British politics has shown an alarming turn to the right in the racialised politics of small-mindedness and xenophobia. In this Britain is merely following the gravity of a global protest movement, but it is misguided and has proven itself dangerous.
Yesterday’s murder of Jo Cox, the elected Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen in Yorkshire, was the result of the cruel and heartless actions of one man. Yet this shocking atrocity did not happen in a vacuum. Tommy Mair has been associated with far-right hate groups for some years, and his actions might well be mitigated by serious mental illness, but the influence of the present political climate in the United Kingdom must now also be held to account. Racialised debate, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and wholesale fear mongering have over the past number of decades crept into the rhetoric and posturing of the political mainstream, lending legitimacy to the opinions of people like Mair and the obnoxious groups to which they belong.
Both rags that did most to fuel an atmosphere of hate want you to know he was a 'loner' and no one else is to blame. https://t.co/UawOIduKdT—
Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) June 17, 2016
Within the context of a grotesquely mishandled refugee crisis – the largest in human history – and the present referendum debate on European Union membership politicians, the likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, have cynically used the deliberately misdirected rage of large sections of Britain’s white working class to bolster support for their own political ambitions. A national discussion that can be won on economic facts and the application of reason has descended into the most vulgar and disgusting racist conflation of home-grown domestic miseries with refugees, the fictive ‘War on Terror,’ and every liberal democracy’s new bogeyman – ISIS. In a resurgence of the politics of the 1930s the paranoid racism of the parochial and petty-minded has become useful and so is being stoked by players in the nation’s game of thrones.
On the one hand this has nothing to do with the EU referendum. This lowdown and dirty form of populist, soundbite politics has been growing for years. Britain’s far-right, many of its Eurosceptics, and more recently UKIP have been keen to develop this hellish zeitgeist. In order to claw back votes from England’s shift to the right, the Conservative Party and some within Labour have been led by their tail into the gutter politics of the right in an attempt to appear more relevant and popular. The explosive power struggle that has now erupted between David Cameron and Boris Johnson has dragged Boris’ establishment faction into the sham of anti-establishment protest, relying ever more on the festering racism of England that has been fed for decades by rightist tabloid papers.
On the other hand this has everything to do with the EU referendum. We must not forget that this referendum was a politically opportunistic concession made by Cameron at the last general election to draw back right-wing support from UKIP. While leaving Europe may arguably have benefits for Britain, the primary objective of this tactic was to throw a meaty bone to the right. At many levels the leave debate has been concerned with the economic and business benefits of a Brexit, but the rotten meat on Cameron’s bone has begun to stink. The racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic components of this debate have been energised and validated by the discussion, and these elements are far from being fringe – they have become the mainstream.
Whatever way the referendum goes on Thursday, whether we have a Brexit or not, the unleashing of this Frankenstein’s monster will not easily be undone. The cat is out of the bag. Having shown itself to be a cohesive political force with mass support, Britain’s new racist right-wing will continue to play a leading role in Westminster politics, having an increasing say in policy. Dark, dark clouds have rolled in over Blighty. In many respects this encroaching shadow is following a global trend, a turn to the right that is happening as a protest to the highly destructive politics of a globalised market economy. Britain is not unique, but knowing this does not absolve us of our responsibility to confront it. This is a politics of violence and thuggery, which has shown itself time and again to be profoundly undemocratic and invariably murderous.
British Member Of Parliament Jo Cox Assassinated