Friday, 9 August 2013

Shameless, racist, effective

There are times when the sheer effrontery of the Cameron government makes it hard to avoid a certain sneaking admiration for its downright shamelessness.

The latest wheeze is to send vans carrying ads against illegal immigration cruising through areas of high ‘ethnic’ population numbers.

Don’t you love that use of the word ‘ethnic’, by the way? I mean, we’re all ethnic aren’t we? We belong to some ethnos or other. Even the Aryan whites who can trace a thousand years of their family’s presence in this country belong to an ethnic group, even if it’s only the tribe of the superciliously insular.

The vans carry the message ‘In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest’, followed by information such as ‘106 arrested in your area last week.’ 
Arrested, take note, not convicted. Who knows how many were here legally.

Go home.
Just the message to display around ‘ethnic’ areas
Lord Ousely is a former Chairman of the Commission on Racial Equality. He is, of course, ‘ethnic’, in the common but deformed sense of belonging to an ethnic minority. He told the BBC this afternoon that he would, from now on, be carrying a passport at all times so that he can prove, if stopped, that he has a right to be here and isn’t just hanging around the House of Lords in the hope of earning a pound carrying a peer’s bags.

Lord Ouseley.
‘ethnic’ so he's taken to carrying his passport everywhere
It’s the ‘go home’ part of the sign that’s most offensive. It’s the slogan the far right has been using for decades. Usually, they spray paint it on walls at night. The government’s innovation is to use it on vans paid for with taxpayer’s money. 

Not much taxpayer money, as it happens. The whole campaign is likely to cost around £10,000, for the pilot stage now being run in London. And what a payback. We’re all talking about it. Me, sure, but far more importantly all the leading media outlets too. It may prove totally ineffective as a way of reducing illegal immigrant numbers, but boy it’s a great way of gaining publicity for the government.

And what publicity! Facing a major threat from their right, in the form of the United Kingdom Independence Party, the Conservatives are clothing themselves in the language of extreme racist movements, while being able to claim: ‘racist? us? we’re just trying to control illegal behaviour. Surely you can’t be against that?’

They even turn it against the opposition, claiming the measure is a response to Labour’s ‘open door’ policy towards immigrants. The hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were turned away during the Labour years will have trouble believing there ever was such a policy. Even in my memory, Labour tried on the same trick of looking for easy gains from the right by targeting immigrants who, after all, don’t have a vote themselves but get up the noses of quite a few people who do.

Why, Gordon Brown used the slogan ‘British jobs for British workers’, which used to be a preserve of the far right.

So the Conservative Party is winning support from its right, and secondarily giving itself another stick with which to beat Labour. What if the initiative proves a failure as an immigration control measure? Who cares? It will have served its true purpose by generating a propaganda coup for the Tories.

It’s hard not to imagine the hand of Lynton Crosby at work here. He’s the campaign manager of the Tory party and reputed to be a man of just this kind of diabolical cunning. And it’s brilliant, isn’t it? Totally unprincipled and utterly shameful, but so effective. And, what’s more, we’re all paying for it.

There is of course a response. One can stand firm on principle but still hit back with the same kind of ruthless efficiency.

How about a campaign proclaiming that immigration control is fine, but it ought to stop short of ethnic cleansing? Equating the present Tory leadership with the likes of Bosnian Serb warlords may seem unfair, but we’re up against people who’ve got their gloves off and don’t care how low they stoop to land their blows.

What has the Labour leadership’s response been, actually? Absolutely nothing. Afraid of frightening away the racist anti-immigrant fringe that might vote for them, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls refuse to denounce ugly electioneering on public funds.

Do they believe that a softly-softly approach will work for them against this lot?


Faith A. Colburn, Author said...

Whether or not it actually convinces illegals to "go home," it certainly encourages people who would treat them brutally.

David Beeson said...

It picks up precisely the language of those people. It's the kind of thing that makes me loathe the crowd who make up this government: they know that as well as I do, but they have so little principle that they do it anyway, in the pursuit of votes.