Posts Tagged ‘Racism’

I went on the Washington DC Women’s March. It wasn’t pointless

25/01/2017, 07:37:02 AM

by Samuel Dale

I’m not really one for marching or protests but last Saturday I made an exception and joined the Women’s march in Washington DC.

I have always thought street protests were basically pointless and potentially even counter-productive by hardening views on both sides.

I also felt slightly embarrassed about it. As though marching was a slightly vulgar activity as opposed to writing raging polemics or voting.

I attended my first ever proper protest on 9 November in Manhattan after Trump’s election but felt like it was pointless. I left after five minutes.

Protesting a newly elected president seems particularly futile and possibly even makes me a sore loser.
I’m also concerned about the growth of divisive identity politics and think the Women’s March should have been the more inclusive People’s March.

Women’s issues were a key part but really it was a carnival of anti-Trump issues from climate change to trade polices.

And the protest was also full of the usual collection of fruitcakes from extreme socialist parties to extreme identity politics and overly aggressive signs, costumes and chants. There were thousands of people I would rather not be associated with, although that is the nature of a wide coalition.

In some ways it was hundreds of thousands of angry “snowflakes” who were “virtue signalling” our views in the parlance of today’s sneering right.

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Beat Corbyn in a fair fight, not by smearing him

24/08/2016, 07:13:33 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Is Jeremy Corbyn a racist?

It’s a strange and unfamiliar accusation against a politician who has spent his entire adult life on one anti-racist march or another.

Israel aside, Corbyn is the bleeding heart’s bleeding heart.

The allegation of racial discrimination against him comes from a serving Labour frontbencher, Chi Onwurah.

Writing in the New Statesman earlier this week, she complained about the way her brief as shadow minister for culture and the digital economy (nope, me neither) had been split between her and another Labour MP, Thangam Debonnaire, without telling either of them:

‘If this had been any of my previous employers in the public and private sectors Jeremy might well have found himself before an industrial tribunal for constructive dismissal, probably with racial discrimination thrown in – given that only five per cent of MPs are black and female, picking on us two is statistically interesting to say the least.’

‘In any other job I would have called on my union for support in confronting an all-white management which prevented two of its few black employees from doing their jobs. I would have expected the Leader of the Labour Party to condemn such ineffectual management which allowed such abuse.’

The accusation is a new low in the war of attrition between the Parliamentary Labour Party and their leader. Corbyn may be many things and not be many things, but he is no racist and the slur is contemptible.

It’s also a doomed attempt to ‘swift boat’ Corbyn on an issue he has made his own.

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Jeremy Corbyn is Labour’s Donald Trump. The Republicans are showing us what not to do with a disastrous leader

09/06/2016, 11:06:20 PM

by Samuel Dale

Every Republican in the United States is being asked a very simple question that must be answered: will you vote for Donald Trump as president?

There are four approaches. First, total support as we have seen from Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. Secondly, qualified support as shown by Paul Ryan, John McCain and others who are holding their nose and voting for Trump out of party loyalty.

Thirdly, abstention and neutrality as backed by both former President Bushes, Jeb Bush, Lindsay Graham and others. Finally, outright rejection which is not currently a popular view but is backed by Colin Powell and other Republican mavericks.

These are the four choices that Labour members will face in 2020 when they are asked the same question: will you vote for Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister?

The Republican mess is a useful guide for how Labour members can handle the Corbyn nightmare in 2020 and how not to handle it.

1. Total support

Christie, Rubio and Carson look like the shameless job-hungry careerists that they are. They spent months claiming Trump was totally unfit to be President – not in the normal primary knockabout but seriously unfit to hold office.

There will be Labour total supporters come 2020 who fear for their role in the party if they show disloyalty to Corbyn such is his grassroots support.

This is the road to disaster. Members and MPs should think about the long-term future of Britain and how to install a centre-left government. Blindly backing Corbyn will taint supporters and the party for decades to comes, just as it will for some Republicans. Differences must be made clear.

2. Qualified support

This is perhaps the worst approach of all. Paul Ryan set out a seemingly sensible idea of being a critical friend of Trump, calling him out where needed and pushing his own conservative agenda.

