Thursday, April 29, 2010

"By God..."

When someone says that they don't like Furriners coming over here, then I am inclined to think that they have a problem with Furriners. The exact species of Furriner changes: it may be Polish people taking our jobs or Muslim people taking our Christmas decoration or Bleck people out breeding us (you know that they say about Bleck men) and causing us to concrete over this once green and pleasant land. Me have hobby, it called breeding, white man pay for baby feeding, remember?

The Nasty Press has spent the better part of the last decade winding Voters up. There are swamps, floods and swarms of furriners coming over here until the "indigenous" people are a minority in their own land. And stopping "us" from celebrating Christmas and consuming HP sauce. And getting lots and lots of freebies. A lady on Newsnight yesterday opined "A new person comes in they get everything their houses things like that you know they get new beds new you know like everything television TV licence paid for now and again you know like and basically what do we get?"

Anyone, in any country, at any time, might say "The law about residency, naturalisation, right of entry, political asylum, and the eligibility of foreign nationals to claim welfare says 'X', I think it should say 'Y', because...."And someone else might reply "On the contrary, I think it should say 'Z'." Technically and lexically, they would be "having a debate about immigration." It's certainly true that if you transfer 100 unemployed persons from Paris to London, that's 100 less people for France to worry about, and a 100 more for England to worry about, and England might reasonably enough have words to say to France on this subject.

But that's not what "having a debate on immigration" means, because that's not what immigration means. Immigration is a shout word, a code word, a whole bundle of confused ideas bundled up in four syllables. (Where are these people handing out beds to furriners but denying them to indigenous folk?)

So Gordon meets a Voter, who is doubtless a reader of the Nasty Press. (Mr. Prescott appears to think that the Nasty Press might have put her up to it.) "You can't say anything about immigrants," she says apparently forgetting that the Nasty Press have been going on and on about little else for year. "If you say that, you're...."

If you say what, Mrs Voter? What is it that you want to say about immigrants, and what is it that you fear will happen to you if do? I suppose it's possible that Mrs Voter felt that she couldn't say that Immigrants make a real and valuable contribution to the vibrancy of our culture but feared that if she did she would be called a pinko by the Nasty Press. But I don't think that was what she had in mind. I don't think that was what she had in mind at all.

Inexplicably, Gordon Brown chooses to fight an election on terms which have been set by the Nasty Press, as if getting positive coverage from wierdo hang em flog em expatriates was possible or desirable. Maybe he really, really still believes that The Sun Backed Blair because The Sun had undergone a sudden conversion to Socialism, and is hurt and confused because lovely, lovely, Rupert has turned against him. He's not the first person to make off-record comments into a live mic. John Major described his colleagues as bastards. Tony grovelled to that nasty Texan thicko. It really, really, really, isn't news that politicians say one thing to peoples faces and another thing behind their backs. It's called "good manners". (And it really, really isn't sensible for John Prescott to say that broadcasting an off-record remark by the P.M is on the same level has hacking private phone conversations.)

The big question is this. Why does Gordon dance to Rupert's tune and spend an hour and a half apologizing? How is it that his first instinct once he starts running scared of the Libdems is to start accusing them of being "soft" -- soft (that is, liberal, progressive) on crime; soft (that is, liberal progressive) on nuclear weapons; soft (that is, liberal, progressive) on immigration? How is it that the only policy that the left wing party can think of is to look as nasty and right wing as possible?

I'm fine with him saying rude things about voters behind their back. I'm particularly fine with him saying rude things about the kind of voter who would like to say nasty things about furriners but feels she can't cos of plickle krecness. But when he gets caught out he should damn well have the decency to say that he called Mrs Voter a bigot because that's what he thought she was.

NOTE: He says that he called Mrs Voter a bigot because he had misheard something she had said. Does anyone want to look at the transcript and tell me what it was that he thought she had said?


Gareth McCaughan said...

I've heard it suggested that when Mrs Voter said "where are they all flocking from?" or whatever it was, Mr Prime Minister thought she'd used another word that starts with "f" and ends with "cking". (That wouldn't make much sense of the sentence, but one can't rely on people who say the sort of things Mrs Voter says to say them in coherent sentences.)

SK said...

So it is racist to talk about immigration, basically?

Sam Dodsworth said...

SK - No. But when racists talk about it they're being racist(*).

(*) 'Racists! Make people think you're not a racist by saying "I'm not a racist, but..." before you say something racist." - Viz "Top Tips"

SK said...

Ah, so how do you tell whether someone is a racist or not (assuming they don't use the handy signal of saying 'I'm not a racist', which the woman in question didn't)?

Sam Dodsworth said...

Basically, you wait for them to say something racist. Although opening with "you can't say anything about the immigrants" (as in this case) is rarely a good sign.

Before we get too far down this particular attempted derail, you might find this useful - Jay Smooth on "How To Tell People They Sound Racist":

Paul Brown said...

