Tag Archives: racism

What are you doing today to challenge bigotry?

I’m back from a wonderful, blissful and restorative two weeks in my favourite place. Thanks to the team who have worked so hard to keep the site running while I’ve been away.

I’m catching up on all the things I’ve missed while I’ve been reading utter trash and walking up and down the wonderful Rosemarkie Beach with the dog. This story from the Dundee Courier caught my eye.

Lib Dem Councillor Ben Lawrie described a vicious racist verbal assault on his girlfriend, Scottish Environment Spokesperson Mariam Mahmood:

“Mariam told me about incidents of racism that she’s faced growing up – how after 9/11 people threw bricks through her house window in what they must have thought was some sort of revenge attack,” he said.

“I witnessed it for myself earlier this year when the two of us were walking through Dundee and a young woman approached us and screamed the n-word in Mariam’s face.

“It broke my heart. I was even more shocked than her because, sadly, she’s used to it by now.”

Mariam said: “I’ve grown up with this throughout my life when people would use racial slurs almost as ammo against you but Ben had never witnessed it so the bus station incident was shocking for him.

“This girl was standing with a group of friends and just walked over and screamed it right in my face.

“Her friends didn’t look that impressed – but none of them called her out. It’s very disheartening.

“While I thought I was ok at the time, when we got back to the flat I was really quite upset.

“I have a little sister who is just ten years old and I don’t want her to have to endure this sort of thing.”

Ben added: “We can use this experience to shine a light on this sort of thing and in my comments to the committee I was trying to emphasise that if we are to teach our young people to respect one another, we have to start by leading by example.”

I don’t know one single person of colour who doesn’t have to put up with this sort of crap. And when people in the public eye – I’m looking at you, Boris Johnson – make ill-advised comments, the people who carry out this abuse on the street feel legitimised and emboldened.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Vince: Bigots are not welcome in the Liberal Democrats

You can barely turn on the telly these days without seeing some politician or commentator taking a swipe at a marginalised group. If we think things are bad here, it’s exponentially worse in the US where Pod Save America host Jon Lovett described Fox News in the evenings as wall to wall white nationalism.

So it’s refreshing to see a party leader jump into the middle and say “No. This will not stand.”

Vince, in a piece on the main party website, said:

The Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of the fight for equality, and we have a record on these issues of which we’re very proud.

But sadly, the truth is that a very small minority of our own members do hold some views that are fundamentally incompatible with our values.

Our party’s constitution is clear:

We reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

As a liberal, I respect people’s rights to hold different views to my own, but my message to everyone is that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, transphobia and bigotry are not welcome, and not tolerated, in the Liberal Democrats.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

You can tell Boris has been hanging around with Steve Bannon…

So, Boris’s mask slips.

A couple of weeks after it was reported he was hanging around with racist populist Steve Bannon, he comes out with all sorts of racist guff about women wearing burkas and niqabs.

The worst of his comments is this:

If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled – like Jack Straw – to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly.

If an MP can’t talk to a constituent who has come to make representations to them or who has come looking for their help, then, frankly, they should get better social skills.

Bragging about your sense of entitlement is not a good look.

Why is it always women that get this stuff? From “witches” who in the end of the day were just women whose beliefs strayed from the “norm”, to women who wear Islamic dress, we are considered fair game in a way that men aren’t. Why is it ok that Jack Straw and Boris should be able to tell women how to dress? Why can’t they just make up their own minds?

I find it hard to reconcile a world where women who choose to wear a veil are subjugated and women who come under pressure to be thin, cellulite free, perfectly groomed and available for sex at all times aren’t. Just look at any magazine marketed to women and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, progress has been made, but the world, all of it, is still very much run for men by men.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 10 Comments

Vince Cable talks about his mother’s mental illness, his father’s racism and overcoming prejudice in a moving and candid interview

Embed from Getty Images

You probably don’t know that Vince Cable was on Radio 5 Live as the birthday guest on Sunday night because it’s not really been reported anywhere. It’s worth catching up on it though because it’s one of the most open, personal  and moving interviews I’ve heard him give. He’s mentioned the racism he and his first wife Olympia faced as a mixed race couple before but in this

Vince was 75 last week but he said that he was both physically and mentally fit – he was introduced as a dancer and black run skier. His age isn’t an issue, he says. He says he’s well received amongst audiences of young people and derided by older people.