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Goldsmith’s campaign was a disgrace but not for the reason many in Labour think

08/05/2016, 11:59:38 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Zac Goldsmith’s campaign was a disgrace. But not for the reason many in Labour think and the party is about to learn the wrong lesson as a result.

The consensus is that Goldsmith’s attacks on Khan’s links to extremists and innuendos about his radicalism – a barely coded insinuation about Labour’s candidate being an Islamist – backfired.

Londoners resiled from the evident racism and prejudice

That much is true.

However, there is a distinction between the principle and practice of Goldsmith’s campaign strategy.

Several within Labour are busily convincing themselves that the principle of raising Khan’s connections to unsavoury characters was itself an inflammatory act (just a few examples here, here and here.)

Wrong.

It is legitimate to hold a Mayoral candidate accountable for their connections. As a voter, I would want to know if Zac Goldsmith was linked in any way with fascists and far right agitators.

A Labour campaign that publicised these links would only be doing its job.

The work of all the main parties to expose the racists, reactionaries and fantasists that populate Ukip’s ranks has been a public service.

Voters need to know who is asking for their mandate.

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Ed Miliband knew Livingstone was an anti-Semitic conspiracy nutter FOUR YEARS ago but STILL backed him for London Mayor

01/05/2016, 09:21:31 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Revelations on Ken Livingstone’s anti-Semitic views might have led the news in recent days, but Ed Miliband was fully aware of them in 2012.

Despite this, he still gave Livingstone his full backing at the last London Mayoral election.

The evidence that Labour’s leadership understood the detail of Livingstone’s opinions came yesterday in two devastating tweets from Miliband’s top spinner and consigliere, Tom Baldwin.

The purpose behind Tom Baldwin’s tweets was to highlight the anti-racist bona fides of his old boss but inadvertently he made the classic PR’s mistake: to confuse presentation and substance.

Before the 2012 Mayoral election, when Ed Miliband was on the stump for Livingstone, he knew exactly what Livingstone thought about Hitler, Zionism and the Jewish people.

He knew enough to force Livingstone to excise the relevant passages from his memoirs but did not feel sufficiently strongly to take action against the candidate for the substance of his anti-Semitic views.

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Both left and right seek a moral purity that is illusive and destructive

25/04/2016, 10:17:07 PM

by Jonathan Todd

“Football, and the Premier League’s integrity, needs Leicester to win the title,” writes Louise Taylor in the Guardian. If, therefore, you want anyone other than Leicester to win the league, you want a football sans integrity. Spurs fans must be morally debased to want their club to win the league.

Similarly, in a wonderfully detailed critique of Bernie Sanders, Robin Alperstein notes that his rhetoric seeks to convince that, “anyone who supports her (Hillary Clinton) is part of the problem. And then it becomes an act of immorality to vote for her, and a symbol of one’s own moral purity, indeed a rejection of corruption itself, to vote for Sanders”.

As Spurs fans, according to Taylor, cannot in good conscience want their club to win the league, it takes a special depravity, Sanders implies, to vote Clinton. This is tiresome and corrosive.

It has been argued that the indiscretions of Jamie Vardy make Leicester City less virtuous than other Premier League Clubs. I wouldn’t go that far. All clubs, like all collections of human beings, contain good and bad eggs. And the good eggs aren’t always good. Nor are the bad eggs always bad.

The Taylor contention, of course, is the opposite: that Leicester are more virtuous. Given the association between Vardy and racism, it is tempting to see this as the Guardian looking past this scourge. You’d think a left-wing paper would be vigilant to racism. But the paper’s readers’ editor acknowledged in 2011 that they needed to be “more vigilant” to language that might be construed as anti-Semitic.

The lines between criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism feel ever more sharply contested. The Palestinian plight is undeniable. Sympathy for them, however, can lead to attacks on Israel that go beyond the legitimate and into the anti-Semitic. As support for Sanders can be built on an unjustified equivalence between Clinton and immorality. Or desire for Leicester to win the Premier League can rest atop dubious claims about their unsurpassed integrity.

