Race gaffe row's tide of hate

Marc Wadsworth

It's amazing how my scoop about the race gaffe of Boris Johnson's top aide has uncovered the "nasty party" elements of the Conservatives. The-Latest and my personal email in-box have been flooded with an orchestrated tide of support for sacked James McGrath.

Messages have ranged from the Enoch Powell-type suggestion that I should "Go back home if I don't like it in Britain", a version of the slur which cost McGrath his job, to the hurtful and untrue statement that I, not McGrath, am "a racist", from a leading Tory blogger Dr Andrew Lilico. These are not the cuddly, hug-a-hoody people David Cameron would like us to believe his party has now become.

Some voters who, London mayor Boris Johnson acknowledged, hovered their pencil over his name before putting an "x" against it might now think the old political attack dogs are the true face of the "new" Conservatives. Britain has travelled a distance since the Anti-Racist Alliance, the Black-led all-party, all-faith movement I founded in 1991, helped parents Doreen and Neville set up their Stephen Lawrence campaign for justice after their son was murdered by racist thugs.

The Metropolitan police force, which bungled the investigation so badly that Stephen's killers are still walking the streets unpunished, has made moves to rid itself of "institutional racism". And a few other British institutions have attempted to do the same. But some white people are still incredibly touchy when Black people talk about racism  — to a point where, too often, they are prepared to shoot the messenger, as demonstrated by the current Torygate scandal at London's city hall.

When I put to McGrath that an influential Black columnist for the Voice newspaper suggested that older Caribbeans in London might want to go back to the islands from which they came after Johnson's election, surely the right response was for him to have said: "Neither Boris Johnson nor I would want that. Black people are an important and valued part of London and we want them to stay."

Instead, the arrogant apparatchik, who is himself an immigrant from Australia, snapped: "Well, let them go if they don't like it here." I was flabbergasted. Hadn't such talk from a public servant gone out of fashion decades ago?

But more important than firing an official who has embarrassed him on the issue of race, for which Johnson himself has been criticised over his past utterances, the mayor should now put into action his declared commitment to 'multiculturalism'.

He has a legal obligation to do this, starting with him adopting a race equality policy and senior advisers to put it in place - both of which he has so far failed to do.

See my television interview on ITV's London Tonight: http://www.itvlocal.com/london/news/?void=204011

Also: http://www.the-latest.com/the-latest-forces-sacking-of-race-gaffe-mayors-aide

* Evening Standard columnist Will Self wrote, of McGrath's infamous outburst: "Was this a racist remark? I suspect so - but that is largely because of prejudices of my own: McGrath is a white Australian right-winger, a notoriously racist breed."

He added: "How refreshing it would be to hear a politician admit that he or she has occasional racist or misogynistic thoughts, and recognises the need to counter them with meaningful and effective policies. It would certainly give one greater faith in their understanding - both of themselves and society around them."


9 Responses to "Race gaffe row's tide of hate"

chris's picture


Tue, 06/24/2008 - 10:56
<p><strong><u>Chris Gaynor</u></strong></p>I was shocked by yesterday&#39;s comments - some had legitimate points to raise while other contributors were simply mouthing off I feel as an excuse to voice their own inner demons! I was tempted to write my own version of what happened, but I felt that would be playing into their hands!


Tue, 06/24/2008 - 17:03
Oh please ... don&#39;t refrain. l&#39;m sure your version will be most informative and enlightening.<br />


Tue, 06/24/2008 - 16:59
<p>What an amazing &#39;journalist&#39; you are. Because you get&nbsp;  flooded with e-mails supporting McGrath, you attribute these to Torys and being orchestrated? Did it ever occur to you that many people simply don&#39;t agree with you and think you&#39;re totally wrong?</p><p>&nbsp; Yours ... non-orchestrated Labour. <br /></p>


Tue, 06/24/2008 - 17:28
<p>Exactly where was there any racism in his reply to a loaded question? Where did Mcgrath refer to race in his reply all he did was make a comment about people having free choice on whether they stayed or went.</p><p>It strikes me that the people who are obsessed with race forget one thing the predominant colour in this country is still white (not racist but fact)</p><p>If you were an immigrant in France you would be required to learn the language, abide by the rules and religion and make a contribution in the form of tax. This country on the other hand lets any Tom, Dick or Harry in, then gives them free housing, income, food and health support. </p><p>Oh by the way as a white person born in England, I don&#39;t want to live here either it is my choice whether I stay or go. My choice? I&#39;m emigrating to France where at least the politicians stand up for there indigenous population and don&#39;t cowtow to every other race, creed or colour&nbsp; </p>


