Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Miss World 1970

During the 1960s and early 1970s the TV programme which regularly came close to attracting the largest audience each year was the Miss World beauty contest. In 1970 more than 22 million tuned in, almost topping the TV audience ratings for that year. Television producers today can only dream about viewing figures as high as this, which are now only approached for World Cup football matches in which England are playing.

Although attracting huge audiences the contest was never taken very seriously by viewers, the main interest was finding out how Miss United Kingdom would fare. The most repeated put down was ‘you see more attractive women walking down the street than those appearing in the contest’. Most contestants were in the 18-23 age range with slim, yet curvaceous, figures, with ideally a pretty face. The audience was split fairly evenly between men and women, and was considered acceptable family viewing, with virtually nobody voicing any criticism of the idea of such contests. The highlight was the one piece swimsuit parade after which the winners would be announced in reverse order from the remaining contestants who reached the final round, with the crowning of the new Miss World coming as the finale.

The golden age for beauty contest was between the early 1950s through to the late 1970s, after which interest gradually began to wane amongst the British public. Until the 1970 event there were very few objections raised to the contest. If there had been any they would have come largely from the Christian moralistic right. The following comments are representative of this viewpoint ‘the contestants are revealing their flesh in an immodest provocative way’, ‘these women are wearing the suits to show off their nearly naked bodies to a watching audience. Displaying one’s body is the sole purpose of the swimwear’ and ‘I do struggle to reconcile such competitions that blatantly promote immodesty’.

During the late 1960s such views would have been dismissed as prudish and puritanical by liberal progressives, pursuing an agenda of sexual liberation. Even Mary Whitehouse, arch critic of TV permissiveness, never raised any objections, although earlier generations of religious moralists would have condemned the contests as sinful for encouraging lust. This outlook, from a time when organised religion held more dominance in society, explains why beauty contests only became popular in the more liberated post war years. Given the increased level of permissiveness that had taken hold by the end of the 1960s, nobody was expecting an attack on them to come from the left of the political spectrum. So the protests from feminists at the Miss World 1970 contest came as a big surprise to many.

During the late 1960s the women’s liberation movement began to gain ground in the United States, and in early 1970 it had arrived in Britain with protests demanding equal pay and employment opportunities, contraception and abortion on demand, and 24 hour child care. These concerns were not taken too seriously by the male dominated media which tended to dismiss and ridicule the protestors as ‘bra burning women’s libbers’ holding what were then considered extreme feminist views. Due to their often unappealing appearance they were seen by wider society as an aberration seeking to challenge traditional notions of femininity and beauty. However, they would have one major advantage in their favour, as their cause was quickly taken up by the highly vocal and increasingly influential leftist agitprop movement.

So this was the background to the 1970 Miss World final held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In the middle of the comedy routine performed by Bob Hope he came under attack from a barrage of exploding bags of flour, rotten vegetables and stink bombs, which had been smuggled into the event by about 50 feminist activists. The police were called and the protesters were removed from the building. The viewing public watched in amazement as this normally heavily staged managed event quickly descended into chaos.

Bob Hope’s comment on the protest that ‘anybody who interrupts something as beautiful as this must be on some kind of dope’ probably summed up the feelings of the vast majority of viewers. The message from the protesters was rather different exclaiming that ‘we’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry’ and ‘ban this disgraceful cattle market’. In response the Daily Mail denounced the protesters as ‘yelling harpies’ and asked ‘what was degrading about accepting the beauty of the human body’. The Times argued that the protesters exalted ‘an essentially functionless feminism’ targeting an event ‘traditionally regarded as quite harmless by most people’. This was a view shared by the majority of Fleet Street and most of the British public, both women and men. This hostile response to the demonstrators was also in tune with the progressive spirit of the time, which sought greater permissiveness and sexual freedom, not puritanical repression.

It should be stressed that the Miss World protest had nothing to do with the wider feminist agenda seeking greater equality in the work place and the demand for an end to other forms of discrimination. Instead it was an attempt to suppress the legitimate entertainment of millions of ordinary people, and to enforce the women’s libbers antagonism to ‘the portrayal of women, and their objectification, and sexualisation, in society’. As justification the feminists declared ‘beauty contests normalise the judging of women as objects.’

Thus a new concept entered the political discourse the ‘objectification’ of women, defined as treating them as a mere object of sexual desire, or as a commodity without regard to their personality or dignity. However, this argument is a travesty of the true position; male sexual attraction is never based on the bogus concept of ‘objectification’, but rather an appreciation of feminine beauty, a perfectly natural biological response which should never be stigmatised in this pejorative manner.

