A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boris' new Policy Director on race and Hackney

Boris Johnson has just appointed Anthony Browne, fresh from directing David Cameron's favourite think tank Policy Exchange, as his Director of Policy.

I'm not sure we can expect a sensitive approach to policy questions regarding race and migration from Mr Browne, given the views he has expressed about these matters (and about my home borough of Hackney) here in the Spectator.

Personally I found his little essay incredibly offensive. There are many things wrong with Hackney (though the charge sheet on the first page of Mr Browne's article was 5 years out of date even when he wrote it in 2005). One of the things that is right about my borough though, and really works, is that it functions pretty well as a model of a multifaith and multiethnic community. People live along side each other in relative peace and harmony and on the whole they appreciate and enjoy this diversity.

Amongst the gems in his piece (sub-headed "People like to live among their own kind") are:

"Many on the Left ... believe that the only way to end racism is to end races; the only way to conquer Nazism, they argue, is mass miscegenation" (I've never heard anyone on the left say this!
"The champions of diversity ultimately believe that our future is not as a species with many races, but with one race — a quarter Chinese, a quarter Indian, a quarter African and a quarter European."
"The eternal human urge for self-segregation — surrounding yourself with people like you — is likely to triumph over the more ephemeral economic and political incentives to leave what you know."
"It is not Hackney that is the future of the world, but Japan."
"Sharing the same language, culture and values as the people you come into daily contact with may not be excitingly multicultural, but it means you end up with deeper relationships, a sense of community, belonging and security."
"The white flight — or white self-segregation — which is such a feature of US cities is now endemic in the UK, with hundreds of thousands of white Briton’s (sic) fleeing the effects of the government’s open border policy on London each year."
"The slowing of mass migration is good for those who appreciate real diversity. The decline of diversity within countries preserves the diversity between them."

Do Hackney's Tory Councillors, eight out of nine of whom are from minority faith and ethnic communities, know about the views of their London Mayor's Policy Director about the model of community harmony represented by our borough?

The appointment of someone who has such a disparaging take on the benefits of immigration and multiculturalism to the position of Policy Director to the Mayor of a city that has benefited from and been characterised by mass immigration and multiculturalism is a very odd move and will add to the unease London's BME communities already feel about Boris.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

People live in Hackney because that's how the cards fell.

They certainly never chose to live in a multicultural diverse community.

And they don't.

The Sephardis have constructed a community of their own.

Middle-class whites have got the land east of London Fields where the Blairs fetched up at one stage.

The artists are crammed into Beck Road and former short-life pigsties - now very desirable piles - near Victoria Park. Graphic artists - not really artists at all - are occupying Hoxton and Columbia Road.

And the poor whites and black have been dumped in God-forsaken hell-hole estates with killer dogs, piss-poor schools and the occasaional salvation visit from Luke when he's feeling very socialist and punting for votes.

That is what 40 years of Hackney Labour Party has achieved. Not much better than Glasgow East. Which is not much better than downtown Mumbai.

10:01 pm, July 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Labour have created these slums and they are getting worse year on year. They are turning the UK into a third world country.

1000s of Brits are fleeing the cities in search of real England in the suburbs and villages making the cities even poorer. 1000s more are fleeing the UK althogether and I can't imagine what this country will be like in 20 years time.

Dwindling tax receipts and the coming recession will show this government for what they really are. Useless and void of ideas. Brown and his government are already in the process of selling billions of bonds linked to our NHS, Schools and Roads.So soon our little country will be owned by rich arabs wanting another all manner of concessions to accommodate their needs.

My message to anyone in Glasgow East is vote SNP and give this bunch a very bloody nose.

11:05 pm, July 22, 2008

Blogger Newmania said...

it functions pretty well as a model of a multifaith and multiethnic community. People live along side each other in relative peace and harmony and on the whole they appreciate and enjoy this diversity.

That is such a load of cobblers Hackney is a terrifying place and you will not be sending your precious kids to school in this Multicultural; heaven you recommend for others will you. I `ll answer that .No. Same as Dianne Abbot , Emily Thornberry et al. I believe the are more O levels achieved in Eton than in the whole of Hackney in an average year so I don’t blame you but unless you can assure me you will be submitting your own progeny to this delightful experience then I am afraid you go in the Public school lefty hypocrite basket with the others
I must admit that that paragraph has taint about it which is rather unpleasant because of mixing of race with ideas that refer to ethnicity . I am sure that this was an error but such a slack use of language is not acceptable . Apart from that though what is it exactly that you are saying is so wrong ? There are clearly enormous advantages to having a set of values and references in common and while race is not the issue the character of the country and its defence is quite reasonable supported by the majority and a problem for Labour 35% of whose voters say the BNP are their second Party
( See What’s left or The Likes of Us)

