Monday, January 05, 2009

White working class: a sacred cow?

Hazel Blears is the latest politician joining the politics of race with the cliche' that the 'white working classes are being ignored'.

I don't know if one of the goals of 'multiculturalism' was to consider people as blocs collectively defined by ethnicity, but the ever increasing calls for the 'preservation' of the white working class suggest the objective is being achieved.

The message has been relentless. Labour, Tory and LibDem MPs alike have been united in endorsing "white grievances". "Otherwise they'll vote for the fascists" is their clarion call. In March the BBC commissioned a series of programmes (BBC2's White Season) focused on the "white working classes not being given a voice".

Labour Minister Hazel Blears is the latest to join the trend, calling for the understanding of "working class fears". It makes you wonder if she was referring to headlines like last October's Daily Star's They've stolen all our jobs (see picture) or Give the jobs to whites. Or to the constant daily sniping at immigrants from all the best selling tabloids. Will an article like this by Fergus Shanahan in The Sun do? Does that go far enough towards the 'language of the common man'? At which point does patronising turn into inflammatory?

Not to mention the irony of having the same papers who see themselves as the self-appointed "voice of the common man" constantly pouring bucketloads of shit over the white working classes themselves. Scroungers, spongers, chavs, child murderers, inferior creatures.

Three days ago I was walking down the Bullring shopping centre and a group of Asian-looking girls walked past me. As they did, a white woman right ahead of me turned round and shouted "Fookin Pakis, kick'em ewt of dis coontr-aaay!!!". Is that the kind of white working class Briton being ignored?

Only a couple of months ago this blog criticised the routine formula that "if we don't understand the fears of our white working class better they'll end up flocking to the BNP". "Does it mean that if all local Councils were persuaded to start advertising for "WHITES ONLY" jobs, the BNP would die a natural death?", was this blog's rhetorical question.

Instead of pitiful tributes to the "extinct speeches" and the colour "white", the government could do some soul searching about the drive away from social housing of the past 25 years or the CBI-endorsed policy of low pay that minimised the impact of the minimum wage. Why doesn't Ms Blears consider capping the skyrocketing utility bills or bus fares? How's that for taking into consideration the needs of the working classes, instead of giving the lowdown on the colours of the rainbow?

And so we come to today's very brave piece by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent where the columnist challenges the new national sport of shedding "tears over the white working class", which gets particularly dangerous in the midst of such a massive recession. "We ordinary immigrants didn't cause the credit crunch", she writes. "We didn't privatise the nation's assets and pay ourselves shockingly high bonuses. We did not outsource jobs and bring down wages. We didn't cut back on public housing and run down the infrastructure. We didn't make the British choose benefits over work".

You can only imagine the hate comments that followed.


Madam Miaow said...

Ugh! Now, where have I heard something similar recently ...?

Johnny T said...


claude said...

JT, I think Yasmin Alibhai Brown was trying to be provocative. And rightly so. I guess she was trying to demistify the shit Britain's being fed and the constant barrage about race politics and scarmongering.