Dudley council bans play which challenges BNP

Picture advertising the Moonfleece play on the Drum website in Birmingham

 

A play which challenges the BNP  has been banned by Dudley Council because they feared community disapproval.

Moonfleece, by Philip Ridley is about a young, right-wing activist who examines his beliefs after witnessing the violence of the new look BNP. The play has a multicultural cast and has been shown in areas where the BNP has considerable support.

Producer, Will Young said that the tour was deliberately targeted at areas where the BNP had presence to challenge racism and homophobia, however last week he received a message from the theatre stating that the play would not be staged for fear of offending people in the community.

Dudley Council said, “The booking was cancelled as the school (in which the theatre is based) did not feel some of the issues raised within the play were suitable for a school and community setting.” (Independent: April 30)

The play was due to be staged at the Mill Theatre, in Dudley’s Dormston Centre this Thursday, April 1, just two days before the English Defence League (EDL) will march through Dudley Town centre to protest against Islam and Muslims in Britain.

Young accused the Dudley Council of caving in to far-right pressure and said that he was told by the theatre  that Dudley had very strong BNP support.

It seems that this is the case. While Bolton Council and faith leaders appealed to the government to ban the EDL from marching in their town on Saturday, 20 April; an appeal which was turned down, Dudley Council has done the complete opposite and banned a play which provokes questions about the far-right.

On May 1, 2003, the BNP gained a foothold within the Midlands by winning two council seats in Sandwell and one seat in Dudley.

With the EDL coming to Dudley this Saturday the timing could not be worse for banning this play, however is this politically motivated? With a general election around the corner are political parties afraid to upset white voters who are sympathetic to the far-right?

After all according to the Daily Telegraph a YouGov poll showed that 22% of voters would consider backing the BNP in a local, European or general election. (Daily Telegraph: 23 October: 2009) This followed Nick Griffin’s appearance on BBC1’s Question Time, so there is an argument that councils are allowing the far-right to speak because they are afraid of losing white voters should they intervene.

It is a contradiction that Dudley Council founds it appropriate for young children to be exposed to the EDL’s views and yet they find a play exploring racism and homophobia too sensitive to be shown to children.

One again, the far-right has won a decisive battle leading up to the general election.

For further research:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/news/banned-play-that-challenged-the-bnp-1930650.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/6417906/One-in-four-would-consider-voting-BNP.html

Related articles:

English Defence League plans Dudley protests

Government’s double standards on free speech exposed in Bolton


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