The reason London is relatively free of trouble , compared to places in the North and the Midlands is not because we are all enjoying each others diversity. It is that any sense of a community identifying with a place was quickly smashed leaving a rootless wasteland of people who care so little about each other or the place they have nothing much to argue about . Prior to that ”achievement “ there was a lot of trouble
So this is a curates egg .Some of your comments I reluctantly agree with but the rest of it is just the same old PC thought control which tries to stop anyone talking about immigration coherence or national or local; character without being a racist. This of course makes the sort of confusion in this little piece hard to forgive. .I was obliged to join the so called white flight because of the schools and crime in Islington , we however are a mixed race family

12:51 am, July 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Browne's comments on Japan as model (in his Spectator article) are interesting. Does he really want to live in a country where bars frequently say 'No foreigners', non-British are barred from swimming pools and 'Crimes of Foreigners' is a bestseller?

9:38 am, July 23, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

We do need to remember that Browne is a convert. In his role as an Observer journalist, he claimed to be on the Left, then did an abrupt about-turn with a series of negative articles about the NHS (whilst still, at that claim, claiming to be on the left, politically). He soon joined a right-wing newspaper and began to self-identify as right-wing, which he certainly is.

There's nowt as fervent as a convert....

10:25 am, July 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely you've shot yourself in the foot when mentioning Hackney Tory councillors - six of them are Orthodox Jews who live in their own community, thus proving the point that in many cases like wants to live/stay with like.

11:44 am, July 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Orthodox Jews in Hackney are a paragon model of what is a community.

Family-orientated, socially-minded, law-abiding and many other goods things beside. Sure, they can appear insular and self-obsessed.

But given what Beveridge and his mates in the Labour Party have managed to construct in the rest of Hackney over 60 years there is no contest.

12:14 pm, July 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, why have you not commented on the outrageous and illegal arrest of Radovan Karadzic?

I am appaled by his capture. He has rights you know.

And why the silence over the inexplicable decision to deny the Bluewater bomb plotters a re-trial? They are innocent in my eyes and I demand they are released at once.

And how about Abu Hamza being extradited to the United States? This is a flagrant breach of his human rights. A further erosion of our civil liberties that a man such as this should be treated in such a shabby manner.

I shall get on the phone to Shami Chakrabarti and petition the Prime Minister. This is completely unfair. Whatever next?

12:17 pm, July 23, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Yes they live in their own community in one sense but in most of Stamford Hill they live alongside and in the same streets as white, afro-carribean and Muslim families. The relationship between the Orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities in Stamford Hill is particularly strong - the Muslim/Jewish Forum gets quoted nationally as a model of harmonious community relations.

I would say the orthodox Jews in Stamford Hill are a great example of how you can live in a highly multi-cultural community without in any sense compromising or abandoning your own identity and way of life.

Browne's article confuses multi-culturalism which is about people celebrating their own cultures and living in harmony with people with other cultures, with a melting-pot concept where identities and cultures are eroded.

12:21 pm, July 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes a race anyway? Is it is the culture, the traditions, the religion or what?

12:50 pm, July 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh - need to take a shower after that.

This reads like a pompous Oxford politics essay written for a tutor with rather Powell-ite leanings.

3:43 pm, July 23, 2008

Blogger Newmania said...

I think the far more important confusion in Browne’s piece is the confusion of ethic identity with actual race which is atrociously clumsy at the best interpretation. His melting pot notion is irrelevant to the idea of multiculturalism locally which seeks to accentuate difference not blend it . At a national level however isolated village communities mean there is nothing to call “we” .It is the English identity and its connection with England that is eroded and this suits the left who are suspicious of nationalism .
. The left cannot understand such loyalties as people are primarily economically determined units to them .Powerless Cofee table identities are therefore fine . National loyalty is not .

I agree that the Jews are a model of good immigrants. Not being too numerous helps as well as accepting their ways are subordinate to the nations publicly . Stamford Hill , is indeed a rare oasis and a testament to the value of family and tradition under economic pressure .It a pity labour have done so much to undermine our own.

...as far as the Muslims are concerned as the 7.7 bombers own families did not know what they were up to your assumption tnat you see into their minds is ..bold .

4:30 pm, July 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Luke you better get used to it because this is the way it's going. Expect a massive shift to the right with respect to multiculturalism and immigration.

Yes we a country of different cultures but this is at the end of the day Britain. You have the right to believe in what you want but if you don't like British culture or our laws or religion then you have the right to leave...another British tradition....called Freedom.

