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Opinions Politics

Racism in Rural Britain

I wanted to write something about the naivety of the British public in the face of Racism for a long time, but since the death of George Floyd, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated and sad at not only the incomprehensibly unjust murder, but the tirade of hypocritical ‘support’ seen across social media. Some of this support has felt counter-productive and more like support for supports sake, with no real impetus on the desire to push for change, further the cause or desire to truly understand racism. 

I must stress, this is a small proportion of my viewing, and not a comment on the vast majority of inspired protesters making a stand in the face of discrimination. 

I grew up in a small rural town about 30 miles south of Manchester. The town is predominantly white, and we scarcely saw a great deal of ethnic diversity growing up. Surrounded by local quarry’s and farms, the vast majority of the local economy is propped up by manual jobs and people can largely spend their entire lives in the same 10-mile radius, surrounded by the same white faces. 

In my experience, this has created a hotbed of racist tendencies, often, without people knowing it is actually racist. Locals refer to people from western Asia as Pa*i’s, people of African descent as ‘N*ggers’ or ‘Charcoal men’. In my year group of roughly 400 students, there was only 4 black students. These students were consistently and perpetually signalled out, often called ‘stormzy’ behind their backs. 

‘he was great big spear-throwing type’ ‘tribal looking’, ‘n*gga nose’ are all backwards, detestable, undeniably racist terms I’ve heard pass without so much as the bat of an eye. But this is a truth I’m sure is paralleled across a range of all-white rural towns in Britain. 

In my experience, these terms are not used in to be intentionally and entirely derogatory out of feelings of intense white superiority, but rather considered by the perpetrators as harmless jokes or as labelling terms to define those they are talking about. People refer to a car wash within my town, not by its geographical location like the other two we have, but as the ‘p*ki carwash’, and this is the accepted explanatory term for it. From a young age, Children are taught to label people of colour, by their colour, not by typical characteristics one would describe a white person with; hair style, height or size. 

And this is the very problem with our country, our working-class white towns have not grown with the times of globalisation. Where our cities place a genuine impetus on being increasingly diverse, cosmopolitan and tolerant environments, which grow as the world and as our laws grow, rural Britain is falling behind. My school did little to bridge the gap, black history month always felt like a month for black people, not a month to educate white people about inequality.

In December, when Stormzy called out Racism, he was critiqued, picked apart, attacked and denounced by large sections of our society. The UK is racist. There is no doubt about it. That this is such a divisive statement, stems from small-minded attitudes, local-level normalisation and lack of education about what racism is. Embedded in our predominantly white suburbs and towns is an intrinsically racist society, blinded by our own excuses of tolerance, force-fed ideas about the greatness of the British empire from a young age and naïve to what racism truly is. 

Too often have I heard groups believe they are not being racist, because people of colour cannot hear them. That they’re not racist, because it’s a joke. I was shocked to see the same people who call local corner shops ‘p*ki shops’, sharing posts about justice for George Floyd, out of a genuine belief that they had not been racist.

Rural Britain looks to detach itself from the problem. It feels too easy to absolve uncomfortable truths by saying ‘America is backwards’ to blindly believe in our own innocence. This is unfair, wrong and a complete oversite of the unjust slurs and attacks on our shores. In not recognising its own accepted racism, rural Britain is as bad as the genuine believers of white superiority. 

I like to believe that my experience of racial slurs in rural Britain grows out of naivety and a lack of open-mindness, not a genuine belief in white superiority. But is it any less detestable? Does it make the life of black men and women in the UK any easier? No. We must do better. 

We cannot dress this problem, we cannot excuse this problem, you cannot justify slurs and bigotry with fantasies that if it’s not said in front of a black person, it’s not racist. It simply isn’t true.

Did Adolf Hitler start at the top? No, he spoke selectively about his racist ideas to small groups in beer halls in Munich. Did Tommy Robinson start on national papers? No, his ideology grew from low-level acceptavism. Localising and normalising racial terms, gives platforms and justifications to extremists at all levels, that is why, regardless of who you speak to, regardless of what context, racism is still racism. It is a plague that needs to be eradicated at its source, and that is within your living rooms, within your group chats, within the ‘dark humour pages’. 

Rural Britain needs to stop its own hypocrisy, you cannot label people based on derogatory racial slurs one minute, then post support of George Floyd in the face of popularism the next. The low level acceptavism is the route of racism, the route of the issues which killed George Floyd and so many others in the western plague of racism. 

Rural Britain cannot return to this naivety and blatant racism, to truly help the cause, stop the cause at its source, British men and women must reflect on their own naivety, and denounce derogatory slurs at every turn.

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Opinions Politics

Corbyn Wasn’t unelectable – his followers just didn’t show up.

Brexit has shifted the goalposts, to be young is to vote Labour, not to be working class, and when the young don’t show up – how could Labour possibly have won?