So the denunciation of female ‘objectification’ was not motivated by demands for greater equality for women, but was instead an attack on male heterosexuality. It was a reversion, in a modern guise, to the Victorian social purity movement which had sought to tame and control the base sexual urges of the rampant male, but this time under the banner of politics rather than religion. Although the new feminist movement allied itself with the then radical left there is no doubt that the puritanical motivation was based on much the same phobias as the earlier Victorian moralistic Christian campaigners.

The BBC continued to broadcast the Miss World contest throughout the 1970s and for a time it still retained large audiences. But the attacks by feminists continued, supported by the activist left. Instead of ignoring this unrepresentative special pleading the organisers resorted to appeasement, substituting evening gowns for swimsuits and introducing interviews to focus more on the contestants’ personality and interests. But to no avail, these changes alienated the viewing public that was primarily only interested in the beauty parade, and the ratings began to fall. By the end of the 1980s Miss World was no longer shown on mainstream British TV. So fifty feminist fanatics had managed to create a climate in which gradually the entertainment of 22 million viewers of a harmless and wholesome event could be destroyed without any regard to their interests or wishes. Needless to say the BBC, which at the time unequivocally condemned the disruption of a flagship programme, now celebrates this protest as a milestone in women’s ‘liberation’.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Black and White offence

One of the most popular British TV entertainment programmes was the Black & White Minstrel Show broadcast between 1958 and 1978, which regularly attracted audiences of over 15 million during its peak in the 1960s. Such was its popularity and fame that the BBC was able to sell the broadcasting rights to over 30 countries worldwide, it won the prestigious Eurovision Montreux Golden Rose award in 1961, it spawned a succession of top selling chart LPs and formed the basis for one of the longest running London stage shows that extended for a period of over ten years.

For most of the first decade it was an entirely uncontroversial programme that epitomised wholesome family entertainment. The arch BBC critic Mary Whitehouse declared it to be a ‘delightful’ programme. This was not a view shared by all since it was enjoyed mostly by ‘mums and dads’, and teenagers of the time rejected it as hopelessly and irredeemably ‘square’, compared with pop music shows such as Top of the Pops and Ready Steady Go.

The show was based on a slick song and dance routine performed by blacked up men and young attractive white women. The music was mostly old time songs from the American Deep South, mixed with country and western tunes and some 1930s musical numbers. It was very professionally performed, requiring careful choreography to match the songs with the dance routine. The contrast between the blacked up males and the white women provided a strong visual image which appreciably enhanced the spectacle, as well as creating a distinctive brand for the show. The blacked up minstrel tradition extended back to Victorian times, and enjoyed a revival in the 1920s with the huge popularity of Al Jolson. So the whole concept made a lot of sense in appealing to public taste.

There was certainly no suggestion during the early to mid 1960s that the blacked up faces were in any way intended to be insulting to black people, and there is no evidence that black British residents of this period ever complained to the BBC about this, since the matter never appears to have been raised on Points of View which featured viewers comments. This was an outlook and concern that just never arose amongst the BBC programme makers and British public of the time, who regarded the show as nothing more than ‘good clean entertainment’, as one viewer described it. One thing is crystal clear, this programme attracted tens of millions of ordinary viewers during its first decade, and virtually no one then appeared to find anything offensive about it.

The first public sign of dissent came in May 1967 when the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD) called on the BBC to withdraw ‘this hideous impersonation which causes much distress to coloured people’. It was also claimed that the show ‘creates serious misunderstanding between the races and gives a wrong understanding to impressionable whites’, adding that ‘all it is intended to do is to caricature people and stereotype them’. Leaving aside the slur against white people, it should be stressed that this clearly hyperbolical complaint had nothing to do with racial discrimination. It was instead an attempt to impose on wider society a largely contrived victim agenda of a tiny vocal coalition of mostly white liberals and a few black activists, with the objective of curtailing the legitimate enjoyment and entertainment of a huge number of television viewers. CARD would collapse later in the year after infiltration by black power extremists and deteriorating relations between Asians and Caribbeans, an outcome at odds with the idealistic multiracial harmony envisaged by the white liberal founders.

A couple of months later the TV critic of the Spectator magazine Stuart Hood echoed these concerns when he opined that ‘the BBC should ask itself whether it ought not at last remove from its future schedules’ the Black & White Minstrels since, in the language of the time, ‘the days are long past when a coon show is tolerable on air’. This presumptuous statement is rather surprising since Hood was the BBC Head of Television in the early 1960s when it must be assumed that, like everyone else, he found nothing objectionable about the programme. A reader took a different view praising ‘the world acclaimed Black & White Minstrel Show as demonstrating ‘nothing but the highest reflection being cast upon West Indians’ by the wonderful voices of the minstrels and ‘anyone who thinks differently must have a warped mind’. He added that the show gave his 90 year old mother ‘the greatest pleasure which she never misses’ remarking that ‘there must be many more elderly folk to whom the loss of this show will be one further pleasure gone from their lives’.