He said there was a period in politics when it was important to be youthful, citing Kennedy, Blair and Cameron but talks about a blend of youthful innovation and experience is necessary.

Growing up in York to ambitious working class parents, he learned about aspiration and ambition. He says he was a bit lonely when his brother arrived at 11. HIs mother suffered post natal depression and spent some time in hospital as a result. He has talked before of the role of adult education in helping her recover from that. His brother was fostered for a while and his father had to look after him.  He said people were quite cruel about it and taunted him about is mother going to the “loony bin.” He says we’ve made some progress with that sort of attitude.

The idea of women working when he was growing up was frowned upon. He sees this as adding to his mother’s loneliness. His father was a very traditional person who had campaigned to stop women teaching and who believed in a hierarchy of races.

He talked of forming a “little liberal cell” in his house with his mum, who defied the instructions to vote Conservative she received from her husband.

It was playing Macbeth in the school play which helped him overcome his awkwardness as a teenager and he spoke of how his involvement in a drama group led to his first relationship – with Lady Macbeth.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | Leave a comment

Nigel Farage proves that he is the ultimate media tart

My photo, taken last week, of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, through the water of the fountain in Court Square, where Black slaves were bought and sold.

I have to say that the news that Nigel Farage is backing an extreme right-wing candidate in a Republican primary (mark that: it’s a party primary – not even a general election!) in Alabama, USA takes secure possession of a whole plethora of biscuits. Does this man stop at nothing to get some media coverage?

I was in Alabama this time last week, so I feel the urge to comment on this, if not having the qualification of detailed knowledge of the situation.

First of all, Farage is taking no risks here. Roy Moore, the candidate he is speaking for tonight, is going to win the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat which was vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became US Attorney General. So Farage is saddling up on a horse which is already going to win.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

Javid’s oath is nothing but dog whistle displacement activity

With barely a trace of irony, a minister in the Government which has just passed the most illiberal snooping legislation talked about defending freedom in an article in the Sunday Times (£) today. Not only that, but he seems to think that the answer to  any problems harming community cohesion could be resolved by holders of public office swearing an oath committing them to so-called British values of “equality, democracy and the democratic process.”

He spends the first 8 paragraphs of his article having a real go at Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, setting up the scapegoats while using the language of tolerance as a fig leaf in which to wrap the dog whistle.

This is a government, struggling to get a grip on Brexit – trying to distract us by scapegoating an entire community of people, reinforcing the horribly divisive rhetoric of the referendum. Does that sound tolerant to you?

As an aside, the phrase “British values” makes me wince – as if respect for the democratic process or support for freedom of speech was a uniquely British thing that stopped at our borders. You can’t confine a basic human instinct to a tiny little blob on the map. These universal values are exercised every day in every part of the world – and often with great courage and bravery. The women in Saudi who defy the law and drive. The people who marched in places like Myanmar and Teheran for democracy. The people who attend gay pride rallies in places where being gay is punishable by imprisonment or even death. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 50 Comments

The Language of the Left – and how it alienates progressives from their own causes

 

“Privilege”, “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces”, “mansplaining”, “tone policing” and “cultural appropriation”. These terms are the Language of the Left. Anyone who has talked politics with lefties will be familiar with the way that they are thrown around in discussions willy-nilly. And each of them describes a problem which should be taken seriously.

Take “mansplaining” for example: when men explain things in a patronizing way to women, because of an imagined authority on a certain subject. This happens all the time. It happens in offices; at dinner tables; on television; in politics. If you haven’t seen this in action you’re just not looking hard enough. And “trigger warnings” serve an important purpose as well. People who suffer from PTSD after sexual assault can be severely distressed when reading descriptions of rape, for example. Flagging this up to avoid aggravating their condition is no different from warning epileptics when there will be flashing images on TV. It’s completely sensible.

