Saturday, October 18, 2014

A town called malice

A few days ago I wrote about the South African town of Orania, where apartheid is still alive and well as a noble and honourable concept. If Peter Griffiths had had his way, there would have been apartheid in Britain too. It's now fifty years since Tory Griffiths defeated Labour in a General Election in Smethwick with the infamous campaign slogan "If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour". This Guardian article tells the story of that election, as well as of Malcolm X's subsequent visit and of what has changed since.

The "logic" of the racism that immigrants from the Commonwealth faced is completely incomprehensible. They were predominantly brought in to meet the pressing need within the British manufacturing industry and so, far from being a drain on resources or taking the jobs of "natives", directly contributed to the stirringly patriotic task of keeping Britain Great - and yet were rewarded for their efforts with vilification and abuse.

Thankfully all that's firmly in the past, though - right? Not so, according to local film-maker Billy Dosanjh, who's under no illusions as to the current state of British politics: "Characters like Nigel Farage and Nick Griffin are unbelievably similar to Peter Griffiths. In the 60s, immigration was associated by racists like Griffiths with bringing in disease. Now you have the same thing with Farage". Indeed, in some ways, things are actually worse: "The difference is that while in 1964, Wilson dubbed Griffiths a 'parliamentary leper', today Cameron and Miliband are following Farage when they ought to be standing up to him". Dosanjh is right - it's a very sorry state of affairs.

(Thanks to Neil for the link.)

No comments: