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Tuesday June 28th, 2016.

OK, a week since the vote and hey, I know the drill. Similar to those habits you kicked back into after 9-11, after 7-7. Heads down. Don't notice the people crossing the road to avoid you. Don't register any reaction to the shop assistants who drop the change with a panic'd repulsion into your foul brown palm. Keep your eyes down, no eye-contact with anyone. Get through the street to safety because the street is a place where you are a target again now, just as you were as a child. Don't ever ever relax again because that moment where your vigilance slips, when you start doubting your own paranoia, is the moment when the van draws up and three pink faces look your way grinning, when the kids see their chance to have some fun, when the guy on his bike who you hadn't thought of leans into the pavement to spit his venom, when the words will come unbidden and deafening, those words that won't just fuck up your day but will haunt your sleep, your sleeplessness, your nightly waking and your daily walking. Racism, out'n'proud racism, is back on the Great British menu. And it need not be ashamed. YOU should be ashamed. The 70s are back! LET'S FEAR LIKE IT! 

Every single second of your day has that extra layer of difficulty slathered on now, it drenches and deadens you, tires you out with the stealthy slow-motion of movement it inflicts. Enough was clearly enough. The pub, the street, the playground, the workplace, the waiting room, have all just got that little bit harder, tougher, for anyone who looks, sounds, un-English. This, whatever is said, is the reality of England 'standing up for itself', this is the reality of 'getting England back'. It was odd how instantly, the very morning after, the street felt changed, the way the binary nature of referenda puts you in this They Live paranoia. The increase in confidence felt by those who voted Out exactly corresponds to the decrease in confidence I feel. Walking around on the 24th feeling watched, policed, 'tolerated', 'for now'. All mind games of my own devising I'm sure but palpable. Similar to 9-11 and 7-7 but somehow far worse, different, more impossibly indestructible and longer lasting. This won't 'pass'. This will only get worse. 

I think I could tell the way things were going as soon as the Sunderland result came through. [Emma Jackson has written wonderfully about how the nuance and complexity of the Sunderland result was unreflected in most coverage about it and you should read her HERE]. All I could tell on the night was that the faces of those celebrating seemed . . . familiar, all clearly members of the master-race, and of the good British stock who have had their legitimate concerns about them darkies marginalised for too long. 

Other papers also used the image inside their pages and I guess none of us were surprised that one of the proud patriots pictured celebrating was Billy Charlton, an ex-Combat 18 neo-Nazi. No point lambasting the Sun for not realising this - picture desks quickly go with the shots they get. But Charlton's move from peripheral extremist rabble-rousing to the front page mirrors the rhetorical entryism that will see far-right sloganeering ever-seeping into the Tory's 'centre-ground' -  this is the way that a racist campaign like Farage's Leave push works - by legitimising racism, by making it acceptably mainstream all kinds of other more extreme voices can be edged in, can feel emboldened to finally 'speak out'. The English have a habit of thinking racism is a problem for other countries, that the rise in far-right politics in Europe somehow will pass us by. I wish I could share in that confidence. Farage has made promises he knows he can't keep. Other people and other groups will step in to fill that void.Y'know what? Even though it would've been hypocritical lipservice I would have liked someone, anyone who was a leading Leave campaigner to say something about the 57% rise in racist incidents in the UK since last Thursday. They won't of course, because they don't want to confront the fact that if you run a campaign on 'Taking Back Control' and then leave it entirely vague as to what that means exactly, inevitably plenty of people are going to interpret it as a vote out the EU means we can now kick out those immigrants who are here as a result of the EU, and also, fuck it., all those ones who aren't as well. The more these incidents occur, and they will, the less people will intervene, the more blind eyes will get turned. A week ago I would've considered it hysterical to be thinking by Tuesday that this is what the start of fascism looks like. Now I don't think that's hysterical at all, and I know I'm not the only one whether black or white, who feels that way. Seriously, if anyone tells me I'm being hysterical I'm going to bite their fucking head off.

JULY 4th, 2106. 

TODAY, Farage quit as leader of UKIP. Job done. 

