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Peers are left to head off racist Bill

People queuing at UK Border

Yet again we are at the mercy of the House of Lords.  After the Immigration Bill passed the House of Commons with only 16 MPs voting against it, we are again in the situation where we are reliant on the House of Lords to head off damaging, dangerous and badly thought-through legislation. One of the MPs who did have the guts to vote against the Bill , John McDonnell, has correctly described the Immigration Bill as the most racist legislation he has seen in his twenty years in Parliament.

The Council of Somali Organisations shows the way

Young Somali people

I recently attended an inspiring conference that brought together Somali community organisations with a variety of service providers organised by the Council for Somali Organisations. Many community organisations are unable to overcome the influence of “community leaders” who insist on talking for their “communities”, sometimes in ways that do not reflect the real views, aspirations and feelings of people who they claim to “represent”.

The Immigration Bill – it just gets worse!

Immigration stamp close up

The Immigration Bill is without doubt the most damaging piece of legislation for race equality and community relations that has gone before Parliament in the last 30 years. It is now over half way through its passage through Parliament and represents a concerted attack on all BAME communities – not just recently arrived migrants. The Conservative party is using the Bill to try to outdo UKIP and  - to their shame - large sections of the Liberal Democrats and some Labour politicians are going along with it.

Welcome to 2014!

Man walking towards passport control in airport

Well here we are in January 2014 and the tidal wave of Romanian and Bulgarian benefit tourists hasn’t materialised. Farcical New Year scenes at Luton Airport of MPs and journalists staking out arrivals from half empty planes arriving from Sofia and Bucharest (and discovering two new arrivals both of whom had already been offered jobs), shows how laughable discussions about immigration have become.

Another attack on multiculturalism

David Cameron

David Cameron has launched another attack on multiculturalism as part of his attack on Islamist extremism. “Timid politicians with a ‘misplaced’ fear of offending Muslims have allowed Islamist extremism to take root in the institutions of Britain” he said going on to warn in the Daily Mail that“the policy of treating different cultures as ‘separate and distinct’ – known as multiculturalism – had been a ‘mistake’”.[i]

 

Sheffield MPs stoke up conflict with Roma migrants

Two police walking towards immigrant children

Nick  Clegg and David Blunkett ought to know better. Both Sheffield MPs have  attacked the Roma minority in the Page Hall area of Sheffield. Blunkett says "We have got to change the behaviour and the culture of the incoming community, the Roma community, because there's going to be an explosion otherwise. We all know that." Clegg’s view is that: "If you do things that people find intimidating, such as large groups hanging around on street corners, you have got to listen to what other people in the community say."

The most racist legislation in the last 30 years

Man holding protest sign outside Houses of Parliament

“The most racist piece of legislation in the last 30 years”. So said John McDonnell MP about the new Immigration Bill that the Coalition Government is currently ramming through parliament. The Bill had  its second reading on 22nd October and marks the culmination of months of disgraceful dog-whistle politics about immigration as the main parties follow UKIP and Lynton Crosby further down into the gutter.

Framing racism

I am an Immigrant flyer

Yesterday I went to a presentation by George Lakoff – the author of “Don’t think of an elephant! Know your values and frame the debate”. He is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California and specialises in understanding how we can use language to change the way in which debates and ideas are framed. We looked at how the issue of migration might  be reframed so as to accentuate its positive elements and to challenge the framing of migration as about numbers and “people feeling  rather swamped” – as Margaret Thatched put it in the 1980s.

More Home Office Confusion!

Black men being stopped by police

The Home Office's consultation on police powers of stop and search is a great example of really bad survey and questionnaire design. Many of the questions are unclear or leading and the logic baffling.

For example Question 3 "to what extent do you agree that the arrest rate following stop and search is a useful measure of the power's effectiveness"  We are then asked to fill in one of five boxes from “strongly agree”, through “neither agree nor disagree” to “strongly disagree”, and then “don’t know”.

The British Dream – a dangerous concoction of prejudices

The British Dream book cover

Sometimes so-called liberals can do more damage to “social cohesion” then more overtly racist commentators – their positions are less likely to be immediately identified  as contaminated with prejudice, assumption and false argument. They provide a complicit softerside to the dog-whistle politics now being employed by the Tories and UKIP.  After all, we all know where we are with those who express outright racism and xenophobia. Such views can be easily identified, critiqued and confronted.

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