But once these terms become trump cards which can automatically win arguments and shut down discussions, then mission creep seeps in, as people use them more and more lazily. People don’t just use trigger warnings to flag up distressing content any more. They splash them in front of any Daily Mail article which they disagree with, and claim they are triggered every time they hear an opinion which they don’t like.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 145 Comments

In full – Tim Farron’s speech on post-Brexit racism

Here is the full text of Tim Farron’s speech last night on combating post-Brexit racism, which he delivered at Queen Mary University at an event organised with The Runnymede Trust:

Patriotism has too often been seen as the preserve of the right. And I resent that. I’m a patriot. I love my country, but not to the exclusion of others. That’s the difference between a patriot and a nationalist.

I want others to look at Britain as a beacon of hope, independent spirited, community minded, strong, maybe stubborn, but decent and compassionate.

And so, the rise in racist and xenophobic attacks following the referendum, fills me with shame. Those attacks are heartbreaking, they make me fear that my country has been stolen from me, because this is not the Britain I know, the Britain I love, because the Britain I know and love is better than that.

Posted in News and Speeches | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

As hate crime rises, Farron and Pidgeon visit vandalised Polish Centre

Probably the most awful of many bad aspects of the referendum is that that very small section of the population who are racists and bigots feel emboldened. They think they have 17 million mates. Social media is awash with reports of attacks and the Police say that reports of hate crime are up 57%. While only a tiny minority of Leave voters are racists, they all need to take some responsibility, alongside the Leave campaign, for allowing this appalling behaviour to flourish.

It’s not just in the last few weeks, though. This prejudice has been stoked endlessly by the media and both Tory and Labour governments for long enough. If they had done what Holly said, years ago, we might not be in this mess now.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 26 Comments

A time to speak out?

It was in fact the mid-seventies but looking back it seems more like Victorian times. Rows and rows of little kids in red and grey uniform and we chirruped in unison from a hymn we were far too little to understand about how to “master self and temper, how to make our conduct fair, when to speak and when be silent, when to do and when forbear”.

When as Liberals should we be silent and when should we speak out?

Three examples for your consideration:

On the school run I walk alongside a mum, like me, whose family go back many, many years in this town. She has assumed we are on the same wavelength. We make small talk about how the town has grown and changed. Out she comes with: “There weren’t any black people here when we were young were there Ruth?” I hesitated, I admit I hesitated, the school run is not a political occasion but her tone and inference were clear and I replied as gently as I could by asking her if she had a problem with that (ie that the town was now multi-racial). She scuttled back into her shell and waffled about how “it” just showed how the town has changed. She has hardly spoken to me since.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 26 Comments

LibLink: Kavya Kaushik: Britain’s immigration debate has taken a turn for the toxic

Ealing Southall Liberal Democrat candidate Kavya Kaushik has been writing for the New Statesman about the effect of the sort of rhetoric we’re hearing in the immigration debate.

She was annoyed by Evan Davis’ comments about Nick Clegg’s family background during his leader’s interview last week and recognised Nick’s obvious irritation:

The choice to fixate upon Clegg’s multicultural upbringing, suggesting it to be out of touch with “British” people, made for uncomfortable viewing. For centuries immigrants have been an integral part of the British working class. Within the context of the current immigration climate, it feels like further demonisation of BME people.

Davis’s intention was unlikely to be intentional racial discomfort, but Clegg’s furious reaction mirrored that of many children of migrants. Our Britishness is consistently questioned despite having lived in the UK for our entire lives. Casual racism is on the rise, particularly within politics. On the doorstep a BME canvasser is increasingly likely to hear “I don’t want your people here”, and worse. These experiences lead to racial sensitivity and passing comments questioning multiculturalism vs Britishness can be interpreted as a personal attack when coupled with modern attitudes to race in Britain.

