Friday, 7 November 2008

Different times - same message of prejudice and hate - same need to stand up against it

Old Racism (1964). "If you want a nigger for neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour" was the 1964 slogan of Tory candidate Peter Griffiths. Griffiths won the election by a 7.2% margin. When he entered Parliament he was snubbed and widely condemned by MPs across the political spectrum and the Conservative Party nationally.

New Racism. Conservative Party election leaflet (October 2008). The "N" word may not now be acceptable, but for some nasty Tories (who have not really gone away since 1964) there is a new group they don't want as neighbours. It is reprehensible that some local Conservatives (including MP Peter Bone) are using similar scare tactics, misrepresentation and a new racism to generate fear and hostility against migrant workers from Eastern Europe. The fact that this Tory leaflet is almost identical to the line being pushed by the BNP (see below) is worrying. The Conservative Party, as it did in 1964, needs to clearly line up against such divisive and xenophobic ideas and challenge such prejudice and hatred - not line up alongside it.

There is always the temptation for politicians to play on popular fears and prejudices for short-term electoral gain. The BNP have this as the core of their political strategy to win power. I do, however, expect better from the Conservatives. I know the overwhelming majority of Conservatives are deaply unhappy by this approach. It is now time for them to stand up and be counted.

New Racism - British National Party (2008). For neo-fascists like the BNP the message has always been pretty much the same - they don't want anyone as neighbours who are Black, Asian, migrant workers or indeed anyone "foreign- looking". I think they may also have problems with anyone who opposes their ideas. The history of fascism is that they don't stop with their immediate "hates", but rapidly move on to everyone with whom they disagree. The poem by the German anti-Nazi Pastor, Martin Niemöller, sums this up:

When they came for the Jews I remained silent, I was not a Jew
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

It is incumbent on all of us from across the political spectrum to stand up against those who spead prejuduce and hatred against groups based on their colour, ethncity, origins or nationality at the first sign of its manifestion. If we wait longer, it may mean we wait too long.


  1. Prejudice and hate of development? You're losing the plot if you think opposing development is racist. The link isn't tenuous, it's non existent.

  2. I have noticed lately how acceptable is seems to be to make racist comments directed at the immigrant community and I have found myself on more than one occasion quoting that Martin Niemöller poem. I'm very glad to see someone in a position of influence is prepared to acknowledge this and speak against it. Thank you.

  3. Not hate of development per se, but rather using hate/prejudice as an argument agaist development