Whenever I hear the howls of outrage from any of the mainstream parties in response to pretty much anything that UKIP leader Nigel Farage says nowadays, you can probably take it for granted that Mr Farage has had the temerity to confront another one of the innumerable and often wholly unnecessary social and legal guidelines that have been laid down by the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties over the years.
Today, the cause of the mainstream parties public angst appears to have been in response to Mr Farage's announcement, via a soon to be screened television program, that were he in a position to do so, he would repeal some of the UK's work related racial discrimination legislation, much of which seems to have been around since the mid 1960's and that have been regularly amended and updated right through to 2010.
Perhaps rather predictably both Labour and the Conservative coalition have reacted with shock and horror to the prospect of their beloved and highly prized legislative measures being threatened with extinction, with Downing Street expressing its "deep concern" whilst noting that "Nigel Farage is wrong and desperate for attention. The laws are there to protect people from racial discrimination".
For their part, Labour's Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan, stated "Mr Farage's comments were one of the most shocking things I have ever heard from a mainstream politician" before going on to remind people "of the huge progress that has been made in tackling inequality and discrimination in this country, partly due to Labour's anti-discrimination laws, although things are still far from perfect". The Shadow Justice Secretary was also careful to tell people, yet again, that as the son of immigrants "When my parents first moved to London, they frequently saw signs saying No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish; and that what UKIP are suggesting would take us back to those days"
Another minor public figure who voiced their anger over Mr Farage's comments was Humza Yousaf, a Scottish government minister (apparently) who tweeted "If it talks like a racist, develops policy like a racist and wants to discriminate like a racist, chances are it is a racist party. @UKIP". Meanwhile, Yvette Cooper, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary also took to Twitter to comment "Farage on @BBCr4today opposes race equality law; he wld actually make it legal to discriminate on colour of skin. Appalling, even for him!"
What is particularly interesting about this current row over something that Nigel Farage has said, is that it completely overlooks the basic fact that discrimination of all types, gender, racial, ethnic and religious, continues to exist and thrive in our country, irrespective of any laws that people like David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, Humza Yousaf, Yvette Cooper, in fact name your politician, might choose to pass through parliament. I have said it before on this blog and I'll say it again "YOU CANNOT EVER LEGISLATE FOR PEOPLE'S PERSONAL PREJUDICES!
Like it or not individuals are still denied employment and accommodation because of their ethnicity, race, religion or gender; and anyone who claims otherwise is an out and out FOOL! Similarly, anyone who believes that discrimination doesn't exist in the Asian, Black or White communities is a liar, or is just seriously deluded. Is anyone really going to suggest that racial discrimination didn't play some part in the industrialised sexual abuse of white girls in Rotherham, Rochdale or Oxfordshire? Does anyone really believe that thousands of Black youngsters are not routinely denied employment or training opportunities just because they happen to be the wrong colour for the employer? Just how many employers would offer a job to a female candidate who arrived for an interview dressed from head to toe in traditional Islamic attire? So, if the existing anti-discrimination laws work so well, are so successful, then why do individual acts of discrimination occur every single day of the week, along the full length and breadth of our country?
The truth is that individual people do still discriminate against others, whether because they're Black, Irish or even Dog owners. They discriminate against people over jobs, over accommodation, over their individual treatment, over their forms of dress, or even how they're treated as human beings, as has been seen in the recent child sexual exploitation cases, where white girls were generally regarded as "trash" by the perpetrators, to be used and abused by male members of a minority ethnic community. So just what good did the anti-discrimination laws do those thousands of girls who were ruthlessly abused over several years? In fact, what good did any of our parliamentary legislation do them, while they were being raped, trafficked and assaulted? The answer for Sadiq Khan, Yvette Cooper and Humza Yousaf is, they did nothing at all.
Does anyone really imagine that a prejudiced person is going to be so explicit as to tell a Black, Asian or White applicant "F*ck off I don't like your colour", or that they're going to tell a female candidate "You can sod off, because I don't want women in my business"? Just because our society is supposedly governed by anti-discrimination legislation, it doesn't mean that the discrimination has gone away, or has been defeated, it simply means that those who are minded to discriminate against others have become much more subtle and secretive about their personal prejudices and how on earth would you ever prove that in a court of law?
I find it particularly ironic that the Labour Party, those paragons of equality; and home to the likes of Sadiq Khan and Yvette Cooper, who have had much to say about Mr Farage's remarks, seem to have no problem with discrimination, when it suits them or their party. After all, isn't this the same Labour Party that regularly uses Women-only short lists for potential parliamentary seats, ensuring that electoral candidates are not nominated on their innate abilities, but on the fact they happen to have a vagina, rather than a penis?