Wed, 06/25/2008 - 10:48
<p>Dmarr, you&#39;re wrong on a number of things.</p><p>French immigrants who are not from the EU are required to sign a &#39;contract&#39; saying they will learn French, obey the law, etc. This doesn&#39;t guarantee anything though. And it doesn&#39;t bar entry.</p><p>The Government doesn&#39;t give free housing etc to immigrants. This is just something racists like to say to make them feel better. Some immigrants may qualify for benefits. Asylum seekers will get free housing. But most immigrants come here to work and have no interest in any state benefits. </p><p>And France seems very welcoming to immigrants. They have <a href="http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/imm_imm_pop_imm_as_per_of_sta_pop-immigrant-population-immigrants-percentage-state" target="_blank">more immigrants</a> than UK. And they seem very open to other religions <a href="http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=7990" target="_blank">especially Islam</a> (which isn&#39;t surprising as they have more Muslims than any other western EU country).</p><p>But from your message, you just sound like another racist who wants a white only country.</p><p>And as for McGrath. If he was so innocent why was he sacked? The reporter didn&#39;t sack him. Boris would have read the interview. If you want to blame anybody, blame Boris.</p>


Tue, 06/24/2008 - 20:26
James McGrath seems to have come to terms with his own folly in this affair and is quoted in the Australian press as having said &quot;I have fallen on my sword&quot; . Yet, from earlier comments and the ones attached to this story there are a number of bigoted, ill-informed, Conservative right-wing zealots who remain blind to McGrath&#39;s racism because uncomfortably for them it mirrors their own. It wasn&#39;t Marc Wadsworth or this intrepid site who sacked McGrath but your leaders Cameron and Johnson. Get a bit of backbone and challenge them. <br />

David Kendrick

Wed, 06/25/2008 - 00:57
It is unseemly to continue mentioning one&#39;s own &quot;scoop&quot;.Will Self is quoted in support. He is quoted as saying that he suspects McGrath&#39;s comment was racist. Self adds that he is prejudiced. He refers to McGrath as a white Australian. That sounds like prejudice, so I suspect Self is correct in his self condemnation.What baffles me is why one would use an admittedly ( self-styled?) prejudiced comment in support of what is supposed to be an argument against prejudice.&nbsp; 


Wed, 06/25/2008 - 20:30
Your glee&nbsp; in ruining the life of an innocent person is disturbing to see.This is clearly nothing more than an exercise in self-promotion to you.
Brian Dell's picture

Brian Dell

Wed, 06/25/2008 - 23:21
<p><font style="background-color: #e2e2e2">What&#39;s odd about this is that if it had been suggested to McGrath that the&nbsp; government&#39;s new&nbsp; tax policies concerning &quot;non-doms&quot; might lead to that group &quot;going back to&quot; its country of origin and McGrath had responded &quot;let them go then&quot;, that would have been 100% analogous and no one would have considered that a racist response.</font></p><p><font style="background-color: #e2e2e2">Of course, someone might say it is racist to&nbsp; assume that&nbsp; a person of a certain colour&nbsp; living in Britain has a home somewhere else &quot;to go back to&quot;, but it wasn&#39;t McGrath that made that assumption, it was Marc Wadsworth!&nbsp;  <em>But McGrath should have challenged Wadsworth&#39;s racist assumption instead of continuing with the hypothesis.</em>&nbsp;  Fair enough.&nbsp;  But shouldn&#39;t one spare some criticism for the party making that assumption (who, in fairness, may have been repeating someone else - <em>although how is the repetition of someone else&#39;s prejudice any less offensive; - if McGrath should have challenged Wadsworth why didn&#39;t Wadsworth challenge the </em>Voice <em>columnist as opposed to continuing with the hypothesis?&nbsp;  If, at the bottom of the chain, there is no prejudice or racism after all, where did it come in</em>)?&nbsp;  </font></p><p>What&#39;s even more ironic is that Wadsworth decides McGrath&#39;s country of origin is relevant to how to judge him, introducing it in the above post as explanatory of his &quot;arrogance&quot;.</p>