Friday, 3 October 2014

Ukip's Transfered Racism Claim against Labour

A leaflet issued by Ukip in the Heywood and Middleton By-election suggests that the Labour Party is guilty of transferred 'racism'.  The claim is based on the attitude of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party to the part now being played by its Scottish MPs in the UK parliament, in which these MPs from North of the border are allowed to vote on matters of specific concern to England, but that English MPs are not going to be allowed to vote on Scottish affairs. 

The text of this leaflet, while it may not be easily understood as a piece of election literature by the general public, shows some sophistication as an argument.  In his essay 'Notes on Nationalism' (in Polemic: May 1945) George Orwell introduced the idea of 'Transferred Nationalism' in which he argued that:
'The old-style contemptuous attitude towards "natives" has been much weakened in England, and various pseudo-scientific theories emphasising the superiority of the white race have been abandoned' [but] 'among the intelligentsia, colour feeling only occurs in the transposed form, that is, as a belief in the innate superiority of the coloured races.'

Orwell surmised then in 1945:
'This is now increasingly common among English intellectuals, probably resulting more often from masochism and sexual frustration than from actual contact with the Oriental and Negro nationalist movements.'

What the Ukip leaflet is claiming is that:
'In the 1990's the racist anti-English Labour government gave the Scots their own Parliament but denied one to the English.  This is anti-English racism [which] led to the West Lothian Question, where Scottish MP's could come to the United Kingdom Parliament and vote on laws that only affected the English.'

The result as Ukip say in their leaflet:
'Scots do not have to pay Tuition Fees or Prescription Charges, the English do.'

To be fair the Scottish National Party's MPs, as I understand it, do not vote on English matters in the House of Commons as a matter of principle, but the Scottish Labour MPs do vote on matters of specific concern to the English.  This is what is called 'The West Lothian Question'.

 Consequently Ukip is accusing Labour of anti-English 'racism', because it means the Scottish MPs can determine policies purely of concern to the English.  This similar to what Orwell was talking about when he accused some people like left-wing intellectuals of 'transferred nationalism' when they preferred the Soviet Union to their own country.  Similarly, the American municipal anarchist writer, Murray Bookchin (Society & Nature: 1994), observed:
'The 1960s also saw the emergence of yet another form of nationalism on the Left:  increasingly ethnically chauvinistic groups began to appear that ultimately  inverted Euro-American claims of the alleged superiority of the white race into an equally reactionary claim of the superiority of non-whites.'

Ukip accuses Labour:
'Now we have the scandal were the racist anti-English Labour Party can exploit the West Lothian Question for party political reasons, it can bring in racist Tuition Fees and prevent England being a Democracy by bussing in Scottish MPs into the UK Parliament to vote on English only issues.'

Thus Ukip call on people to 'Join the Fight Against Racism', and to end 'years of anti-English racism in the United Kingdom'.  It is a fascinating argument to be sure.

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