Fascism gets nearer


This should be added to “The Coming of Fascism” http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/zb038.htm

 It maps onto that article perfectly.  Ivor Catt  26may02 



The Sunday Times - Review
 May 26, 2002

What the poor whites are telling liberal Britain
The handouts given to immigrants in places like Burnley do not look like such a fair deal to poverty-stricken locals, says John Lloyd
Burnleys reputation has been taken to heart. When I was looking over the files at the local newspaper office, a young man came in, amiable and feckless, and began talking to the woman at the counter  Im just out for a walk, me, and theres nowt to do. Theres nowt to do in Burnley. You dont want to walk out at night ere. Its not a great place, is Burnley. It could have been a comic parody.
Burnley, in a valley between Leeds and Manchester, has been put on the political map by its resentful whites and an ethnic conflict over public funds; a case study in how not to manage industrial decline and racial integration. The British National party has three councillors.

Burnley is a town that few know or visit. The textile industry faded, the nearby coal mines closed, the brightest and the best left. Quite a few of the post-1997 political elite have Burnley, or near, roots: Alastair Campbell, the voice of the government; Ian Hargreaves, the former editor of The Independent.

David Wild, a former head of communications for Nirex, is from nearby Todmorden. I was brought up on a totally white council estate in the 1970s, my dad worked for the gas board. He had his routine: dinner on the table when he got home; a settled life. That life disappeared for a lot of people in places such as Burnley in the 1980s, he says.

Official unemployment is low (3%) but the black economy is big. Most of the money on bad estates is drug money and its mainly white-controlled. The working-class sense of equity, of whats right, on these estates went in the 1970s and 1980s.

Burnley Wood, a district of late 19th-century artisans dwellings, is as grim and violent a place as you can see in Britain, with streets in which  in the middle of the day  men wander in vests and women in slippers, surrounded by burnt-out cars. The faces are all white: this is poor white country.

Poor Asian country is another region of similar houses. There is a ward called Daneshouse, which has had some money spent on improvements to the pavements and the lighting, and it is much livelier. Many more children are on the streets as well as elderly men and women who appear to have roles rather than mere existences.

Burnley Woods complaint about Daneshouse is that it gets the money from the council which it does not: that larger Asian families make claims on the social security and other budgets which their taxes cover; that Asian children, who have poor English, take up the time and funds in schools denied to their often struggling kids. In the junior school where Helen Clarkson teaches, where there are three Asian children out of 220, there is some sympathy for the BNP: They are just fed up with the situation.

Do immigrant communities take money and resources away from the indigenous population? Liberals tend to see this claim and the rest of the anti-immigrant litany as racial prejudice. But if you talk to alienated whites in areas of high immigration, what often emerges is an idea of justice that is at odds with the modern liberal state. They cling to a notion of justice based on the reciprocal obligations of a particular local (usually white) community which is acutely hostile to free riding, especially by outsiders.

This local idea of justice has been in retreat over the past 30 years, eclipsed by a more universal notion of rights and needs that assumes an equal affinity towards and between all citizens. And it is thanks to this that immigrants sometimes do better out of the welfare system: their needs  judged by incomes, number of children and so on  are greater even than those of many poor whites. The conflict between these notions of justice has been at its most acute in public housing.

Waiting for a council flat or house was, until the 1970s, part of the inherited package of rights for the respectable working class in big cities. Getting on the waiting list often required connections which, by definition, discriminated against immigrants. Municipal socialism worked for our people; until the rules were changed.

The mills in Burnley were its backbone and wealth. They produced a large and cohesive working class. The mill owners put up model housing  what are now the Burnley Wood and Stoneyholme districts. The Asians who came to Burnley and other mill towns from the late 1950s were an expedient by the textile manufacturers to stave off low-cost competition. The early immigrants were men: their need was for low-cost housing and they found it in the old Victorian quarters of these towns.

