Anyone thinking racism, and a fetish for racism, are far from the surface of mainstream politics or media is shown horribly wrong by a series of recent events and coverage.
Make no mistake – the “Go Home” vans, supposedly targeting illegal migrants, were actually aimed at voters who don’t like immigrants (One can’t tell legal status without some investigation, so we’re often talking about dislike of immigrants / immigration generally.)
The chance of an illegal immigrant, having presumably had a difficult, expensive and risky time getting here, thinking “Ok, games up – I’ll turn myself in…” on reading a notice whizzing by that probably isn’t in their first language…well it’s about as large as the credibility of a “recovery” fuelled by another artificial housing boom.
Yet the Home Office declared the vans were working within a few short days – scant time for collection of even initial data on how many calls and texts were received. Such data would’ve been heavily skewed anyway, by the amount of pranksters contacting the hotline. The only measurable and real success was in whipping up a fuss, which will have been the planned one.
The scheduled further roll-out may have been shelved, despite the vans “working”, but there’s no lack of intelligence going on. Under the likely auspices of Lynton Crosby – the “Go Home” slogan will have been chosen specifically for the “dog whistle” appeal – it is the stuff of the 1970s National Front, as anyone who knows much about politics in this country knows full well. The summer “silly season” was an ideal time to run this flag up the pole. Crosby is a current architect of Tory PR and will be key in their General Election campaigning. His track record is of using populist right wing demagogy. He is an immigrant, but he is Australian. That makes him less problematic in the eyes of many a hater. Can you think why? It’s quite common for Australians to overstay their visas, thus becoming illegal immigrants, but again that’s not so bad because… well…you know…
Expert propaganda-meisters know full well that an often sympathetic and / or servile press will run things more to their liking than not. Acres of newspaper coverage and hours of TV and radio time need to be filled with talking heads, vox pops etc. Squillions of pixels are bashed out in cyberspace on comments sections, social media, forums etc. Modern propaganda sets a lot of store in shaping the parameters of such “debate” as much as possible.
The coverage went past the 2 weeks mark when the Advertising Standards Authority announced it would investigate complaints. In the talking points there was some room given to usual suspects citing racism, along with the predictable reaction which I will discuss later in this piece. But more discussion was around asking “is it racist?” (as if an NF slogan might be anything else) and “will it work?” The vans was to provide ample chance for people to moan once more about immigration. Immigration is the issue lots of people tell us they are not allowed to discuss, while it is miraculously one of the most discussed issues.
The rewarding of racism was even more obvious following Godfrey Bloom’s repulsive comments relating to foreign aid. Rather than dismiss the repugnant racist, there were attempts to present him as a “character” who perhaps was just a bit over the line and “regrettable” in being overtly racist. His own attempts to explain that he wasn’t racist were an insult to the intelligence.
Papers then ran mostly negative articles about foreign aid for days. It’s an important and interesting issue of course, but key points such as the role of UK weapons contracts and infrastructure for UK mining companies were oddly missing from the “debate”. The main thing is that Johnny Foreigner is corrupt, and he’s loading up on our money. A racist provided the opportunity to say so. Racism works. It whips up froth, the press like froth. It’s a distraction, government likes distraction.
Not to be outdone, the Labour Party’s Chris Bryant weighed in with a moan about large supermarkets deliberately employing cheap labour from abroad. He soon backed down on dissing supermarkets (what if Labour want bribes…sorry “donations” from them at some point?) We were left with was another moan about migration. Plummeting wages and working conditions are the fault of migrants you see, nothing to do with the historically demonstrable mechanics of capitalism. It’s true that capitalism uses migration labour to suppress working conditions. Government and unions should be protecting standards instead of caving in, or funding parties that cave in. It plays into the establishment scam when one section of the working class turns on another. There are countless establishment dupes out there, ever keen to bang on about how much they hate the establishment.
A less noted recent story underlines the prevalence of virulent racism in public life : Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg was found to have given an after dinner speech to the Traditional Britain Group – these are Conservative Party members, descendents from the “Monday Club”. Their vice president, Gregory Lauder Frost, might have slightly more liberal views on some aspects of crime and punishment because he once got a 2 year sentence for nicking £110k from a health authority. But he makes up for it via his sympathy for a certain regime that held sway across the North Sea during the 1930s and 40s.
