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  Opinion   Columnists  25 May 2024  Farrukh Dhondy | Will Labour dump Sunak on July 4? Ranking ‘degrees’ of prejudice futile

Farrukh Dhondy | Will Labour dump Sunak on July 4? Ranking ‘degrees’ of prejudice futile

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 : May 25, 2024, 12:43 am IST
Updated : May 25, 2024, 12:43 am IST

A dive into Labour's Israel stance, Diane Abbott's suspension, and evolving views on victimisation

Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party, Rishi Sunak waves as he arrives to speak at a general election campaign event at the ExCeL in east London, on May 22, 2024. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday set a general election date for July 4, ending months of speculation about when he would go to the country. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)
 Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party, Rishi Sunak waves as he arrives to speak at a general election campaign event at the ExCeL in east London, on May 22, 2024. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday set a general election date for July 4, ending months of speculation about when he would go to the country. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)

“The sea’s dark green yet its foam is white!

Such are the tricks of refracted light”

“A dead fish on the sand -- the gulls take it apart.

Nailed to a cross in a gallery -- people think it’s art”

“The worst Narcissistic conceit of humankind?

That God has an inventive, creative mind!”

From Who Was Allowed In? by Bachchoo

The general election in Britain has been called for July 4 by Prime Minister Hedgie Soongone. He probably made the announcement with fingers crossed and puja lamps lit after inflation in the UK fell to 2.5 per cent, calculating that this may turn back the tide of unpopularity sweeping his government.

It won’t. The Labour Party is still 20 per cent ahead in the opinion polls, though the media are looking for ways in which it could lose support.

One of these is the fact that very many of Labour’s potential supporters are not just disappointed but outraged at the Labour Party leadership’s pro-Israeli stance and deliberate fence-sitting on calling for a ceasefire and an end to the genocide in Gaza. Several Muslim Labour councillors have quit the party and have even stood against the party in the local elections and won.

On the same issue, friends of mine have said they won’t vote for Labour.

Will I? However critical I am of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his shadow cabinet’s stances, I can see no feasible alternative to rid this country of the likes of Hedgie, Cruella Braverman, Priti Patel and all the rest. It’s even possible that Labour in power will be pressured by its own membership to go further than calling, as it has now been pushed to do, for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian relief in Gaza. Of course, with their pro-capital stance, they won’t cut arms sales to Israel.

One issue that rankles with me and made me think of joining the abstainers is the continued suspension from the party of MP Diane Abbot. Who is she? The first black woman MP to enter Parliament. She represents Hackney, a London constituency. In April she wrote a letter to The Observer in response to a debate in the papers about racism.

Her letter said: “It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice. But they are not all their lives subject to racism. In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus. In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.”

The Jewish Board of Deputies labelled the letter anti-Semitic and even though Diane protested that it wasn’t the draft that she intended to have printed and apologised, the Labour Party said it was deeply offensive and withdrew the whip.

She hasn’t, having devoted her entire adult life to the party, been, to date, reinstated. (As far as I know the Redheads Against Nasty Descriptivity (RANDy) haven’t complained about Diane’s anti-hairshade-ism).

Both Diane in her letter and the Labour Party in its response seem to subscribe to a preoccupation of our times: an assessment of degrees of victimisation.

To my mind, it’s a futile preoccupation.

Yes, one recognises the fact that the Jews were enslaved by Babylon until they were freed by the Persian-Zoroastrian Emperor Cyrus and that Moses led them out of slavery in Egypt; that Africans were enslaved in the Atlantic trade in the “New World” is one of the tragic foundations of the modern world; that colonialism treated people badly; that discrimination against “untouchable” castes was imposed on Hindu populations for thousands of years; that homophobia is still rife in under-civilised human states and minds; that Travellers are characterised in negative ways; that certain nationalities or religions are the constant butt of jokes; that everywhere there is prevalent sexism, sizeism, ageism, class – snobbery… (We’re cutting it here. --Ed. Too much other examples, yaar… -fd).

But is there any measure, any scale, of historical prejudice, ill-treatment, racism etc?

Diane is obviously right when she says that being mocked for having Donald Trump hair is not as hurtful as being chained to a slave ship, whipped and starved. I could add that the “insult, injury and unsafe feeling” caused to delicate sensibilities on a campus through some faculty inviting a lecturer who doesn’t believe that trans-women are really women, are in any sense comparable to that lecturer losing her job as a consequence?

The latest case of comparative suffering through prejudice is that of “asexual people”. They call themselves “Aces” and in America, and now in the UK, organised groups of people who, for one reason or another, don’t practice sex, and want to be included in the LGBTQ+ categories. Some activists already in these initialled groups vehemently deny the Aces a space in this categorisation. They don’t want the collective expanded into LGBTQ+A! They don’t believe that the “Aces” face the same degree of prejudice as Ls or Gs or indeed Bs Ts Qs or +s.

Are they right in denying the “Aces” membership? Is there really some measure of degrees of prejudice, discrimination or hurt that has determined this exclusion?

I don’t think there can be. And yet, and yet, I can see that this preoccupation in our times of measuring and exposing “isms” is a healthy civilisational phenomenon, even though ranking prejudices is rank stupidity.

Reinstate Diane Now!

Tags: uk elections, rishi sunak british pm, israel palestine conflict