Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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Triangulation Approaching Zero
Immigration may not be the only relevant issue here, but it's the obvious one - not least because it reportedly played such a large role in the Brexit vote.

Immigration is one of those cases where the evidence seems to be almost all on one side, and perception very largely on the other. Without immigrants, the NHS (and plenty of other services and industries, not least in agriculture) would fall over tomorrow. Immigrants more than pay their way in taxes: they're an economic good. Where immigration has led to problems (for example in Lincolnshire) it's because immigrants are perceived to be taking houses, school places, hospital beds, and other things from people who already live here. But, since it's the job of government to provide those things (with the taxes that immigrants among others pay), shouldn't the government rather than immigrants be getting the blame?

That is the burden of Corbyn's song, and it seems a no-brainer to me. However, while many people in Labour would agree on the facts, they argue that the perception matters more. These people believe that the general population is too stupid, or too racist, to be persuaded - that they are in fact intractable in their opposition to immigration and that, this being the case, the Labour party must set out its stall against immigration too, as a sop to the ignorance and prejudice of its core demographic.

This is called realism - or triangulation, if you prefer. To me it seems a hugely patronising attitude. It also seems like appeasement, if not of racism then of ignorance, but more likely both. It's a doomed strategy too, because no matter how "tough" Labour may be on immigrants UKIP will always be tougher: there's no winning on that wicket. It's lazy, because it foregoes the real job of trying to persuade people in favour of making "the right noises." It's fundamentally dishonest, because it involves blaming immigrants for a situation that these people know (and privately acknowledge) is the result of government policy. Finally, it's just plain wicked, because no matter how anodyne a packaging you wrap it in, it's going to sow mistrust and almost certainly abuse and violence too (those things the right wing of Labour has spent all summer decrying) - all in the hope of swiping a few, halfhearted votes. And the people who advocate it know this.

Yes. The contempt that attitude betrays for almost all fellow-citizens, one way or another, is ... I would say "startling" but in fact I'm not startled any more. Hang in there, and I hope you get through to fellow-members.

I couldn't agree more.

And I don't know how Labour will get this truth across through the filter of a hostile and xenophobic media - but it's their job to at least try...

For some reason, our local Spar convenience store keeps trying to give away copies of the Sun. The first time I was offered a complementary copy, I almost shouted, "No!" in a rude way that is not like me at all. The next time it happened I did manage a polite, "No thank you!"

I can only imagine that we're on the fringe of the Liverpool ban on sales of the Sun newspaper and the paper isn't selling well here. If only the same was true elsewhere. :(

Thank you.

Most of the serious discussion I've seen of "So why are so many people supporting Trump, really?" comes down to the same xenophobic perception of immigrants.

It's even less justifiable on this side of the pond, because the US is less built on the idea of a unified cultural heritage than the UK is, though there are certainly people who try to claim that we are.

On the topic of cultural hegemony, one of Trump's few Hispanic supporters went on TV and warned that his culture is very dominating. If they aren't stopped, he said, there'll be taco trucks on every corner. The near-universal reaction to this warning was, "Sounds delicious to me!"

the Labour party must set out its stall against immigration too, as a sop to the ignorance and prejudice of its core demographic

That's a very middle-class, elitist way of looking at it. It's also an example of black and white thinking. Basically you're saying that the choice is to stop immigration and send all the foreigners home or we open our doors to everyone!

What Labour needs to do is to listen to the old Labour voters who are abandoning Labour and voting UKIP. Since George Brown's infamous "bigot" comment, the Labour party have smugly considered themselves superior to the ignorant working class voters whilst relying on them to keep voting Labour to keep them in jobs.

The old industrial working class areas, especially in the North and South Wales have deep-seated problems which have not been addressed and the local people have not been listened to. That has left them open to being seduced by the simplistic racist rhetoric of UKIP and worse.

You can't persuade most people with facts and figures. You need to appeal to their emotions and if Labour don't learn to do that and persuade people in language that speaks to them, then the party is doomed.

That's a very middle-class, elitist way of looking at it.

Yes, that's my point.

As far as engaging the emotions is concerned, I agree that that's important: it seems to me that there should be enormous scope for this. The huge and increasing disparities in wealth in this country, between individuals and between regions, are not accidental, nor is the fact that social mobility has reduced, or that most working-class young people can look forward to a lifetime of debt if they try to go to university (for example). The doctrinaire refusal to support manufacturing, the centralised management of the economy by unaccountable figures - all these are worth getting angry about, as is the slow asphyxiation of public services by an ideologically driven austerity programme that has failed even in its own terms (that of clearing the deficit).

Meanwhile, there are people who are doing very nicely out of all this, whom working class communities might rightly direct their resentment at. But they aren't immigrants.

Edited at 2016-09-29 01:03 pm (UTC)

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