While nobody doubts that women represent half of the electorate and are more than equal to men when it comes to running the country, there is a certain irony in the fact that the Labour Party need to deliberately manipulate their internal party processes and purposefully discriminate against men, in order to somehow prove that much talked about female equality. So you have the Labour Party who opposes discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, ethnicity and colour, apparently discriminately choosing candidates purely on the grounds of their religion, gender, ethnicity and colour? You really couldn't make this stuff up!
Just as an aside, but still related to both Labour and the Conservative coalition. It is worth remembering perhaps that much of the resentment, fear and irrationality about foreigners in Britain has generally resulted from large scale inundations of immigrants to the country, orchestrated by politicians over the heads and without the permission of the native population. Whether it was the large scale Irish migration of the 19th century, the pre-Second World War invasion of refugees from Europe, the post World War II inundation from the Caribbean, or the tsunami encouraged by the Labour government of Tony Blair. Each and every time our country has been subject to a massive foreign inundation, or flood, of migrants, intolerance and underlying racism will inevitably follow, not because the British people hate them as people, but because they fear them and the unwarranted changes that they will bring. And the British governments, ALL governments, both Labour and Conservative, who are directly responsible for these unwanted invasions into our country, do little or nothing to mitigate the damage that these inundations cause to our country, save for introducing even more statutory measures to help suppress through law the British people's underlying and genuine concerns.
Back to the point, in truth of course, the point that Nigel Farage was trying to make, before the matter was maliciously hijacked as an electioneering gimmick by the three mainstream parties, was that there is nothing wrong with a British employer deliberately choosing a British worker over a foreign one, much the same as former Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, called for "British jobs for British workers". Perhaps recognising the true state of the UK's work related anti-discrimination laws; in that they are possibly some of the most ineffective and unenforceable legislation ever devised, Farage was reported to have said that he personally might be minded to sweep some of them from the statute book, given that most UK employers are already bogged down by mountains of unwieldy and often unnecessary employment regulations, which bring their own costs but very little by way of benefit for companies.
Would that make a significant difference to our society, to how people are treated as a result of their ethnicity, religion, colour or gender, when it came to their applying for a job, or finding somewhere to live? For myself, I'm not sure that it would, simply because those who hold racist views or attitudes are unlikely to allow statutory regulations to get in the way of their own intolerance. A landlord or landlady who doesn't want to rent a room or a property to a Black person, an Irish person, or indeed a dog doesn't have to be so brazen as to advertise the fact by posting a notice in their front window, or by telling the would-be applicant "No, I don't want your kind here!" Instead, all they would do would be to offer some plausible excuse to the enquirer, as to why the couldn't have the accommodation; and challenge them to prove that any form of discrimination had taken place.
Likewise, it would be hard to imagine an inherently racist or sexist employer being so blunt as to inform a Black, Asian or Female candidate that they hadn't got the job they'd applied for, simply because they were Black, Asian or Female. Indeed, it's much more likely that such an employer would discount any such candidates upon receipt of their CV and how would any candidate really know if their rejection was as the result of racial or sexual discrimination either way? Of course having the various Race Relations and Equality Acts in law simply serves to act as a "comfort blanket" for our legislators, allowing them to believe that we now live in a far more equitable, multicultural and enlightened society as a result of having such statutory obligations in place. One suspects though that the reality is very different; and despite what Nigel Farage may or may not say on the matter, if the likes of Sadiq Khan, Yvette Cooper and other elected representatives truly believe that they've somehow solved the problem of the underlying racism, homophobia, sexism and general discrimination that exists within our society, then they're probably even more deluded than I imagined.
As a footnote to this, it should be deeply disconcerting for any right-minded British democrat that this particular story is being so ardently pursued by the BBC, who have not only released excerpts of the interview weeks before its planned release; and during a general election campaign, but who have also chosen to ask the most unexpected commentators to offer their views on the subject during various newscasts and programs. Quite why a spokesman from the Muslim Council of Britain was asked to offer comment on Mr Farage's remarks, along with edited sound-bites from Ed Miliband and David Cameron is a complete mystery, as to my knowledge the MCB has no publicly elected officials and only represents a minority ethnic constituency within the country as a whole. "Mountains out of molehills" comes to mind with regard to the BBC's discriminatory coverage of the affair, which given the corporations requirement to offer balance and impartiality to all political groups must seriously bring into question its suitability to continue to act as the nation's principal broadcaster.