Well done Yvette Cooper. Well done David Lammy. Shame on you Ed Miliband

by Atul Hatwal

Another day, another shambolic intervention from Labour’s leader. This time it was about Nigel Farage and racism.

When asked the inevitable question on the Today programme, Ed Miliband said,

“I believe what Nigel Farage said a couple of days ago was deeply offensive. I said it was a ‘racial slur’. I think, though, our politics is disagreeable enough without political leaders saying about other political leaders ‘They’re a racist’.”

It’s excruciating. Ed Miliband might have been dragged kicking and screaming to acknowledge that Farage’s comments were a “racial slur,” but his refusal to follow through on his own logic and say that Farage was being racist is ludicrous.

The implication of Ed Miliband’s interview is that Nigel Farage can say whatever he likes, no matter how prejudiced or bigoted, and it still won’t be enough for the Labour leader to call him a racist.

It’s almost as if the Labour leader finds the act of calling someone a racist more disagreeable than the racism itself.

Contrast this with two interventions this lunchtime.

First, David Lammy on the Daily Politics. Same question, different answer.

“What Nigel Farage said over the weekend was racist. So I’m clear, he’s a racist.”

And then there was Yvette Cooper on ITV News,

It’s not racist to be worried about immigration or to want stronger controls, but it is racist to some how stir up fears about Romanians living next door. So Ukip should say they were wrong on that.”

Both Yvette Cooper and David Lammy are absolutely clear on condemning Nigel Farage’s racism. No caveats, attempts to soften the criticism or shy away from the ‘R’ word.

On the central issue in the European election campaign, Ukip’s racism, the Labour leader is now hopelessly isolated. Senior backbenchers like David Lammy, and senior frontbenchers like Yvette Cooper are both taking a very different line from him. His authority and judgement are in question on this, and a raft of other issues, as never before.

If Ukip beat Labour on Thursday in the European election, expect much of the dissent currently rumbling just beneath the surface across both the right and left of the PLP, to explode into public view.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut


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20 Responses to “Well done Yvette Cooper. Well done David Lammy. Shame on you Ed Miliband”

  1. Ex labour says:

    Atul you make the false assumption that Joe Public has the same thoughts as those like you who follow and comment on politics and those in the Westminster bubble. Part of Farage’s “charm” is that he says what ordinary people are thinking. He is seen as the anti politics politician, who is prepared to say the wrong thing and the politically incorrect.

    You rightly point out Milibands weasel words and inability to make any sort of criticism or any real point in what he says. My old boss used to say “shit on the pot or get off” if you prevaricated. Perhaps this should be the first piece of advice from Axey.

  2. Blairite says:

    @Ex-labour I’m sorry but do you seriously think that the public are genuinely racist and afraid of Romanians living next door?

    Btw, this is a brilliant post about Ed’s failure to confront Farage’s racism. I’ve always liked to believe that though Ukip is a xenophobic/uber-nationalist party, they are not really ‘racist’ but now I can see that I was wrong.

  3. Tom H says:

    I think Miliband is right not to get drawn into definitions of what ‘a racist’ actually is – different people use that word very differently. He would get immediately attacked for using it, would have to backtrack and justify it, and it would start a massive row which would detract from the real point – which is that what Farage said was nasty, unpleasant, spiteful, bullying, dangerous, disruptive to community relations – all manner of things. Focus on what he said and why it was so vile, rather than name-calling. It’s far more effective to criticise the behaviour, not the person. That said, it’s great hear a some passion from Labour coming from other MPs who unlike Miliband are not going to be scrutinized and hauled over the coals over what language they use.

  4. Tom H says:

    Also, it doesn’t mean anything if UKIP ‘beat’ Labour, as I’m sure they will. This election isn’t about UKIP vs Labour. UKIP will have hoovered up almost the entire anti-EU / anti-immigrant vote, but when measured against the combined votes of the pro-EU / anti-racist parties (Labour/Lib Dems/Greens/SNP/Plaid), UKIP will lose considerably. So when it happens, Labour should point this out loudly in order to reject the agenda which UKIP are trying to push.

  5. LB says:

    There was the unchallenged comment here the other day.