I know, I know, we have to listen and understand the anti-immigrants (low wages? Stretched services? - well PROVE IT but I'll listen) but there's one recurrent motif I'm reminded of by today's political obits for Farage - the whole 'I walk down the street and I don't hear anyone talking English' riff that Farage improvised on with his train-carriage. I have never ever ever ever ever ever ever understood this feeling in one iota. This is not because I am some kind of urban cosmopolitan sophisticate - I genuinely think it's a kind of infantile mental shortcoming. Why the fuck would you have a problem with people talking in their own language? Seriously - someone explain to me how this can be anything other than xenophobic/paranoiac. I want to understand but this is one ever-ready recourse for people who want their 'country back' and I JUST DON'T GET IT. What the fuck is your problem and why is it any of your business what language people speak among themselves FFS? Someone please tell me why I shouldn't just think these twats should fucking well GROW UP? Farage's shrugging off of R4 interviewer asking him if he feels responsible for the increase in racist attacks ('there's been attacks on both sides of this debate' oh fucking really you CUNT?) is how we should remember him. 

An unconscionable contemptible shitstain on our history. Farage may be gone, but the sting he left in the country's side, the sting that says I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK, will continue to pump its poison through our streets, lives and politics for some time yet.

What Farage's politics, UKIP politics, BNP politics, EDL politics, and Tory Right politics have in common is one thing: the exultation of, and pandering to, a collosal unending self-pity. The expression not of what's best about us as they would claim, but what is our absolute worst national trait. This Empire Deprivation Trauma is our national symptom of a deeper sickness that extends beyond Europe and all the way to the likes of Modi in India, Viktor Orban in Hungary, the rise in popularity of Front National in France and Alternative Fur Deutchland in Germany and Golden Dawn in Greece (all of whom were of course first in the queue to congratulate the Great British Public for their 'bravery'). The butthurt persecuted majority. God I fear them for they will determine the future. And Trump V. Clinton has that 'season finale' vibe all over it . . . . 

July 7th, 2016 

GREAT France Germany game last night. I know that leaving the EU doesn't mean we left Europe. I know we can still enjoy the anthems, the beautiful things and people Europe has given us over centuries. We too are capable of beauty but it feels like a couple of weeks ago we were asked a question for no reason, and the answer we gave was from the mouth of Farage and was a rude, arrogant, insular, selfish and aggressive answer that won't be forgotten. We showed, and are showing, the worse of ourselves. We looked in the mirror, and the England that minorities have been aware of for an age, the racist, spiteful, wounded, whining England pulled off its mask and grinned back.

July 12th, 2016

WATCHING, masochistically, passionate members of the great British public talking about their 'out' decision' and not really minded to be pussyfooting round these thick fuckers. Anyone who voted 'leave' because of immigration is a total fucking dipshit. Sick of this tiptoeing, and sick of fucking UKIP and the Tories saying that 'oh we're all agreed that racist abuse is not on' - THEY have fucking fostered this situation and it's their cowardice in not confronting these lies that leads us to our current state. Like evveryone else, they just think the right word can wash this hatred off their hands. It's always been very convenient for politicians when people blame immigration for their problems and now we're seeing the consequences of this. And we've now got a bunch of wankers that seem to be arguing that people are entitled to their prejudices ("these are their experiences") and that anyone pointing out that these prejudices are based upon a massive pile of shite is some sort of fucking 'elitist', which is fast becoming a very dangerous word.

Brian Reade in yesterday's Mirror: "How can we say we’re still one of the most tolerant, accepting nations on earth when some police forces are reporting a five-fold rise in race hate crimes, Polish shops are plastered in vile graffiti, Asians are being called a word that hasn’t been in common usage for decades, leaflets are being put through doors telling foreigners to go home, and the late, great Michael Foot has swastikas daubed on his memorial stone?"
Reade's spot on (although Paki has never gone out of use). EVERY politician seems keen to 'listen', to 'address legitimate concerns' re immigration, to deliver what the British people 'want'. Wish they'd be honest: 'This country is massively xenophobic. We must sate & placate this ignorant xenophobia if we want to get elected.' Fucking liars. Gonna pitch an article to Buzzfeed: '20 Wacky Auld Racist Epithets That Brexit Has Made HAWT Again'. Can't wait to see what's shouted at me from passing vans in coming months! Nignog! Wog! Blackistani! Paki-bastard! Xenophobia, like racism, is something we're only going to progress past once we admit we all suffer from it. That's NOT to say there are equivalences all over the shop. There aren't. At the moment, in the UK, don't be non-white, and if you're white, don't be poor.

August 12th, 2016

Stickers that appeared in Glasgow a few days after the referendum vote. 