One member of the BBC staff who found the programme objectionable was the Chief Accountant Barrie Thorne. In an internal memo he questioned the then BBC line that it was a ‘traditional show enjoyed by millions for what it offers in good-hearted family entertainment’. Thorne ludicrously dismissed this view on the grounds that ‘the same was said of throwing Christians to the lions’. He regarded the show as ‘Uncle Tom from start to finish’ that was offensive to many despite the size of the audience. The Director-General’s assistant responded to Thorne’s memo by stating that ‘it was absurd to imagine that people who are not already racially prejudiced could possibly in some way be contaminated by the Minstrels’. His frank advice to ‘coloured people’ on this issue was ‘we can see your point, but in your own best interests, for Heaven’s sake please shut up. You are wasting valuable ammunition on a comparatively insignificant target’. A robust common sense statement of the obvious that today would likely result in instant dismissal by BBC management, identity obsessed, PC speech enforcers.

During this period the BBC was moving in a liberal direction, away from what many regarded as its earlier stuffy and staid conservative image. But there was no question then of imposing politically correct speech codes, since these concepts were yet to developed or defined. The whole progressive ethos of the time was to challenge the heavy censorship regime on subjects such as sexual expression that had until relatively recently been prevalent. It was this development to which Mary Whitehouse’s campaign against ‘permissiveness’ was targeted. The response of liberals to her concerns was that if she did not like the programmes for which she found the subject matter objectionable or offensive then she should switch off, and not interfere with the enjoyment of those who wanted to watch these programmes. The whole progressive outlook then was strongly anti censorship, and in this climate the BBC would have been very reluctant to drop an immensely popular programme like the Minstrels to appease a tiny vocal minority, particularly when no offence was intended.

The BBC stuck by the show for another decade until its final appearance in 1978, by which time the calls by liberals to end the programme had become more vocal and persistent. The ratings had also begun to drop quite appreciably, and by the time of its demise it is unlikely that many viewers would have been under the age of 50. So the decision to pull the plug came as no surprise, and many wondered why it had not been put out of its misery rather earlier. However, ‘progressive’ liberals were not content to just take the programme off air, they wanted to demonise and denigrate its memory together with the kind of society which allowed it to be shown in the first place.

Foremost amongst those seeking to trash the memory of the programme is the BBC itself. The corporation now contends that the Minstrels were ‘arguably the BBC’s most glaring failure to understand the damage it could do when it traded in out of date stereotypes’ and asked why ‘this infamous programme could have lasted so long’. The BBC’s extended mea culpa seeks an explanation as to why ‘it didn’t seem to occur to anyone in a position of authority at the BBC that the series really was offensive to more than just a few killjoys’. As part of the BBC guilt trip their light entertainment chief Bill Cotton confessed that the ‘racist implications’ should now be ‘obvious to all’ declaring that ‘its the people who are black whose views surely need to be taken into account’, and then denouncing ‘the BBC’s belated, faltering progress in understanding the implications of a multicultural Britain’. This feast of emoting self flagellation ignores the fact that one of the main BBC objectives should be to provide quality entertainment to the public, rather than engage in virtue signalling to placate vocal minority agitators.

The posthumous fate of the Black & White Minstrels epitomises the will of the politically correct elite to rewrite history to promote and enforce their agenda. As George Orwell observed ‘he who controls the past controls the future’. But as its creator George Mitchell affirmed ‘the show represented all that was best in the world of light entertainment. It was magical and full of colour, entertainment at its best, family fun and friendly. Yet gradually its memory became contorted and warped’. He regretted ‘the repeated focus on the so called racist element of the show which gradually became adopted as the truth, simply because it was repeated so often, slowly turning the show and all it stood for into something hateful’. In fact all the critics of the show succeeded in doing was to infantilise black people, as being so hyper-sensitive that they were assumed to be unable to cope with anything perceived as a mildly unfavourable interpretation of their culture.

