Thursday, 8 October 2015

I've heard the warm words of Cameron and the Tories on their 'commitment' to tackling racism before. I'm not impressed

I watched the recent speech of Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Party conference, with much interest as I suspect did many on Black and ethnic communities. 

After the Powellite excesses of the Home Secretary Thersea May's toxic speech on immigration, the previous day, I tuned in anxious and concerned as to what the PM might say to either calm or inflame the anger felt by many in Britain's black communities.

This was his first major speech to the party since the May election. Not surprisingly Cameron was at his confident best. Buoyed by a jubilant atmosphere at the Tory conference his speech was classic Cameron. 

What we saw and heard from the Tories was an audacious policy land grab of Labour ideas, offering the opportunity for the Prime Minister to seek to reposition the Tories, in the minds of the public at least, to the centre ground of British politics. 

Cameron deployed the classic tactic of triangulation first extrapolated by Dick Clark  Chief political strategy to former President Bill Clinton in his bid to get reelected during the US Presidential in 1996. Clark commented at the time that 

""the president needed to take a position that not only blended the best of each party's views but also transcended them to constitute a third force in the debate."

This speech was in many respects, classic Clinton with a nod to Tony Blair. Its a sobering fact that despite Clinton's overwhelming popularity with African American community racial inequality and poverty both grew under Clinton.

Political triangulation of this kind, can offer serious benefits to politicians who are deploy it effectively and David Camerons PR background and his ambition to crush Labour provided the perfect blend of skills and opportunity. 

Cameron spoke movingly about race equality and equality of opportunity in speech peppered with examples of racial and religious discrimination. This speech was to that extent, unprecedented I haven't heard anything like this from any Prime Minister in the last 30 years. 

Cameron regaled us with example after example of race and religious inequality   He said ; 

" One young black girl had to change her name to Elizabeth before she got any calls to interviews. That, in 21st-century Britain, is disgraceful. ”

He also mentioned " Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a British Muslim if he walks down the street and is abused for his faith,”
Before issuing a clarion call for us to work together stating,
"I want us to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country today.” 
Wonderful stuff, you might think except, Cameron and the Tories record on delivering race equality is undermined by their record in Governement. 
The Runnymede Trust recently published research that demonstrated that far from reducing discrimination, race inequality and social injustice Camerons Government has actually increased these social evils. 
In response to Georeg Osbournes May budget, Runnymede's view was emphatic."Black Britons worse off after Budget" was the headline in the Guardian on Budget day.  In 2012 in a briefing provided to the All Parliamentary Group on Race  on Black and Asian Unemployment they that found that,
55.5% of economically active Black men, aged 16-24, are unemployed. This figure has nearly doubled since 2008. The figure is 44.4% for all Black people aged between 16-24 . For economically active Asian people aged between16-24, unemployment has risen from 22.8% in 2008 to the current figure of 26.7%. Breaking it down by specific groups, this is 24.2% for Indian young people and 33.6% for Pakistani/Bangladeshi young people (ONS 2012) 

Or look at Criminal Justice. The Youth Justice Board published statistics reported in the Guardian in June 2015. 

" The share of Asian prisoners as a proportion of the total youth custody population has risen by 75% and the share of black prisoners, who now account for one in five young people locked up, has risen by 67%." 
Islamophobia in Britain is now rampant, bordering on the rank hysteria last seen during the McCarthyite era. Veiled Muslim women are the targets of constant racist attack whilst hate crimes have soared, particularly in London. 

If these facts are not enough to cast doubt on the integrity and veracity of our Prime Ministers commitment to tackling these issues. maybe this will convince. 

Prior to his election five years ago, David Cameron spoke with great passion and insight about the scandal of racism, the urgent need for action and his total commitment to ensuring these issues were addressed were he to be elected.  

Speaking to Operation Black Vote's 'Black Britain Decides" hustings meetings in 2010, Cameron gave a masterful performance, that impressed many at the time. 

As you can see form this video, the gap between Camreons rhetoric on racism and his actions is as wide as the Grand Canyon and only matched by his equally rhetorical commitment to that other great social evil tackle poverty. 

Despite his soaring eloquence and declarative  intentions the facts are chilling. Figures produced by the Department of Work and Pensions published in June 2015 showed that 4.1 million children live in poverty and increase of 500,000 since his election in 2010.

This is the rank hypocrisy of Cameron. Black and ethnic minoritioes should not be impressed with such cynical and scripted, sympathetic sounding rhetorical flourishes. Its a sign of our own political disempowerment and the utter contempt with which Cameron views our communities, that he has the brazen audacity to try and fool us once more.  

If we trusted him once and he fooled us, then thats on him. If however he returns  to fool us a second time and we fall for it, then thats on us.

The objective reality, the brutal truth, whatever Cameron's warm words about his 'determination' to tackle racial inequality, is simply this, the Conservative Party has no real commitment to race equality and austerity economics have amplified racism.