Friday 7 April 2023

Labour's Racist Attack Ad

After the theatrics of the last few years, leading Labour politicians have appeared on umpteen politics programmes to declare that racism is over in the party. What was it that Lisa Nandy said last weekend? "Keir Starmer said he would tear antisemitism out by its roots, and that's exactly what he's done." Be that as it may, there's still some distance to go on racism generally if this - roundly condemned - attack ad against Rishi Sunak is anything to go by. In case you hadn't been following the political discourse this week, the Prime Minister and Suella Braverman, the gutter-dwelling Home Secretary, have leant heavily into Tory racism by playing the race card over Rotherham and northern paedophile gangs. Another episode in the war on woke, and an easy jab at Labour authorities who, so goes the argument, turned a blind eye to rape and sexual assault because political correctness.

The brainboxes in the Labour leadership thought the appropriate riposte would be a piercing dog whistle about as subtle as a flashing sign. They might be all innocent face "nonces are not getting jailed under the Tories", but their obvious implication is that as a British Asian Prime Minister of course Sunak's going to be soft on paedophiles. Challenged by Naga Munchetty on Friday morning's BBC Breakfast, Lucy Powell said it was just an example of the cut and thrust of politics. That being the case, I'm sure Labour won't complain now it's widely known that the sentencing guidelines the Tories have been working to ... were written and endorsed by Keir Starmer himself. Having not long ago been smeared by Boris Johnson for not prosecuting Jimmy Savile, you'd have thought the master strategists at LOTO's disposal might have investigated the basics and determined the possibility of blowback before painting targets onto the leader's flanks.

Equally wise commentators have noted that, despite the advert, we're all still talking about it so job done. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as bad publicity, as the Jeremy Corbyn years attest. And there are consequences. People in the Labour Party, including senior officials and shadow cabinet members, and outside of it are horrified not because of "the optics" or "the vibes", or even the impact it will have on the rather dull local election campaign. It's that it significantly adds to the coarseness of British politics and will encourage racist bullying in the playground, the workplace, as well as incidences of racial abuse. Soft on racism, soft on the political party causes of racism. Incidence of hate crime ticked upwards when Johnson likened Muslim women to postboxes, and there's no reason to believe a viral social media campaign - now amplified by much coverage - would have the same effect.

Let's be blunt. If racism against black and Asian people was taken seriously by the Labour Party, this ad never would have been conceived let alone published. It's symptomatic of the cynical politics of the Labour right, who think these attacks are the essence of super clever politics, and for whom the definition of what's racist depends on the politics of the target. But this isn't just a rank-and-file problem, but an issue of leadership failure and of turning a blind eye. Those responsible for the ad are in daily contact with the top of the Labour Party, and someone senior - maybe more than one - in the apparat and the political leadership would have given it the once over and nodded it through. Perhaps with a laugh and an appreciation of what "hard bastards" they are. The buck for this shitty state of affairs stops with the leader. Starmer, whose lying and shiftiness has become as routine as it was for Johnson is responsible for Labour's culture, for the attacks put out by the national party, and for what their content is. If there was anything decent about the man, this wouldn't have happened in the first place. But because it has and there will be no one calling for accountability and an apology in the media mainstream, it will happen again. And again. And again and again.


Alan Story said...

Marina Hyde

JN said...

There are countless things that Labour should be legitimately criticising Sunak and the government on (here's an uncontroversial one: they shouldn't be allowing sewage to be regularly pumped into all our rivers and seas). Instead Labour opt for a blatantly disingenuous attack on Sunak, as if he's pro-paedophilia.

I'm not a lawyer, but that seems very close to libel, in essence even if it somehow isn't technically. (Of course, that's the same method Starmer and his supporters have used to discredit Corbyn, Long-Bailey, and the Labour-left in general: just accuse then of antisemitism, and some mud will stick.)

It's incredibly stupid on so many levels. No one (left, right, or centre) is buying it. In the past, Starmer's Labour has stood in front of an open goal and refused to score; this time they've rocketed the ball into their own goal. Are they trying to lose the next election? Are they just as incompetent at opposition as the Tories are at government?

JN said...

As an electoral strategy, it makes no sense. Labour can not outflank the Tories on their right on things like "law and order". What's the plan here? If, say, Priti Patel says "bring back hanging", is Starmer going to reply "bring back burning at the stake"? The Tories are already very right-wing, so the only way to effectively beat them from the right is to go full-fascist and/or full-racist.

JN said...

Meanwhile, there's this vast expanse of political space to the left of where the Tory Party currently is, that Starmer and his supporters seemingly have no interest in. So much for "pragmatism" and "electability" and all the rest of it.

Labour probably are going to win the next general election by default, unless they step up their efforts to lose, but who has any hope that a Starmer government is going to seriously address the fundamental problems (like climate change, ever growing inequality, housing, declining living standards, precarious employment, the collapsing NHS, etc....)? All they are offering is: being marginally less shit than the Tories; and that's before they disappoint us.