So we moved from a society in which virtually nobody found this programme offensive, to one where anyone trying to defend it risked being branded as a racist bigot. We all suffer from a loss of liberty through this kind of soft totalitarianism in which an elite minority can enforce their own self regarding virtue on the rest of society. It is worth comparing the wholesomeness of the Minstrels with how mainstream black ‘entertainers’ portray themselves today through the degeneracy of their repulsive foul mouth gangsta rap videos. But there is no rush by white ‘progressives’ to criticise these self promoted ‘stereotypes’, to do so would be far too ‘judgemental’.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

In defence of Islamophobia

Normally the internal affairs of Pakistan would be outside the remit of this blog. However, an exception can be made to consider the case of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. As widely reported, the Pakistan supreme court recently acquitted her after no less than eight years on death row, declaring that she had been a victim of accusations that were ‘concoction incarnate’.

Clearly this sentence was utterly barbarous beyond comprehension even if she had been guilty. But instead of rejoicing that an innocent woman had been reprieved under a malignant law, huge numbers of protesting Muslims demanded that she should still be executed, also making death threats against the supreme court judges and her lawyers. As a consequence the Pakistan government have surrendered to this mob pressure by preventing her leaving the country pending a review of the court decision.

There have been suggestions that she should be given asylum in Britain. But according to reports the government is unwilling to take this action because of fears of ‘unrest’ amongst the Muslim community. To be realistic, asylum in Britain would not be a safe option, as she would very quickly be recognised and there would likely be a serious risk that our own home grown fanatics would attempt to carry out the demands of the Pakistani mobs. In practical terms, she would be much safer in countries such as Hungary or Poland whose governments have so far not succumbed to our own elite’s enthusiasm for multicultural ‘enrichment’.

Both the British government and the liberal media seem to have been largely unperturbed by the death sentence for blasphemy, the grossly trumped up nature of the allegations, or the grotesque behaviour and shocking demands of the fanatical howling mob. This contrasts with the vociferous denunciation by pontificating politicians a few years back, condemning as excessive the relatively lenient sentence handed out by the Russian courts to the degenerate collective known as Pussy Riot, for their sacrilegious puerile antics in a Moscow cathedral.

We are continually warned by our politically correct establishment of the supposed horrors of encouraging Islamophobia. One of the greatest mysteries of our time is the quite literally unholy alliance between self styled ‘progressive’ liberals and regressive Islam. If this global superstition had been a political movement grown out of English working class communities, it would have been quickly proscribed because of the terrorist links of some of its activists.

The recent events in Pakistan should be a wake up call, giving us an insight into the disturbing consequences of Islamic group fanaticism, in contrast to the sugar candy version of this backward belief system served up by mainstream politicians and liberal media outlets, the BBC being the main mouthpiece of this deception. So the question that needs to be asked in response to the events surrounding Asia Bibi is why any sane rational person would want to be anything other than Islamophobic.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The first Race Relations Act

The first legislation to outlaw racial discrimination was introduced by Harold Wilson’s Labour government in 1965. It fulfilled a manifesto pledge ‘against racial discrimination and incitement in public places’. The main provisions were to outlaw racial discrimination ‘in places of public resort’ such as hotels, restaurants, pubs, theatres and cinemas, and to prohibit the incitement of racial hatred, through both publications and public meetings, in a manner deemed to be ‘threatening, abusive or insulting’. Although well intentioned, this was the first step on the slippery slope of creating a race relations industry, and introducing the concept of ‘hate crimes’ which would come to have a pernicious impact on free speech and public debate, particularly on immigration control.

The Race Relations Bill was introduced into the Commons by the Home Secretary Sir Frank Soskice. He justified the legislation on the grounds that there should be no ‘distinction between first and second class citizens and the disfigurement which can arise from inequality of treatment and incitement to feelings of hatred directed to the origins of particular citizens, something for which they are not responsible’. He paid lip service to free speech proclaiming that we ‘cherish the right of the freest possible discussion and debate within the limits of the law’. He claimed that his ‘approach has two aspects. One is the exercise of an effective control on the numbers who come to our shores’. In practice this was an ‘approach’ that was immediately broken since there would be no meaningful control over ‘numbers’ during the coming decades. The other aspect was ‘directed to achieving the task of settling the new arrivals into our community as in every sense first-class citizens. It is to the achievement of this task that the Bill is directed’.

The Home Secretary stressed that the new legislation would deal ‘with every minority group of citizen in this country. We have chosen the words colour, race, or ethnic or national origins widely enough, we hope, to cover every possible minority group’. The intention was to deal with the ‘more dangerous, persistent and insidious forms of propaganda campaigns which, over a period of time engender the hate which begets violence’. He acknowledged that ‘certain clubs may indulge in discriminatory practices in the selection of their members, it is of the very nature of clubs to be selective, and the extension of the legislation to them would, therefore, be going much too far’. Future Home Secretaries would disagree that interfering in the decisions of club members would ‘be going much too far’. Indeed this particular measure heralded the first shot in the state hijacking of, and meddling in, many matters which had previously constituted the private domain and activities of its citizens.

