Friday, May 05, 2006

Clarke sacked, Labour stung

Charles Clarke has been axed from the Cabinet following last night's local elections disaster for Labour. I'm not in the least bit surprised. He may not have been directly responsible for last week's cock-up (and am I the only one who thinks that just 38 crims remaining out of over 1,000 in under a week ain't bad?), but this is about damage-control and popular appeal now, simple as that. I said last week that if there was a general election, the Tories would win. They already held a majority of the national vote at the local level, but last night they widened that significantly, and at Labour's expense.

Realistically, with an overall turnout estimated at a mere 36% (down three points from 2004), the Conservatives still have a long way to go before they can be confident about winning the next general election. Nonetheless, local elections are about protest votes, and the general shift towards the Right indicates how deep-seated Labour's image problem currently is. How things change in just under a decade.

Meanwhile, the BNP has depressingly become the second-largest party in Barking and Dagenham, although a recount is currently taking place. The party more than doubled its overall number of seats from 20 to 44 yesterday. While this is a drop in the ocean considering that there are about 22,000 seats in all, it is obviously still a cause for grave concern. After all, a simple protest vote against Labour could have gone to any number of mainstream parties on either side of the political spectrum. A vote for the BNP is a racist vote, and nothing more. What I'm curious about is why such a far-right party is winning any seats in the first place.

I think I am correct in saying that for historical reasons, neo-Nazi political parties have a slightly stronger hold in European countries than they do in North America. From personal experience I can tell you that no party that anywhere near resembles the BNP has won local council seats in Canada during my lifetime, even in immigrant-rich cities like Toronto. Why this difference?

The only thing I can think of is that the existing inhabitants of places like Toronto and Montreal are much better prepared and more willing to adapt to a stream of new people moving in from other countries. Much is made in the UK of the need for immigrants to integrate more successfully into their adopted societies - a point with which I agree wholeheartedly - but less is said of the need to answer the questions and concerns of those people who have already lived in these societies for generations. That ignorance breeds racism is hardly earth-shattering, but it seems to me that if there was some sort of programme in place to dispel the right-wing myths that these people are "taking our jobs" and "buying our houses", and explaning that they are often fleeing the most dire living conditions imaginable, perhaps the whities in Barking and Dagenham would be more inclined to get talking to these new arrivals and include them in their daily lives, rather than hurrying on past and looking at the floor.

A country like Canada was built on immigration in a way that England wasn't, and as such, it's probably had an easier time adapting to new waves of immigrants that continue to arrive. Still, in the globalised world that we live in, immigration has become the best way to support our way of life. Some people are obviously taking more time accepting this than others, but the core reasons for this need to be addressed. Otherwise, prosecuting the likes of Nick Griffin for incitement to racial hatred is simply treating the symptom instead of the disease.


At May 05, 2006 3:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry your post is upper class garbage. The reason that Canada accepts its immigrants more easily because

a) We are already packed in like sardines in this country with insufficient housing
b) Your country is enormous

I bet you dont live in an immigrant community do you? thought not. You champagne socialists are all the same happy to preach as long as it dosent effect you, with a good helping of brainwashing from an early age.

I have no problem with immigrants. But Britain is simply "full up". You keep on preaching your vile hatred of people just trying to defend their homes and culture, but please spare a thought for those in the UK who cannot get a house because of the inflated house prices and their movement to the bottom of the ladder for social housing, their wholesale export of jobs abroad, the destruction of their culture by champagne socialists who think is a crime to be a western white male etc etc.

At May 05, 2006 4:12 pm, Anonymous Rob said...

Er, no - this anonymous comment is garbage, not the original post. This debate isn't about "people just trying to defend their homes and culture" - it's about a neo-Nazi organisation which has as explicit policy the rounding up and deportation of people based on their religion and/or skin colour, which has no bearing on whether they are British or not. Yes, social housing is a critical problem in this country - but to blame immigration for it is narrow-minded and absurd. What about indigenous population growth? What about the growth in people living alone, and more disparate family units?