The Tories and Starmer's Labour, it's just fucking depressing. We need a real party of the left, so how do we get one?

Jenny said...

It's not a dog whistle when everyone can hear it. It's just a whistle.

Dialectician1 said...

Gutter-snipe politics

To get a good sense of the ideological roots to Starmer's authoritarian neoliberal politics, it's worth reading Gareth Fearn's recent essay in New Socialist:

Even if Starmer does gets elected on the basis of such dog shit politics, the long term outlook is grim.

David said...

God how depressing this country has become. I used to knock myself out campaigning for Labour, now I can hardly contemplate voting for them.

Anonymous said...

It's foul but I'm unconvinced it's racism - dog-whistle or otherwise. I could see them doing the same as if Truss had still been PM.
Yes Sunak same race as the 'Asian grooming gangs' of HateMail reporting but a stretch to think that relevant (but can't say for sure either way - that's how dog-whistle works)

Blissex said...

«There are countless things that Labour should be legitimately criticising Sunak and the government on»

But they cannot attack Conservative policies, because New, New Labour is aiming for the same electoral base as the Conservatives, that is affluent kippers. They can only criticize the government for being too soft or inept on implementing those hard-right policies.

«Labour can not outflank the Tories on their right on things like "law and order". What's the plan here?»

She said: "There Is No Alternative". That is the plan, it was not a claim, it was a command.

«If, say, Priti Patel says "bring back hanging", is Starmer going to reply "bring back burning at the stake"?»

That would be part of the «cut and thrust of politics»... :-(

Phil said...

There isn't even a hierarchy of racism - comparing contemporary politicians to the Nazis is "soft Holocaust denial" when a celebrity is criticising the Tories, outright antisemitism when a Jewish Holocaust survivor is criticising the state of Israel, and a vivid expression of genuine concerns in the Jewish community when a right-wing journalist is criticising the Labour Party. The current Labour leadership is just as cynical as the Tories in this respect - all they see are types of racism it's convenient to denounce and others that it's convenient to exploit (Red Wall socially conservative Workington Man blah).

Anonymous said...

This ad is many things, far from all of them good.

But the Anon poster above is right - its not racist. It doesn't have a pic of Sunak because he is a brown person, but because he is PRIME MINISTER. Remember that? Tories want to present him as a totally new start, untainted by the errors of the previous 12 years - but why should the rest of us go along with them?

Surprised to see you running with this line tbh.

Dipper said...

"Suella Braverman, the gutter-dwelling Home Secretary, have leant heavily into Tory racism by playing the race card over Rotherham and northern paedophile gangs"

Let us deal with this.

You phrase concern over sexual exploitation and rape of girls and young women by predominantly muslim gangs as a proxy for racism. But that is not the case.

Scandals of criminality are never about the criminal. They are always about the response of the authorities. The issue with the grooming scandal is not the race of the criminals, it is that the race of the criminals meant the police and the authorities failed to give the children, the women, and their families the legal protection they were entitled to. It has been observed that most grooming gangs are white, and one such gang has recently been tried and gone to prison. But no-one has ever suggested that white grooming gangs should not be investigated because of their race. every white person everywhere says white grooming gangs should be investigated and put in prison if guilty.

One of the techniques Magicians use is Distraction. They engage in actives that draw your eye whilst the actual 'magic' takes place elsewhere. This is what is happening when activists say that 'most grooming gangs are white'. They are distracting us from the crimes in front of us. They are saying 'these are not the rapists you seek. The rapists you seek are over there.'

The concern over 'northern Paedophile gangs' is that the issue shows the State, as in the Goodwinian State, have abandoned their responsibilities to the native working class population. As Labour supporters that should trouble you. A lot.

Anonymous said...

"Goodwinian State". Is that a mood? As in "He was in a right Goodwinian state this morning"? Or is it a diagnosis? "The Doctor had to section him as he was in a serious Goodwinian State"? It's named after a charlatan so perhaps it means someone who is pretending to be a rational, evidence-based expert when in fact they are pushing a very transparent agenda for their own entirely self-centred purposes. "Too many senior politicians appear to have fallen in to Goodwinian States recently." Mind you, politicians have always tended to suffer from Goodwinian State syndrome.

Dipper said...

As in Matthew Goodwin and his book on the new Elites. Which I haven't read but seems to be saying what I had increasingly noticed.

Blair/Brown created a number of institutions that have a significant role in public policy making and progressively removed elected politicians from making policy. Cameron did a bit more of this. So Interest Rates are set by technocrats, not politicians. The Health Service is run by bureaucrats not the Minister. And Police policy is set by the College of Police chiefs not the Home Secretary.

What has increasingly happened is these institutions have drifted from any sense of political control. They are openly pursuing agendas that have no political mandate. In this case, the Police seem to have decided that policing Hate Crimes is their top priority. It doesn't matter how many times they are told not to do this, or who tells them, they just do it.

