Friday, 29 May 2015

EU constitution delivered through the back door

The huge problems that have arisen from enlargement are relatively minor compared with the threat posed by the attempt to draw up an EU constitution. Peter Hain, then Minister for Europe, described this as no more than a 'tidying up exercise'. This kind of misleading comment is typical of the deception and misrepresentation that euro-enthusiasts habitually practice in order to achieve their objectives. Far from consolidating existing powers the new constitution would have triggered a massive erosion in the already much diminished ability of member states to govern themselves. In addition to its already considerable powers, the EU would also become involved in foreign, defence, and home affairs, including asylum & immigration policy. Moreover, the new constitution would have established a legal status for the EU, which is the prerequisite for an internationally recognised state, and creates a single unified organisation.

The current structure, which still allows member states to make their own decisions and arrangements about foreign policy and criminal justice matters, would have disappeared. The EU would have 'exclusive competence' over trade, competition rules, common commercial policy, fisheries, conservation and the signing of all international agreements. Most other policy areas would be 'shared', including transport, energy, social policy, the environment and consumer protection. In this context 'shared' means that when the EU decides to legislate in these areas, then member states will be forbidden to do so. Although lip service is paid to the principle of 'subsidiarity', namely taking decisions at the lowest possible level, the reality is that this requirement is consistently over-ridden by the quest for greater 'cohesion' between member states.

A matter of much concern was the proposed new criminal justice powers, requiring the harmonisation of national laws and procedures by majority voting. Britain, with its distinctive common law tradition, including jury trials and habeus corpus would be particularly affected by this proposal. Foreign affairs, which are currently decided between national governments, will change completely. A new EU foreign minister will conduct foreign policy, a matter which has traditionally been the exclusive responsibility of member states. In addition the Union would 'have competence to co-ordinate the economic and employment policies of the member states'. Finally, to avoid any misunderstanding, 'the Constitution…. shall have primacy over the laws of member states.'

It is difficult to find any matter over which national governments would still have unfettered responsibility. The principle role of national governments appears to be to merely act as agents to ensure that EU directives are being implemented. Regrettably, Britain appears to be more zealous in enforcing EU directives than other countries, often 'gold-plating' them with additional damaging bureaucratic requirements. In the event the proposed EU Constitution was abandoned following its rejection in the French and Dutch referenda. What was never in doubt was the determination of the euro-enthusiasts to pursue their agenda of greater integration, and diminution of the powers of national governments. Thus it came as no surprise that most of powers proposed in the EU constitution subsequently appeared 'through the back door' in the Lisbon Treaty.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Eastern Europe joins the EU

The EU continues to grow – by 2004 it had expanded to 25 member states, the new entrants coming mainly from the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. In 2007 the number increase to 27 with the accession of Rumania and Bulgaria. Enlargement on this scale presented Britain with some new difficulties, in addition to the already existing ones. The standard of living of the new entrant countries was significantly lower than that enjoyed by most of the current members including Britain, who were faced with having to foot the bill for the necessary regeneration and reconstruction of the obsolete and inefficient former Communist infrastructure and industries. In this respect it should be remembered that German re-unification placed considerable pressures on the West German economy from which it took a long time to recover. However, the level of investment needed to bring these East European countries up to the standard of current members is on an altogether larger scale and could well take decades to implement at immense cost.

More serious than this though is the unrestricted right that citizens of the new member states have to enter Britain. If large numbers of East Europeans exercise this right, and all the evidence suggests that they are continuing to do so, the strain placed on housing and public facilities such as the NHS and schools is likely to be considerable, particularly in London and the southeast where most immigrants tend to settle. Under transitional arrangements, most EU countries kept firm controls on workers coming from Eastern Europe; in contrast Britain under New Labour provided them with immediate rights of residence, employment and access to many welfare provisions. In the longer term, it is highly probable that Turkey’s application for membership will be successful, (supported by all major British political parties) bringing with it the automatic right for its large Muslim population to enter the more prosperous Western European countries.