The shadow Home Secretary Peter Thorneycroft opposed the Bill. He considered that this was a subject ‘which, of its nature, tends to be explosive. It is certainly one which needs to be dealt with restraint and moderation’. He outlined the Conservatives policy ‘to ensure a drastic reduction in the importation of new male immigrants into this country and to do everything that was possible or open to us, as a country, to facilitate the absorption of these new immigrant communities into our community as a whole’. In practice, under future Conservative governments, visibly identifiable immigrants of both sexes continued to enter the country in huge numbers, regardless of whether or not they wished to become absorbed into our ‘community’. Mr Thorneycroft criticised the bill for ‘widening the frontiers of criminality’. These frontiers would in time come to be greatly widened once the concept of hate crimes and identity politics took hold, including within today’s Conservative Party.

Mr Thorneycroft questioned whether the problem was ‘so widespread as to justify an important change in the criminal law’, and whether it was necessary for ‘the already overworked police force to go round making inquiries and investigations in a matter which is not the easiest field for the police force to operate in’. He considered that the use of the criminal law ‘will not work because, to start with, people are very loath to bring a prosecution at all’. On the question of free speech he believed that ‘throughout the history of this country, it has consisted in allowing people to say things which the majority thought were very wrong, or evil, or misguided. That is what free speech is about. We certainly want to be careful before we alter the law in regard to it’. These are sentiments that appear to be almost an anathema amongst today’s self styled ‘progressives’, intent on silencing viewpoints that challenge their cherished orthodoxies.

One Labour MP supporting the legislation warned that ‘it deals with an important issue, the preservation of and respect for human rights, and undoubtedly will result in reducing the grave dangers, which lie in the gross abuse of freedom of speech and freedom of the written word by those who would themselves prohibit the exercise of any such freedom’. In support of this belief he raised the spectre of the evils perpetuated in Nazi Germany, as necessary justification for the proposed restraints of free speech. This kind of alarmism would be a continuing theme employed by the left over the coming decades.

A former Conservative Home Secretary deplored ‘any form of colour bar’, and declared that ‘any attempt to arouse racial hatred fills me with disgust. But I am bound to ask whether this Bill will do more harm than good’. He wondered whether ‘it may not be more provocative to make discrimination in a place of public resort a criminal offence than simply to let healthy public opinion deal with it if ever it arises’. He claimed never to have heard of anyone in his constituency committing such behaviour and warned against ‘any encouragement of snoopers looking round to see whether they can promote a criminal prosecution because of some alleged case of discrimination’. The former minister asked whether ‘is it desirable that our law should emphasise racial or ethnic or national divisions?’ observing that ‘the age-old battle in this country was not fought to enable people to say pleasant and fraternal and acceptable things. That is not what was meant by free speech. It was fought to win their freedom to say distasteful, unacceptable, provocative, antagonistic things’.

Another Conservative MP considered that ‘the Bill places the police in an intolerable, indeed an impossible, position. They will be agents for enforcing something which, I am afraid, lacks the support of many members of the community’. He added that ‘the Bill will not have the backing of the reasonable man. He has not asked for it and, in my opinion, he does not want it, and rightly or wrongly, considers this to be unnecessary that will make the task of the police very hard indeed’. In contrast, the police today pay scant attention to the views of the ‘reasonable man’ having become the most enthusiast enforcers of hate crime legislation. The MP concluded by branding the legislation as ‘not so much a social measure; it is primarily a sympathetic political gesture’.

A further Tory MP echoed concerns about undermining the right to free speech, supporting the view that ‘it is not the function of the criminal law to articulate the conscience of society’, adding that ‘there is no right to freedom of speech which does not include the right to say things which outrage one's contemporaries’. He feared that the Bill ‘will stimulate resentment throughout the native population of this country’. In time the concerns of the ‘native population’ would almost vanish from sight in the attempt to appease the vocal clamour made on behalf of minorities, more often than not voiced by white liberals. On the incitement to hatred provisions he observed that ‘in the past we have always looked to the question whether a breach of the peace was likely to result, now for the first time we shall be looking to the content of the words which are uttered, and it is the opinion, the view itself, which will be outlawed’. This is indeed what happened; the purpose of such legislation became a mechanism for shutting down debate.

