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  Opinion   Columnists  16 Jul 2022  Farrukh Dhondy | If Conservatives pick ‘ethnic’ PM, will racism in Britain be less?

Farrukh Dhondy | If Conservatives pick ‘ethnic’ PM, will racism in Britain be less?

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : Jul 16, 2022, 11:55 pm IST
Updated : Jul 16, 2022, 11:55 pm IST

Gentle reader, it seemed and even now is quite possible that one of these ethnic candidates will be the next Prime Minister of the UK

Rishi Sunak (Photo: AP)
 Rishi Sunak (Photo: AP)

Oh Bachchoo, the hidden, the unseen

Can cause so much pain

The absence of a lover

The truth left unsaid

The past we can’t recover

The fleas in the bed...”

— From Kaley Koo Aagey Dhaklo, by Bachchoo

Marvel at this statistic, gentle reader: Of the eight candidates standing to be leaders of the Conservative Party and consequently Prime Ministers of the UK, four are women! Hang on!

That’s not anything! Britain has already had two women Prime Ministers. No, no, no — the statistic I was drawing attention to was that six of the 11 candidates who had entered the competition to be Prime Minister are from the ethnic minority communities of this sceptred isle. I am of course mentioning them only as the initial entrants to the race.

Who are or “were” these … as some have been eliminated?

Rishi “Hedgie” Sunak is a second-generation immigrant Indian as his parents came to Britain from Africa. Nadhim Zahawi is first generation Iraqi, Suella “Supinella” Braverman’s father is Goan and mother Tamil, and Kemi Badenoch is a second generation Nigerian. As I write, three of the ethnics have been eliminated through the selection process. Suella is no longer in the race and Sajid Javid and an R. Chishti chucked their hats in the ring but didn’t have the threshold of votes to enter.

By the time you read this, there will still be five candidates left in the race, to be whittled down next week through successive votes by all Tory MPs, as at each daily vote from Monday on, the one with the least votes has to go, till only two are left standing.

Then, over six weeks, all the 160,000 members of the Conservative Party in the country will vote for the winner, and thus the next PM, and the next government. This, in a country of 65 million souls (and counting). That’s one Brit manifestation of modern democracy.

The result will be out on September 5, 2022. So, it’s not my purpose, gentle reader, to speculate on which candidate I prefer above the others, or to tell you who I think or hope will win! (Oh… Okay, I relent… I like Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mourdaunt — they are the least fascistic and least economically inclined to rampant and corrupt capitalism. And my prediction of the final two? Hedgie vs Mordaunt or maybe Hedgie and Liz Truss, the foreign secretary.

So, yaaron… what’s my point about the ethnics in the race? Getting there! Hedgie is a speculative hedge-fund operator — in other words, a gambler on the stock markets. Sajid is the banker son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver who exploited the dodgy, “legal” financial systems of the UK on behalf of his banks and himself. Zahawi is another financial climber who has been the director of two failed, criminally prosecuted capitalist companies. The women who joined the race through 20 nominations of their fellow MPs — Supinella and Kemi Badenough — are both meritocrats who went through the elite systems of British education, made themselves professional careers and married rich and influential men within Britain’s now-flexible class system.

This list of candidates, and the enthusiasm shown by Tory MPs for them, should say to the world that in Britain meritocracy seems to trump racism. Immigrants are the second wave of this meritocracy. The post-World War II British working classes were, in general terms, the first. Of course, before them there were individuals like D.H. Lawrence who socially transcended the destiny of his miner family and hobnobbed with the Bloomsbury set.

That individuality turned into a current when the sacrificial working class of Britain rejected their war hero Winston Churchill and voted in a Labour government under Clement Attlee and Labour politicians who promised a national health service and compulsory universal education.

Remember the “kitchen sink” playwrights and novelists of the two decades after World War II? They wrote about miners’ sons unable to discuss the literature they had acquired at university with their parents.

The pattern had been established. The Britain of the latter half of the twentieth century pulled millions of working-class children into the professions and into what is, culturally at least, the “middle class”. If Charles Dickens had returned to those decades as a ghost, his jaw would have dropped to testicular levels.

And then on came the immigrants — working the jobs the Brit working class had abandoned. Britain had and has a reputation for being racist, but that term has is flexible. Was the absolute defeat of Oswald Mosley’s Nazi appeal, its relegation to the dustbin of history by the public of Britain some indication? And then in 1968 there was Enoch Powell who played the race card, and was again relegated to the garbage can of politics?

And so, to the current list of Prime Minister aspirants.

Gentle reader, it seemed and even now is quite possible that one of these ethnic candidates will be the next Prime Minister of the UK. Will I, as a fellow ethnic, rejoice? Will the redundant Mirpuri mill workers of Yorkshire and Lancashire raise a glass of … err… non-alcoholic wine?

Did the black population of the United States feel that all history was reversed and its injustices would recede when Barack Obama was elected President?

Meritocracy may trump racism, but it won’t overcome the dogmatic bias of Conservative capitalism. A swine by any other colour…!

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