It has to be recognised that the large increase in membership makes it necessary, if the EU is to function effectively, to centralize its decision making process much more than in the past. The traditional structure and organisational arrangements are much too unwieldy, as well as being unnecessarily time consuming, for both ministers and officials. An example was the horse trading took place over Britain’s 'rebate' from the EU. This resulted in the unedifying spectacle of the Prime Minister scuttling around small East European countries, such as Estonia and Slovenia, in a forlorn attempt to persuade them to support the British position. Many people might think that the Prime Minister’s time would be better spent addressing some of the more pressing issues back at home. Unfortunately, reform to realistically address these kinds of difficulties can only take place by transferring significantly more powers away from national governments.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The liberal Islamophobia delusion

One development, arising from open ended third world immigration over many decades, which is now starting to have very serious consequences, is the conflict in values between mainstream secular British society and the more militant adherents of Islam. This first came to popular attention in the early 1990s with the publication of the novel, The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, which caused great offence to Muslims. Protests took place worldwide and, in Britain, a public burning of the book by a group of Muslim fundamentalists took place in Bradford, an event which received widespread publicity.

These developments placed the liberal establishment in something of a quandary. Rushdie was a fully paid up member of the liberal elite, but he had clearly offended a large number of Britsh Muslims, then considered by liberals as a useful but harmless client group. In the event the liberal establishment sided with Rushdie, supporting his freedom of speech against what, as committed secularists, they considered to be religious atavism. But the Rushdie affair did, at least, bring home to liberals the potential for conflict between their blind support for multiculturalism and the ideal of freedom of expression for their liberal views.

From that time onwards the relationship between the Muslim community and mainstream society has come under increased strain, which reached crisis point with the destruction by Islamic terrorists of the World Trade Centre in 2001 and the Madrid train bombings in 2004. These events gave rise to fears in the British media that Britain could be similarly open to such attacks, a view which the government appeared to share. These fears were realised with the London tube and bus bombings of July 2005 in which over fifty innocent passengers were murdered. Media linkage between terrorism and Islam prompted claims of 'Islamophobia'. However, although the vast majority of Muslims pose no security threat, there is strong evidence that an increasing number of Islamic fanatics are operating in this country who could potentially be a source of great danger.

The former head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, warned that 'some 200 groupings or networks comprising more than 1,600 individuals are actively engaged in plotting or facilitating terrorist acts here and overseas'. The scale of the problem is made chillingly clear when she added that 'surveys among Muslims suggest there could be as many as 100,000 who consider that the [London bombing] atrocities were justified'. These potential terrorists are unlikely to be newly arrived asylum seekers, but instead mostly well educated young men, born and bred in this country, who are seriously disconnected from British secular society. Any terrorist attacks in the future from such a source will have untold consequences for the stability of British society.

It should be remembered that Britain has become a target for Islamic jihadists only because we have allowed huge numbers of third world Muslims to enter the country, constituting a potential fifth column. Without their presence there would be no means of mounting attacks. The overwhelming majority of British Muslims opposed the military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unlike the indigenous opposition which was based largely on anti-Americanism or pacifism, Muslim opposition appears to have been motivated by sympathy for the plight of their Muslim 'brothers'. Such an outlook gives credence to the belief that when Muslims are faced with a choice between the perceived claims of their religion and loyalty to the country in which they live, many will choose the former, to the detriment of the cohesion of British society.

One of the most notable features of politically correct thinking is that, whenever the issues of race is raised, the benefit of the doubt is invariably given to ethnic minorities, however dubious the evidence, but the worst of motives is always imputed to white people. In this respect a long leftist tradition of double standards is being followed, for example, the many apologists for the Stalinist tyranny in the 1930s who shrilly denounced Mussolini and Franco, or the lauding of Castro’s Cuba in the 1960s whilst demonising Ian Smith’s Rhodesia. So liberals have a consistent track record of being in denial about what most people would see as self evident and obvious.