Socialism isn't about the destruction of culture; it's about solidarity with one another and with your local, national and global community, which is why it's an internationalist movement as well as one begun among the workers. It's not a crime to be a "Western white male", but it sure is a crime to hate people who don't fit into that category simply by virtue of the fact.

At May 05, 2006 4:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok I agree with most of your post, and may I add I havent voted BNP before ever and currently have no intention of doing so. But please tell me which party actually cares about ordinary people in this country?

The Lib Dems? a joke, they are the epitome of a champagne socialist.
Labour? in some respects id say they do, economically, but in quality of life they fail appallingly. Allowing the failing of our school discipline, the disbandment of any concept of morals, the destruction of personal liberty, and worstly the abandonment of their socialist ideals in housing, public ownership of key industries and priortising the whims of the EU over our own people.
Conservatives. Can't be trusted still, no idea what they really want - not sure if they even do apart from to wield power.

Your eutopia of socialist ideals is admirable, in fact I believe it myself. I would even go so far as to say in theory the best form of government would be communism. But in practice this fails. For this to work every country indeed every person in the world needs to be like minded all moving in the same direction working together. But they arent, and if only one country does this e.g. Britain then it all falls apart and the people of Britain have the feeling they are getting now - that they are being leaned upon.

At May 05, 2006 4:35 pm, Blogger Lady M said...


Okay Anonymous, let's address your points one by one, shall we?

First of all, I am not "upper class" in any way shape or form.

Secondly, yes I do live in an immigrant community (Finsbury Park).

Thirdly, even though you didn't ask, I happen to be an immigrant myself (in Canada as well as here).

Fourth, like Rob, I agree that the housing shortage is a critical and crippling social issue in Britain. But you yourself admit that this is becauseof inflated prices rather than a lack of actual empty houses, and therefore - sorry - this is a problem brought on by the rapid economic development of urban centres rather than over-immigration. AND, it's a problem that affects everyone, not just born and bred Brits.

Fifth: "Preaching vile hatred of those trying to defend their homes and culture"? Er.... come again? In my innocence, I thought I was actually trying to show some solidarity with all these home-defenders, and trying understand their fears about losing their jobs, and saying there needs to be more done to assure them that Britain hasn't given up on them. But no, obviously I'm an upper class twit who looks down my nose at people who rent! What??

Sixth: "the destruction of their culture by champagne socialists who think is a crime to be a western white male"... Oh come ON now. This is just lunacy. Really. Your culture isn't being "destroyed", it's just not the only one there anymore. Can't two cultures live side by side? Do you REALLY think that this is all part of some conspiracy to treat whites as second-class citizens?

At May 05, 2006 4:37 pm, Blogger Lady M said...

Labour? in some respects id say they do, economically, but in quality of life they fail appallingly.

Now there's something we agree on! I can only hope that this changes under Brown, if he ever makes it to PM, but I'm rapidly losing faith...

At May 05, 2006 4:43 pm, Anonymous declan said...

"...the destruction of their culture by champagne socialists..."

Yeah, when I get a big feed of champagne into me, I just love to go round and destroy British culture - y'know, trampling on cucumber sandwiches, duffing up pearly kings and queens - all the while reciting from Das Kapital.

At May 06, 2006 9:11 am, Blogger Laban said...

In most countries with major ethnic or cultural divisions, that division is reflected in their politics.

Although the ethnic minority population of England is currently only around 10%, the demographics (continuing immigration, emigration of natives, low native birthrate, high incomer birthrate) point to this figure becoming much larger in the next 50 years. The Observer ran a piece 5 years ago suggesting that on current demographic trends natives would be a minority by 2100. About 16% of primary schoolchildren in England and Wales are from minorities, and native children are already a minority in London schools. Of babies born in London in 2004, half had mothers born abroad.

In such a situation politics will become ethnically/culturally based, or 'communalist' if you prefer. The results in Tower Hamlets and Barking are the first stirrings of that.

If you want to see our future, take a look at Fijian politics.

A few links - 2004 births (table 75?)

School ethnicities (table 47a)


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