Thursday, 23 May 2013

Britain’s race debate is unhealthy

Britain’s race debate is unhealthy

Yesterday’s Murder of a British Solider in Woolwich was a truly tragic event, it also illustrated the unhealthy state of Britain’s debate about race.  You may think I am going to launch a full-scale attack on the EDL, but I am not as they are only part of the problem.  The problem is twofold the first part is large sections of the media are mad about political correctness, if you point out a problem in a race or culture that is not your own, then you are branded a racist.  The second part of the problem is groups like the EDL who are violent and thuggish, their behavior damages race relations and creates extremists.

The first part of the problem, that political correctness is suppressing debate with damaging accusations of racism being thrown at anyone who brings up a problem with race relations.  Imagine a politician saying that some Muslim communities have problems fitting into wider society.  It does not matter if there is a large amount of evidence supporting their claim they will be labelled a racist and their career will be in tatters, this means is a minority group has a problem it is not solved and is left alone in the hope that the problem will sort itself out.  In America a politician known as Patrick Moynihan wrote a report called, The Negro Family: The Case For National Action, the report was wrote to highlight a problem of family breakdown amongst the American underclass particularly African Americans (hence the reports name) and how welfare was increasing the problem.  Despite this being a genuine problem with statistics to back it up he was labelled as a racist, and the debate killed and the problem remains today.  Patrick Moynihan was not trying to persecute African Americans he was trying to help them, but as he was not part of that community he has no right to point out problems in it. 

So you may or may not agree with me that societies natural response to people who point out problems in a community is to call them racist.  You will probably agree that the debate about race in this country has been practically shut down and is only fought out between far right groups like the EDL who demonise Muslims and the left wing political correctness brigade which will not allow a bad word be said about anyone, no matter if it is right or wrong.  This creates an unbalanced debate and no other issue in UK politics has a debate fought out purely by extremes, the way race is debated in the UK is absurd.  It is the equivalent to debating the economics and saying you can have an economy purely controlled by the state or the state has absolutely no control.

 The majority of people in the UK understand that not many Muslims are radicalised but understand that, as with any community they will have problems.  The big problem we have with Islam in this country is understanding, most people don’t know much about Islam, so when they hear about suicide bombers or an Asian sex gang it creates a climate of fear.  Race relations are not helped by parts of cities becoming almost exclusively Muslim as this creates an, us and them mentality, it does not matter that most of them have been in the country for two or  three generations or that many Muslims serve in our armed forces or are doctors.  Because areas become fractured, they are seen as Muslim or British Muslim rather than just British, a solution would be to mix communities break down the wall of fear and misunderstanding.  However mainstream Politics ignores the facts that we have fractured cities with communities living separately, the problem is never bought up in Parliament as bringing it up is racist.  Multiculturalism is not working because politicians are letting it fail.  Multiculturalism is a good thing but by failing to mix cultural groups, you don’t have multiculturalism you have several separate societies who risk not getting along.  This unspoken fault with multiculturalism has spawned groups like the EDL, because communities are not mixing properly it creates a climate of mystery then something happens e.g. a terror attack, or just a crime involving members of different racial communities.  Suddenly you have a climate of fear and groups like the EDL grow to protect their community, this leads to minorities in this case Muslims being persecuted, a small number of the minority become radicalised as they feel shunned by mainstream society then you have your own home-grown terrorists. 

To conclude, because political correctness has stifled debate politicians fail to address problems in society to do with race due to fear of being branded a racist.  This stops problems being addressed like communities not properly mixing, separated communities creates a climate of fear and this creates groups like the EDL and radical Muslims.  If the UK can’t have a grown up debate about the problems with multiculturalism race relations could worsen, you only need to look a N.Ireland to see that if problems between communities are ignored they can snowball into bigger problems.              

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

For Cameron Unity Is Key

For Cameron Unity Is Key
This has been a tough week for Conservative party unity, after the funeral of Maggie Thatcher the party seemed so united.  Then came the local election and the party returned to the usual battle on Europe, there is a strong consensus within the party that we should have a referendum.  However some want it before the general election to stave off the UKIP threat while others don’t believe it is necessary until after the next election.  Then we had gay marriage in which the party was split and both sides were passionate about the issue, which makes the split even more damaging however I believe this rift will heal.  The most damaging thing to happen this weak was the Swivel eyed loons comment, but this highlights a greater communication problem between the grassroots of the party and the leadership.

