Racism and prejudice affect all cultures and societies, and the temptation to look for scapegoats in times of difficulty is not unusual. A sense of unfairness, lack of reward for honest work and justice for those trying to do the right things is currently impacting on the normal tolerance of British people.
In 2019, antisemitism took such a hold in the Labour Party that millions of voters deserted, and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission was forced to investigate the Party.
Last week the EHRC reported that Labour had taken the necessary steps to address the problem. Keir Starmer welcomed the report, but made clear there’s no room for complacency. He described antisemitism as a type of racism whose conspiratorial nature attracts those who normally claim to be anti-racist, leaving them blind to its evils. Some think this may explain the inability of the party’s former leader to accept the EHRC report.
Racism is not confined to Labour. The Home Secretary says she dreams of deporting refugees to Rwanda and the language of some Tory MPs, when commenting on the welfare of child refugees, belongs to the extreme right.
In Scotland, the SNP is attracting attention with the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon generating the usual tributes for a departing leader. I say, as a Scot who has made his home in England, a politics which seeks to blame English people for the failures of her government is just as racist in intent as antisemitism and other forms of prejudice.
Britain is a great country. We normally deplore racism, prejudice, and unfairness, whether it be naked antisemitism or more subtle attempts to scapegoat others as a diversion from political wrongdoings.
Keir Starmer is right, there’s no room for complacency and no place in British politics for those who deny prejudice exists or, worse still, try to build a career based on encouraging racism and fear.