Saturday, May 01, 2010

'If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said:
'If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread';
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.


WH Auden Refugee Blues

I think How Brown's Gaffe Reveals Labour's Larger Problems (via Gene) merits a post.

I think Brown’s disdain for that anxiety captures a wider problem—the fraying of the relationship between the Labour Party and the working class as three big sources of anxiety have been put off-political-limits.


The 'three big sources of anxiety' are the government's 'failure to regulate economic globalization' (NTM doesn't suggest how it should have done this), European integration, and mass immigration. Maybe Daniel will pop along to comment on globalization (surely 'economic' is just a tautology), but I think it's a good thing. If you want some informed commentary on European integration, you could do a lot worse than reading Clive's Nosemonkey blog. But as far as that goes, while there is a great deal to be critical of in the EU (I go along with many of the 'undemocratic' complaints; "oh, let's just hold another referendum as the electorate got the last one wrong" etc), a lot of the reason why there is anxiety is because certain newspapers like (cough) the Daily 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts' Mail blatantly scaremonger.

Ah, immigration. Channel 4 News' splendid Factcheck thinks Brown was wrong although he 'was in the right ballpark when he talked about 1m Brits living abroad'.

A week or two ago I fell into conversation with a constituent, a middle-aged, quite ordinary working man employed in one of our nationalised industries.
After a sentence or two about the weather, he suddenly said: "If I had the money to go, I wouldn't stay in this country." I made some deprecatory reply to the effect that even this government wouldn't last for ever; but he took no notice, and continued: "I have three children, all of them been through grammar school and two of them married now, with family. I shan't be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas. In this country in 15 or 20 years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man."
I can already hear the chorus of execration. How dare I say such a horrible thing? How dare I stir up trouble and inflame feelings by repeating such a conversation?
The answer is that I do not have the right not to do so. Here is a decent, ordinary fellow Englishman, who in broad daylight in my own town says to me, his Member of Parliament, that his country will not be worth living in for his children.
...
I am going to allow just one of those hundreds of people to speak for me:
“Eight years ago in a respectable street in Wolverhampton a house was sold to a Negro. Now only one white (a woman old-age pensioner) lives there. This is her story. She lost her husband and both her sons in the war. So she turned her seven-roomed house, her only asset, into a boarding house. She worked hard and did well, paid off her mortgage and began to put something by for her old age. Then the immigrants moved in. With growing fear, she saw one house after another taken over. The quiet street became a place of noise and confusion. Regretfully, her white tenants moved out.["]


See, constituents, ordinary working class people, tell MP about their fears. Said MP gets on hind legs and makes long speech to Commons. Leader of his party (then in opposition) sacked him and never spoke to him again. He also won the next election. If that's being out of touch and disdainful, bring it on.

Happily, there is a party which is concerned about immigration. Contrary to popular misconception, it also supports foreign intervention, thus:

The Falklands campaign was an obvious example where Britain needed to act, but more recently there were clear grounds to rescue people of British descent from the murderous regime in Zimbabwe.


I haven't read the manifesto, and I don't intend to. Sim-O apparently plans to go through each policy and mock it on his blog.

About the only sensible thing I've seen on Harry's Place recently was a comment by KB Player here (it's the first one):

The whole thing is ridiculous. Who hasn’t got off the phone to someone they’ve been super polite to, then snarled to their colleagues:- “That was that *&£$%^ +_&%*% again.” Social and professional life wouldn’t survive without great dollops of hypocrisy.


Everyone else seems to talk about Brown 'sliming' Duffy: no he didn't. I totally agree with Angry Mob here.

When I was a member of the Labour Party in Tufnell Park back in about 1988, I remember some old 'authentic' member of party complaining about Camden Council (how much will Nick hate me now) allocating money to gay and lesbian causes rather than giving it to pensioners. (It wouldn't have gone very far if they had, of course.) He wasn't well received by the rest of us, as you can probably imagine. I know I'm a bruschetta eating liberal - I even like salads - but I'm not terribly enamoured of the 'white working class' when it's motivated by spite and taking things off others. We (I use 'we' very loosely) should educate people like Gillian Duffy, not genuflect to them.

I'll be voting LD, but Brown was right.

Coda: I do believe Harry's Place could find an ally in their campaign against Hugo Chavez here.