One former Conservative cabinet minister believed that ‘it is not a good thing to make classes of people specially protected on the ground of colour or race. I do not believe that many of these people want it, and do not want the feeling that they have been selected for special treatment and special protection’. He thought that ‘judging the criminality of utterances by reference to their subject matter and content, rather than by reference to their likely effect upon public order is an instrument of potential censorship’. He concluded that ‘free speech must mean freedom to say what people object to and what they resent. Although one may detest the view held, one must fight to retain the right for it to be said. I do not accept that what happened in Germany in the 1930s is a pattern of what may happen here’. In retrospect, the support of Tory MPs at this time upholding the right to free speech is one that now seems impressive, in contrast to the cowardice of many of the party’s MPs in more recent years.

The Solicitor-General, Sir Dingle Foot, closed the debate. In response to the question of what was the justification for the Bill, and where was the evidence that it was needed, he stated ‘the justification is simply this. We have in this country at the moment upwards of 800,000 coloured immigrants. The number is growing; we cannot tell how far it will grow’. He added that there can be no doubt ‘that there is a section of the community, no doubt a very small section, which is guilty of incitement to racial prejudice and racial violence.’ Thus he deemed it necessary ‘to prevent arising in this country in relation to the coloured immigrants the kind of situation which arose in relation to the Jews in this country in 1935 and 1936’, which resulted in the introduction of the Public Order Act. He concluded that the aim of the legislation was ‘to promote a deeper respect for human dignity and to eliminate racial discrimination and incitement’.

The Bill was passed, divided on party lines, supported by Labour and the Liberals, but opposed by the Conservatives. It crossed an important line; previously the law had concerned itself with the actions of its citizens, it now sought to criminalize their opinions. As such it gave the green light for future governments to expand the control of public speech under the subjective and often emotive concept of hate crimes.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

UKIP on the mend?

UKIP have been in a troubled state since the EU referendum. After the resignation of Nigel Farage the party has experienced a succession of dud short term leaders. At one stage matters had so deteriorated that some were suggesting that the party should be wound up, since its main raison d’etre no longer existed following the vote to leave the EU. However, since new leader Gerard Batten has taken charge, UKIP once again seems to have gained a sense of purpose. So it is worth examining its current policies to see whether UKIP has anything worthwhile to offer.

UKIP has traditionally placed itself to the right of the Conservative Party. In theory this was a shrewd move, given the Tories infatuation with big business and surrender to political correctness, resulting in a significant proportion of the electorate effectively becoming disenfranchised. Yet it has to be recognised that the Tory party still manages to maintain a sizeable brand loyalty, aided by the first past the post electoral system which makes it difficult for new parties to gain a foothold.

UKIP’s interim 2018 manifesto gets off to a good start by declaring the intention to move in a ‘populist’ direction. This involves opposing ‘government from Brussels by the EU, open-border uncontrolled immigration, and imposing an alien politically correct cultural agenda’. They intend to ‘protect our freedom of speech and the right to speak our minds without fear of the politically correct thought-police knocking on our doors’. These are all matters which the Tories have conspicuously failed to address.

UKIP stands for the complete and total withdrawal from the European Union that the electorate voted for in the referendum. This will allow Britain outside the EU to become a more prosperous nation, regain control of its trade policy, free business from unnecessary regulation and regain control of agriculture and fishing. It will also mean that no more money will be paid to the EU, and that Britain will leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

UKIP rightly point out that “mass uncontrolled immigration has been extremely damaging to Britain. We have imported cheap labour by the million. This not only exploits migrants but depresses the wages and living standards of those at the bottom end of the economic scale, and drives up property prices”. British governments have clearly failed to control immigration from outside the EU and so UKIP policy is that in the future it will be necessary that immigration for permanent settlement must be strictly limited. However, UKIP’s proposed ‘points system’ to control immigration may not be the best way forward, since it appears open ended. In comparison a ‘failure to train’ levy of at least £10,000 per annum on businesses for each immigrant they employ, would raise money and better achieve the objective.

UKIP rightly identifies that the current housing problem has largely been caused by uncontrolled immigration, declaring that the ‘supply of housing simply cannot keep up with demand. We cannot stabilise the housing problem until we have controlled immigration’. Attention is drawn to the unacceptable practice whereby overseas investors can buy up properties, particularly in London, and then keep them empty. Policies are proposed to significantly increase the rate of house building, although the use of ‘modular’ construction techniques seems questionable.