BEEN a month odd now. Pregnant women are getting attacked, people are getting beaten to death. Still the rhetoric is about addressing the 'legitimate concerns of the White Working Class'.   Couple of newsflashes

1) the white working class, like every other class in this country, is perfectly able to be utterly fucking idiotically racist. This needs confronting, not assuaging. 

2) plenty of the white working class are perfectly able to be utterly NOT fucking racist, often precisely because unlike many frothing UKIPpers they actually live in neighbourhoods where their neighbours and friends and lovers and partners and kids and kids friends are more than likely to be not from their own ethnic group. 

The 'concerned' middle class from both Labour & Tory sides need to stop generalising, and afford the white working class the same complexity and diversity they give to their own (in fact a bit more). The racism we're seeing might be more visibly (in terms of things captured by cameras and phones) from the WWC but behind the Leave vote there was also a tremendous silent middle-class vote for bigotry and intolerance as well. The lies that foster these fears and the fears themselves need obliterating no matter who they come from. Avowedly, the referendum decision was all about stopping Brussels telling us what to do wasn't it? Hence all the stuff about us recovering our 'confidence'. I think alot of people will now feel 'confident' that given a few years, once post-Brexit Tory & Labour parties aren't able to deliver on any promises on immigration, UKIP will fill the void and would probably become the second party with enough promises about the death penalty and sending 'em back. THAT is the undercurrent here - for many people voting Brexit this is just the first step on the road to the kinds of repatriations Enoch and his fans always dreamed of. And so the scurrying begins. No-one in politics will have the balls to say this isn't about ignoring legitimate concerns about immigration, it is about fostering and perpetuating illegitimate concerns about immigration in order to divert/distract people from what they should be concerned about.Wish reporters would stop talking exclusively about the 'white working class' who have voted Leave. This assumption that first-wave/second-wave immigrants would vote Remain. Some of the deepest resistance to migration comes from previous migrants. 

28th September, 2016 

Ok, I'm going to ramble.  Feel free to disregard this may be TLDR for some. But these two have driven me spare with what they've said today. And I need to say the following before my teeth grind away.

It has bBeen decided that it's time for the Labour party to finally 'confront' immigration. A triple delusion going on in the talk of Rachel Reeves and Chuka Ummuna, just as there was in the doomsaying of Frank Field and others during the referendum campaign, firstly that Labour historically have been ‘too soft’, secondly that what they’re proposing is a new dialogue for Labour, thirdly that this ‘debate’ is in any way a new one. The public ‘debate’ about immigration has a long long history in the UK, none of which really casts any of the political parties in a good light.

Such a history could start with the 1905 Aliens Act, the first act of parliament to actively seek control of immigration and perhaps the first attempt to institutionalise the idea that immigrants alone are responsible for deteriorating conditions/wages for workers. The left can be thanked for this scapegoating - the act's introduction was due partly to concerted campaigning from Trade Union and socialist groups throughout the last years of the Victoria era. In 1892 more than 40 left-leaning bodies adopted resolutions calling for restrictions on immigration, especially by East European Jews. Manchester Trades Council's statement was typical: 

“It is time that workers of this country . . . rose up and protested with firmness against the continuation of this curse [of Jewish immigration]”.
Of course, a statement from a general representative body, like a referendum vote,  rarely tells the whole story of the diversity of opinion within working class communities. Working class activists, at a rally on 21st August 1894 in Whitechapel passed a resolution that stated: 
“the vast amount of poverty and misery which exists is in no way due to the influx of foreign workmen, but is the result of the private ownership of the means of production”
Such statements, startlingly modern, were rare though. In 1895 the TUC passed a resolution against immigrants. In response, ten mostly Jewish trade unions published a pamphlet called 'A Voice From The Aliens', launched in August 1894 at meetings in London and Leeds with speakers including Eleanor Marx and Peter Kropotkin. The leaflet reminds ‘native’ workers of their:
“duty to combine against a common enemy, [rather] than fight against us, whose interests are identical with yours”.

