The Labour MP, Mary Creagh, is quite right to say we should be standing up to racism and prejudice wherever we find it. I entirely agree with her. What she is wrong to do is to imply that this stand is something particularly of the left, or is the preserve of Labour and she cheapens her call by throwing in concerns about the NHS and schooling. She comes out with a strange line, “immigration has become the proxy for a failure to fund public service and a failure to give people a pay rise.” She then says “politicians have a responsibility not to inflame the rhetoric.” I do not know, therefore, what she thinks she is doing with all her own rhetoric but her criticism of UKIP which should have been the main point of her message somehow, as a result, comes across as an afterthought. She is absolutely well-within her rights to point a finger of blame at UKIP’s immigration chief (an oxymoron if ever one could be imagined), John Bickley who said apparently, “if you want a Jehadi for a neighbour, vote labour in the Stoke on Trent by-election”. Outrageous! And- well- Bickley is just wrong, and if the exposure of Paul Nuttall’s repeated indiscretions might once have enlisted sympathy, I trust with the sort of nastiness implicit in Bickley’s alleged advice, it will do so no longer. If he wants to salvage this election, Nuttall must silence Bickley and distance himself publicly from these views, because this is one of those failings that he cannot blame on an assistant. And even if, God forbid, he succeeded in his bid to be elected in Stoke, he will forever be tainted with racism. Bickley’s saying confirms UKIP’s racism.
So, maybe it is time to call it a day. UKIP achieved what it wanted in the referendum and its rebranding under Nuttall shows itself to be abhorrent and wrong. It is time for right-thinking UKIPers to jump ship. Nothing good can come of Nuttall now.
There have been many calls among Conservatives to stand up against racism and prejudice. The conservatives, after all, are the party that has given us not one but two women leaders, the party that pushed through gay-marriage legislation. And I think we have come along way since Andrew Lansley said there was “endemic racism” in the party. I think, incidentally, that he was wrong then, but I know he would be wrong now.
UKIP and arguably the referendum process has certainly unleashed a wave of racism, and has opened up the immigration debate, but I hope that does not mean Conservatives promote or encourage racism and prejudice. I believe we shall find ways to combat this madness.
Sajid Javid, for instance, rather brilliantly spoke of the necessity to eradicate “oblique” prejudice- he urged “every decent Briton of any faith or none to join us all in the battle against extremism and anti-Semitism… the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka. Indiscrimate killing is simply where hatred, left unchecked, reaches its tragic conclusion.”And it was another Conservative, baroness Sayeeda Warsi who despaired that Islamophobia was becoming “socially acceptable.” To recognise a trend is not to endorse it. Indeed, to recognise that we have a problem is the first step we must take together towards solving it!
It is the Labour party that had a recent anti-semitic problem, not the conservatives. It is Corbyn who has attended events with Holocaust deniers. What we have seen is the growth of an “anti-racist” credo which is not the same as nurturing inclusion and tolerance. Rather than positive reinforcement, it provides yet another group for the mob to attack and by lumping things together, it tends to soften the impact of what Bickley has said.
Let’s just repeat it again, because I have said it before in previous posts: UKIP’s current leaders promote racism. It is clear. It is documented and it is wrong.