The trail of lies and tears

Voting in a democracy should be determined by the facts, by the values we all share, not by extremists who seek divisive political gain by relentless misinformation.

Let us not go down that ‘trail of lies and tears’.

The threat to all minorities in Britain is also the main threat to the majority of the British population as a whole: the Right and Far Right.

Racism as well as class oppression must be fought through solidarity, not division. When Labour wins, we all win

Austerity is literally killing us, the NHS is on its knees, there is a neglected climate change emergency, we have rising poverty, our public services are decimated, we are at risk of a hard Tory brexit and there are already related increases in racial tensions.

Such is the legacy of the Tories after 9 years in Government (including 5 years with the LibDems).

The Tory general election platform is ‘get brexit done and all will be fine’. It will not.

The Tory lies, unchallenged, will lead to tears for millions voting for the wrong future.

A catastrophic hard Tory brexit, rather than Labour’s proposed option to protect the economy, will rapidly lead to hardships getting far worse, post-brexit, for many people.

This is especially so for our 8 million ethnic minority neighbours already hit hardest by an ideological Tory austerity.

I take it for granted that resulting increases in social tensions are inevitable. Here I want to focus on two myths whose effect is to distract people from these fundamental realities.

These are mirror images of each other:

  • The Tory Party is neither racist nor Islamophobic
  • The Labour Party is antisemitic

There is abundant published evidence to expose both these statements as false; here is a summary.

The evidence discovered in more detail here (9, 10). Yet this has been ignored as public perceptions have been forged by repeated lies that now appear as the truth.

The data above is probably news to many people, though it will not be a surprise for our ethnic minorities on the receiving end of Tory discrimination and abuse. In contrast, many Jewish people seem to have been understandably convinced by the relentless myths, dominating the news, predominantly about antisemitism claims and Labour.

The problem is that Tories have never been held to account by a compliant media determined never to challenge their lies. As the journalist Peter Oborne has complained(11),most journalists seem more content to participate in their propagation than unearth the truth.

For the public, such false perceptions can influence voting.

Who will be most disappointed by any extreme right Tory victory resulting from such dishonesty? Who will be shedding the most tears? Presumably it will be those who have suffered austerity hardships the most, those who have empathy for them, and all who voted Labour.

Previous general election voting patterns

Each group illustrated below is obviously diverse in composition, but this is how they voted in 2015 and 2017.

The share of Labour was highest in the Muslim groups and the BAME group to which it belongs. The Tories had their highest share with the Jewish group, but also did better with the White voter group.

Between 2015 and 2017, Labour had a net gain of 5% for White voters, 12% for BAME and 17% for Muslim voters.

In contrast, amongst Jewish voters the Tories had a net gain of 5%.

The voting patterns in BAME sub groups are shown below, as presented by the Runnymede trust (12). The increased share for Labour at the expense of the Conservatives seen for the Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups is probably related to their concerns about Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

For the Indian communities, especially Hindus, Conservatives had gained share, probably due to changes in socio- economic situations as for Jews. (This is likely to be exacerbated in this election as the situation in Kashmir is exploited by Hindu nationalists to undermine Labour.) The Caribbean Black voters are no doubt concerned about the ‘Windrush’ scandal threats and have increased the net share for Labour.

Perceived political prejudice and voting

It has been claimed that Ed Miliband lost the ‘Jewish vote’ in 2015 following his criticism of Israel’s bombing of Gaza and his support for the recognition of the state of Palestine (13). However, the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (14) also reported a general move to the right of the Jewish population due to their improving socio-economic situations.

Allegations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn, or it being widespread in the Labour Party, have been shown to be substantially exaggerated (9). Though widely believed by many Jewish voters, surprisingly it had only a small impact with a loss of only 1% of Labour’s vote share in 2017. However, there was a reversing of the trends towards Labour found in all other groups.

Other smaller, but perhaps more representative post-election surveys (15), gave Labour 29% and 26% of the Jewish vote in 2015 and 2017 respectively. This would suggest little change over 2010 (13), but still confirms no Corbyn collapse in the ‘Jewish vote’, as has been claimed.

There is no evidence that antisemitism is more prevalent among Labour members than in society. What evidence there is that suggests it is less. Surveys do demonstrate that it is lower on the left than right of politics, so it would seem likely that Labour members will have a lower prevalence of antisemitism than Tory members too.