UKIP will reform education to ‘re-focus on teaching children the basics’ and encourage the building of new grammar schools. They will seek a wider range of different types of school to make ‘our secondary school system more responsive to the differing aptitudes, capabilities and speed of development of our children’. Sensible proposals for higher education include dropping the artificial 50% admissions target, and waiving tuition fees ‘in subjects vital to our national life’ such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

Some additional common sense measures proposed by UKIP are that they will end investigations into ‘hate crime’ and ensure that police ‘investigate real crimes against the person and property as a priority’. They will end involvement with the European Arrest Warrant and the one sided USA extradition treaty, replacing them with new treaties that ‘protect the fundamental rights of UK citizens under our laws’. UKIP will also scrap the Climate Change Act, end subsidies for renewable energy and ‘rejuvenate the coal industry’. So all in all UKIP would deliver a much needed radical change of direction in British politics for which they must be commended.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Racism - the 1964 debate

The election of the Tory candidate for the Smethwick constituency Peter Griffiths in the 1964 general election became a national political talking point. In his campaign, Griffiths focused on the issue of race and immigration, and consequently was roundly condemned for stirring up racial hatred. It is true that some of the language used in his leaflets was unacceptable, but his critics rarely asked themselves whether his opposition to immigration might be justified. This was the time when the term ‘racist’, or the now unfashionable ‘racialist’, began to gain common currency amongst self styled progressives. It became a catch all word to denounce anyone expressing concern about the level of black immigration into Britain, and its widespread use since then has been largely successful in shutting down frank and open debate on this controversial subject.

As a result of the furore, the Spectator magazine gave a platform to three politicians of the left, right and centre, to expound their views under the heading ‘The Colour Problem in Britain’. The first article was by the veteran Labour politician Fenner Brockway, who had lost his seat at Slough in the general election because of his support for immigration. He began by proclaiming that ‘ideally there should be no restriction of immigration’ as it was contrary to the UN human rights declaration. However he accepted that in practice it could be restricted when ‘conditions require limitation, including pressure on the population and the state of the economy’, but considered that neither factor then currently applied to Britain, declaring that in any case the ‘issue of race is irrelevant to these conditions’. He condemned the Tories recent immigration legislation as being motivated by ‘agitation, prejudiced by colour feeling’. He deemed the Act to be a ‘charter for the protection of a white society’. In proclaiming this virtuous position, his idealistic rhetoric completely ignored human nature and the need to maintain social cohesion, as well as overlooking the relatively recent Notting Hill race riots, and the clearly expressed views of the majority of his constituents.

Brockway did acknowledge that the influx of large numbers of immigrants into his constituency had exacerbated housing problems, leading to overcrowding. He pointed out that fears that the immigrants were given priority over council housing were unfounded. Although, this was undoubtedly true at the time, as we have seen from the Grenfell disaster, public sector housing in more diverse communities is now largely occupied by people of ethnic origin, so his constituents’ fears about the future were not without some justification. He concluded that ‘immigration control should not be imposed upon Commonwealth nations’ but should instead be subject to ‘mutual agreement’, and that overcrowding and poor housing conditions should be overcome by a ‘gigantic nationwide crusade of house building’. However, house building at the time was high by recent standards, and a significant proportion was targeted at slum clearance. High levels of immigration only served to delay achieving that objective.

The second article by the Tory MP Sir Cyril Osborne outlined the problem from a right wing perspective. He considered the issue to be the ‘gravest crisis facing our country’, accurately describing the recent Tory legislations as ‘so moderate and so late’. He correctly analysed the cause of this government inaction as ‘they were far too frightened of Labour fanatics and of alleged Commonwealth opinion’, adding that ‘had they imposed greater restrictions years earlier, there would have been no problem in England now’. Osborne drew attention to the already high population density in the UK, the population explosion taking place in the Indian sub continent, and the high relative income levels in the UK so that ‘naturally they want to come here to share our affluence’.

More questionably Osborne judged that ‘the problem of immigration is not one of colour, but of poverty and numbers. We can absorb neither their numbers nor their poverty. That is why - and not because of their skins - restriction and control is inevitable’. Although he was undoubtedly right that the large numbers and relative poverty are important considerations, he is being somewhat na├»ve in assuming that racial identity was not a factor that weighed heavily with the electorate. Osborne declared that ‘the English people have a perfect right to protect their own way of life in their own country’. He concluded that ‘if unlimited immigration was allowed, we should ultimately become a chocolate coloured Afro-Asian mixed society’. That I do not want. Nor, I believe, do the vast majority of the working families of this country against whom the human tragedies of immigration press hardest.’ This common sense observation rather contradicts his earlier statement that ‘the problem of immigration is not one of colour’.