Perhaps the most extreme current manifestation of this syndrome is the liberal patronage of Islam in Britain. If the tenets of Islam were propagated by a home grown political movement liberals would be loud and vocal in their denunciation of it. But because it is almost exclusively followed by the ethnic population, liberal criticism of Islamic values is strangely muted. So it is worth noting just a few of the activities that have taken place with the sanction of Islamic sharia law: • The public hanging by means of a crane of a 16 year old girl for 'acts incompatible with chastity' (Iran); • A sentence of death by stoning for adultery for a 31 year old woman (Nigeria ) • Public execution for engaging in homosexual acts (Saudi Arabia) • The shooting of women appearing in public without the escort of a male relative (Afghanistan ) • Severe beating for any woman accidentally showing feet or ankles (Afghanistan) • Prohibition on the driving of cars by women (Saudi Arabia) • Deaths of 14 girls in school fire following actions of religious police enforcing dress code (Saudi Arabia) • Father of two sentenced to death for public drunkenness (Iran) These are of course only the tip of the iceberg - most people are aware of the grotesque human rights violations, particularly for women, which are commonplace in Islamic countries. Although not all of them are as repressive as those listed above, there is no escaping the fact that liberals have chosen a very strange bedfellow with this liaison. However, Islam and political correctness do share one thing in common, they both have a low threshold for allowing dissenting views.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The downside of mass immigration

The previous post analysed the claimed benefits to be gained by the presence of ethnic minorities in Britain. So what are the drawbacks? The principal one arises from the large numbers involved, according to the 2011 census (almost certainly an under estimate), people of ethnic origin now comprise 7.9 % of the population, amounting to over 4.6 million people. Ethnic people are not evenly spread around the country like those with green eyes or ginger hair. They are concentrated in specific areas and form their own communities, and in so doing, to a greater or lesser extent, they separate themselves from mainstream British society. Such communities increase the risk of social tension, both between themselves and the indigenous population, and between different ethnic groups.

Evidence for this was contained in the report into the riots that took place in several Northern towns some years ago, which concluded that ethnic and white communities were living parallel lives, with relatively little social interaction between them. For example, some schools in the same town had either over 90% ethnic or over 90% white pupils. In the words of the report 'communities often do not seem to touch at any point, let alone overlap and promote meaningful interchanges'. To compound the problem there have been disturbances between the Asian and Afro Caribbean communities in Birmingham.

The continued influx of ethnic people has led to the phenomenon known as 'white flight', where white people start to leave an area that has become ethnically mixed and move to one more that is more homogeneous. For example, the population of Leicester remained roughly stable at about 280,000 between 1951 and 2001, but during this period the ethnic component increased from near zero to almost 50%, and continues to rise. Whites are concentrated in the east of the city and Asians in the west, but many former white residents have moved out to neighbouring towns. Leicester has 22 wards, in three of them whites comprise 90% of the population, but they form less than 20% in the two with the highest Asian concentrations. Leicester is often presented as a model of good community relations, but there is no escaping the fact that the different communities prefer to live apart if possible. Although no ward in Britain is currently 100% non white, as occurs in many American cities, it can only be a matter of time before this happens here too. It is an odd fact but when white people prefer the company of their own kind they are branded 'racists' but when non-whites do the same they are called communities.

Another problem caused by large-scale immigration is criminality, particularly by young Afro-Caribbean males. The statistics speak for themselves, currently 17% of British prisoners are Afro-Caribbean (they form less than 3% of the population) and black people are over nine times more likely to be in prison than their white counterparts (a similar proportion to those imprisoned in the United States). Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Condon drew attention to a survey which concluded that 70-80% of muggings in London were carried out by young black males. There is a strong correlation between areas with high Afro-Caribbean populations and areas with high levels of crime.

Liberal commentators tend to cite these statistics as evidence of the inherent 'racism' within British society, both within the criminal justice system, and regarding employment opportunities. They rarely ask themselves whether the cause may lie within Afro-Caribbean society, with its high number of single mothers, drug dealing, gun crime, gangs, macho posturing and anti-learning culture. The same trend is apparent in the USA and other European countries, and the fear of crime is one of the driving forces behind 'white flight'. This is not to say that the majority of Afro-Caribbeans are criminals, but a disproportionate number of them do have criminal records. It is, therefore, entirely appropriate that the police should be free to exercise their judgement about whom they stop and search unfettered by liberal egalitarian sensitivities. It would be better to address the underlying reasons for the higher rate of black criminality rather than trying to pin the blame on a 'racist' white society, who are the victims of this behaviour, not the cause.

