The two groups in our society today who enjoy racism – I know that’s an odd way of phrasing it – are actual racists, who when they’re in a group/mob seem to thrive on the toxic atmosphere, and all those commentators/politicians/idiots who casually go around accusing people of racism on the basis of zip. There are quite a lot of these latter group, for whom identity politics is both a way of life and often a source of income. There are literally thousands of examples of this deeply disturbing phenomenon. This recent Spiked! piece, reflecting the UK’s fevered pre-election state provides a brilliant insight. Alternatively, just go on Twitter.
A sorry state of affairs.
As a white Catholic male of Irish heritage I do tick a few minority boxes, but I’ve never been victimised in any of those categories, although anticatholicism (1, 2, 3, 4) is on the rise worldwide, for sure.
It’s easy for me to say that I don’t think the UK is a particularly racist society, I know, but it is what I think, especially having visited plenty of countries that are far worse in this respect. In terms of endemic bigotry, including race, we do have Corbyn and his chums with their quite blatant Jew hatred – and the Jews are the archetypal race, as opposed to categorising people by colour or other visible features – and of course the Scottish Nationalists, with their longstanding careful nurturing of anti-English sentiment, to which they never admit. Both groups are shamefully part of the establishment, but the people are slowly fighting back, in my view. The imminent election may demonstrate that.
If you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, what with my privilege and all that, just ask an academic sociologist instead: “In the media turmoil surrounding Brexit, many pundits have seized on the prejudice angle, but these data demonstrate that is not actually what makes the UK different from the Continent. Prejudice against immigrant workers or minority ethnic and religious groups is rare in the UK, perhaps even slightly rarer than in equivalently developed EU countries”. Well, who would have thought it?
My take on why the UK is a pretty well integrated society in terms of race – and improving all the time – is quite specific. There are five main factors, but first a brief history of the useful input from politicians on this topic (in living memory):
1965 The Race Relations Act – outlawed discrimination on the “grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins” in public places in Great Britain … It also prompted the creation of the Race Relations Board in 1966
1968 The Race Relations Act – made it illegal to refuse housing, employment, or public services to a person on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origins in Great Britain, and also created the Community Relations Commission to promote ‘harmonious community relations’.
…so two significant pieces of legislation, followed by…
1976 The Race Relations Act which combined the two earlier pieces to prevent discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin in the fields of employment, the provision of goods and services, education and public functions. The Act also established the Commission for Racial Equality with a view to review the legislation, which was put in place to make sure the Act rules were followed.
All good, but then came the Race Relations Amendment Act of 2000, which modified things a bit, but was much less of a landmark, and the Equality Act of 2010, which actually created a few problems for some (non-bigoted people). My point being the main pieces of legislation, particularly regarding race (as opposed to gender etc), were done and dusted by 1976, which was 43 years ago.
Despite that admirable work, the current 2019 number one talking point for many politicians, is racism, because they believe that they can use it to batter opponents with, often diminishing the significance of real racism issues in the process – if everyone is a racist, nobody is.
You see it every day, on Twitter, on the news, and magnified one hundredfold when there’s an election coming up. It takes a bit of creative licence to brand Brexit as a race issue, but that’s exactly what many Remainers have been trying for the past 4 years.
So here are the five main factors promoting racial harmony in the UK, none of which are to the credit of any politician – they came about organically, if you like:
- The NHS (in which I work) – where patients and staff come from everywhere. I’ve had colleagues from the Philippines to Paraguay, and all points in between, Interestingly, EU membership works against this, by favouring EU citizens for jobs over those from further afield, which, given the ethnicities, certainly looks like racism to me. It screwed up medical recruitment from India, Pakistan and the Middle East in particular, all areas with which we’ve long had excellent historical ties.
- Professional sport, not just football – just watch the TV sport for 5 minutes. I go back to supertough Remi Moses being a legend for Manchester United. There is no more likeable a public figure than Anthony Joshua.
- Popular culture, in particular reality TV, Talent shows and soaps – speaks for itself
- The churches, especially the Catholic church – try going to Sunday mass in Clapham to see what I mean
- Higher education, which has been a true melting pot since the start of the 20th century (here’s one brilliant example)
Why did I write this?
Because I am heartily sick of the politicisation of this societal issue, for cynical reasons unconnected with ending actual discrimination. And also to point out that the citizens of the UK, without the input of politicians, do a very good job of racial integration themselves, without fuss. The emphasis on alleged racism plausibly harms efforts to tackle real racism.
There are problems, there probably always will be, but they will not be solved by the shrill ranting of our political classes and their hangers on**, ***, **** for reasons mainly concerned with personal and political gain.
The citizens don’t need their advice on this one.
**This post went out just before Boris’ remarkable win in the general election. As night follows day, up pops a ludicrous ‘serious’ celebrity (Lily Allen), to blame it all on racism.
They have no idea what their own country and its citizens are actually like. They have no faith in human beings to broadly do the right thing.
***then along comes absurd luvvie John Hannah, to, guess what, tell us that: “This whole Brexit cluster -f*** is really about 1 thing. Immigration ! Like it or not turns out we’re a country of racists and Brexit/EU scepticism is the cover. It’s all about English nationalism. Shameful!”
Which gives him the added pleasure as a Scot – despite living in London and the US – of pulling Sturgeon’s trick of accusing the English of that which she is guilty of herself, bigotry.
Awful, stupid, malignant people, with zero ability to relate to the average citizen. Who will of course be racist.
**** and here comes trendy but thick attention-seeking multimillionaire Stormzy, to add his predictable tuppenceworth