The higher prevalence of racism and Islamophobia among Tory voters and party members, might well contribute to the Labour preference among BAME voters.

In addition to various general motivations found in wider society, it is suggested that Labour’s anti-racist credentials, and in particular those of Jeremy Corbyn, will have influenced them in 2017 (12).

Perhaps of more importance, the Tory Government itself has been criticised by the UN rapporteur for their ‘policies and narratives’ that probably incited increased prejudice towards ethnic minorities (16).

In particular, these include the Tory’s famous ‘ Go Home van’, the ‘Hostile Environment’, the ‘Windrush scandal’, events around Grenfell, and an insensitive application of the ‘Prevent ‘programme stigmatising young Muslims.

The dishonest blaming of immigrants for the hardships inflicted by their ideological austerity around the brexit debate, was also of significance, especially as ethnic minorities were hardest hit (17).This led the Guardian’s journalist Aditya Chakrabortty to write,

 “In one of the most breathtakingly cynical moves of our time, the very same ministers making the cuts looked at the fallout they created – and blamed migrants.”

One survey (18) revealed Tory Party members as more prejudiced against immigrants and ethnic minorities than Labour Party members.

There have also been repeated claims of widespread Islamophobia in the Conservative Party (19). The Conservative Party refused the demands for an independent inquiry into their claimed Islamophobia; they also refused to adopt a working definition of Islamophobia, in contrast to Labour. Neither has received the same media cover as have unjustified attacks on Labour.

The Tories have announced no improvements, nor any data on the numbers of complaints received, how they are processed and the time-scales. Despite the fact that surveys have reported Islamophobia to be more prevalent in members of the Tory Party than in society as a whole(20), the media fail to pursue this.

In contrast, Labour has improved its disciplinary procedures to speed up the handling of all allegations, and they report that only 0.1% Labour members have been involved in this process over 4 years (21). To reveal the astonishing degree of Tory and media exaggerations, one survey showed people thought this figure was on average 34%, rather than 0.1%, over 300 times higher than in reality (22).

Who will shed the most tears?

We do not know how the 2019 general election will play out. Obviously votes from a population of around 0.3 million Jews will have less impact than those from a total of 8 million BAME and those in turn less that the 87% White voters. So the question is more about how the latter group may have been influenced by false arguments on antisemitism and racism.

If an extreme right wing Tory Government is elected, and there is a serious economic downturn as predicted, the Tories will once more blame others, in particular immigrants.

Some Labour voters feeling robbed of their hopes by lies, may get angry with those groups thought responsible. But the biggest threat, as always, comes from the right and far right in society.

In a recent survey (23) the authors commented,

“We forecast that without sustained, comprehensive effort, the negative and divisive trends outlined in this report will continue. If this deterioration is left unchecked, the truly ‘left behind’ will be those from vulnerable and already marginalised and minority communities. Prejudice and identity-based violence will keep rising and it will be the Roma, Gypsy, Traveller, Muslim, and immigrant communities who will be Brexit’s biggest losers, whether Britain leaves Europe or if Britain stays.”

Their survey revealed those groups most likely to be blamed for the predicted economic downturn from a hard Tory brexit, and therefore most at risk for violent attacks, as shown below.

The 6% risk for Jews is much lower than for other groups, but could still represent the opinion of over 3 million people.

As the UN rapporteur observed (16), the damaging Tory policies and narratives have created a toxic atmosphere where the minority identities are blurred. When sections of the predominant white population, especially on the Right, have for years been led to blame ‘the other’ then anyone who looks, dresses or talks differently will be a target.

These will shed the most tears.

Then comes the other poor and vulnerable people, our disabled, those that need social care or the NHS, from all ethnic and religious groups. Including the victims of Tory austerity class warfare.

The Tories are colluding with, rather than challenging, the growing Far Right movements. These will be emboldened to manifest their habitual racist and antisemitic attacks. They will provide a spearhead for the larger number of those angry about the worsened hardships when the opposite was promised.

The tragedy for British Jews, who understandably are very vigilant to prevent the return to anything like the conditions that led to the Holocaust, is that they have been misled by extreme right elements in their own communities, in the Tory Party and the media, and pursuing a policy that is clearly against their own interests.

