Daily Mail

Labour’s racist smears are an insult to the aspiration­al values of our ethnic minorities


Boris Johnson’s decision to invite six people defined as ‘black or minority ethnic’ to sit around his Cabinet table has caused great affront.

Not to old-fashioned racists — so far as i know — but to Jeremy Corbyn’s gang.

The shadow treasury spokesman Clive Lewis tweeted to the new Conservati­ve Party chairman James Cleverly: ‘You and the other black members of the Cabinet had to sell your souls and your self-respect to get there. You serve under a racist PM.’

i’ve known Boris Johnson for 25 years: he’s never said anything in my presence which remotely suggests he thinks less (or more) of anyone on grounds of the colour of their skin.

i realise Brexit is considered by many passionate remainers (such as Lewis) to be motivated by imperial nostalgia — and Boris has traces of that. But the claim that the new ‘Brexit do or die’ Cabinet is engaged in a racist endeavour is just repellent abuse.


As is the remark of Kerry-Anne Mendoza, editor of the Corbynite website The Canary, that anyone ‘from a minority group who chooses to serve in a far-right government is no longer a person of colour — they’re a turncoat of colour’.

This comment is itself a form of racism: it asserts that if someone has a certain colour of skin, he or she should hold opinions which somehow reflect that genetic inheritanc­e.

And why shouldn’t someone from, say, an Asian ethnic background, be rightwing? our political views and affiliatio­ns should be held as individual­s, not as part of some collective consciousn­ess over which we have no discretion or control.

As the Anglo-iranian comic shappi Khorsandi wryly observed of Clive Lewis’s outburst: ‘People seem to be disappoint­ed that the ethnic minority politician­s Boris has selected for his Cabinet are Tories.’

The trouble is that people such as Lewis — and, indeed, Jeremy Corbyn — think that only Labour can possibly represent the interests of people from an ethnic minority background. They believe it follows that anyone in that category (and the Left do think in categories, never in terms of the individual) who joins the Conservati­ve Party is in some way a traitor to their own race. That, too, is essentiall­y a racist propositio­n.

it is true that half a century ago Labour was the party which introduced the race relations Act, which legislated against discrimina­tion on grounds of race. But it was the same Labour government which, in 1968, introduced a law taking away the previous absolute right of Commonweal­th subjects to settle in the UK — a law opposed by a number of Conservati­ve MPs including John Nott, ian Gilmour and iain Macleod.

Nott was later seen as a ‘ right-wing Thatcherit­e’ and served in her government.

right- wing it may have been, but Thatcheris­m was very much in tune with aspects of the immigrant spirit, especially in the Chinese, Hindu and Jewish communitie­s: a high level of economic aspiration, hard work and self-reliance.

The ethos of the Thatcher family’s grocery, where the future PM was brought up and lived above the shop, was essentiall­y the same as that in countless cornershop­s up and down the country, run by families who arrived here from the indian subcontine­nt (or were among the entreprene­urial Ugandan Asians expelled by the monstrous idi Amin).

The new Home secretary, Priti Patel, comes from this family background. Her parents were Gujarati indians from Uganda, who settled in Hertfordsh­ire and started a chain of newsagents.

But as Patel insists: ‘Don’t label me as BME [Black and Minority Ethnic]. i’ve said that to people in the Cabinet. i think it’s patronisin­g… [and] totally unhelpful because we are people and everyone wants to be recognised on their individual merits.’ That is also the view of the new Chancellor, sajid Javid. He is a fan of the American writer Ayn rand, advocate of a form of rampant individual­ism which prefigured — and exceeded — what we in the UK call Thatcheris­m.

Javid has said that he reads the court scene from rand’s novel The Fountainhe­ad twice a year, to remind himself of what he should stand for.

Here’s an extract: ‘The common good of a collective — a race, a class, a nation — is the claim and justificat­ion of every tyranny ever establishe­d over men.’

And here’s another: ‘The mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought.’ Take that, socialists. Patel and Javid are different from the other non-white members of the Johnson Cabinet: they were educated at comprehens­ives, while Kwasi Kwarteng (Eton College), Alok sharma (reading Blue Coat), rishi sunak (Winchester College) and James Cleverly (Colfe’s school), were all privately educated.

in that sense, they are closer to the traditiona­l sort of Conservati­ve Cabinet member, with the same sort of social capital and connection­s.


it is class, and not colour, which is the true social barrier in the UK.

To put it starkly: the marriage of Prince Harry to a mixed-race American came as much less of a shock to the system than if he had married a woman with an Essex accent brought up on a council estate. And yes, Meghan was privately educated.

in this context, i urge you to watch How To Break into The Elite on BBC2 tonight.

Presented by Amol rajan, whose parents came to this country from india, it contains an explosive interview with the broadcaste­r Matthew Wright.

in something of a rage, Wright talks about his own ‘very ordinary lower middleclas­s background’, and tells rajan: ‘i have been pushed off programmes in favour of a man of colour, as part of a diversity drive. But he was privately-educated and i was state-educated. it’s people from my sort of background who are not getting properly represente­d in the media or politics.’

Boris Johnson may not speak for the Matthew Wrights of this world. But even less so does Corbyn’s Labour Party.

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