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This kind of racism has not happened in any major party since the 1980s. Discuss.

13/04/2016, 09:52:53 PM

by Rob Marchant

Let us ask ourselves a simple question. When is the last time a major political party was seriously accused of endemic racism?

That is, racism with a link to a segment of the party’s politics; not of a couple of isolated individuals, but of a group of activists in the rank and file, including numerous elected representatives who clearly showed (written) evidence of racist attitudes?

And accused not by a hostile newspaper, or an opposing party, but by a moderate and respected political organisation representing that minority?

Or such that that same minority’s house newspaper would have actually introduced a logo linking all the stories on Labour and racism against that community, there having been so many recently?

All these are things which have come to light in the last few weeks. About Jews.

In Labour, the party of the anti-racists.

It’s difficult to think of when racism was last acceptable in politics but we probably have to go back to the 1980s, at least. In the 1980s, Labour was determinedly anti-racist. The Conservative party, as blogger Adam Bienkov points out, still had close links to the rather unpleasant Monday Club, but was nevertheless largely retreating from the bad old days of Enoch Powell and, as the entrenched party of government throughout the decade, could neither really afford to alienate big sections of the population.

By the late 1990s, though, the Tories were largely free from overt racism (although a significant portion of its membership continued to be homophobic, as evidenced by the persistence of its Section 28 anti-gay legislation). But it was not acceptable to be racist in either party, if it ever had been, and Labour naturally continued to fully endorse a multi-cultural Britain.

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Thatcher’s rotten government was only interested in discord and division

31/12/2015, 10:29:17 AM

by Kevin Meagher

It’s not just the low-fi racism of Oliver Letwin’s 1985 memo to Margaret Thatcher that appalls. His dismissal of the “bad moral attitudes” of young Black men following the Broadwater Farm riots also reflects ministerial contempt towards so many other groups throughout that dismal decade.

Conservative politics in the mid-1980s was about as far from the ‘One Nation’ variant as it was possible to be. This was a government at war with large parts of the country it ran. Truly, an elective dictatorship, openly contemptuous of those that did not yield to its will.

So the “pampered Scots” were to be pitched against the “envious” north of England when it came to funding allocations. Black people were only interested in the “disco and drug trade”. Northern Ireland’s border towns should be bombed to stop republican suspects escaping to Southern Ireland.

As we well know, the miners were regarded as “the enemy within”. The entire city of Liverpool was to be subject to “managed decline” following the Toxteth riots, while the local football club’s fans were smeared in a vile cover-up over the deaths of 96 of their number at Hillsborough.

As the hapless Lewtin, possessor of an eager mind but dull wits, currently resides in political no-man’s land, waiting to see if his perfunctory apology is enough to sate the reaction against his comments, Tory strategists should perhaps ponder what other toxic memo-bombs he penned during his time running Thatcher’s policy unit. After all, this was the mid-80s, when she was at her wildest and the New Right policy wonks that fuelled her insurgency were unencumbered.

But aside from the trickle of released government papers of that time, we now also have Lowell Goddard’s wide-ranging inquiry into historic child abuse allegations. Just what will she unearth in the next few years about what ministers did or did not know in relation to the slew of allegations about that period?

What we do know is that all the invective and moral outrage directed towards Margaret Thatcher and her ministers during the 1980s was not wasted. We thought the Tories were a heartless, sneering bunch at the time.

Yesterday’s revelations now make that an evidence-based assessment.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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Trump is being condemned today. Tomorrow is the problem

08/12/2015, 10:24:20 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Donald Trump has just moved the Overton window of US politics. That range of ideas which constitutes acceptable debate has been yanked hard, to the right.

It might not quite seem that way at the moment.

Currently we are in the condemnation phase that always follows when someone says something outrageous. A few might even hope that the apparent unity in appalled reaction will warn others off pursuing Trump down the foxhole of Islamophobia.

It won’t.

Next, will come the rationalisation.

Other candidates will talk about the unfortunate manner in which Trump expressed his views but that there is a real issue to debate. The style was wrong but there’s a point to the substance.