Hang on! What was that?

On the doorstep a BME canvasser is increasingly likely to hear “I don’t want your people here”, and worse. 

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 16 Comments

On making LDV more inclusive

Today has not been a good day. It’s not a good feeling when you discover that someone has left the party over something you did, as Lester Holloway has done. I hope that he reconsiders his decision.

The story begins on Saturday when I published this story about Lib Dem Campaigns supremo Victoria Marsom’s visit to Botswana at the culmination of a year long  project to help our sister party in the elections there.

Lester said in the comments that he was unhappy with our interference in this African election. In the ensuing debate, onc eommenter, who as far as we know is not a member or even a supporter of the party, made a racist comment at around 11pm on Monday. I woke up to an email complaining about it at 8am on Tueadsy. I immediately removed the comment and had a fairly lengthy email conversation with a number of people who were copied into the email. I would have been quite happy to bin the comment completely, but I gave an additional option that it should be reinstated but with a very clear statement that comments of that nature are completely unacceptable. It was agreed that this is what we should do and two of the people who were copied into that email thanked me and seemed happy with the outcome.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 105 Comments

“Label the behaviour not the person”: why we shouldn’t call Ukip a racist party

ukip-poster-manchesterFor once I’m going to agree with Nigel Farage. Speaking at a rally this week, he pleaded with the media and public, “from this moment on please do not ever call us a racist party. We are not a racist party.”

As rallying cries go, it’s not the most ambitious. But, then, Ukip’s not an ambitious party. As Farage himself happily boasts, it has just two policies: withdrawal from the EU and bringing back grammar schools. It doesn’t really matter, though. Ukip is defined by what it’s against, not …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 107 Comments

Don Foster MP writes… The Integration Strategy: one year on

The Government’s Integration Strategy, Creating the Conditions for Integration was published a year ago on 21 February 2012. Since becoming a minister a few months ago, this is one of the areas about which I’ve had some of the strongest feedback from party members.

The views I’ve heard range from “the strategy is welcome, but not enough” to “it isn’t a serious substitute for a strategy to tackle racism and racial injustice”. Some have said that the document skates over the fact that integration is a two way process of mutual accommodation. Those with this view argue that there’s …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 8 Comments

The Independent View: What do we do when children are taught racism at home?

Racism is an uncomfortable and emotive subject to discuss. To its victims it is absolutely devastating and can affect entire communities. In Britain it is considered socially unacceptable but despite this, and the numerous laws designed to prevent discrimination, racism is still worryingly commonplace. I’ve witnessed it myself on duty more times than I can count; the culprits are usually adults, which is shocking and unpleasant enough, but for me, the truly worrying cases are those involving children.

Last month I spoke to an officer who specialises in groups with extremist views. He told me about a child living in the …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Has our police force been ‘completely transformed’ by the Lawrence case?

Like the summer riots, the Stephen Lawrence case provides us with yet another attitudinal Rorschach test; we screw our eyes up, peer closely, and conclude that what we have seen is just what we expected. At least, that’s my view, after hearing Paul Dacre’s astonishing self-congratulation on Tuesday.

For him, the verdict was ‘a glorious day’ for the Lawrences, the police, British justice, politicians, British newspapers (especially, of course, the Daily Mail, without whose ‘relentless campaigning’ none of this would have happened).

For me, it was a good day; but it was also a reminder of

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

LibLink: Brian Paddick – A bad day for race relations in the police

Over in The Indpendent, former top police officer and 2008 Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London Brian Paddick writes about the case of Commander Ali Dizaei, jailed yesterday for perverting the course of justice. Here’s an excerpt:

If ever there was a “Marmite” senior officer, it was Ali Dizaei. Many hated him, believing he had “got away with it” because “he was black”. But for the Black Police Association, he was their flag-bearer.