The tragedy for BAME groups is that their voices are not adequately heard and they will be driven down the same trail.

Let’s just hope that all individuals from these minority groups and White voters too, are guided not by lies but policies on offer and by the available evidence on racism and antisemitism. There are positive signs of this as many individuals and groups, especially Jewish, speak out against the risks of a Boris Johnson victory.

Voting in a democracy should be determined by the facts, by the values we all share, not by extremists who seek divisive political gain by relentless misinformation.

Let us not go down that ‘trail of lies and tears’.

The threat to all minorities in Britain is also the main threat to the majority of the British population as a whole: the Right and Far Right. Racism as well as class oppression must be fought through solidarity, not division. When Labour wins, we all win

References

1. Britain’s party members: who they are, what they think, and what they do

2. Racial prejudice in Britain today

3. Prejudice in Britain: explore the data

4. Antisemitism Barometer 2017

5. Antisemitism in contemporary Great Britain. A study of attitudes towards Jews and Israel

6. Europeans Fear Wave of Refugees Will Mean More Terrorism, Fewer Jobs

7. State of Hate 2019: People vs the Elite?

8. The Conservative Crisis Over Islamophobia

9. Smoke Without Fire: The Myth of a ‘Labour Antisemitism Crisis’

10. Journalists, check your evidence on antisemitism!

11. It’s not just Boris Johnson’s lying. It’s that the media let him get away with it

12. Ethnic Minorities at the 2017 British General Election

13. How Ed Miliband Lost Britain’s Jewish Voters

14. THE POLITICAL LEANINGS OF BRITAIN’S JEWS APRIL 2010

15. Religious Affiliation and Party Choice at the 2017 General Election

16. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report: Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

17. Immigration has been good for Britain. It’s time to bust the myths

18. Britain’s party members: who they are, what they think, and what they do

19. Sayeeda Warsi on Tory Islamophobia: ‘It feels like I’m in an abusive relationship’

20. Nearly half of Tory members would not want Muslim PM – poll

21. Sayeeda Warsi on Tory Islamophobia: ‘It feels like I’m in an abusive relationship’

22. An interview with Greg Philo

23. A gathering storm? Rising risks of identity-based violence in Britain

Comments (7)

  • Allan Howard says:

    I watched University Challenge last night as I usually do (and actually knew the answer to one of the questions!), and then noticed that Panorama was about to start on BBC1 AND that it was about Prince Andrew etc, so I thought I’d check it out. So anyway, I’d been watching it for about thirty-five minutes or so and Darrahg Macintyre – the Panorama reporter – was saying something about Jeffrey Epstein, and mentioned his name as such, and it was about THREE seconds later that I did a double take and realised he had pronounced it Epsteen, EXACTLY the way Jeremy did in the leaders debate. Macintyre had probably, by that stage, mentiond Epstein twenty, thirty times or more, but I hadn’t noticed that he was pronouncing it Epsteen until then!

    Needless to say, from then onwards I was paying attention whenever he referred to Epstein, and he continued to pronounce it that way. And then, perhaps ten minutes or so later, there was a clip with one of the lawyers for the victims (of Jeffrey Epstein), and HE pronounced it Epsteen as well! And then shortly after that there was a clip from the Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew, and Yes!, Emily Maitlis pronounced it Epsteen TOO, and shortly after that there was a clip with the woman who was photographed with Prince Andrew with his arm round her waist when she was a young lady AND claims he slept with her, and YES!, she too pronounces it Epsteen.

    I didn’t watch the Newsnight interview, but I thought it must now be a couple of weeks or so since it aired – and I was fairly certain it was before the ITV leaders debate between JC and BJ – so I did a search to ascertain when it was, and it was on November 16th, just a few days before the ITV debate, and I have no doubt whatsoever that Jeremy watched it and THAT is where he picked up on the fact that it was being pronounced Epsteen (as opposed to Epstein, as with The Beatles manager Brian Epstein).

    It’s somewhat ironic that Panorama, having done a Massive hatchet job on Jeremy and the Labour Party a few moths ago, should inadvertently come to his rescue and in effect expose the ludicrous accusation made against Jeremy for pronouncing it Epsteen. And if you weren’t aware of it, at the time of the leaders debate, David Baddiel – in relation to the way Jeremy pronounced it – twweeted ‘Every Jew watching noticed’ how Jeremy pronounced it, so if you have a twitter account, could you tweet him and ask him if every Jew watching the Panorama program last night noticed if everyone who took part in the program pronounced it Epsteen!

