I’ve written before about the appalling political journey undertaken by many who bought into the Blairite project. Phil Woolas is another prime example. As a student he led a demonstration against the National Front. As a New Labour politician he fought a disgraceful election campaign on the basis of getting ‘the white vote angry’.
Now Tom Harris MP, who is according to his Twitter a ‘proud Blairite’ recently took to the Telegraph to plumb new depths. Although he concedes that immigration has been a postitive thing for Britain, according to Harris, eastern Europeans are bringing with them all sorts of social ills into our green and pleasant land:
‘…filthy and vastly overcrowded living arrangements, organised aggressive begging, the ghetto-isation of local streets where women no longer feel safe to walk due to the presence of large groups of (workless) men, the rifling through domestic wheelie bins by groups of women pushing oddly child-free prams, and a worrying increase in the reporting of aggressive and violent behaviour in local schools’.
Apparently, he’s only expressing the concerns of his constituents. But I have my doubts. Harris certainly had no regard for the views of his constituents when he voted for the Iraq war.
So, where’s the actual, concrete evidence for all this? Are eastern European migrants more likely to be unemployed? Are they more likely to commit crime, whether anti-social or fraudulent? Are their kids more likely to be responsible for violent behaviour in schools? Come on, show us the evidence. Or is this yet another example of passing off prejudice as fact and still clinging to the repulsive idea that certain ‘races’ have certain ‘traits?’
No doubt defenders of Harris will say that we need to debate immigration. I agree, but it must be an informed debate. Harris is clearly entirely uninterested in that. Instead, he seems to revel in his own ignorance. He clearly does not grasp that Romanians and Roma are not one and the same. Let me try and make things a little clearer. The Roma people are a distinct ethnic group. They originate from India. There are Roma communities across Europe. Some live here, some live in Germany, some live in Romania, some live in Greece, some live in France and so on. They have suffered centuries of discrimination and under the Nazis, were the victims of an attempted genocide. Romanians are people from Romania, some of whom are Roma. Not exactly hard to understand is it? It is frankly embarrassing that an elected politician could be so utterly ignorant and pen such a fact-free article.
So, I don’t think Harris is a ‘Romaphobe’ as I don’t think he understands who the Roma people are. He is however, a racist. The language is that of a racist. In Harris’ incredibly nuanced view of society, there is the ‘indigenous’ community and then there are these immigrants with their ‘utterly alien culture’. Who exactly are the indigenous population, I wonder? Does it include Harris’ fellow Blairite MP Jim Murphy? It’s just that you know, perhaps some might consider him a bit too Irish to be truly indigenous.
Throughout our recent history, racism has been rationalised like this. The Chinese were bad because they could undercut British workers. Why? Because they could live on just rice. The Irish were bad because they were all drunks and layabouts. The Jews were bad because they were ‘unclean’ and ‘violated our customs’. (Sound familiar?). The Italians were bad because they spread TB through selling ice cream. Black people were bad because black men were a threat to ‘our women’. And so on and so forth.
Harris and others indulge in this kind of gutter politics because they cannot offer any solutions to the very real social problems which affect all working class people, irrespective of their ethnic origin, such as inadequate social housing provisions, overcrowding, rogue landlords, exploitative employers, a lack of decently paid jobs and chronic unemployment. How about a debate on that?