The third article from a centrist perspective was by the Conservative MP Christopher Chataway. He acknowledged that he had opposed the earlier immigration legislation, but now admitted that he had changed his mind on the issue, accepting that further restrictions on immigration were necessary, as a result of hearing the views of his constituents. In a style similar to the later ‘rivers of blood’ speech by Enoch Powell he quoted some of their comments. One widow complained that ‘the coloured family who have come to live next door hold deafening parties twice a week’, using the back garden as ‘a public lavatory’. She asked the MP why ‘you let us be overrun by these people’ adding that ‘the country was a happier place before they all flooded in’. A couple of elderly sisters pointed out that’ almost every face in their street had changed colour in the past five years’ but added that ‘nobody could ask for better neighbours’. A man living in the next road complained that now ‘his wife gets solicited whenever she goes out’ leading him to consider moving away from the area.

Chataway acknowledged that ‘the problem of achieving a multi-racial society remains’, suggesting that ‘a more even dispersal of the immigrants will certainly solve the sort of problems that today arise in my constituency’. As we have discovered since then ethnic minorities have shown little desire to spread themselves more evenly around the country, much preferring to stay in their own racial and cultural ghettoes. In practice nothing meaningful was done by future governments to allay the concern of the electorate on the level of immigration. As a result chain migration would continue of people who, because of their cultural and racial differences, would likely have great difficulty in assimilating into British society, leading to intractable problems undermining social cohesion and national identity.

Monday, 3 September 2018

The parliamentary leper

For many decades now Britain has had a race and ethnic identity problem. These were highlighted over a decade ago in the Cantle report which identified the existence of segregated communities leading parallel lives in several town and cities. More recently the Casey review confirmed that nothing had changed and that integration between culturally and physically separated communities was still as far away as ever.

The problems of integration go back a long way. During the 1964 general election this problem became the dominant issue in the Birmingham constituency of Smethwick. Although the Tories lost over 50 seats to Labour nationwide, the Smethwick Conservative candidate Peter Griffith captured the seat from Labour against the national trend. He did so by focusing on the issue of black immigration and its perceived negative impact on local community cohesion. For his pains he was branded a ‘parliamentary leper’ by the new Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

It has to be said that some of the generalised pejorative language used to describe black people in Griffith’s election leaflets was completely unacceptable and out of order. Nevertheless he had the courage and honesty to raise an issue which mainstream politicians of all parties were only to happy to sweep under the carpet. This was a time when politicians, if they had had the foresight and determination, could have addressed and taken remedial action against what would become an intractable problem, which by their neglect has been handed down to future generations.

Although in a small minority nationally, Griffiths was not completely alone. A Birmingham resident wrote to the Spectator magazine, pointing out, in the language of the time that ‘ten years ago Birmingham had only 4000 coloured immigrants and now has over 80,000. That is hardly an encouragement to welcome more. Why should Britain, a little island already overcrowded, be asked to take more when there is abundant room in Canada? The real villains who allowed this stupid and unwarranted invasion are the ministers and staff of the Home Office. Is there anything wrong in Birmingham and Smethwick seeking to prevent the situation in their area becoming even worse’?

Another letter on this subject came from a British citizen working at Cape Town University. He noted with concern that ‘the colour problem is being played down as much as possible’ in the general election, asking ‘does Britain fear that race problems will dull her image’. He accused politicians of ‘placing party interest before the good of the country as a whole’ He then issued a warning that ‘the matter is more urgent than most people appear to think. At the moment the non-white population is very small, but it will continue to grow through immigration. Furthermore, the non-white birth rate is higher than that of Europeans, and one can thus expect a substantial increase in the number of British born coloured people. The fact remains that Britain has a colour problem that the future will not be able to ignore. Britain will be left with a coloured population that will increase rapidly and uncontrollably’.

He then asked ‘Do the British people want a large coloured population in the future? Do we want to leave our children with a Britain that is Asian and African as well as British? Do we want the English people to be known as a coloured race by the year 2000’? He claimed to have been motivated to write his letter by witnessing ‘the sorrow and suffering that the colour problem has brought to South Africa’. He concluded by asking ‘whether it is right for political parties to ignore so vital a question’.

None of the political parties of the time included anything meaningful in their manifestos to address the issues raised by the above correspondents. The Tory party manifesto had nothing at all to say about immigration. The Labour manifesto stated that ‘special help would be given to local authorities in areas where immigrants have settled’ and that ‘the number of immigrants entering the United Kingdom must be limited. Until a satisfactory agreement covering this can be negotiated with the Commonwealth a Labour Government will retain immigration control’. The Liberal Party evaded any responsibility instead calling for the ‘setting up a system of Commonwealth consultation towards an agreed policy for immigration’. In short, all the political parties conspired to continue the then existing policy of allowing almost unlimited Commonwealth immigration, regardless of the long term consequences, or the impact on British society, a policy which has continued to this day. As a consequence whites now comprise only 44% of the Smethwick population today.