    Migrants have saved the Brits from inbreeding. Quite racist, but that is true of most Labour supporters.

    There’s the oft quoted, migrants are better than Brits so we must have them. Look at the number on welfare. e.g Racist Migrants good, Brits bad.

    It needs to be changed.

    The question is that economic migrant a net contributor or a net taker? The first can stay, the second have to go.

    Migration, even under EU law, is optional. See Cyprus for the case law.

  6. john says:

    I don’t often defend Ed Miliband, but I believe Ed was more trying to not fall into the trap or dog whistle politics of just calling Garage a racist, based on one I’ll advised reply to the difference between Romanian gangs and German kids, although, David lammy did point out rightly that Garage was hinting at criminality, being comparable to immigration,as a smear, it self was racist, it didn’t make Farage. Racist for one comment.

  7. swatantra says:

    I’m actually going to stick up for Ed just this oce and say that Farage is not ‘ a racist’; Nige is just a misguided fool who thinks that talk of immigration can’t be linked to racism. Nige may not think that; but 90% of his party do think that. nige just needs to get out a bit more and into the community away from the stockbroker belt and into the inner cities and meet up with the sterotypical UKIP thugs that support him and his Party. Racist is a commonly bandied about word. its even been thrown at David Lammy and Dianne Abbott; so they need to stop and think what it actully means. Maybe Dianne and david need to get out a bit away from the steamy ghettos of Hackney and Tottenham, where they are playing up to their constituents and playing up to their lowest expectations.

  8. Dave Roberts says:

    What I think people are missing here is how the whole debate about who is or isn’t a racist and what racism is has changed and changed very quickly. All that Farage as done is to bring the whole debate out into the open from where it had been suppressed by political correctness, Guardianistas and the chattering classes of North London.

    Real people are concerned about immigration and are now saying so. Jeremy Clarkson quoted in last Sunday’s Times that a poll in the Daily Mirror sowed that eighty per cent of those that responded supported his position on eeny meenie miny mo and believed he should not have apologised a proportion that I would is about correct given the feelings in the country.

    Not just in this but across the spectrum Miliband as shown himself to be an abysmal leader. He has ducked every issue and woffled and evaded.

    Lammy is playing to his black constituency and Abbott is a joke who opposed Scandinavian nurses at a Hackney Hospital because they wouldn’t understand the needs of black patients and sends her son to a private school because of the crime in Hackney Schools which are largely black.

    If Labour do badly is there time to get rid of Miliband and who would replace him?

  9. Mavern Jones says:

    I’ve said this on a few blogs and I’ll say it again, because I think this goes to the crux of the matter. Calling someone a “x-ist” or a “y-ist” to me demonstrates similar mental activity to the “isms” it seeks to outlaw. And as such is counterproductive and furthermore harmful. It all comes down to the same thought process: categorising people by what they are, not who they are. Taking human beings – us random, wobbly, uncertain, emotional, changing, shifting blobs of flesh and blood, and instead of engaging with all of us equally, negative emotions and all, categorising certain people as almost dehumanised, unequal specimens of the race. This is dehumanising, dangerous and absolutely not morally superior to UKIP in any, way, shape or form.

    What I’m talking about is describing so-and-so as “a racist” and getting utterly hung up on this categorisation of them, ad absurdum, so that even if at one point in their life they once made a stupid, emotionally-charged, inappropriate comment, they are branded for life as “a racist”. I think this approach is unempathetic, unrealistic, totally arbitary, and as I say, morally questionable. We don’t outlaw people for feeling angry, sad, bitter, upset, disappointed, scared, vulnerable, at the end of their tether etc.

    If we really do care about the man on the street as much as we claim to do, and if our morality derives from the public electing to bestow on us the mandate to govern, rather than simply believing we have a divine right to impose our cultural values on the British public – in other words, if we are truly democrats at heart – then we need to ask ourselves why upwards of 30% of the electorate aren’t bothered by these endless accusations of this or that person being “a racist”.

    I think of Aesop and the boy who cried wolf. If you keep crying wolf when there isn’t, people soon stop listening, so that if and when a real wolf comes along, your warnings have lost all credibility. There have been so many accusations of racism, most of which totally uncalled for, or frankly irrelevant to the points being made, that it soon just washes over people and if anything rubs them up the wrong way.

