Thursday, April 18, 2013

Article: What is Thatcher's Legacy to Black and Ethnic Minority People in the UK?

Author is Claudia Tomlinson (a writer for the Huffington Post on the issues of health, education, and social care).

A disappointing piece of work. Claudia Tomlinson writes with considerable passion and commitment, but fails to prove her case. It is fine to make polemical statements, but if the polemics are not backed by supporting evidence and do not even seem logical within the terms of her own argument then one is tempted to dismiss this as just foamy froth from the mouth of yet another lefty suffering dyspeptic reflux from contemplating “Thatcher’s Legacy”.

For instance, it is possible that the 1970s were a period of widespread overt racism in which BME people were brutally attacked by extremist organizations, society in general, and a “rampant” police keen to make the situation worse. But Claudia Tomlinson gives no examples, we are just expected to take this analysis on trust. And if you stop to consider the claims they are clearly nonsensical – if society had been so mired in racism how do we account for the ever-rising rate of immigration by BME into the United Kingdom? (we would expect BME people to be leaving the country, with perhaps kindertransport organized to help the oppressed escape the attentions of the rampant racist police).

Margaret Thatcher’s duty in 1978 was to reflect the views of the majority and to implement the will of the majority. In a democracy this is the duty of ALL politicians. Is it possible that following her 1978 speech on immigration “her popularity soared” because the electorate recognized that at last they had a political leader who would not allow continuing social change against the wishes of the majority? (at no point in her article does Ms Tomlinson acknowledge the principle of no fundamental social change without informed consent of the people being “changed”).

What is the connection that Claudia Tomlinson is making between the election of Margaret Thatcher and the inner city riots two years later? I have not seen this claim made by any serious commentator, and the Huffington Post should be ashamed to publish such a slur. It is perhaps not surprising that these wilder (one can almost say crazed) claims are being made in respectable publications only after Margaret Thatcher’s death.

What possible motivation would the police of the 1980s have in “coercive policing”? She makes it sound as if the police were just motivated by prejudice. Were there no legitimate grounds for police scrutiny and intervention towards BME communities?

One sentence in the article is new to me, and is of interest: “She wanted to prevent any Asian immigrants being given access to council housing, ahead of white people”. There is a suspicion that Labour were (and perhaps still are) deliberately encouraging BME immigration because they saw it as a source of votes for their party. Commonwealth immigrants are immediately able to vote in British elections, with no qualifying period. In a Newsnight debate last year on immigration a BME person said “the first thing we were told was vote Labour”. We assume that the sale of council housing was to extend the concept of a “property-owning democracy”. Is it possible that the council housing stock was also sold off to prevent Labour gerrymandering and the buying of BME votes with public assets?

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