A member of the “Go Home” repatriation school as the BNP and a keen admirer of pre-war Germany, Lauder Frost shared this insight regarding the bombing of Coventry by the Luftwaffe:
“Britain had all its small arms and tanks manufactured at Coventry. If you did not want to be bombed you should not have declared war on a country who had no quarrel with you.”
His broader historical analysis includes this gem : “The Poles asked for it from 1919 onwards. It was Britain and France who made it a world war, not Hitler.”
These are the views of a member of our main governing party, which at least helps further explain why things have gone so very wrong. “
Rees Mogg is one of those posh Tories who likes to come across as an eccentric and affable. He plays to the role as a regular on Radio 4’s “News Quiz”. It means that supporting policies that punish the poor in the name of fairness is kind of ok, because we chuckle when he adjusts his spectacles. So maybe consorting with nazi sympathising colleagues ain’t so bad either if you can keep up the young fogey schtick.
Think of how it’s fine to lay off thousands of London Underground staff and hundreds of fire fighters, or to imply that a mainstream Irish festival could be a front for sympathy with terrorism. Why? Because Boris Johnson says things like “gosh”, and he doesn’t always tuck his shirt in.
What allows virulent racism to go so unchallenged?
First, it doesn’t present itself as racism. It uses front issues, such as immigration, jobs and housing.
Second, at every turn it denies it’s racism. The prime tool here is to get very stroppy at the mere mention of the word. Every time it might get mentioned a legion appears, chomping at the bit to lecture us all that it’s a figment of the same politically correct imagination that stops people from saying “blackboard” for fear of a jail sentence.
We’re now getting into the 3rd decade of this reactionary bleating, we’re all far too timid in calling it out for the turgid and squalid nonsense that it is.
Liking Eddie Murphy films…being on speaking terms with a waiter in a curry house… having a friend with a Polish wife…none of these rule out the possibility of being racist. Hiding behind Islamaphobia when you can often not discern faith from appearance won’t do either.
There’s plenty of racist sentiment out there, often rooted in resentment that it can’t express itself openly without being critiqued. Yet, at the same time, people yearn to be called “racist” so they can close down debate by accusing someone of “closing down debate”.
Against my better judgement I just listened to a recent Nigel Farage interview. Within 10 seconds he rolled out the “political correctness” cliché and said that “no one is allowed an opinion” that doesn’t chime with what he deems “received wisdom”.
How much longer are we going to tolerate this bilge? We should hound these paranoid self-made hoax-martyrs at every turn. Who said they weren’t allowed an opinion? When? Why are they expressing their opinions all over the airwaves and internet if they are not allowed to?
Ill informed opinions should be challenged, put under the microscope if they might be in anyway founded in bigotry. But “not allowed”? And this is a supposedly revered figure in UK politics, just making stuff up and assuming it’s true because it’s an over-used cliché from the last century.
Endless debate has been rooted in a reactionary agenda, frequently punctuated with the meme that racist things aren’t racist at all, but that racists have a point really.
Of course housing and employment are important issues. Things are parlous because of government and corporations which are hardly over populated with migrants.
A slew of misnomers surrounding these and other issues are put to the sword very deftly in this article
Is it possible to think immigration has been mismanaged without being racist? Of course, but it’s truly disgusting when parties who encouraged it for the sake of capitalism refuse responsibility for managing infrastructure, then turn round and blame immigrants for coming here at their behest. People who fall for blaming the immigrant are, once again, being utterly duped.
Whinging about “political correctness” is now into it’s 3rd decade. It’s used as cover for some bitter and nasty opinions that feed on misinformation as well as spreading it.
Standing up to it is not a left wing thing – that’s another revolting myth perpetuated by trolls who swear blind that white heterosexual males are history’s last victims of persecution. Capitalism per se may use racism as a “divide and rule” distraction, but many a capitalist finds racism utterly repellent. We should welcome their contribution while gently reminding them of the dubious nature and motives of too many of their bed-fellows.