I would never expect people to throw away their culture the moment they arrive in the UK but our laws and way of life must take priority. If it doesn't we are in danger of losing our identity, our way of life and our freedom. This government is eroding British culture and its links with Sharia practices and multicultural mumbo jumbo are frankly a disgrace.

It's pointless trying to debate this as most people are sick of Labours soft approach to immigration and multiculturalism. We live in a democracy and the masses are making their voice heard very cleary. Either act on it or be confined to the history books....or you could always leave the country.

4:40 pm, July 23, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

What do you mean by 'British culture'? I don't think there is a single British culture, and I think that people disagree greatly on what they believe.

In any case, expecting total assimilation is unrealistic. certainly doesn't happen with British expats in Spain! Multiculturalism simply is, because there are people living here from a range of cultures. The sort of nostalgic unreality of Browne is typical of what one expects from romantics who look back to Olde Englande. In urban areas, that has gone never to return. Any sensible discussion needs to start from that fact or we just end up mouthing the sort of slogans typical of Rich's post. You can't get rid of multiculturalism simply because you like the idea, unless you get rid of the multi-cultures, and that's not going to happen.

6:23 pm, July 23, 2008

Blogger Kris said...

Sorry, but which bit's "offensive"?

Don't tell me that you roll out a blanket "that's racist" like all your leftinrista chums to shut down dissent.

8:08 am, July 24, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke writes: "I would say the orthodox Jews in Stamford Hill are a great example of how you can live in a highly multi-cultural community without in any sense compromising or abandoning your own identity and way of life."

Unless you are, say, a lesbian or gay Jew? In which case you are hounded out.

You're talking bollocks, Luke. When in a hole, stop digging.

2:44 pm, July 24, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should know what British culture is, just go out into our villages and our countryside or into some of our towns and you will see it everywhere.

My village still flies union jack, still has a may pole, a tea room, celebrates St George's Day and everything closes on a Sunday etc etc etc. People of all nationalities live together, practice their own beliefs but all come together on village events.

You look at the slums developing around our cities. Some are predominately white while others are predominately Asian or black. This is not what I would call racial harmony and is a clear failure of the current multicultural British project. It is too easy for people of different cultures to stay in their comfort zone and live separate from other cultures.

When immigrants come to the UK they have to accept that it is ok to keep their beliefs and traditions but if they contradict our laws or way of life then it is them that has to change and not our statute book. Examples, rights for women and animals, divorce law etc. Also veils are not acceptable in the UK neither is religious dress in schools or at work. Single faith schools follow Christian beliefs and nothing else.

If a British women taking off her bikini top on a beach in saudi is unacceptable to them then why the hell are we accepting veils on our streets or forced marriages.

I'm know for a fact Britain is shifting to the right. This is what 90% of British people want and this is what is going to happen, if mainstream politics doesn't adapt then you will be looking at a BNP government within 20 years.

6:07 pm, July 24, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

But that world doesn't resonate with me, Rich. It may represent the rural areas of the south-east - not Liverpool, though. This is what I am saying. That sort of culture may survive in places like your village, but not in urban areas. There is no unified British culture.

The UK is clearly a secular country, and I would be happy with religionism being kept simply for the private sphere. However, given that few British people practice religion in any meaningful way, I think that the repression of religions of minorities cannot be justified. I think there should be no faith schools at all: they are divisive.

I also don't think that forced marriages are acceptable, but I think that people should be able to wear what they wish as long as it doesn't interfere with the job they do. Similarly, the only people I will accept any lectures from about animal rights are vegetarians. halal and kosher meat is no more cruel than the average abbatoir. Animal rights doesn't generally include eating them. I'm a meat-eater and if I am making a curry I go to the halal butcher because the meat is better!

There are reasonable questions of to what extent any religion should be present in the public sphere but that means all religion, including Christianity. The majority is secular, and I think that there is no enthusiasm for the imposition of any religionism on others - the place for religionism is the private sphere, if it has to exist at all. Society would be infinitely better without it.

What you are actually talking about is suppression of Islam, which is the BNP approach.

1:02 pm, July 25, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The multicultural/multiracial experiment has failed, as all social experiments eventually do.

The vast majority of British people absolutely do not want to live anywhere like Hackney or see their neighbourhoods become like Hackney. They are voting with their feet too: in the past ten years London has experienced "white flight" of a net 600 000 people.

Those who worship multiculturalism as a religion will have to experience the painful reality of the failure of their ideology, just as the far left did after the Soviet block collapsed. Boris Johnson's election was just the start of it in my opinion.

11:03 pm, July 25, 2008


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