If you look at any analysis
of electoral campaigns throughout the years, one thing is certain. From Enoch
Powell's 'rivers of blood' through to 'If you want a Nigger neighbour - vote
Labour', playing the race game has only ever served as a political ammo. In this
modern day, populist, detached, so-called democracy, little is different.
However, one thing that has occurred to me is the changing nature of what people
define as the 'race card'.
pundits and commentators are outraged on two accounts of the recent abuse of the
race card for political kudos.
more, a worrying element is the backlash against the Commission for Racial
Equality, which is now under fire for using this mysterious 'race card'. They
are being accused of crimes such as 'blackmailing' politicians, 'forcing' people
to think a certain way. Commentators will always stretch this a little further,
even suggesting that the CRE 'pulls stunts like introducing a contract' in order
to justify their jobs or keep the so called 'race relations' industry in
wondered what a race relations industry produced. What kind of industry is it?
Obviously in the eyes of the right-wing press (which incidentally just caught
fire with outrage at my local newsagent) the industry is responsible for
destroying our white heritage, giving special rights to minorities and is in the
business of producing mind-altering advertising.
have a serious concern about all of this. With the media frenzy adding 'race
card' to every discussion, incident, political commentary that surrounds any
racist event, perceived racist event or - now it seems - any anti-racist effort,
then discussions about racism are lost. Soon, the seriousness of racism will be
forgotten in popular consciousness forever, replaced by two mysterious and
clever words 'race card'. There is a solution however.
personally believe that Robin Cook's speech was a sound critique of a root and
branch, ingrained racism in the Tory Party, something that a memorandum cannot
simply erase. When William Hague recently told John Humphries on Today that
his party no longer had an ideology, he was sorely mistaken. His party is
comprised of two clashing new right agendas; the old traditionalists who despise
pollution of a mythical culture that once existed here and the new, free-market
economists who thrive on free immigration, movement of everything in order to
keep the economy afloat. In the end, these two ideologies will either wipe one
another out in a 'to the death' battle, or co-exist uncomfortably like the
old-socialist/new-third-way arrangement we currently have to put up with. Either
way you look at it, the ideologies firmly support and concrete the nature of
speech was good. However, his timing was ill-conceived - because
now the Backlash have got him by the balls. What government needs to realise is
that racism is not an election issue, its a day-to-day political concern of the
country. A brave government would go to war when racist comments 'flood' the
House of Commons, or papers take it upon themselves to pollute our minds with
rubbish about 'gut instinct' concerns of the British public. Consistency is
needed in order to create an environment where the 'race card' becomes obsolete
and firm discussions about tackling racism become the norm. The CRE's move
should not be condemned, rather those politicians who have used it to play
football should be held to account.
don't put a stop to this soon, the mass psychological effect of those two words
will continue to dilute anti-oppressive initiatives altogether and 'gut
instincts' will continue to be fed.
Wood is the editor of Student Youth Work Online.