Native workers weren't interested. By 1896 the trade union leadership sent a delegation to the Home Secretary supporting anti-immigrant legislation, sponsored by the Tory Lord Salisbury. In 1905, the Aliens Act passed into law, explicity denying entry  to any:
“undesirable immigrant [who] cannot show that he has in his possession or is in a position to obtain the means of decently supporting himself”
The 'good stock' motif in its infancy. In 1907 the Jewish Chronicle rightly called the act:
“saturated with class prejudice from almost the first clause to the last and divorced from every true democratic instinct. It has proved itself arbitrary, retrograde, tyrannical and cruel”
The act - inevitably as it fed off an already rising tide of Jew-hatred - rapidly becomes accompanied by a sharp rise in anti-Semitism against East End Jews, fired by the gutter-press who feed the myths about them stealing jobs from British workers and scrounging from the system. One wonders whether - without union agitation and the TUC's capitulation to racism in blaming immigrants for worsening conditions - the act would have got through (recall Ben Tillet, the docker's leader in 1892 famously speaking to migrant workers: "Yes you are our brothers . . .but we wish you had not come”. Sounds familiar?).  No side of British politics can really emerge well from this episode. In the early years of the C20th Liberal & Tory MPs repeatedly blamed immigrants for the housing crisis. Liberal MP Cathcart Wilson was just one of a chorus of cross-party voices saying similar things when he said in 1902:

". . . what's the point of workmen's dwellings if the places of our own people, the backbone of the country, are to be taken over by the refuse scum of other nations?"

Crucially, from its birth, immigration policy then as now, was designed in the UK to create scapegoats/targets for the increasingly impoverished working class, and to assuage a press whose pitch of enmity against immigrants has always been hysterical, hostile, actually fundamentally doubtful of the existence of 'genuine' immigrants. . So jewish people fleeing Russian pogroms become 'so-called refugees'. Then, as now, sew suspicion, divide and rule.

"There landed yesterday at Southampton from the transport Cheshire over 600 so-called refugees, their passages having been paid out of the Lord Mayor's Fund. . .There was scarce a hundred of them that had, by right, deserved such help, and these were the Englishmen of the party. The rest were Jews. . .They fought and jostled for the foremost places at the gangways. . .When the Relief Committee passed by they hid their gold and fawned and whined, and, in broken English, asked for money for their train fare."
Daily Mail, February 3, 1900

In 1919 the racist Aliens Restrictions act gets rewrit taking on the powers given by the 1914 wartime Act into peacetime, extending restrictions on immigration to include the employment rights of resident aliens, barring them from certain jobs (eg. the civil service) and avowedly targeting 'criminals', 'paupers' and 'undesirables'. It also made it illegal for aliens to promote industrial action. The extension of the restrictions reflected the post-war end to labour-shortages and the need to 'safeguard' jobs for indigenous white Britons and returning servicemen. Post WW1 it’s German & Jewish workers who are the ones to blame in parliament for any UK 'decline' and that blame comes from both Lab & Tory politicians. And just as now, anyone out here with brown skin can also consider themselves a target from post-referendum racism, so then South Asian migrants (although not formally classified as 'aliens' as they were citizens of empire) also faced harrasment and abuse because of the legislation. The 1919 act gets renewed every year from 1919 to 1971. Letting aliens know, that they're barely tolerated, not welcome, that the UK is just waiting for a chance to get rid. It's a message that's been kept up ever since, if not by government, than by the press the govt kowtow to with such regularity. 

"'The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage . . .' In these words, Mr Herbert Metcalfe, the Old Street magistrate, yesterday referred to the number of aliens entering the country through the 'back door' - a problem to which the Daily Mail has repeatedly pointed."
Daily Mail, August 20, 1938

"A typically baffling illustration of the difficulty is the fact that Britain now has more Jews than Germany ever had. If a further accretion of, say, 100,000 of them come into the country, how could the danger be averted of an anti-Jewish feeling here?"

The Observer, July 31, 1938

Notwithstanding popular anger about Mosley, through the 30s MPs from all sides complained about Jewish refugees 'scurrying' from Germany and repeatedly called for 'tightening' of immigration. There were mass deportations of 'enemy aliens' throughout WWII, esp after internment although state-sponsored schemes still brought in cheap colonial labour which had a dual benefit - migrant labour could be directed towards labour shortages but the govt could still galvanise nationalism/xenophobia through the Aliens act. 'Brightest and best' is what we say now - in 49 the govt feared the 'over-fertile races' and wanted migrants 'of good stock and not prevented by race or religion from intermarrying with the host population and becoming merged into it' (Royal Commission on Population 1949, a response to Windrush arrival). It’s exactly the same narrative still in use now - migrant labour is only good if carries no cost - if migrants have 'dependants' they're not welcome. In 1947 the British govt started forcing prospective migrants to sign a form stating they're single, unattached and had no dependent relatives. Immigration policy in the UK has never been about people -  it’s been purely about continuing a supply of flexible exploitable labour while bearing minimum cost. So, in boom times of labour shortage governments encourage migration (racism can 'take a back seat' when it's unproductive). When the boom's over … blame the immigrants for the decline and start talking about tightening and sending 'em back.  Look at how when the economy slowed in the late 60s/early 70s - black/asian/immigrant workers were always the fiirst to lose jobs Old old story. Still going on, even more so after the crash. 
Crucially, Labour talk at the moment that it's 'time for Labour' to get involved in immigration debates overlooks the moves of appeasement and support for Tory controls that accompany the whole political history of immigration and racism in the UK for the last 50 years.