In Burnley, as elsewhere, the whites tended to move out. When the rest of the immigrants families came in the 1960s and 1970s, the Asians were often allocated council houses on grounds of need: today Daneshouse, ranked as the eighth poorest ward in Britain, benefits from a range of programmes that include housing grants for large families, which pay to convert two houses into one.

Immigrants have often been accused of putting whites out of jobs: that complaint is not loud in Burnley. It may be that the experience of mill work, taken by Asians when the wages were forced below what most whites would accept, has negated this kind of resentment. Asians and whites say that the drugs industry is employing a lot of young men. It is said to be strongest in the Stoops estate, which is almost wholly white.

Masood Ahmed Mirza, who stood as a Liberal Democrat in Daneshouse to keep out the BNP (he did), attributes the youth violence and riots last year to unemployment and drugs. A member of the local taskforce that produced a report on the riots in Burnley, he says: I dont think the riots were at root racist. When we dug into it we found that an Asian lad had been selling drugs and claimed he hadnt been paid by a white lad. Then the thing escalated and, of course, it became racial because there was a white gang and an Asian gang.

The most contested area after housing is education. The schools in Burnley are increasingly either white or Asian. Clarkson says white parents make it clear that they do not want their children to go to Asian schools and appeal if they are allocated to them: Parents say, The Asians get extra help in class for their English and thats taking away from my child. Its true there is language help, but its an extra resource and the white kids dont suffer.

Burnleys Asian schools have better results than many of the white comprehensives. Asian children tend to be hard working and striving. Mirza, himself a graduate, has five children all of whom went to British universities. Asian families seem to care more than the demoralised and sometimes fractured white families, whose sense of abandonment spreads to indifference about childrens attainments.

Ted Cantle wrote a report after last summers riots in Burnley, Oldham and Bradford that for the first time identified the white working class as an oppressed minority. The BNP also uses this idea, aping the language of multiculturalism.

Steve Smith, the local leader of the BNP, believes much of what is happening in his town is natural  everyone prefers their own. He confirms the view expressed by many that the BNP stood not so much on a racist programme as an anti-council one: The local council is Labour. The county council is Labour. People turn to us because they feel no connection with them. We, the BNP, put up councillors who everyone knew, local people. One BNP councillor is a former paratrooper who served in the Falklands; another is an engineer; the third is an office worker.

The BNP does not deny it is racist in the sense that it believes in the separation of the races and negotiated repatriation for Asians. It sees events such as September 11 as demonstrations of the truth of its views. Many whites dont seem to like, or want to try to like, their Asian neighbours. Mohammad Rafique Malik, the senior Labour Asian councillor in Burnley, thinks the divisions in the town have worsened since the 1970s: People have withdrawn into their own areas.

Like some of the loyalist communities in Northern Ireland, the white working class in places such as Burnley lacks leaders produced from within, except those who lead gangs. By contrast, there are Asian councillors and public figures such as Malik and Mirza who form a political elite in the town.

Net migration into Britain is rising (it fell in the 1960s and 1970s) and the children of recent immigrants will account for most of the population increase in the coming years. This will change the nature of some corners of the country and some whites will resent it.

Politicians cannot simply dismiss such grievances as illegitimate, even though they will often be expressed in unacceptable language. They need to acknowledge the truth as people experience it, including the fact that some immigrants do qualify for more funds than whites. They need to explain why this is without expecting poor whites to be happy. They must, above all, try to avoid race-based competition over public funds.

Some whites feel strongly that they have been the losers from immigration  and point out, not unreasonably, that they were never consulted about it. Although the BNP vote goes into the middle class, it has its roots among poorly educated, low-income whites. So far, thanks in part to its extremism, the BNP has not made national the sense of desolation and betrayal on which it thrives. Someone more respectable might try. Then we will discover how widespread the Burnley effect is.

This is an edited version of a piece in the June issue of Prospect. www.prospect-magazine.co.uk