Another source of tension arising from a multiracial society is in the field of employment. This has two main causes, the fear of non-whites that they will be discriminated against when seeking work, and the resentment by white employees that ethnic people may be given favourable treatment in job appointments, particularly in the public sector, in order to meet targets.. Both groups can provide evidence to back up their viewpoint. Overall, ethnic minorities are in lower paid jobs than their white counterparts, although this seems primarily to affect Afro-Caribbeans and the Pakistani/Bangladeshi communities.

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 requires public sector organisations to monitor their employment practices, and to identify inequalities. This has resulted in the setting of 'targets' for ethnic employment by public sector employers in proportion to the numbers who live in the locality of the workplace. These 'targets' are achieved by a number of means, advertising in the ethnic media, special training that is only available to ethnic people and treating non-whites more indulgently when assessing their qualities and competencies for a post. In addition, the performance of bureaucrats is now largely measured by their success in meeting the targets they are set. As a consequence of all these factors, ethnic employment 'targets' have in practice become 'quotas' which are supposed to be unlawful in Britain. An example of the lengths that a public sector employer is now expected to go to favour minority candidates was the decision by the Metropolitan Police to freeze the recruitment of white males to the police service in order to meet the 'target' for 25% of Met police officers to be non-white.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Ethnic minorities contribution to Britain

Liberals often like to stress the 'immense' contribution that ethnic minorities have made to British society, usually in a tone and manner which signals that anyone taking a different view must either be self-evidently eccentric, or harbouring offensive opinions. So it is worth examining whether these high-minded assumptions are well founded. One argument often put forward is that essential services such as the NHS, or public transport, would collapse without ethnic workers. This is clearly correct since a disproportionately large number of ethnic people are employed in these organisations and, if they all suddenly left at once, such public services would no longer be able to function. However, the proportion of ethnic people employed in the essential services varies considerably from area to area, with relatively few in far-flung rural communities but large numbers in some inner city districts.

What is missing from the liberal’s argument is evidence that ethnic workers are better per se at doing these jobs than indigenous white people. It is, of course, far better that ethnic people resident in this country, should be gainfully employed. But there is no evidence that they provide any 'added value', since their work could be done equally well by the indigenous population. It should also be remembered that in the case of the NHS ethnic people are likely to place demands on the system in proportion (and sometimes much greater proportion) to their numbers, so there are no net gains. For example, a disproportionate number of immigrants suffer from HIV/Aids and TB, thus draining the hard-pressed resources of the NHS.

Immigrants also require housing and this has led to the need for a large house building programme, particularly in the already overcrowded South East. One inescapable fact is that if you increase the supply of labour you lower individual wage rates, which is why employers are often keen to recruit cheap immigrant labour since it enables them to keep their costs down. However, they rarely have to face the wider social implications of such a policy. Liberals, for their own ends, often like to quote free market arguments (which many usually oppose), that in a global economy we should be facilitating the free movement of goods, services and people. However, whilst this argument may be valid for the first two, it certainly does not apply to the last, since this mindset treats people as commodities, reminiscent of the one time capitalist description of employees as 'hands'. Again, it also ignores the social consequences of such a policy.

One of the most dangerous fallacies put about by liberals is that we need large-scale immigration because our population is aging and failing to reproduce itself. This ridiculous viewpoint ignores the fact that immigrants also become old and by the same logic would in time themselves require more new immigrants, a process that would need to continue indefinitely and which is clearly unsustainable. The problem, if there is one, could be remedied by raising the retirement age. The position in Britain should be contrasted with that of Japan which has virtually zero immigration of visibly different racial minorities, yet somehow manages to fulfil all its labour needs.

