Monday, 9 April 2012

born and bred

Adrian Windisch, of the Reading Greens, has this to say about the row over Reading Labour's racist campaign in Church ward.  He cites four party websites, Conservative and LibDem, which use the phrase "born and bred" to describe their candidates.  He omits to mention that two of those, Twickenham and Peckham, use the phrase precisely to refer to race, and to indicate that the candidate they are promoting is black, without saying so.  The Greens are a party which does not exactly have an honourable record on race.  They are a Europe-wide movement, and have been in government in several countries.  In  Latvia they were overtly racist in government, promoting the expulsion of all Jews from Latvia (the SS had previously done a pretty good job of that).  Adrian Windisch's own heritage is I believe Baltic Jewish.  Why did his ancestors leave?

Even if the phrase "born and bred" was in widespread use in party literature promoting candidates in a neutral sense, to refer simply to the place the candidate comes from - and Mr Windisch's examples indicate that it is not - it has not been so used in Reading, and is not being so used in this election.  Labour's other leaflets are not using the phrase.  They chose to use it in Church ward because of who the Conservative incumbent councillor is.  And they, and we, know precisely why they did so.  No one has a monopoly on language.  But its use can kill.

Church ward in Reading has a Labour councillor.  He is called Paul Woodward.  He is not standing for election this year.  He should publicly distance himself from Reading Labour's racist leaflet.  That is the only honourable thing to do.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is becoming a King Charles Head with you Jane. Let it go, it is a dead parrot. You now drag in the Greens, a party for which I have no time but I still feel that they should have a fair chance in an election and I expect them to win the remaining seat in Park Ward now that the incumbent Labour Councillor has retired.

"Racism" is one of those mud sticks words, like Commie in bygone days and tends to put the onus of disproof onto the accused in direct contradiction of the presumption of innocence. It is beneath someone of your intellect and I cannot help but feel that this crusade of yours is motivated as much by a large bunch of sour grapes against the Reading Labour Establishement than any love for the Labour/Tory Councillor for Church Ward who is likely to lose his seat in this May's Local Elections on the national anti-Labour swing if for no other reason as this marginal ward moves back to Labour from Tory.

Dare I to adapt the famous words addressed to Lord Birkenhead when he was making too much of an issue "Chuck it Smith" but substitute "Jane" for his name?

Jane Griffiths said...

You can say what you like. I have hardly "dragged in" the Greens - they chose to get involved by making comments, as you have. My motivation is to speak out against racism wherever i see it. I've no "love" for the incumbent councillor in Church, why on earth would I. I don't understand your point about "sour grapes" - what on earth do Reading Labour have that I could possibly want? When we see wrong being done we can speak out and try and stop it, or we can do nothing. Er that's it.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, I well remember the use of language in the 1992 GE in Cheltenham by the Liberals against Taylor; or the 'straight choice' language used in Bermondsey by the same party against Tatchell (by a closeted candidate as we now know - the irony!). It is a proud tradition by parties of all persuasions - and to be deplored in the same, albeit humble way.

What all the commentators seem to ignore is the fact that most non political households do not spend an evening reading election leaflets. They wil vote on national and local issues, their sense of who is the best candidate etc. A dog whistle can only work if someone hears it and most ordinary folk don't (if indeed they are a 'dog'). By publicising these issues there is a risk of doing the dirty work of the racists for them. Well done you! Have another Gin.

Jane Griffiths said...

Let's get this straight. A leaflet has been widely distributed to households in Church ward. and I am wrong for "publicising" it? Isn't a leaflet supposed to do just that, publicise what its creators, in this case John Howarth's Public Impact Ltd, want publicised, namely that their candidate is white and the Conservative one is not? Most people don't pay attention to election leaflets, you say, so if they use racist dog-whistle language that;'s fine, because no-one will read it, but if someone refers to it on a blog they are doing the racists' work? Excellent doublethink. Can I get some of the mind-altering substances clearly being distributed in Reading Labour Party?

Anonymous said...

Why has gin been brought into it? I have never seen Jane drink gin of any description. Are you speaking about Martin Salter? Does he drink it? And with what and with whom does he drink it?