Labour cannot and must not assume it can cover itself in glory here. Through the 50s there was a constant association in press and parliament between immigrants & 'high birth rates', disease, violent crime and Labour. Throughout the same period, the official position of the Labour Party on immigration control was one of consistent opposition. When the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill was debated in Parliament in November 1961, the Labour Party opposed it on the same grounds it had presented in 1958. Gordon Walker, Labour MP for Smethwick, contended that the Conservative Home Secretary R. A. Butler

‘advocates a Bill into which race discrimination is now written – not only into its spirit and practice but into its very letter’

Walker was right. The 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants act overwhelmingly targets black & asian migrants and ensured racist immigration law became the basis for the next 60 years, enshrining in law that insiduous notion that immigration equals more darkies, less 'integration', more problems. The instinct in Labour even after the bill was passed was to favour a more benevolent notion of Commonwealth, defending the right of free entry to the UK for Commonwealth citizens.  During the Bill’s second reading, Walker declared that Labour would ‘bitterly oppose the Bill and will resist it’ as it was ‘widely and rightly regarded as introducing a colour bar into our legislation’. Hugh Gaitskell himself always emphasised how immigration was being already effectively regulated by economics and together with Dennis Healey, then spokesman for Labour on colonial relations, pledged to fight the bill in opposition and repeal it should Labour return to government. This all changes after Gaitskell's death in early 1963. Harold Wilson upended Labour's 'unconditional' opposition to immigration control and announced that the party did support 'certain provisions' of the Act, and that Labour 'do not contest the need for control of immigration'.

This growing consensus between the parties that controls alone could address the colour 'problem' was in part a response to events - the infamous Smethwick by-election in 64 was the moment when both parties realised that immigration was an issue that could win or lose seats. In an eerie mirror of today Labour attempted to 'compete' with the nasty racist campaigning of Peter Griffiths (the notorious 'if you want a nigger neighbour vote labour' poster) with their own assertions and admissions that immigrants were the problem, and they were going to get tough. Gordon Walker, who in 61 was so opposed to the racist Commonwealth act was singing a different tune in his own local party's eve-of-poll leaflet, pleading

"Be fair. Immigrants only arrived in Smethwick in large numbers during the past ten years--while the Tory government was in power. You can't blame Labour or Gordon Walker for that. Labour favours continued control of immigration, stricter health checks and deportation of those convicted of criminal offences. Labour will give local authorities greater power to help overcrowding. Labour will provide new and better housing.'

In the by-election, contrary to national trends, Griffith's vote remained steady and  Labour's fell. Walker's surrender to the Tories' racist narratives fed the idea that immigration was the key voting issue and that Labour had better get as tough as the Tories if they didn't want to lose votes. Leading left-wing light in the PLP, Richard Crossman, who had once stated how proud he was to be opposing the Tories' immigration bill as a 'shameful piece of colour bar legislation', now confided to his diary:

 'Ever since the Smethwick election it has been quite clear that immigration can be the greatest potential voteloser for the Labour Party if we are seen to be permitting a flood of immigrants to come and blight the central areas of our cities.'