Update 14:40 I forgot to thank OC for finding the Harry's Place post. Thank you, Mr Cheeseboard. Also, continuing our theme.
Spock dressed as a Nazi in Patterns of Force
Fear of foreigners is not logical.

7 Comments:

Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Isn't 'globalisation' the media term for global imposition of some pretty brutal 'free market' policies - including in domestic policy? One effect is that those 'anti-globalisation' protests are entirely baffling to the general public, and the suggestion that those involved are troublemakers, misfits and loonies (who break windows!) goes through by default.

---

I'm a bit surprised that Labour didn't find a back-channel or mouthpiece through which to defend Brown a bit; the news didn't really make it very clear what the woman was saying, nor that Brown had actually argued against her.

The alternative to going on the offensive would have been to say he lost his temper (passionate) and 'we all say things we don't mean'.

Instead there was some fudge about 'misunderstanding' her, which left untouched the 'PC gone mad' view (what misunderstanding?), while diluting the advantage to be gained by dogwhistling those concerned about brutal anti-immigrant views (and potentially drawn to the LDs as a result).

He really does seem a bit clueless on how to handle this kind of thing - though I actually find that quite appealing, and I'm certainly not going to double-count his failure to appeal to others by downgrading my own assessment of him on the basis of it.

Not that I'm enamoured of his NuLab policies, but I think it's still a clear Lab-Con contestin my constituency, so a no-brainer anyway. (The ridiculousness of non-PR voting for a central party-based govt is highlighted by the fact that I need to try and find local opinion polls before deciding how to vote.)

5/01/2010 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

in three critical areas the Labour Party is seen among significant layers of working class people to have ignored their anxieties and denied them a voice: economic globalization, European integration, and mass immigration.

Surely - and this isn't to overstate things - another problem has been the loss of any kind of support from its usual middle class base, primarily over Iraq but also over economic policy. NTM's argument is all about banker-bashing but that's come late in the day - a much more corrosive issue, i would argue, has been the consistent playing from 1997 onwards to Daily Mail reading swing voters, and to a certain extent Iraq is included in that.

I know I'm a bruschetta eating liberal - I even like salads - but I'm not terribly enamoured of the 'white working class' when it's motivated by spite and taking things off others.

This is why I've never understood the 'real concerns of white working class voters' thing - it so often comes from people such as clothes for chaps and nick cohen but most anti-immigration feeling in the population at large is racism, based on tabloid scare stories and dubious anecdotes. Fair enough, the concerns might be genuine, but they're more often than not based on politically-motivated lies and distortions. afaict the tory policy on immigration is totally incoherent, and essentially unworkable; whoever look the toughest evidently wins.

using similarly unverifiable anecdotes, six of my closest friends have left the UK permanently in the last year alone.

I need to try and find local opinion polls before deciding how to vote

indeed... and i still can't quite work out how a system which seems to actively encourage tactically voting for a party you don't support equates to the true spirit of democracy.

5/01/2010 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Fair enough, the concerns might be genuine, but they're more often than not based on politically-motivated lies and distortions.

As I said about Duffygate, it's all in the difference between real concerns and very real concerns.

5/01/2010 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

i still can't quite work out how a system which seems to actively encourage tactically voting for a party you don't support equates to the true spirit of democracy

Because it's important that a government has a clear mandate, innit. Since we are talking about a trade-off, that means the clarity is more important than the mandate.

very real concerns nice. The phraseology is pretty openly meant, in a pas devant les domestiques kind of way, to say 'stupid but real'. The stupider they are, the more emphasis has to be placed on their reality as a brute fact.

5/01/2010 08:13:00 PM  
Anonymous sweaty ginger stockbroker said...

"We (I use 'we' very loosely) should educate people like Gillian Duffy, not genuflect to them."

Have you any idea what you sound like to anyone outside this glorified circle jerk of a blog ?

5/01/2010 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

So are you in or out then?

5/01/2010 10:04:00 PM  
OpenID yorksranter said...

Surely the point about very real concerns is that only some concerns get to be very real. By definition, other concerns are not very real.

If you are concerned that immigrants are depressing your wages, that's a very real concern. If you are concerned that capitalists might be depressing your wages and think joining a trade union might help, that's not a very real concern.

Concerns that can be addressed through Modern Thinking == very real ones, no?

5/02/2010 12:46:00 PM  

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