The bit that I've never quite got is that everyone seems to take it as a given that immigration is definitely a bad thing; by my reckoning turning an embryo into a Productive Member of Society(tm) takes somewhere in the region of a Big Lump of Money (I can't be bothered to look up exact figures, but in the early nineties it was said to be about £75 000 and I don't think that you'd be getting much change from £100 000 between now and 2028). Immigration, on the other hand, pops you a nice, fully grown adult ready to put to work in a factory or a shop or a hospital or whatever you fancy (going off topic for a mo', does anyone think that I play strategy games a wee bit too much?). Yes, you never quite know if you'll get a doctor or a plumber or even the mythical Supertalented Scrounger, but then you take that risk with educating a spawnling and, not only do you have to wait eighteen years or so to find out, but you have to foot the bill in the meantime.

Okay, so these people aren't One of Us, but their children will struggle to keep in with both cultures to keep their parents happy and fit in with peers and their grandchildren will be as British as it is possible to get and will almost certainly be complaining about their culture being diluted by all the bloody foreigners.

As an added bonus, immigration works as a slacker filter; people who pack up their entire lives, travel thousands of miles and then settle in another country away from their homes and families don't tend to be the lazy type. Maybe some are, but that's a hell of a lot of effort to go to just to sit around all day and do nothing.

Immigration, people. Learn to love it.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Actually, I'm quite happy with the formula "it's racist to talk about immigration."

Andrew Rilstone said...

Well, "xenophobic", at any rate. To be fair to Mrs Vote, she probably didn't care whether the people who were getting free beds were light skinned furriners or dark skinned furriners.

SK said...

The video seems to be starting from the point where you've decided that someone is / sounded racist.

But it's Andrew I was really addressing. So. It is xenophobic (and therefore presumably Bad) to talk about immigration at all? It is a policy area about which the only acceptable stand is to not have a policy?

Sam Dodsworth said...

SK - what would your view be, as a matter of interest? Or are you just concern trolling?

SK said...

My view would be that the very concept of having an immigration policy is not something that's beyond the pale to even mention.

I'm not sure what I think the policy should be -- I can see the benefits of a 'open door' policy, and I can see the arguments for something more like the Australian system, and I'm sure other ideas are worth hearing as well.

But I don't think it can be right that discussion of the topic is simply ruled out of bounds. Can it?

Louise H said...

I tend to feel that if the tabloid press has been telling people for years and years that immigration is the cause of all their problems, then it is no very surprising that Mrs Labour Voter thinks immigration is the cause of at least some of the country's problems. Does that make her a bigot, or ill informed? Are ill informed people bigots? Does Mr Brown's government have some sort of responsibility for educating ill informed people about the social and economic effects of immigration, rather than providing tough soundbites whenever the subject is mentioned that merely reinforce the right wing agenda?

There are many bigots on the subject of immigration. Lots of them vote BNP, or if they are slightly ashamed of themselves, UKIP. They are the ones who aren't interested in listening to the facts. But calling everyone who has been influenced by the gutter press a bigot seems a little unfair.

Having said that, as soon as the "flocking" theory was raised I found it difficult to blame Mr Brown. It is all too horribly plausible and he would have a perfect right to get annoyed with someone swearing at him about Eastern Europeans.

Andrew Rilstone said...

SK -- If you read my piece, you will have noticed that I said that it might perfectly well be reasonable to talk about, e.g naturalisation, border controls, access to welfare, whether possession of a British passport ought or ought not to be conditional on passing a multiple choice test about what percentage of Scottish Roman Catholics eat haggis on the second bank holiday in August. But I don't think that one can use the word "immigration" any more, because it has been given a specific, negative, racist meaning by the Nasty Press.

I repeat: what was it that Mrs Vote wanted to say about immigrants? And what did she fear would happen to hear if she did?

SK said...

I don't know what she wanted to say about immigrants; do you? Are you sure it wasn't about border controls or access to welfare?

And do you think she was aware of this ruling that has been handed down disallowing use of the word 'immigration' (is anybody apart from you aware of it? I wasn't; it seems to be used fairly often by the BBC, and they're hardly a bastion of anything but the most liberal views).

Because regardless of what she wanted to say, I deliberately asked you to clarify your position, which you did: as I understand it, you fully intend to maintain a knee-jerk reaction that you will cease listening as soon as anyone uses the word 'immigration'. Whether you're talking to a working-class white woman of just the kind you assume to read the Nasty Press (those working-class, you wouldn't find an Independent folded up on the dashboard of their white vans, would you? And they smell) or me.

As for what she was afraid would happen to her, while I don't know that, I'm guessing it was 'she'd be told that she'd absorbed too much Nasty Party propaganda and would be pilloried as a bigot'.

SK said...

I found this programme very interesting:

Sam Dodsworth said...

SK - so can you give us some specific examples of things that you can't say about immigrants but that aren't actually racist?

SK said...

The obvious example is 'perhaps we should have an immigration policy'. At least according to Andrew I can't say that because it has the word 'immigration' in it.

SK said...

(And if you want an example of someone other than Andrew who thinks that's unacceptable, listen to the broadcast where the editor of Prospect magazine -- hardly the 'Nasty Press -- describes how he was called 'the left-wing Enoch Powell' for suggesting that there might be a tension between the two goals of 'diversity' and 'solidarity' in the progressive movement that was being exposed by mass immigration.)

Andrew Rilstone said...

When suddenly, the thread ended.

Tomorrow, or possibly the next day: Rilstone on Cameron on Discipline.

Anyone else going to the Folk Against Fascism festival on Sunday?