This is the same interpretation of an unfavourable result that Labour are engaged in now regarding Brexit. As in 64, it's an erroneous interpretation, oblivious to nuance and complexity, and as in 64 is being mooted as the most important way to protect Labour electorally. As in 64, no MP would be advised to speak out in favour of immigration. Immigration must always be seen, by both parties, as a 'problem'. The further you look into Labour's positions on immigration at the time alot of our parents and grandparents were first coming here you realise that the idea posited and assumed by many in Labour - that the party has always had an internationalist, liberal outlook on immigration - simply doesn't marry with the facts. Many Labour  MPs asked for TIGHTER controls in 62. During the 64 election twice as many Lab candidates as Tory mentioned immigration in election addresses, repeatedly, as in Smethwick, blaming large-scale immigration on Tories. It was Labour MPs, not just Tories, who publically vexed about 'our national life' and 'our national identity under threat'. And it was Labour, more than inveterably parochial Tories who postulated, propagated and perpetuated this mealy-mouthed faux-concerned idea that we mustn't do anything to provoke race hate by making people have to live alongside people from other races. The Party did not repeal the 62 bill, bought in the 65 race-relations act (as the ever-sharp A.Sivanandan called it, a bill that 'wasn't just toothless but gumless') as a sop to their liberal consciences and set about devising their own immigration bill.  In the Immigration white paper Labour drew up in 65 Roy Hattersley wanted 'tests' to analyse which immigrants 'are most likely to assimilate'. The paper also recommended, via cunning voucher-control, cutting the amount of colonial immigrants in favour of white immigrants from Australia and New Zealand.Crucially, then as now, Labour appeased its conscience and its betrayal of commonwealth citizens by propagating the old narrative that 'controls are 'needed for preserving good race relations' i.e - street racism can be minimised by channeling and placating populist racism into racist immigration policy. Cleansing the streets from the borders and airports outwards.  Being 'firm but fair'. That idea that if you just Remove immigrants you remove racism against immigrants. 

The Immigration Bill of 1968 was a Labour bill but it spelled out the same old story - blacks, asians, 'coloured's not welcome, except when the system can't function without them. A pannicy piece of legislation, passed in a record seven days by a Labour govt keen to prohibit British-passport-holding Asians expelled from Kenya from coming to the UK on the grounds they were non-'patrial'. The 68 immigration/commonwealth bill is a shameful part of Labour history, encouraging Enoch and a whole legacy of racism since (and don't forget which unions marched in support of Enoch too), a bit of policy re-energised every time a fresh 'wave' 'threatened' the UK, such as the Ugandan Gujuratis expelled by Idi Amin in 72. In the 70s it was under Labour that gynaecological examinations & x-rays of immigrant women were carried out at airports to determine age/virginity. Labour always, like Tories, needed to keep immigration talk 'strict' and about 'rooting out' illegals throughout the 70s. Labour’s late 70s green paper on nationality law contained alot of proposals later taken up by Thatcher in her 81 Nationality Act (no need to reiterate that Thatcher wanted to ‘hold out a clear prospect of an end to immigration’ and Tory MPs like Tony Marlow were saying racism was a ‘natural instinct’). Throughout the 80s and 90s through ensuing legislation like the 93 Asylum Appeals Act I recall Blair (as prime minister and previously as shadow home affairs spokesman), and Hattersley and others in Labour (Jack Straw in particular) utterly unable to do anything but parrot and mirror Tory talk about ‘bogus’ asylum seekers'. With leaders across the political spectrum for nigh on 100 years unable to offer any narrative about immigrants that isn't fearful, it's no wonder that the constant pitch of anti-immigrant rhetoric from the press has raised a whole generation of voters, Labour and Tory, who see fictions about us being swamped by an immigrant deluge as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. When the establishment itself can't even defend immigration, sees immigration as purely a game to be played according to economics and popular perception, the attack dogs can carve up that debate and cast the terms of it in divisive xenophobia, wounded colonialism and fear. The ancient fear of contamination, of 'sharing OUR' public services, losing our jobs, losing our identity - an identity that increasingly feels like it's defined by our fears and our loathings and our bigotries more than its defined by our values, now that word has been so comprehensively rinsed out and so spuriously co-opted by so many liars. Of course these fears are baseless but they propped up by a hundred years of populist innuendo and lies. We British like our racism, see?  And we want to keep it that way. 

Which brings us to now. The Brexit referendum IS the Smethwick election of our times. Labour's 'response' to it CAN'T play the same old tropes of blaming the victim. That’s why what I heard yesterday was so startling and so refreshing. Sorry to go on, but yesterday I heard a politician say something different about immigration from what I've heard nearly all my life. Sorry if that makes me hopeful. And sorry if it makes the talk of Reeves & Ummuna sound like OLD OLD news.