    So please let’s stop calling people “a racist” and refusing to engage with them. Let’s be empathetic, let’s understand why they feel like that and be honest about what Labour has done in the past not to address these concerns. Clue: “rubbing people’s noses in diversity” is guaranteed to alienate said people – psychology 101. Rubbing anyone’s nose in anything is destructive, antisocial, divisive and guaranteed to create an equal and opposite reaction. It doesn’t help those diverse members of society, it doesn’t encourage integration, it doesn’t work on the core emotions that give rise to racist feelings. Far from it, it’s been like pouring paraffin on a fire.

    I believe Labour needs much more humility, empathy, understanding of human nature and emotional honesty about us all. The fact is, if lots of people identify with a politician’s claims that they’d be wary of a gang of Romanians moving in next door, to address that issue WE NEED TO BE HONEST.

    I ask each of you, hand on heart, forget your moral high-ground for a moment and JUST BE HONEST. If you can’t understand why a family wouldn’t have issues about four young men moving in next door from a country with a known problem of gangs and crime, then you’re radically removed from the normal emotional resonance of this country and most people who live here, and you need to address that problem in yourselves rather than pointing fingers at normal people. You might not like or approve of their attitudes and concerns, but surely you MUST be able to understand them and empathise with why so many people feel that way.

    If you care about the working classes then you need this empathy, this understanding and you need to stop being so pious, stop elevating racist fears to the be-all-and-end-all of judging somebody’s worth as a human being, and tackle racism the same way you’d tackle getting rid of poverty, getting rid of crime and getting rid of illness. By reaching out, showing people a better way, and all in all that you really do have their best interests at heart.

    I don’t think Labour are anywhere near being able to do this yet. Which is why every attack on UKIP goes down like a lead balloon. Even if Labour are right about UKIP, they are for many people an unreliable witness, people don’t trust Labour to have their best interests at heart or to understand why they feel the way they do.

  10. steve says:

    Ed should be very wary of a ‘Brown moment’.

    He won’t want to be accusing others of racism and bigotry when his own Party has contributed so significantly to the rise of Islamophobia is institutionally biased against all but the Oxbridge elite.

    Discretion, as is often said, is the better part of valour.

  11. Ex labour says:

    @Blairite

    The public are sick and tired of being lied to by governments such as Blairs who had a secret open door policy on immigrants which has been acknowledged by most of his cabinet as a major mistake. There are also the bleeding heart, liberal progressive, politically correct Guardianistas, including most of my Labour supporting friends, who really don’t want this issue of immigration brought out into the open. It’s a mine field for Labour who know its core vote is thoroughly fed up with the stance of Miliband and Cooper. Their hypocrisy is astounding.

    Did Farage really say anything that was particularly racist? Not really, but of course the media machine goes into overdrive. What about full on lefty Dianne Abbot and her previous comments about “white people” and Scandinavian nurses. Didn’t see lefties making much fuss about that did you ? What about the 17 councillors from LibLaCon who were censured by their parties this week for various racist, sexist and homophobic comments and behaviour. Didn’t see the leaders and media in full rant about this did we ?

    Nope. I’m afraid Farage is the target for everyone as they are running scared of UKIP and what they can do to the main party vote.

  12. Tafia says:

    If you’ve got nothing better to say about Farage/UKIP other than ‘racist’ then Labour will definately not win the GE in 2014 and deservedly so. There are far far more important things to be discussing rather than this terminal bilge about whether Farage/UKIP is or isn’t racist.

    Talking about immigration and discussing whether there should be or should not be full controls and whether skills quotas etc should be implemented and whether immigrants should or should not have immediate access to the benefits system is not racist. Continually saying it is just projects the message that you are incapable of talking about it because you either are scared or lack the confidence.

