It all started one morning with a polite but firm knock on the front door. Normally people very rarely come to the house so early in the day and it was with some wariness that I ran to the lounge to take a sneaky look at my visitor from behind a curtain. Standing before the doorstep was a tall, young man, with neat dark hair and pale skin.
But it was his expensive, navy blue pin stripe suit that really caught my attention, since something of that quality isn’t usually worn by the double glazing salesmen or mobile phone recyclers who regularly menace my neighbourhood. I was genuinely puzzled who he was until I opened the door and saw the BNP badge pinned to his lapel. I looked into his grey piercing eyes that had the cold, sharpness of raw steel. Neither of us could work out who was the more astonished as both our jaws seemed to drop at the same time! Clearly he hadn’t expected to find a black woman at home, just as I hadn’t thought I’d be eyeballing a man whose politics I disagree with. We parted company without exchanging a word!
Hours later when I analysed the encounter it dawned on me that the reason why I had opened the door to him in the first place was because I had been taken in by his suave appearance. That fact alone was enough to trigger a worrying train of thought. For better or for worse we live in a society that seems to care more about how people look rather than with what comes out of their mouths: which means that anyone with remotely dodgy views who happens to wear Armani accessorised with D&G, could spin a vile sugar-coated message whose obnoxiousness isn’t noticed by a pap obsessed generation. Is it wrong to believe that some of today’s young people are really that shallow? I don’t think so!
A recent conversation with the seventeen year old daughter of a girlfriend confirmed my worst suspicions. As we discussed Michael Jackson’s legacy she admitted that she only accepted the reports of his death when they appeared on People magazine website – even though it had earlier been confirmed by the BBC, Sky and ITV news.
“So why couldn’t you accept it when it was on the television?” I asked with undisguised incredulity.
There was an exasperated sigh followed by an explanation whose crassness would have probably offended a five-year-old:
“Because everybody knows a story’s only true when it’s printed by People magazine!”
“So as far as you’re concerned it can never be wrong?”
“Okay so it might not get it right all the time”, she said after a moment’s hesitation, “But it gets loads of stories about Britney and if she didn’t like People she’d hardly talk to them would she?”
“And I suppose you’d vote for her if she stood for Parliament?”
“Actually I would”, she grinned, “It’s about time they put some glamour into politics”.
I rolled my eyes towards the ceiling in despair bewildered as to how someone who was normally so intelligent could be that dense?
I’m old enough to remember the extremists of the 1970s along with their Nazi tattoos and open expressions of racism. Three decades later those same tattoos are hiding beneath designer clothes while the hate filled rhetoric has been cynically tempered to look reasonable and user-friendly. BNP hopes of a parliamentary seat may have been dashed in the recent elections, but down doesn’t necessarily mean out where they’re concerned. They’re looking for another way in and it worries me that the intellectual vacuum of a section of the younger generation is the potential front door. They may have re-packaged their message but all they need now is a new leader, with a tantalising aura to give the icing to a very poisonous cake. Maybe I’m too cynical for my own good, but I can only hope that tomorrow’s voters won’t leave it too late to wake up and shut the door on men in designer suits.