It all started when the mischievous Commission for Racial
Equality (CRE) approached the leaders of the political parties
and asked them jointly to sign a declaration that they would
not "exploit" the race issue during the election.
What all of these leaders should have done was tell the
CRE to "get stuffed". However, we could hardly
expect Labour or the Liberal Democrats to do this. We might
- just might - in saner times have hoped that the Tory leader
would have done. But Willie
Hague just was not up to it. He signed too.
But not all of his Party's candidatates were so keen. It
transpired that a great many of them refused to sign. In
scarcely any case were these refusals for the right reasons.
They were nearly all frantically eager to proclaim their
"non-racist" credentials, they just didn't like
the CRE's bossiness over the matter.
But one who was a bit more courageous than the others was
John Townnend, the MP for Yorkshire East. Townend made a
speech in which he paid tribute to the prescience of Enoch
Powell, spoke of the immigrant role in rising crime
and said that immigration had brought about vast changes
in Britain which nobody could deny - changes, which the
tone of his speech made quite clear, were not for the better.
The Government, the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties
and at least part of the Tory parties went completely ballistic
over these words. William Hague, reacting like one of Pavlov's
dogs to the ringing of a bell, leapt to distance himself
from Mr Townend's comments, saying that they were "totally
unacceptable" and that they were in conflict with the
compact, which he had signed under pressure, from the CRE.
The very word "unacceptable" raises certain interesting
questions. If Mr Hague had merely said that he disagreed
with Townend, that would have been his right. But "unacceptable"
suggests that Willie believes that none in his party should
even be allowed to say such things. This gives us some indication
of the state of hysteria that prevails in the Tory ranks
where the race issue is concerned.
There then followed news that a number of Tory candidates
around the country, far from following their leader, had
not only declined, like Mr Townend, to sign the impertinent
CRE document, but had even made remarks in their constituencies
which made it perfectly clear that - for whatever reasons,
those of genuine conviction or merely political opportunism
- they were appealing to the wide spread popular resentment
over the handling of the refugee issue. One of them, Mark
Reckless, the candidate for Medway, accused his Labour rival
of wanting more, rather than fewer, refugees let into the
country. Left-wing sensibilities, already cut to the raw,
were utterly outraged.
The next thing was that Labour's Foreign Secretary Robin
Cook made his quite silly and puerile statement that there
is "no such thing as a British race" - a clumsy
attempt to equate past invasions and migrations of closely
related North European peoples with the more recent influxes
of immigrants of wholly different and alien cultures. Cook,
just like virtually everyone else in the debate, was merely
trying to score party political points - a fact that did
not escape the notice of Mrs Doreen
Lawrence, mother of Stephen
Lawrence and an "anti-racist" if ever there
was one. She accused the Foreign Secretary of trying to
exploit the race issue solely for electoral purposes. For
once Mrs Lawrence was right, but she shouldn't have confined
her condemnation to Robin Cook. The whole damned lot are
at it - Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat alike. Each party
is pitching its language at what it perceives to be its
own particular constituency. In the case of the Tories this
constituency includes a large number of people unhappy about
the huge changes in Britain that John Townend pinpointed.
Hence a few token noises of sympathy with the concerns of
these despised "proles" combined with totally
contradictory assurances that the Tories are just as impeccable
"anti-racists" is anyone else!
From out of all this hoo-ha two dominant facts emerge.
The first is that the race issue - long swept under the
carpet by the legions of censorship and political correctness
has now come to the surface with a vengeance and is going
to be a very important factor in the coming election, at
least in certain areas. This is, to the undoubted chagrin
of nearly the whole political class. From the grave, the
voice of Enoch Powell is being heard at last, despite all
attempts to drown it.
The second fact is that virtually every mainstream party
politician without exception, is interested in this race
issue essentially from the standpoint of whether it will
help or hinder his or her chances in the election and help
or hinder the political career of which the election is
part. As for any genuine concern for the future of our country,
this is almost wholly lacking. Such concern is the very
last thing that a party politician permits to intrude upon
decisions, as to what to say or do.
That party deserves all the
support it can get.