Rights for Whites (and everyone else too)

Kjartan Páll Sveinsson, a research and policy analyst at the Runnymede Trust, a year ago had (I assume, judging by this liberal conspiracy item) some input over the who cares about the white working class report. “Class is back – but in a racialised form; no longer just working class, but with an added distinction ‘white working class’.” The distinction is almost in apprehension of tension between groups, for if the white working class are disadvantaged (or feel so) then who – by way of balance – is advantaged? Is it the black and other ethnic minority groups who fall under the bracket of working class. It is hard to see what is at play here. But I’ll give it a shot.

The white working class being failed, even at educational attainment – based on racial categories and those who are receiving free school meals – has been shown to be part of the new labour package, since the telegraph also found that “48 per cent of the poorest white boys met targets in English and maths at primary school last year, compared with 82 per cent of Chinese pupils.”

But how this is channelled from then is the dodgy territory. The blame is sought from foreigners themselves.

Not only did “58% said they felt unrepresented compared with 46% of white middle class respondents to a Newsnight poll”,

52% of the white working class people questioned thought immigration was a bad thing (42% thought it was a good thing), while just 33% of white middle class people thought it bad (62% thought it a good thing). (see the BBC article)

Certain leftists run a huge risk when they say that to separate working class people by race institutionally is wrong, only because previously this has been how we have been able to acknowledge and target low achievements in minority groups. One such writer scorns the distinction as reactionary. Perhaps in some cases, by some people. Though it is necessary to distinguish these groups in order to target failing, where I’m sure this writer would agree there was before with the children of minority groups. It also provides us with a marker to show whether racism is institutional – this I am guessing is what informed John Denham’s recent decision to say that inequality is not reduced only to race (this has not been understood by some writers (see note below), who though are right to say that race related bullying might still exist – and I worry will never disappear entirely – government is not in the business discriminating against race, and a lot has been done to tackle racism institutionally).

Often people who make assumptions as to why one group of people are failing make 5 out of 2 and 2. I’m not prepared to do so here. There are many factors, and time will only tell whether this is a relatively small trend (that will throw up a series of pointers as to what it is) or a longer lasting hiccup in the educational system. One thing that can not help – which is more a socio-economic concern – is the laughter directed to certain members of the white working class. Johann Hari recently said

Base generalisations about the white working class are so frequent that we just don’t hear them any more. Words like “chav” and “pikey” have become mainstream, and Vicky Pollard is waved as a dystopian poster-girl for twenty-first century Britain.

George Galloway once commented about the Jade/Shilpa situation that though it was crass of Goody, the real point of blame was Shilpa’s snobbish attitude towards Jade. This is not to play down the petty language that Goody used, but what was less an issue for the media at the time was the part class had to play in the conflict, and to some extent this is symptomatic of the way class is played now – that there are certain members at the bottom who it is fine to poke fun at.

There was a series of complaints at the word ‘chav’ – one here and here, to name but two – centred around the fact that it is a barely veiled attempt to acceptably look down upon the some people in our society, namely the white working class – though actually those people to whom the word is directed are not racially specific.

It is said by some that negative attitudes towards gypsies is the last socially acceptable form of racism. Scorn and vilification of the white working class doesn’t contradict this, since by and large it is an attitude towards class. The attachment of the word ‘white’ used formally – like in government statistics – is a way of seeing whether there is a clear relationship in low attainment and race. By the media it is shorthand for those more likely to get pregnant earlier, those more likely to commit crime, or those unlikely to achieve as well, and realistically it wasn’t going to be long until this self-fulfilling prophecy came to fruition in details of educational attainment and so on. But this is not a race war, it is one of class attitudes.

****

Note

Yasmin Alibhai Brown had written the evening standard article (that I’ve linked to above) yesterday, which, I felt, misunderstood John Denham’s message, and failed to look at the historical testimony that racism – both institutional and street level – has been massively reduced, even since the late nineties, therefore it is legitimate that the Labour party should accept a small victory – in spite of the successes of the BNP, which let us remember, the BNP have had to modify their language a great deal in order to achieve, therefore their appeal is based as much on their scaremongering and not only on people’s “avowed racist attitudes”. Remember, for example, Jon Cruddas’ remark that Barking isn’t awash with fascist saluting Nazi’s, there are wider issues here.

But her ignorance here is not isolated. One other example sticks out, and it is worth repeating here at length:

We want to shut our doors because of prejudice and envy. Young Poles and Lithuanians can find work and make something of their lives, while our own people are either too lazy or expensive to compete. Tax-paying immigrants past and present keep indolent British scroungers on their couches drinking beer and watching TV. We are despised because we seize opportunities these slobs don’t want.

Two fit white British men loiter outside my local bank. They beg. I asked if they wanted to clear out my back garden for a fair wage. They said I was one crazy lady. Polish Andrew did the job cheerfully and efficiently. God bless bloody foreigners who do our dirty work and are then damned by an ungrateful, obtuse nation. (see the rest of the article, if you really want to, here)

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