5th October, 2016

The slogan this year should have been 'Enoch Was Right'. I was genuinely, in a strange flagellant sense, actually looking forward to the Tory Party conference, even had my own party-game worked out. Everytime someone mentioned 'ordinary hardworking families' I was going to jack-up and mainline a hearty wodge of zesty, chunky heroin. As it turned out drugs would've been surplus to requirements. This was wacky, zany shit. Yes they have grounds to be even more nauseatingly triumphalist than normal, but with the Brexit iceberg fast approaching their portside what the conference felt like was a weird, unreal festival of populist hysteria, a bit of 'freeswim'-style nuttiness, the wild kind of ill-considered bullshit-spewing that can only come when a political party thinks it's unassailable and has no idea where it's going. Phillip Hammond obliged with a speech almost hallucinatory in the density of its cliches, almost satirical in effect if not intent. But the true highlights were to come. Amber Rudd's speech as Home Secretary was one of the most terrifying things I've heard in my lifetime. May's conference closing talk of world citizens and proud patriotism was merely pruning and polishing the edifice of intolerance that Rudd built up in her 12 minutes odd. It was perhaps the most chilling address to a Tory Conf I've ever been aware of, because it was about 90% purely about immigration, the danger, the 'legitimate concerns'. It was a totally and utterly racist speech that spent the remaining 10% pointing out that it wasn't racist. It went beyond anything said in 1905, 1919, 1962, 1967/68 . . . Rudd's speech marks a new low for the 'debate' and like every other Tory statement about immigration of late, seems to feel it's anointed by the people, given benediction by the snook cocked at liberal elites (is there a more dangerously slippery word than 'elites' at the moment?), surrounds itself with the 'underdog' narrative of fighting to be heard, fighting to get through without being accused of being racist. When every single sane member of a racial minority in this country knows - it's anti-racist narratives that are being silenced at the moment. This shit doesn't have to fight to get heard. This 'grown up debate' is deafening, monotonous, and the ubiquity of its self-pitying motifs is total. Of course I now feel foolish for my vague distant hope of a week or so ago. Even with solidarity, we, us mongrels, don't have the numbers. They, proud Brits, do. I'm no Cassandra but I said fkn years ago all the right needed was a slick leader and a pliant press and a lurch rightwards would go down a storm with the British public. Exactly what we're getting. Shocked by how soon the Tories are basically mirroring the current Hungarian stance on immigration. This is what happens, always happens, the far right fade and flail while the Tories slowly but surely co-opt their policies and their rhetoric. 

And of course, they have the monopoly on patriotism. even though what May and Rudd are engaged in isn't patriotism and is far closer to nationalism or jingoism. Patriotism is not defined by its relationship to foreigners and patriotism  is not always smiling or about pride - patriotism can be critical, and be appalled at what's been/being done & not being done in a country's name. The Tories are smart to drape themselves in patriotism, because it also implies stability, a stability they KNOW is going to evaporate very very soon.  I hope they're sure about what they're letting loose and I hope they're aware of the swathes of our proud history you're actually shutting out and shutting down with their rhetoric this week. Horrible feeling they're well aware, and they're pleased with how things went. Irony is, of course, that the convention hall the Tory conference is in was built through EU support. As was Symphony Hall and alot of Brum development. The tory party couldn't give a shit about Birmingham, just like it couldn't give a shit about Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Coventry - why should it when no-one votes for them there? Of course they'll flip their conferences tween Brum and Manc for the foreseable, makes them look like they're at the 'heart' of the nation' out in the provinces. But in terms of actually funding building projects in Birmingham, the EU put the Tory party to shame. And Birmingham voted out, don't forget. We are willingly walking into a country that is becoming like a work camp because we like the packaging and the presentation more than we like unpalatable truths. What's a bit extra-scary at the moment is that it feels like what the majority want, and so they'll get it.

Eyes down. Hide. Successfully, they now have us on the run. Only dream left is escape. A cruel, impossible dream. I know the drill. 


  1. A couple of years ago my partner and I were waiting for a bus when a garrulous tosswipe who attempts to engage anyone and everyone in conversation informed us that several of the flats in our block had been set aside for immigrants. I'll treasure forever the memory of his flabbergasted expression when I said "good and if an immigrant family moves in next door to us I'll pop round and invite them in for a cuppa and bite to eat." I fucking despise racists, particularly those who assume I think the same way they do. I don't know which cancer needs cutting out first, overt racism or the casual type that infests British society like a virulent mind-rotting fungus.


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