Whatever your view on gay marriage you will probably agree it was not a shrewd political move by David Cameron to try to pass a law legalising it.  His thinking was that the bill would detoxify the party image and in theory, it would have however in practice backbench MP’s don’t always dance to the tune of the leadership.  Gay marriage was an issue which stirred passions amongst many Tory MP’s and has left the party looking intolerant, although the main opposition argument was not one of tolerance it was more about the definition of  marriage but the truth does not matter perception is what matters.  The most damaging thing to come out of the gay marriage debate for the Conservatives was it once again showed the divisions in the party between socially liberal modernisers and socially Conservatives.  This is only one rift in the party there are the Europhiles and Euro sceptics, there are One nation conservatives and Thatcherites.  It seems at the moment on any issue us Conservatives could scrap amongst ourselves, we fought over gay marriage, we are still fighting over Europe, we fight over how to deal with UKIP, we fought over what Osborne should have done with his last budget and we fight over David Cameron’s capability to lead the party.  Labour also has its infighting largely to do with their current policy vacuum but these have not been publicised of late.

To conclude the Conservative party is a broad coalition, it is a big tent party and that is why it can be such a political force.  However when the party is not properly managed it can wage war upon its self, Europe is the major flashpoint issue but as the gay marriage bill illustrated there are other serious dividing lines within the party.  If David Cameron intends to remain in number 10 after the 2015 election he has to steer the party away from these flashpoint issues, the party needs to be united come 2015.  There are issues which he can stick to, although there are differences of opinion on how to manage the economy there is a broad consensus within the party we need to tackle the deficit.  He can also continue with other big projects like education reform, but if he intends to win in 2015 he needs to avoid infighting by choosing policy wisely.  He also needs to make sure no member of his inner circle mutters a bad word about the party members, and he would be wise to start looking at reforming the party structure to attract more members and so the leadership has clearer communications with the grass roots.   

Friday, 3 May 2013

Send In The Clowns

Send In The Clowns

Tonight will be a night of celebration for UKIP after a brilliant set of local election results, if the 2013 election is remembered it will be for one thing, the election UKIP made its mark on the domestic political scene.  Although they did not win the most seats, they had a healthy net gain of 139 new councillors and have started to lay roots in local politics, which will be essential if they intend to establish themselves as the fourth main party of British politics. 

The three main parties did not do so well the Lib Dems lost 124 seats and were wiped out in the South Shields by election.  Meanwhile Labour showed once and for all they are not the one nation party they claim to be, experts said Labour should be gaining 500 to 600 seats, that estimate has been revised to 350 seats but on all accounts they failed to hit the number of seats they should have won.  Labour had a gain of 291 councillors and gained control of 2 councils, publicly Labour said they would have been happy to win 200 but they know that, that sort of total would not be good enough for this stage of the election cycle.  As for the Conservatives, David Cameron will not be celebrating at the fact his party lost 335 councillors but many experts were expecting much worse with numbers like 600 being mentioned.   The Conservatives also lost control of 10 councils Labour only took control of two of these councils while the rest had no overall majority, one gold nugget amongst the Conservative results was that they held onto Staffordshire one of Labours big targets.  The Conservatives took control of Staffordshire for the first time since 1981 in 2009 and were expected to lose control of the council this time round, failing to regain Staffordshire is a glaring defeat for the Labour party.

There is one piece of bad news for UKIP though Sky news showed on Friday night that if the support in the local elections were the same across the country in 2015 UKIP would fail to win a seat due to the first past the post system.  Labour would have a slim majority of 12 on 331, the Conservatives would have 245 seat, the Lib Dems 48 seats and other parties on 26 seats.  However, Labour will not celebrate at this statistic, they know they are not doing nearly well enough at this stage of the electoral cycle and if the UKIP vote is eroded by 2015 (which it probably will be) then they are likely to remain in opposition for another term.