This is our truth, tell us yours
We believe, as the proprietors of this blog, in discourse, in a process that tests hypotheses and tries to describe the world in a way that provides guides to action. Help us out with this short provocation.
A conversation we had today hinged on a simple question; was the minor furore about the way in which the man who aspires to be Britain’s first Jewish Prime Minister (Disraeli having converted) handled a bacon sandwich an unhappy accident or a way of highlighting that Ed Miliband is not one of us?
Stop and think about it. Labour has staggered into this trap before. Neil Kinnock was denounced as the Welsh windbag by the LOndon press. Gordon Brown was routinely described as Scottish, or a ‘son of the manse’ to make clear how un-English, how un-Anglican he was. Somehow, the quintessentially English party of Attlee, never quite at ease with Bevan or Cripps, had changed to accommodate leaders from ethnic or cultural minorities, and become more marginalized in the process.
So was the bacon sandwich an unhappy accident, or a subtle, sub-textual signal, akin to a dogwhistle but less blatant, that Ed MIliband is not one of us?
The question is important. The British Survey of Social Attitudes suggests we are becoming more racist, even as we become more at ease with people of mixed race in our society. Ryan Giggs may be black, and a hero to millions, but many of the same people who have his name on the back of their Man Utd replica shirts would agree with Nigel Farage about not wanting a family of Romanians living next to them. Understanding how someone can love Beyonce but hate migrant workers is about more than just shouting ‘racist’ at the tops of our voices.
For once, I don’t have an answer. I’m asking a question. Is the next election going to be shaped and decided by sub-textual messages about how Ed Miliband is weird, different and not like us? If it is, what will that say about us?