In some fields ethnic people have become very successful, for example athletics and football are disproportionately dominated by Afro-Caribbeans at the highest level of these sports. Unlike, for example, TV presenters or newsreaders, this has clearly been achieved by genuine measurable ability. However, their success appears to be linked to a specific physical attribute of Afro-Caribbeans which, in athletics, gives the most talented of them an extra edge over the most talented white athletes. So it could be argued that a country with a relatively large Afro-Caribbean population, such as Britain, would have an unfair advantage over a country such as Poland, which has far fewer. As a result, European athletic competitions are now increasingly dominated by Afro-Caribbeans representing European national teams competing against one another. With regard to football, fans support the team, so the absence of non-whites would not be missed, indeed their removal would allow a greater number of indigenous white footballers to play in the Premiership League, thus increasing the pool of potential recruits to the national team playing at the highest level.

Although Asians are near invisible in professional sport, they have been spectacularly successful in acquiring small retail outlets, with over 70% of these coming within their control. In normal circumstances this dominance would attract a CRE investigation, or accusations of 'institutional racism'. However, such rules apply only to whites; when ethnic minorities dominate an activity they are congratulated for their contribution to British society. It is something of a mystery why so many general-purpose stores have fallen into Asian hands, and the question needs to be asked whether this benefits British society. If Asians had not acquired these stores most would presumably have continued to trade under white ownership. However, there must be some doubt whether whites would have been as willing to work the longer hours that Asians put in, and they might have less family support to allow them to do so. In such circumstances the general public benefits from having the stores open for longer hours to suit their convenience.

A more clear-cut benefit provided by the presence of ethnic minorities is the wider cuisine now available in restaurants. Most people would consider that being served by Europeans in an Indian or Chinese restaurant would constitute an inauthentic experience. There is no doubt that Chinese and Indian food is enormously popular with the indigenous population, although to describe Chicken Tikka Masala as our new national dish might be an exaggeration, however delicious it tastes.

Another field in which ethnic minorities have made their mark is in the contribution that Afro-Caribbeans have made to popular music. However, most of the best acts are American, but one exception is Dame Shirley Bassey, who has remained at the top of her profession for over half a century. She was born into the dock area of Tiger Bay, Cardiff with its mixed community that predated the arrival of mass immigration. Shirley Bassey fully assimilated into British society and has been accepted by British people as one of themselves to the extent that one hardly notices her skin colour. She has never claimed any special privileges, nor drawn attention to her minority status, or claimed victimhood in any way, or sought the patronage or backing of the race relations industry. Had more people in her situation felt able to do likewise the issue of race would be far less of a problem in our society.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

New Labour opens the floodgates

Since the election of the Blair government in 1997 the issues of race, immigration and asylum have moved significantly up the political agenda. This was caused by a number of factors including the huge increase in the number of people seeking asylum, the chaotic images from the Sangatte refugee camp near Calais, the publicity generated by the tabloid media and the belated realisation by the indigenous population of the sheer scale of the numbers of ethnic people who have been allowed to settle here.

The Labour Party during this period had no objection, in principle, to large-scale immigration from the third world since it knows that most of the new arrivals are likely to vote Labour. Former Home Secretary David Blunkett declared that he could see 'no obvious limit to the number of legal immigrants who could settle in Britain'. The former Home Office minister responsible for immigration, Barbara Roche, considered that immigration was a 'good thing' and introduced the concept of 'managed migration'. In a speech on the subject she made the interesting observation that 'countries are entitled to control their borders but that should be based on legislation which is non-racist, unlike UK immigration law of the 1960s'.

In other words it became official government policy that race is no longer a factor to be considered when deciding whether a person should be allowed to settle in Britain, a major step away from the political consensus, albeit never openly stated, of the previous thirty years that the primary purpose of immigration control was to limit the entry of third world (i.e. non-white) migrants. In a parliamentary debate the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke confirmed that there was no longer any limit on the number of economic migrants who could enter Britain each year, suggesting to those who might disagree that 'a similar argument could be made for limiting by state diktat the number of people born every year'.