  13. Blairite says:

    @Ex-Labour – Come off it, stop with the hyperbole. There was no secret open door policy under Labour, it’s not actually true. Successive immigration ministers such as Roche, Byrne and Woolas were actually very tough on immigration and asylum often looking very rightwing to the liberal left. The problem was the failure to prepare for people from the A8 countries and across the world who came when our economy wa booming. The Migration Impact Fund was too late, the points-based system was too late and the Border Agency was in chaos, there was a breakdown of public trust but to stay that there was a secret open door policy is not true.
    What Nigel Farage said was ‘racist’ and that is that. He said that people should be afraid of Romanians coming to live near them and made a sweeping generalisation accusing them of crime. It is divisive, offensive and an insult to many of the Eastern European migrants who do contribute to our country and respect our way of life. Also, what Diane Abbott said was racist too and Ed should have sacked her. Racism is racism and unlike you, I am not an apologist for racism.
    @Tafia – There is absolutely nothing racist or wrong about wanting controlled borders, reforming the benefits system for immigrants, having skills quotas etc (in fact I strong agree with it). What is racist is to say that we should be scared of Romanians living next door to us or that they are always the cause of crime. “You know that the difference is”. You remember that? It is the language of division, fear and loathing not a way to discuss immigration. What Blunkett said was not racist because he was warning about the failure of integration which can cause resentment and if governments fail to tackle this issue then, yes, it could lead to riots. That is an argument for harmony and unity across sections of society not an excuse for racism.

  14. Ex Labour says:

    @ Blairite

    Ah…you show your true colours. You are one of the said bleeding heart, liberal progressives.

    Did Labour have a secret open door policy? Why yes. Just read the book of Steve Moxon – you know the civil servant whistleblower who exposed what Labour were doing and was fired for it.

    Or you could read the paper released under FoI prepared for the Labour government by Andrew Neather, advisor to Blair, Straw, Blunket etc when in government and he says: “driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multi-cultural”. Most of them now acknowledge that was they did was a mistake and has adversely affected the UK.

    Please dont tell me you’re anything but an apologist for these people.

    As for what Farage says, you seem a bit of a sensitive soul if you think that is really racist. Unfortunately Romainian society is riddled with orgnised crime which they export around the EU. Farage’s was refering to this.

    You also might like to read what Channel 4 said when they fact checked Farage’s claims:

    “Nevertheless, we ought to say that the Ukip leader is not plucking these claims of criminality out of thin air. They are based on real statements put out by various police forces, some of whom have real concerns about the activities of Romanian wrongdoers.

    Met figures show that Romanians are disproportionately more likely to be arrested compared with the citizens of many other countries.

    And Ministry of Justice figures similarly show that while the number of Romanians in UK prisons has fallen slightly over the last year, the number still remains large as a percentage of the likely total Romanian population”.

  15. Tafia says:

    Blairite, if you think Farage and/or UKIP are racist then it is your civic duty to toddle off down the cop shop and make a complaint. However if you haven’t done that then it shows you as being rather weak and unsure of your position in law – as at the end of the day ot’s the law that decides what is and isn’t racist and the law can only be implemented in these natters if there is a complainant.

    So of yoou pop son, down to the boys in blue and see if they think it warrants referring to the CPS.

    Just because some of what they officially say and print is divisive and in a lot of cases dubious in it’s accuracy, that does not make it racist.

  16. bob says:

    Unfortunately for labour they have been exposed over immigration. Every time the LibLabCons attack UKIP their vote rises. Seems as if the mainstream liberal elite have a death wish over this matter and a collective dose of the ‘vapours’ that the mainstream population don’t agree with their view of the world.

  17. Madasafish says:

    All this debate does is show that the Labour party is running away from a key issue that voters are concerned about : immigration.

    And calling someone “racist” because he raises issues you do not feel comfortable with is the hallmark of cowards.

    See what happened to the PM who called a voter “a bigot”..

    You need to be a party with some courage.. Instead you appear a party of irrelevance.

  18. John reid says:

    Tafia, are you a Labour Party member, would you consider joining,what would it take?
    Thanks.

  19. Tafia says:

    John, I was a Labour Party member and activist for nearly 30 years from the mid 1970’s through to Iraq (although I was falling out of love with Labour from not long after the tory quisling Blair took over). There is absolutely no way I would even vote Labour, let alone rejoin it until it returns to what it is supposed to be – the political voice of the trades union movement and a democratic socialist party.

    I am now a member of Plaid Cymru because aat least it is left of centre – something Labour no longer is.

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