Central to this is legal capture. Activist judges and lawyers are increasingly taking conventions and laws and applying them in ways that are overtly political and reflect their class interest and show no respect for any political processes. And when the law doesn't say what they want it to say, as in sex and the equalities act, they just pretend it does say what they want.

This is a pot boiling that is going to explode. I have never known a time when so many people I meet are openly fuming at the way race is being handled. That in effect the equalities act is being interpreted to make the white native population an under-race. When this kicks off it will be nasty, and lots of lefties will be saying that perhaps we should have listened more. But the time for listening is now, and you're not.

Old Trot said...

Dipper is of course a shrink the state Tory, and is quite open about this. Nevetherless he is quite correct that the many niche obsessions that nowadays dominate so much of what passes for 'Left' (actually middle class Left Liberal, not socialist) thinking and priorities are so divorced from the priorities of the bulk of the population, across the entire political spectrum, that both wings of Labour have created for themselves a series of ideological beartraps that could yet rescue the corrupt, discredited, Tories. Or at least deny Labour a working majority in 2024 . The really big 'elephant in the ideological room' is not 'race, or 'ethnicity' issues per se I think, contrary to Dipper's rather broad brush assertion. I thing the big issues that will damage Labour's electoral chances in 2024 (given that Labour differs not a scintilla on economic issues/austerity from the Tories) are, and will be, :

1. The continued pursuit by the Tories AND Labour (across all wings of the Party) of post EU leaving continued unlimited labour supply - via perfectly legal continued historically unprecedented mass immigration . Securing Unlimited labour supply was of course the cynically concealed 'Big policy' of the Blair/Brown era, not just the later Tories . Despite the opportunistic Tory leap onto the BREXIT bandwagon to win in 2019 , this remains the main strategy for economic growth and suppression of effective trades union power , for the Tories just as much as Starmer's neoliberal Labourites. Net migration is currently running at circa 500,000 per year. This correctly perceived betrayal of the whole point of BREXIT for poorer citizens facing the consequences of unlimited labour supply, will drive millions of people ( including millions of ex Labour voters) who voted for BREXIT into the arms of the ultra Right before long- and likely lead to them simply not voting in 2024.

2. The current Labour Party, Left and Right, and the Greens, and the Lib Dems, and the SNP have bought wholesale into the politically toxic nonsense of 'transgenderism' . As Starmer has now been advised by his pollsters, this will cost Labour millions of sensible reality-oriented Labour voters , once the Tories and their press zero in on the fact that Labour politicians cannot even use biological reality to define what a 'woman' is - and therefore cannot be trusted to protect women's sex-based rights. This is a long gestating ideological beartrap that the entire 'Liberal' component of the political class has fallen into with gusto. See what has happened to the SNP on this issue, and weep for Labour tomorrow.

A little bit of materialist, class-based, socialist planning oriented , politics could have spared the left and the neoliberal Labour Party from this looming electoral self harm. But there we are, with no socialist Left worth its name, and the entire 'liberal' political class with their heads stuck up their own ideological arses on so many key issues. Tragic.

Dipper said...

A pleasure to read Old Trot as always.

from Anonymous 'It's named after a charlatan so perhaps ...'

Sadly/amusingly this is typical of arguments from 'the left'.

You don't really believe in anything anymore but you want power, so you look to form alliances with other groups to take power. You use language as a signal to other groups that you are in alliance with them. 'Institutionally racist'; 'trans rights are human rights' etc etc. So when someone calls you out on what your words actually mean, ask you to reveal some logic and facts behind the slogans, you don't have any. because they're just slogans intended to signal to other groups. And having no actual arguments, you just launch into ad-hominem attacks. In effect, you state that the interlocutor is not a genuine person whose arguments should be taken seriously. And you say that because if you did take them seriously, you'd reveal you had nothing in your intellectual locker.

Don't think people don't notice. Everyone notices.

Dipper said...

but to pick an argument with Old Trot, when my (white) boys are told they cannot apply for positions because of their race, then it really is all about race and ethnicity.

Aimit Palemglad said...

@Dipper labelled me as left when in fact I am trans-spectrum. That is, I don't recognise the left-right political categorising and belong to a non-spectrum free ranging group that sees the world not through polarised lenses, but in a 360 degree perspective.

Of course this is anathema to Old Trot who thinks that political science clearly establishes there are only two possible sets of opinions, conveniently labelled by sidedness. In reality, as those not fixated on antiquated dogma devised in a bygone age understand, our opinions are many and varied, and categorising them into a binary split is to deny our need to express our individual selves.

Naturally that is unacceptable to them (Dipper, Old Trot, Bliss etc) because it means these self-proclaimed spokesmen (always men) of the silent proportion (usually claimed to be a majority, but since they have no way of knowing if its anyone other than them we can reject this quantification) of the, non-existent as a mass, people, would be unable to declaim what everyone else thinks, since everyone has their own unique views.

Finally @Dipper reveals his own skin tone obsession which joins Old Trots gender mania, and Bliss' infatuation with mortgages to create a neurotic blend of fetishes through which to filter the infinite complexity of humanity and simplify it to their own banality.