Rioting broke out in 2001 in the northern towns of Burnley, Oldham and Bradford. These coincided with a rise in electoral support for the British National Party, which during the middle of the decade won nearly fifty local council seats and, in the 2004 European elections, received over 800,000 votes. The BNP is demonised by the liberal establishment and most of the media, as 'Fascist' or 'Nazi', supposedly packed with swivel-eyed, boneheaded, foaming at the mouth fanatical preachers of race hatred. The party has been almost completely ostracised from participation in the mainstream political process, it is blacklisted by the media, both liberal and conservative, its bank accounts have been closed in mysterious circumstances and its leaders subjected to police raids to remove and analyse the contents of their computers. Conservative leader Michael Howard, in a speech of nauseating hypocrisy at Burnley (where the BNP won several council seats), denounced the BNP as a 'bunch of thugs dressed up as a party'. This was the same Michael Howard who was to later make his half baked policies on immigration and asylum the centrepiece of his 2005 general election campaign.

In reality the BNP, like the NF before it, was mainly composed of working class white males who hold views on race and immigration not dissimilar to millions of ordinary white working class people outside the party, a fact well known to the liberal elite, which is why they fear the BNP so much. Unlike the NF, the party believes in the voluntary, rather than the compulsory, repatriation of people of ethnic origin. To most people the BNP is a one-issue party, which is perhaps unfair as it has credible policies on some other issues.

Although the language used by the BNP has sometimes been questionable, it is no worse than some elements of the tabloid press. However, the BNP scored one notable achievement as, for a time, it succeeded in putting the frighteners on the politically correct establishment, as demonstrated by the lengths the latter was prepared to go to smear the party. A case in point was a BBC 'investigation' into the party, which portrayed supposed members, in all probability anti-racist plants, 'confessing' to criminal or anti social activities targeted at ethnic people. Clandestine video footage from this programme was used in a couple of political show trials against BNP leader Nick Griffin, who was eventually acquitted of all charges.

Liberals like to claim that we are a nation of immigrants, that Britain has succeeded in absorbing successive inflows of immigrants since Anglo-Saxon times, and that the present wave of third world migrants is no different to previous ones which have left the country culturally richer and economically stronger. This is naïve on two counts, firstly the numbers involved in the current wave are huge and show no signs of ending and, secondly, previous waves were of the same race and culture as the indigenous population, and thus would be likely to assimilate into British society far more easily. The 2005 Labour Manifesto declared that 'immigration has been good for Britain. We want to keep it that way'. The number of immigrants tripled from 50,000 per year average under the Tories to 150,000 under the Blair government. The Liberal Democrats were committed to an even more open door policy on immigration and launched a 'manifesto for ethnic minorities' with a promise to make the party the natural home of the black vote.

The Conservatives like to face both ways on immigration, they appear to 'talk tough' to bolster their core vote, but at the same time read from the approved liberal script on the benefits claimed from large scale immigration. For example, former leader Michael Howard considered that 'Britain has benefited from immigration - both economically and culturally. We are a stronger, more successful country because of the immigrant communities that have settled here'. The Conservatives policy during this period was to 'introduce an annual limit to immigration set by Parliament', but no indication was given as to what the numbers were likely to be. Under the early part of David Cameron's leadership, the issue of immigration was largely suppressed as part of his charm offensive to appeal to the 'moderate centre-ground' and his attempt to 'detoxify' the Tory brand.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Fears of Britain being swamped

The Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher returned to government in May 1979. During a television interview, in an uncharacteristically unguarded moment, Margaret Thatcher spoke about the fears of being 'swamped' by people of alien cultures. This was widely interpreted by many voters, without any real justification, that the Tories might actually be thinking seriously about taking some action against third world immigration. One consequence of her remarks was that the NF, which was expected to do well in the 1979 general election, received a derisory 1.4 % of the vote. It is likely that many potential NF voters were beguiled by what they interpreted as a 'coded message' from the Tories that they would take a firm line on immigration. In reality, over the 18-year period of Conservative governments, the number of third world legal immigrants averaged about 50,000 per year. So, including illegal immigrants, during the Tories time in government, the ethnic population increased by at least a million, and this ignores the appreciably higher birth rate of ethnic communities.

