Numerous publications have claimed that there is a problem of anti-Semitism within Labour and Naz Shah MP and Ken Livingstone have been suspended by the party because of statements they both made. Yet despite the party’s leadership moving quickly to deal with the allegations the press continue to argue that the problem persists. This of course has been jumped on by the Tories, who have gleefully stoked the flames.
But the noise made about the apparent anti-Semitism within Labour has far outweighed the fuss made over the overt racism within the Tory Party and points to a gross double standard from both Westminster politics and the press.
The publications that were calling for Naz Shah’s resignation and the suspension of Livingstone were not so quick to condemn David Cameron on his Islamophobic attempts to smear Sadiq Khan. Nor were they calling for his resignation when the Prime Minister attempted to dehumanise refugees by referring to them as a “bunch of migrants” and “swarms“.
An interesting side point point is that Shah’s comments were made before she became an MP, yet she was still targeted aggressively. Yet In 1989 David Cameron visited apartheid South Africa on an all expenses paid trip described as a “sanctions busting jolly“. Now, shouldn’t Cameron also have to resign for these comments and for the trip?
Of course, as far as the press were concerned his 2006 apology sufficed, despite the fact that the Tories were supporters of the racist, colonial apartheid regime; even refusing to impose sanctions during the period. Why no media scrutiny?
Nowadays the Tories even have the gall to claim to be the party of Britain’s minority communities, which in itself is laughable. David Cameron has himself stated that the first black or Asian Prime Minister would be a Tory. The Tories are hardly championing BAME issues and charging ahead with diversity and equality agendas. Boris Johnson, a man touted as the next PM, referred to Obama as “part Kenyan” and said this was why the American President disliked the British Empire.
Almost all the press decided to dismiss the comments made by Johnson but to do so would be hypocritical for they are reflective of a recent pattern from the Tories. In 2008, for instance, Boris had to apologise for an article in the Spectator that claimed “blacks have lower IQs” (although it was not written by him he was the magazine’s Editor). Johnson also referred to black people as “picaninnies” and claimed Africans had “watermelon smiles“. This is not even subtle racism from the London mayor. But again, the press never called for his resignation.
For Zac Goldsmith and his London Mayoral campaign the racism is as crass as it is obvious. Whilst again using not so thinly veiled language, Goldsmith and the Party more generally have consistently alleged that Sadiq Khan is an extremist, solely because he is a Muslim. Claims that have been repeated by David Cameron. The Tory argument being that because Khan is a Muslim, he’ll encourage terrorism.
From Oliver Letwin to Boris Johnson, this is a party that has racism at its heart. A party whose policies traditionally target society’s most vulnerable and who have long implemented racist and Islamophobic policies.
Labour MPs were right, Cameron is racist but so is his party. They supported apartheid and politicians like Johnson still long for Empire. Racism is at the core of the Conservative Party and the failure of the press to interrogate this is indicative of how little people care about Islamophobia or anti-black racism.
The party may have adopted more subtle forms of “dog-whistle racism” rather than the overt racism of yesteryear that we now associate with the BNP or EDL but this doesn’t make them any less racist.
If we’re going to be consistent with our anti-racism then the press that championed to get Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone suspended should also be calling for David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith to resign, whilst Oliver Letwin should not be allowed anywhere near politics.