Race Matters

Hostility and hypocrisy: the UK's problem with Trump

Hostility towards immigrants creates negative climate for all minorities, says Kimberly McIntosh


Opposition to the state visit for Donald Trump rumbles on. Trump's hostility towards Mexicans and long-established minorities, including African-Americans, repels the UK’s centre-right and entire left spectrum, but there is a question we need to ask ourselves: are we as hostile to immigrants on this side of the Atlantic?

The post-Brexit spike in hate crime followed the conflation of controlling immigration and the feeling that the ‘traditional’ British culture and way of life was under assault from diversity.

Opposition to severe restrictions on numbers of Syrian refugees, and the number of placards opposing racism seen on recent popular demos, suggest an increasing awareness of the link between hostility to immigrants, Muslims and integration generally.

Condemning discrimination against Muslims while discriminating against the same faith ourselves is hypocritical.

Being nasty to immigrants but nice to the sons and daughters of immigrants has been exposed as the nonsense it’s always been. Quite simply, a poisonous atmosphere towards ‘foreigners’ has ramifications for all citizens of colour, no matter how many generations of their families have lived here. And that, in turn, sets back community relations between white people and racial minorities.

Sajid Javid’s idea of immigrants swearing an oath to British values, which originates in the report by ‘integration tsar’ Louise Casey, will do nothing to bring communities together.

Instead, it exhibits a nostalgic Anglosphere mentality where the English language rules the waves and the sun never sets on English values. This can be seen in a desire of some to reunite far-flung remnants of the old empire under the banner of 'CANZUK' (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and UK).

Moreover, this approach cynically assumes that white British people, particularly the white working class, need to have a diet of hostility towards outsiders to distract them from hardships caused by the underfunding of public services, de-industrialisation and automation, erosion of workplace rights and zero-hours contracts.

The British public can see through this. They don’t need to be placated and pacified with dogwhistle politics.

In years to come, as the UK becomes ever more diverse, the very idea that in order to be seen as competent on race relations a government must indulge in macho posturing on immigration will be seen as a relic from a bygone era. Britain to be a more equal place, so that all talents can participate in our success.

The TUC conduct regular studies which show black men are twice as likely to be unemployed, and job-seekers with ethnic-sounding names have to apply for many more openings to get an interview.

A 24,000-sample survey of employees by Business in the Community found that one third of all British and minority ethnic (BME) workers believe they have experienced racial harassment and bullying at work.

Racial inequality is bad across the board, as new analysis by Runnymede and the University of Manchester has found.

If May wants to leave a positive legacy on integration she should tackle these fundamental problems at home, and bring communities together. Creating opportunity by eradicating barriers that currently hold back minority ethnic communities will achieve that; being nasty to immigrants, Muslims and all foreigners apart from Trump, won’t.

Kimberly McIntosh is Policy Officer at the Runnymede Trust. She tweets at @mcintosh_kim
  Share this post