He was an undoubted champion for racial equality, but his approach was sometimes aggressive and confrontational when dealing with “the establishment”. Ali Dizaei’s MO was getting things done

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Tory councillor’s racist comments censured

Here’s what a Conservative borough councillor Smith Benson said at a public meeting in Colne, Pendle, last year:

The problem with Colne is that there are too many takeaways. And too many Pakis, that’s why people don’t come to Colne.”

His comment to the Colne town centre regeneration forum – and which he repeated in the meeting when asked to clarify his remarks – led Lib Dem councillor Tony Greaves to complain that Cllr Benson had breached the local authority’s code of conduct: this has been upheld, and the matter has now been referred to Pendle Council’s standards committee.

The BBC reports:

The

Posted in Local government | Also tagged , , and | 4 Comments

Brick through window is British way, says BNP councillor

The Guardian reports on a volient incident in Loughton, Essex:

Racist attackers abducted a Muslim community leader at knifepoint, bundled him into a car and threatened his life unless he stopped running prayer sessions in a community hall that has been the target of a British National party campaign. Police have confirmed they are treating the incident as a hate crime and are investigating links with an earlier firebomb attack on the same man’s home. …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 21 Comments

Oxford Tories suspended over ‘racist jokes’

The Independent (and most other ‘papers) have the story:

Two student Tories have been suspended from the party after making racist jokes during a meeting of the Oxford University Conservative Association .

At a drunken hustings for the next president of the association – which includes a host of Tory politicians among its alumni – student politicians were invited to outperform each other with racist jokes. A master of ceremonies told them to repeat ‘the most inappropriate joke you have ever told’.

Last Sunday Nick Gallagher, who was running for the post of Political Officer, a role that requires him to liaise with Tory central office, was also asked to name his least favourite minority.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 14 Comments

NEW POLL: was the BBC right to ban Carol Thatcher from The One Show?

I’ve avoided for as long as possible the uber-hyped ‘nowtrage’ over Carol Thatcher’s off-air-but-in-the-studio comment that a still-to-be-identified tennis player looks like a ‘golliwog’.

It does of course pose lots of interesting questions for liberals: the conflict between freedom of speech, and the offence that may cause; to what extent unbroadcast behind-the-scenes remarks should be regarded as private; whether remarks that cause offence are best dealt with by individuals at the time, rather than by being referred to an ombudsmanperson.

The Lib Dem blogosphere has wrestled with many of these issues and more, and given more time to …

Posted in Voice polls | Also tagged , , , , and | 15 Comments

Opinion: We should not be offended by keeping our noses out of other people’s business

Last weekend’s media was dominated by the earth shattering news that Prince Harry called a fellow soldier in the Pakistani army a “Paki”. The press have hounded him, people have accused him of racism, and the soldier’s father has spoken of his offence too.

As if this “race row” wasn’t enough to shock you to your very core, we learn that Prince Charles has been calling an Asian friend of his, Kuldip (Anglicised to Kolin in some reports) Dhillon, “Sooty” as a nickname for years without anyone taking offence at it.

As a society, we British are offended way …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarexpats 10th Dec - 4:19pm
    Bercow has just given the government a lesson in parliamentary protocol and good manners (he spoke slowly and clearly as if to a class of...
  • User AvatarMark Smulian 10th Dec - 3:58pm
    This TfL press release, issued since Caroline made her posting, throws some light into previous dark corners: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2018/december/new-financing-agreement-confirmed-for-crossrail-proje
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 10th Dec - 3:48pm
    The temptation must be to use a people's vote for political reasons again instead of a genuine desire for it. It shows again that we...
  • User AvatarRobin Bennett 10th Dec - 3:21pm
    Fiona The points you make are old hat. They are spurious, irrelevant or insignificant to those who believe that after independence there would be a...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 10th Dec - 3:07pm
    I see Vince is calling for a Vote of No Confidence in May. I do not understand the strategy of this man. If he gets...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 10th Dec - 3:07pm
    If parliament now dictates what happens, we have to trust it and that leaves everything in the air though better than the government in control....