However, during the eighties the issue of immigration went off the boil. This was partly due to a media blackout on the numbers of third world immigrants still entering the country, despite the Tories’ supposedly 'firm but fair' immigration policies and, also, because other subjects such as trade union reform, unemployment, inflation, privatisation, crime, health and education received greater political media coverage. It was also a period when militant 'anti-racism' became more entrenched in local government, trade unions and higher education. The most celebrated trailblazer was Ken Livingstone’s GLC, whose 'rainbow' political machine diverted large amounts of taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ money into the pockets of favoured minority groups. It was a period when no inner city area was complete without its new 'community centre', for the dominant ethnic minority, and from which only the indigenous white population, who largely funded it, felt excluded.

During the summer of 1981 rioting involving mostly ethnic minorities occurred in several towns and cities, the most serious taking place in the Toxteth district of Liverpool and Brixton, South London. Lord Scarman, an eminent High Court judge, was asked by the government to investigate the causes of the Brixton riots. His subsequent report recommended the recruitment of more black police officers, better race awareness training and stressed the need for community policing. He also advised the government to end racial disadvantage and tackle the disproportionately high level of unemployment among young black men which stood at 60% in the area. More rioting was to take place later in the decade in Brixton , the Handsworth district of Birmingham and the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham where PC Keith Blakelock was hacked to death. Many commentators began to ask whether the fears of Enoch Powell were being realised.

The years of John Major’s premiership from 1990-1997 were a period when the issues of race and immigration virtually disappeared from mainstream media discussion, despite the large number of third world migrants still entering the country, and the huge increase in the number of asylum seekers. Political parties were happy to sign up to CRE gagging orders not to raise the subjects of race and immigration in elections, in effect keeping these issues outside the parameters of democratic political debate. Party colleagues boasted that Major 'did not have a single racist bone in his body', a clear signal of the Tories desire to parade their liberal credentials.

However, one event took place in this period that was to have a profound impact on racial policy, namely the killing of black teenager Steven Lawrence in Eltham, southwest London by a group of white youths. It would take three trials to obtain two convictions for his murder. At the time the murder attracted relatively little media attention but a determined campaign by the parents of the dead teenager resulted in their cause being taken up by black South African president, Nelson Mandela, on a visit to London. In addition, publicity generated by the trials, in particular the collapse of the second trial in which the defendants were acquitted, and a front page headline in the Daily Mail proclaiming the five main suspects to be guilty, resulted in the case becoming a cause célèbre. On return to Government in 1997 the Labour Home Secretary, Jack Straw, ordered an inquiry into the Lawrence murder to be chaired by a retired judge Sir William Macpherson

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The political parties obfuscate on the EU

Tony Blair was undoubtedly the most pro-Europe prime minister since Edward Heath and he was keen for Britain to join the Euro. However, he was faced with one major hurdle - obtaining a yes vote in a referendum. As a smokescreen his Chancellor, Gordon Brown, devised five economic tests which had to be passed before joining the Euro could be agreed. This allowed the Government a face saving formula, and an answer to euro-enthusiast critics seeking early entry. There is no doubt that Blair had hoped to soften up the electorate to vote yes, but unfortunately for him the opinion polls stubbornly and consistently showed a clear majority against joining. The EU continued to widen its membership – in 1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden joined bringing the total of member states to fifteen.

The Tories responded to their 1997 defeat by the election of William Hague as leader. Hague was slightly to the right of Major as well as more euro-sceptic and he moved the Party’s position on the Euro from 'wait and see' to 'not just yet'. His outlook on this epitomised the confusion and lack of logic that continues to characterise the Conservative Party. His decision to rule out Euro-membership 'for the duration of the next parliament' was widely seen as inconsistent. He failed to satisfactorily explain why membership could not be ruled out in principle. The answer, of course, was that he still thought it necessary to appease the high placed but diminishing number of Tory europhiles and thus supposedly maintain party unity. His declared objective of 'being in Europe, but not ruled by Europe' was clearly unrealistic since it was clearly at odds with the leaders of Germany, France and many other EU countries who were all strong advocates of greater integration. The result of all this confusion was that, in the 2001 general election, Hague was defeated as soundly as Major had been, despite giving a high profile to his dubious promise to 'save the pound'.