  • Allan Howard says:

    I actually posted the above comment on skwawkbox last night, and in fact ended up posting a few more comments in respect of this outrageous smear on Jeremy, so I hope you don’t mind if I put a link to the page so as to save me copying and pasting them on here.

    The Smearers went way too far this time, and no doubt did so because the power and control over the narrative that they’ve had for the past four years has totally gone to their heads and, as such, they think/believe they are invincible and can get away with virtually anything when it comes to smearing and vilifying and demonising Jeremy and the left of the party – ie his several hundred thousand LP member supporters. But THIS time there is incontrovertible proof that it was all a gynormous falsehood and a smear, and I’m sure that most of the millions of people who have been duped and deceived and brain-washed during the past four years, would understand that if the MSM and the Jewish newspapers and the CAA et al conspired in THIS particular falsehood, then what does THAT say about all the other claims and allegations of anti-semitism and the LP being infested with anti-semites etc that THEY have been disseminating and dissembling for the past four years or so.

    WE on the left know of course, and have done all along, and even though there’s only ten days left to go, please share the fact that Jeffery Epstein’s name IS pronounced Epsteen, EXACTLY as Jeremy pronounced it, as far and wide as possible, and especially amongst the Jewish community and, as such, free them from the worry and concern and consternation that the Smearers – to their eternal shame – have propagated in their quest to destroy Jeremy and his chances of becoming prime minister and undoing all the damage ‘they’ have done during the course of the past forty years and transforming our reality for the better:

    https://skwawkbox.org/2019/12/02/excl-video-boris-johnson-told-marr-he-opposed-labour-sentencing-release-laws-in-2003-and-2008-he-lied/

    PS And it could of course be included in a leaflet on the issue.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Afterthought: Re my two previous posts, it just occurred to me about ten/fifteen minutes ago that the most obvious way to distinguish between the two pronunciations of Epstein, is Epsteen on the one hand – as with Jeffery Epstein – AND Epstine on the other, as in Albert Einstein, or Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager (or Phyllis Stein, ahem). I mention it in case anyone is thinking of including this particular episode in a leaflet as an example of ‘their’ mendacity and machinations AND how totally corrupt and ruthless and totally devoid of empathy and anything remotely resembling a consciience ‘they’ are.

  • Richard Kuper says:

    I can no longer remember if Jeremy said Epstine or Epshtine. Who cares. Any way listen to this “antisemitic” portrait of Jacob Epstein. The first 5 seconds says it all:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i0KmOUKBHM

  • Allan Howard says:

    That’s rather odd Richard – ie you being so dismissive of Jeremy being smeared, yet again, and the possibility of using it – in light of the way it was pronounced by everyone in last night’s Panorama program, including Jeffery Epstein himself – to enlighten the millions of people who have been duped and deceived AND expose the smear campaign for what it is, and has been since the outset. Yes, very odd indeed.

    And Jeremy pronounced it Epsteen, exactly as it IS pronounced, so no wonder you couldn’t remember whether it was Epstine or Epshtine, because it was neither!

  • Richard Kuper says:

    I wasn’t being dismissive at all. There are many good ways of pronouncing Epstein. I hardly know which one to use when. I’m bemused that anyone can suggest that any of them is antisemitic, that’s all. I find the way Jeremy’s so-called wrong pronunciation is mobilised as an antisemitic trope desperate and beyond belief. I’m appalled at people who will throw anything they can get their hands on and call it mud; even more appalled that some of it seeks to stick against all the evidence, truth, reality…

    But why are we having this discussion on this thread in the first place and losing sight of the arguments and evidence being put forward here by Alan Maddison?

  • Allan Howard says:

    No one is losing sight of anything Richard. Exactly the opposite. Surely casting light on any of the darkness and fear that the Few and their minions create can only be beneficial, and anything that exposes their lies and falsehoods potentially free people from the lies and falsehoods and open their eyes.

    Their lies and falsehoods are concocted and designed to emotionalise the Many, because THEY know that once emotionalised, they can’t think rationally and their ability to reason goes out the window, and they don’t even know that it has.

    [This discussion is now ended! – JVL web]

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