According to recent media reports, in the period just before and following the EU referendum in June, there was a 57% increase in the reporting of what are referred to as “hate crimes” to the police online reporting portal, compared with the same period in the previous month, with eighty-five reports made between Thursday, June 23, the day of the referendum, to Sunday, June 26.
Figures released on July 22 by the National Police Chiefs’ Council suggest that over six thousand reports of such crimes were made in the week before and the three weeks following the EU referendum. This is said to indicate a 20% increase on similar reports made in the first two weeks of July in 2015. In addition, the media was full of reports of racist attacks and other racist incidents perpetrated against people of Polish and other Eastern European heritage, as well as those of African, Caribbean and Asian heritage. Such incidents, which in some cases appear to be the work of the organised fascists, were often presented as in some way connected with the result of the EU referendum, rather than the racism and chauvinism that often characterised the campaign and climate that preceded and accompanied it. There was a clear inference that the vote to leave the reactionary EU was in itself somehow a reactionary act that had encouraged an atmosphere of chauvinism and racism. In this way an insidious campaign was promoted to create divisions and to promote confusion as to the source of racism in society.
One feature of the EU campaign was that it was dominated by the most backward representatives of the Westminster parties, indeed largely by the representatives of the Conservative Party. The racism and chauvinism of Gove and Johnson, for example, are well-known but so too is the national chauvinism of Cameron, Osborne and others. For many years, successive governments and the state in general have not only created the conditions for racism and chauvinism with the demonisation of migrants, refugees, Muslims and other minorities, but also with the promotion of so-called “British values” and the most backward views about other parts of the world which accompany attempts to realise the reactionary programme to “make Britain great again”.
Moreover, the ruling elites have actually spearheaded such attacks through the media, legislation, the introduction of the so-called Prevent Strategy, the treatment of migrants and refugee seekers, the actions of the police, the criminal justice system, as well as by other means. Even the latest Home Office figures show that “a black man is still five times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than a white man in England and Wales”, while in some parts of the country “black people” are “12.7 times more likely to be stopped than white people”, as quoted by the statutory body the Equality and Human Rights Commission in a report released on July 12. The same report states that the latest Ministry of Justice figures show that “the rates of prosecution and sentencing for the Black ethnic group were three times higher than for the White group”, and that “40% of prisoners aged under 18 were from the Black, Asian, Mixed or ‘Other’ ethnic groups in England and Wales during 2014 to 2015”.
A cursory glance through modern British history shows that racism is the preferred policy of the ruling class and their state and is promoted and implemented to serve their interests. Racism is employed to create divisions amongst the working people, to act as diversion but also to attack one section of the people in order to attack the rights of all. It has also always been in their interests to promote the view that it is not the rich and their state but the workers who are the source of racism and that what is required is more action by the rulers, their state apparatus and governments.
It is in this context that on June 29 the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated that the government would “soon publish a new action plan on tackling hate crime to step up our response”, including “new steps to boost the reporting of hate crime and to support victims” and other measures. The new Prime Minister has made similar claims regarding tackling discrimination and injustice, while on July 25 the new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, also spoke about the measures which the Home Office is proposing to introduce, the so-called “Hate Crime Action Plan”. It is however noteworthy that despite the organised nature of many of the recent racist incidents no arrests of the likely organisers have been made.
What experience shows is that no faith can be placed in the hypocritical words of governments, or other representatives of the state, to the effect that they wish to tackle or remove the scourge of racism, while in deeds they continue to de-humanise refugees, migrants, Muslims and other minorities, create the conditions for racism and racist attacks, or carry out such attacks through the apparatus of the state. With the increasing irrationality of the messages from Westminster and the lack of any coherent legislation defending the rights of all, it is small wonder that racism has increasingly been fostered and that the promotion of neo-Nazi organisations comes and goes.
Experience also shows that it is the working people of all nationalities that stand opposed to racism, which the working class has always seen as being inimical to its interests. What must now be resisted are all attempts to create divisions amongst people on the basis of how they voted in the EU referendum, or to demonise those who voted to leave the reactionary EU. At the present time what is required is further discussion to clarify the source of racism and to build the maximum unity in action in defence of the rights of all.