still unwashed) who kept their safe distance form the Met, who did a brilliant job, staying with the Hungarians throughout the rally. It was only after the rally was dispersed that thirty-odd UAF thugs attacked two young Hungarian men who were making their way home on foot. One of them was hospitalised. Are you proud of that?
    And why do you persist in saying that Gabor Vona came to London to spread hate? (Are you more than a little sick in the head?) He came to London on the invitation
    of his constituents. He and they talked pleasantly in Hyde Park for over an hour, despite the rain, and concluded the meeting with a singing of the Hungarian national anthem.

    Finally: Why, Mr Dismore, did you not mention that members of Neturei Karta (Orthodox J*ws) came to Holborn to support Jobbik? Too inconvenient for you?

  6. thebetterview

    The mainstream media have been thrashing Jobbik for years now. I’m surprised (and disbelieving) that Dismore knew nothing about them. The strange thing is that not one antisemitic incident has ever attached to Jobbik. Yet it has been getting ‘the treatment’. An explicit antisemiitc march in Paris comprised of 17,000 people, and held on the very same day that Gabor Vona came to London, got no media attention at all:


    It was ignored, despite the chants ‘J*w, France is not yours’, J*ew, out of France’. What does one make of this?

    ‘intolerance in Eastern Europe, whose horrific dimensions are indeed things most people know all too little about…’ Really? I know of none. Can you cite some?

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