Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Labour's racist current: Woolas edition

I do feel sorry for Labour. It's been simply months since they've been allowed to lock up a child because of the colour of its parent's passports. It's been months since they've been able to bomb foreign parts and then claim they've "moved on". The poor darlings have had thirteen years of scapegoating, discriminating against, murdering and imprisoning various dark skinned individuals, so it must be difficult coming to terms with the idea that you no longer get to be the big man in the big house.

It's always been a quandary for Labour Prime Ministers. Which foreigners you bombs, which ones you torture, which ones you lock up and which ones you allow to hoover your living room at the minimum wage. I feel for them, because these are hard decisions.

No wonder Labour MPs are kicking up a stink when one of their own is getting his comeuppance. While the leadership understand what's required of them in the press with words of condemnation for Phil Woolas, the MPs are far less disciplined.

Here you can watch Ed Miliand put clear water between himself and the man that only weeks ago he'd promoted to the shadow cabinet - to the position of shadow immigration minister of all things. He knows which side his bread is buttered. Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour Party has been taking flack from MPs for her unambiguous statement that people like Woolas had no place in Parliament.

It seems a significant number of MPs are willing to rise up and mutiny in defense of lying, whipping up racial tensions and plain old fashioned hate. They're even raising funds for the man. This local news report (starts 12 mins 50) makes it clear exactly how bad Woolas' campaign was, and that his campaign team was utterly complicit and seem to have no regrets. You can also read the judgment here.

Thankfully not everyone is at one with this. Liberal Conspiracy is rightly organising a defense of Harriet Harman. Whatever you think of her (and I've always had a soft spot for Harman) it's extremely important that the Labour Party is not dragged down into the Neanderthal swamps of Woolas and his co-thinkers.

It was down the line stupidity for Ed Miliband to make this man a shadow minister so close to his court case, opening the party up to such a crisis, but more seriously it showed that Ed Miliband was far from a fresh new left approach to politics by appointing this loathsome individual to such a high position on the eve of his disgrace.

Woolas has a long history of scapegoating immigrants and his enforced retirement is long overdue, it's just sad that it is the courts that brought this about rather than any of the three party leaders he's served under - Blair, Brown and Miliband who appear to have consistently rewarded rather than challenged his approach.

There has always been a racist current in the Labour Party, just as there has always been a current of decent people who anyone would proud to call their friends. Sadly it is the reactionaries who've had their hands on the levers of policy for some time. By the looks of it the dark heart of racism on the Labour benches is far from dead.

Recommended further reading: Paperback rioter.


Anonymous said...

as an aside, on a very interesting and much needed post, please stop using the term Neanderthal. They were not a savage / brutish / stupid version of modern humans but simply another human species which existed for an impressive 200,000 years (incidently a similar length of time modern humans have existed) before going extinct, for reasons still unknown.

modernity said...

good post!

Useless Labour....