Hague was in turn replaced by Iain Duncan-Smith, who until his election as leader, was considered to be on the right of the Party and was one of the parliamentary rebels against the Maastricht Treaty. However, after becoming leader he rubber-stamped just about every platitude of the Tory liberals, although to his credit he did at least make clear his opposition to joining the Euro on principle. The lack of any discernible leadership qualities resulted in Duncan-Smith being ditched by Tory MPs towards the end of 2003, and replaced by Michael Howard. Predictably, the new leader, although supposedly having a reputation for being right wing, immediately declared that he wanted to lead the Party from the centre, a policy position virtually indistinguishable from that of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Howard quickly informed a European audience that he wanted better relations with the EU, but at least he maintained his predecessor’s opposition to the Euro and greater EU integration. In the European elections of 2004 he went further by listing matters, such as fisheries policy, which would be repatriated to the British government. However, he failed to provide a credible explanation as to what would happen in the almost certain event that other Europeans countries would resist such demands. During the 2005 general election there was a covert informal agreement by all the major political parties not to raise the issue of Europe. David Cameron, the current Conservative leader, was elected in late 2005, and declared during his campaign for the leadership that he would pull the Conservatives out of the federalist European People's Parties group. He delivered this commitment after the European Parliament election of 2009.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Tory Euro-sceptic rebels

The consequences of the two-year British ERM membership experiment were three million unemployed and countless businesses going to the wall. It was perhaps the worst self-inflicted economic disaster since Churchill joined the gold standard in 1926. John Major was still dismissing out of hand any alternative to ERM membership just days before 'Black Wednesday' when he declared that his government would 'never take the devaluer’s option.' Fortunately by then the markets had reached a different conclusion, and since Britain’s forced withdrawal from the ERM on Black Wednesday Britain enjoyed a period of solid and sustained economic growth, coupled with low inflation and falling unemployment, which continued until the banking crisis of 2008. In other words the supposed 'discipline' that pegging a currency to others is supposed to bring was comprehensively disproved. As a result of 'Black Wednesday' the Tories lost their credibility for economic management and this remained the case until the 2010 general election.

The second euro headache for John Major was the parliamentary difficulties he was caused by a rebel group of euro-sceptic backbench Tory MPs who carried out a systematic and principled campaign to thwart the legislation required to ratify the Maastricht Treaty. There is no doubt that by this time most grassroots members of the Conservative Party had been converted to the euro-sceptic cause, as shown by the level of applause received at the 1992 conference by those speakers who denounced the Maastricht Treaty. However, Major was determined to prove his European credentials, and since ordinary Tory members have traditionally had little influence over their leaders, he was able to ignore their views and press ahead with the Maastricht legislation. Major was also being lent on by still more euro enthusiastic cabinet colleagues such as Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke and Douglas Hurd. During this period Major agreed to hold a referendum in the event that Parliament legislated for entry into the Euro. The leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties later agreed to make a similar commitment. Major also expressed his opposition to the concept of a federal Europe. After the Maastricht ratification process was completed the change of name to European Union (EU) took place.

The Major years were a period of confusion for the Tory Party not just on Europe but also on many other issues. Major failed to give firm leadership - he was clearly never a fully fledged euro-enthusiast in the same mould as Kenneth Clarke - yet he failed to grasp the logic of the euro-sceptics who had by then won the hearts of grassroots party members. His 'wait and see' policy on the Euro was criticised from all sides. He placed the search for a spurious party unity and management above both principle and leadership and paid the price following the huge defeat at the hands of Tony Blair’s New Labour in the 1997 general election.