Tuesday 16 June 2020

Deja vu all over again.

Thankfully the weekend's demonstrations evolved to the advantage of the Black Lives Matter and anti-racist causes and against the pro status quo far right. 

 In the previous post I expressed fears that there might be more statue toppling*, which  would  give the government the excuse to switch the debate from slavery and racism to law and order.   

In the event it was the other way round.  The BLM supporters behaved very sensibly, called off many of their demonstrations and where they were held they passed off peacefully  and without anything that could be described as vandalism. It was the far-right who behaved thuggishly, causing several violent  incidents  and arrests. Thus  any attempt to switch the emphasis to law and order places the right-wing  on the back foot.

The sports commentator who used the duplication in the title was held to ridicule (probably by Private Eye) but it sums up Prime Minister Johnson's decision to set up a Commission to examine the problems of discrimination in British Society.

We don't need another commission of enquiry: what we do need is action of the ones we've already had.  

A tech savvy junior civil servant  could put together  in a couple of hours a spreadsheet of the recommendations of the enquiries and investigations of the past 20 years** and allocate them to the appropriate  government department for action.  

A committed cabinet would  look at the list first and impose a time 
limit for the implementation of each recommendation.

Instead Mr Johnson's Commission has all the signs of being simply  there to kick the issue into the long grass.

That he has appointed a convener who, far from being impartial,  is already on record  for describing previous enquiries as fostering a "culture of grievance" and questioning the existence of institutional racism, suggests that the findings of the commission will have little credibility for those aggrieved.

Perhaps the most effective place to start the action would be with the defining and dismantling of the Home Office's "hostile environment."  

It shames us all.

*  Not least for poor old Baden-Powell, who founded, more or less by accident, the largest voluntary youth movement in the world, taken up at their own volition by  umpteen countries.  The movement provided a structure for "the good life" for millions of young people.  In my time as a Scout we  promised to obey the Scout Law, the fourth of which read:

 "A scout is a friend to all and and brother to every other Scout, no matter to what country, class or creed the other may belong." 

It sounds a bit archaic nowadays, perhaps, but is quite the opposite of racist.

** Today's Guardian helpfully outlines the recommendations of the most recent here.


  1. I'm not sure about The Guardian's right to preach...

    “It was an evil day both for America and the world when he (Abraham Lincoln) was chosen President of the United States” – Manchester Guardian, 10th October 1862

    Founded by John Edward Taylor, who made his money in the cotton trade using black slaves.

    1. Well, well well: neither Wikipedia nor the Guardian itself mention that in their accounts of Taylor's life. I suppose, come to think of it, that the whole of the Lancashire Cotton Industry benefited from slave labour, though I believe the workers struck in order to support the slaves in the US Civil War.

      It's not just Lancashire though: much of the industrial revolution was financed by capital raised through colonial exploitation of one sort or another.

      To be fair, in the article I cite, the Guardian is not preaching but recording facts.

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  3. Re Lincoln and the Manchester cotton workers, it's worth looking at the lead letter in the Observer for Sunday 21st June:


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