Search (Editorial)

Saturday, 03 August 2013 00:00

A dangerous game to play

First they came for the sick, disabled and jobless, then they came for the public sector. Now the government is implementing some of the most dangerous and racially divisive policies on our streets for decades.

Like everything that these Con-Dems do it smacks of a hunger to turn back the clock on society.

The Tories' cynical reaction to the poll shock that saw rabid rightwingers Ukip eat into their core vote at the last council elections now threatens to whip up a racial storm.

The police use of stop and search has long discriminated against predominantly young male members of black and Asian communities, causing justified long-running rage.

But it looks like things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Hot on the heels of the deployment of mobile billboards that will inevitably impact on those with the "wrong" skin colour - no matter what their immigration status or how many generations their family has lived in Britain - come reports that police are enforcing the Tory crackdown with street interrogations of all those who look "foreign."

The Tories are playing with fire.

Not only do these policies empower and embolden those on the far-right who have long sought to capitalise on the concept of "them and us" but they threaten to create a powderkeg of tension on the streets that at some point will blow.

The idea that these highly visible stunts will do anything but stir up problems is farcical.

When the economic policies of this government are directly responsible for putting hundreds of thousands on the dole, when its approach to the labour market celebrates precarious and low-paid work, and when its assault on welfare is condemning hundreds of thousands to a life of abject misery, it's easy to see where the real problems in our society are coming from.

Crackdowns on immigrants, who are often some of the most disadvantaged and lowest paid of all, will not create jobs nor improve standards of living for anyone else.

They are a diversion from the root causes of the country's problems.

The truth is that this government has no answers to the real issues facing people in Britain, including council housing shortages, plunging incomes and lack of job prospects.

In classic right-wing tactics this government is whipping up a populist storm to try to divert attention from these facts.

With the racial divide in terms of income and opportunity still gaping wide, and with youth unemployment beyond crisis point, the Tories had better be prepared for the whirlwind they are creating.

The real answer, of course, is job creation, house-building, the living wage and a crackdown on abusive employers who seek to play workers off against each other in a race to the bottom fully sanctioned by this government.

Shame on the Con-Dems for pursuing this dangerous game, and on an all-too-silent Labour Party that bounces around feebly based on the latest opinion poll rather than offering the real policy alternatives to create the decent society we require.

The threat from this unhealthy focus on specific communities has sinister undertones that cannot help but bring to mind 1930s Germany.

Our political class would do well to remember where that ended up.

Search (Editorial)