Time and Time again this year we’ve heard so many spewing the same line that ‘Corbyn just wasn’t electable’ that his breed of left-wing politics was ‘out-of-touch’ or a ‘fantasy’ as the Tory-in-disguise Tony Blair said in December. Bitterly destroyed in the voting booth only to see his socialist programmes adopted on a mammoth scale some 4 months later (albeit in spectacularly irregular circumstances), it wasn’t his policies that cost him, but his followers, those who do and those who should.

Sure, his campaign wasn’t perfect, or even closely as invigorating as the percussing one in 2017, when Corbyn turned around an inevitable Conservative Landslide to a precarious minority government in as little as six weeks. But, Labour deserved to do better.

Labour grew from trade unions and socialist parties, it was, and is in its very nature and in name, a working-class party designed to represent the masses. Embedded in its very core are values of social democracy, large government, nationalisation and responsibility and empathy for those who cannot provide for themselves. It was and is still, positioned as the party for the people, or rather, for the many, not the few.

One need only look at the history behind Labour MPs and their previous professions to understand where they have traditionally gained their votes. Roughly 25% of Labour MP’s since 1951 have been manual workers, another 25% being teachers. On the contrary, the largest chunk of Conservative MP’s professions have been Company Directors (24%) and Military Professionals (20%).

The contrast is obvious, class-lines have divided the parties for a generation. Labour has a strong pedigree; working men and women, who want to elect their fellows to represent their interests in governments. But, the last two elections have shown that class is no longer the indicator of voting intentions. 

The cataclysmic event of Brexit has blown voting demographics apart, age has now become the key indicator of voting intention, not class, so Labour can no longer depended on their very routes of existence for support, for the political spectrum has been shattered altogether. 

We, the young have grown up in a generation like no-other (as every generation before us did, too). A period of exceptional technological development has made us all experts and introverts. But our generation is a volatile and unreliable source of votes for Labour, who cannot be relied upon for two reasons.

Firstly, Voter turnout amongst the young in 2019 was incredibly low. YouGov compiled a study assessing the turnout in constituents with varying age profiles. The constituencies with the oldest proportion of voters (65 and over at 33%) was 71.4%, 4.1 percentage points above the national average. The constituencies with the youngest proportion of voters (65 and over at 12%) had the lowest turnout, 64.5%, 2.8 points below the national average.

Further studies suggested that only 47% of voters aged 18-24 years old turned out to vote, and 74% of over-65s. Quite clearly, young people didn’t show up in the numbers one would have hoped. I myself know a few with a vocal disposition for the government, who didn’t bother to show up to the voting booth. Young people don’t entertain the same faith in the democratic process as the old, perhaps it is a distrust in the whole thing, a disinterest or maybe a lack of life experience. Each individual will have their own reason, but this disposition towards voting is a hugely costly to Labour, who needed the support of their new, key demographic to stand a chance of beating the Brexiter-in-chief Boris Johnson.

Perhaps, this very laissez-faire approach indicates an entirely different aspect and equally as unreliable characteristic of today’s young; arrogance. Speaking to one former Labour voter this week, he put it quite plainly: “Labour Used to be for the Working Class, now it’s just for the narcissistic socialist who think they’re better than everyone.” This in itself indicates that the young are not only not voting in the numbers they should, but deterring support for the party they seemingly represent too. 

The Young of today are certainly more intelligent than ever; The average child with a smartphone has more access to information than Bill Clinton did in the most powerful job on earth some 20 years ago. We are all Wikipedia experts, able to divulge our peers and our seniors with an onslaught of information on any given topic in seconds. We are better educated, with university more accessible than ever, living at home for longer, with the homes increasingly expensive and becoming parents later. All would suggest a more self-indulged individual, focusing on themselves, rather than improving society. Perhaps the lack of responsibility has allowed self and peer reflection to be embed deeper into the consciousness, giving us a sense of ‘wokeness’ in spite of, not in line with, generations from before.

It is true that the Boomers are commonly viewed as the generation responsible for todays problems. The first cohort of true excess, of the new materialistic world. Holidays of plenty, clothes of plenty, white goods, cars, TVs, stereos, phones and fast food; all the things which our generation are slowly turning their back on, in favour of a world view of simplicity, organic, home-grown, equality. Does this in itself bring in a sense of arrogance? A sort-of narcistic view that our moral compass is on point, that we are ‘woke’ against the ills of generations gone by. 

Perhaps then, with a growing focus on oneself, the young have not dashed to the cry of the Tories but become reluctant to vote all together, and in turn, the ‘wokeness’ has repelled further support for the socialist cause as it is now the young that represent Labour, not the Working Class. After all, the young are typically liberal, open minded, globalists and generally feel as though their view of the world is better than our parents, but yet feel less obligation nor desire to vote, a volatile mix which can only reduce the chance of support for labour. Ultimately resulting in the landslide victory of The Conservative Party in December 2019.