Miliband, the Mail and antisemitism, some points arising

Robin Richardson

Image © CC-BY

Antisemitism, it has often been said, is a light sleeper. Sometimes, though, and in certain places and circumstances, it slumbers for quite a long time, and is not immediately or widely recognisable when it wakes up. For whilst dormant it was taking on new tones and colourings, was acquiring a new repertoire of signals and cues, new nods and winks, it was fashioning new dog whistles. Those who give voice to it when it wakes after a longish sleep may not be consciously aware of what they are doing, or of the effect their words, references and imagery have on others. Read more of this post

Tory Hate and Red Tape-equality impact assessment and analysis

Robin Richardson 

Cameron CBI 2012

Copyright HarveyNash

On Monday 19 November the prime minister made a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). In it he made a claim which was at best disingenuous and at worst deceitful. Either way the claim was unlikely to rally his own core supporters, for they will quickly recognise that it was empty and misleading rhetoric. Further, it is extremely unlikely to give a valuable moral direction to society as a whole.

Mr Cameron claimed his government is going to abolish equality impact assessments (EQUIAs). This was naïve and misleading, or downright deceitful, because the decision to abolish equality impact assessments was formally taken on 8 April 2010, namely several weeks before Mr Cameron entered Downing Street two and a half years ago. That was the day the Equality Act 2010 received royal assent. EQUIAs ceased to be required from 6 April 2011, which was the day when the new public sector equality duty (PSED) established by the Equality Act came into effect.

However much he hates what he calls red tape, Mr Cameron cannot abolish a requirement that does not exist. So why did he mislead or lie to the CBI? Were he and his speechwriters simply mistaken? Or did they gamble on nobody in their audience, and nobody in the media, knowing or caring about the truth? And on the inability of people who do know the truth to make their voices effectively heard? Whatever his motivations and levels of knowledge and ignorance, what is the likely effect of his false claim? Read more of this post

Remember, remember, this month of November

Robin Richardson is a director of the Insted consultancy, and is the editor with Julian Petley of Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British media, published in 2011. 

UNESCO

Copyright Buster/Buddy Unesco HQ

On the evening of Monday 5 November  I returned to London from an international  conference in Paris. As the plane made its descent towards Heathrow, the city landscape beneath me was alive with the sparkle of fireworks. The conference had been at UNESCO’s headquarters and had been about addressing racisms, particularly the form of racism known as Islamophobia, in and through European and North American education systems. The fireworks across London were a sparkling reminder, anyway potentially and anyway in principle, that racisms containing a religious component have been alive and kicking in Europe for many centuries.

‘Remember, remember,’ we have said annually to children in Britain over the years, ‘the fifth of November.’ And we have added, sternly if ungrammatically, that we ‘see no reason/ why gunpowder treason/ should ever be forgot.’

We have too rarely, though, remembered to tell our children that there was a strong religious element in the mutual hostility that existed between King James on the one hand and the Gunpowder Plot ‘traitors’ on the other. And we have not remembered to refer, even obliquely, to present-day prejudices and intolerance which similarly are imbued with a religious component, for example Islamphobia. Nor have we remembered to point to the similarities and differences between Islamophobia and colour-based racisms. Read more of this post

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