It’s already evident in some of the reaction from the rest of the Republican field.

Ted Cruz, who recently overtook Trump in an Iowa poll, issued a non-condemnation condemnation,

“No, that’s not my policy. I have introduced legislation in the Senate that would put in place a three year moratorium on refugees coming from countries where ISIS or al Qaeda control a substantial amount of territory. And the reason is that is where the threat is coming from.”

The premise of Trump’s disgraceful policy is accepted in Cruz’s statement.

Meanwhile, Rand Paul did not even go as far as refuting Trump’s proposal. Here’s his official response

“Sen. Rand Paul has led on the issue of border security, proposing real solutions. That’s why earlier this month he introduced legislation to block visitors and immigrants from nations with known radical elements while a new system is developed to screen properly.”

Tough on Muslims, tough on the causes of Muslims.

In the coming days three things will happen.

First, Donald Trump will double-down on his assertions, repeating them and standing by them. They will be discussed and regurgitated on air and in pixel, repeatedly. Words that were shocking a week earlier, will seem more mundane, less alarming.

Second, Trump will pivot to draw a dividing line based on political correctness. He will cast those who attack him as politically correct zealots who do not care about America’s safety. National security and the process of saying the unsayable will become the new loci of the debate rather than the content of what he actually said.

Third, the rest of the Republican field will scramble to occupy the political space that Trump has opened up with his lurch to the right.

They will each come forward with plans to crack-down on Muslim migration – validating Trump’s underlying point – as well as railing against a liberal media establishment for its reaction.

The net result will be that within three to four weeks, it will be acceptable for Republicans to talk about Muslims as a threat simply because they are Muslim.

Trump himself might suffer some toxic fall-out. Those who out-ride and move the debate rarely claim an electoral crown. However, his legacy will be a more sectarian, prejudiced and divisive US politics.

A political environment that has been virtually terraformed for the likes of Ted Cruz to thrive and become the Republican nominee.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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Give me the power to ban hate march

15/08/2015, 08:00:24 AM

by Joe Anderson

As a lifelong trade unionist and anti-fascist, the right to protest is one that I hold dear. Even when those marching are doing so in a cause with which I don’t agree, I respect the principle of free speech and peaceful protest.

But like all freedoms, there are limits and I have just reached mine. Today, a so-called “White Man March” will come to the streets of Liverpool. It is being led by a rag-bag assortment of neo-Nazis spouting the usual, age-old drivel.

The group organising the march, National Action, sent a charming letter to my home claiming that if any attempt is made to impede their “chaos and mayhem” then Liverpool “will go up in flames”. It warns me that “we may even pay you a visit if things are played against us”, signing off with: “Only bullets will stop us!”

Its website claims the group holds “a monopoly on truth” and that its members are not afraid “to swing the bat at the enemy”. Of course it’s the usual Hitler-loving, race-hating garbage, but it’s no less shocking for that. Their views are so extreme and utterly noxious that they make the BNP look like Amnesty International.

The challenge for our society is to always stand firm in a spirit of solidarity against the hate-filled few whose sole interest is division and violence.

More practically, I have written to Home Secretary, Theresa May, asking that she urgently reviews the arrangements that currently stop city leaders like me from simply banning such groups from our streets. Currently, I need to appeal to her for the necessary permission. This is cumbersome and bureaucratic and often too slow.

I have asked her to consider using the current Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill to grant powers to city leaders like me to ban marches that are clearly harmful to the public good. Instead of councils and the police making appeals to the Home Office, why not make organisations like National Action appeal our locally-made decision?

This seems to fit with the current spirit of localism and allows the authorities to respond to the wishes of local people who are as sickened at the prospect of such blatant racist extremists on our streets as I am.

The time has come to stand up and change the rules to create a better balance between rights to freedom of speech and the right for people not to be abused and intimidated in their own city.  Our country has a long and progressive tradition as a place where protest and radical ideas enrich the fabric of our discussions and new ideas and opinions must always be heard.

But if the sole aim of such groups is to spread fear and intimidation then we should act and the government should give people like me the powers to do so.

Joe Anderson is Labour Mayor of Liverpool

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