sweatshops

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Dan Hodges Lies about Liberal Left Hating White Working Class

Yesterday I put up a piece attacking ‘Celebrity Radio’ host Alex Bellfield, who had falsely claimed that ‘lefties’ had done nothing about the sweatshops in Leicester. As I explained in my piece, the problem wasn’t with the left. The Labour MP for Leicester East, Claudia Webbe, had talked about the problems with the area’s sweatshops in a Zoom online meeting on Saturday afternoon organised as part of the Arise festival of the Labour Left. Webbe made it very clear that she and others had tried to get the authorities to act about the appalling conditions and low pay in the city’s garment industry, but they were ignored.

Now another right-wing hack is also spreading lies about the ‘liberal left’. Yesterday a video appeared on my YouTube page from Talk Radio. This one had had the title ‘Dan Hodges – Liberal Left View White Working Class as the Enemy’. Hodges is a writer for the Daily Mail. Such is the quality of his journalism that readers of Zelo Street know him as ‘the celebrated Blues artist Whinging Dan Hodges’. It’s an old chestnut. The Tories have been pursuing this line for years. Way back in 2003/4 the Spectator was publishing pieces like ‘Blackened Whites’ about how anti-racist activists were maligning the working class. These articles contained lines such as ‘there is only one minority not welcome under Labour on the streets of central London – White men’. They also opined about how the Left despised working class Whites because of their patriotism, amongst other values.

This is a flat-out lie. It was another one that was shown as such by the speakers at Saturday’s conference. The first of these was Black Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy. She gave a superb speech making it clear that Labour stood for the working class in all its diversity, and that we should not allow the working class to be divided. It was a theme repeated again and again by nearly all the speakers there, including, I believe, Corbyn’s deputy, John McDonnell.

Owen Jones, the bete noir of the rabid right, made the same point in his brilliant book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class. He dispels accusations of racism made against the unions during a strike. I’ve forgotten the precise details, but the media presented it as if it had been caused by White workers refusing to work alongside Blacks and Asians. In fact the reverse was true. The strike had been called by the union partly because of the exploitation of BAME workers. There is racism in the working class,  and a feeling of marginalization. The latter has its roots in the way New Labour turned its back on the working class in order to chase middle class Tories. This created a constituency of White, low-skilled, working class people in their fifties for UKIP. See the excellent study of that particular piece of populism when it was led by the Fuhrage, Revolt on the Right.

I don’t believe Black Lives Matter has helped this situation. Although the demonstrators have repeatedly stressed that they are not against Whites – I’ve mentioned the meme of the cute little Black girl holding a placard spelling this out – and there was another placard with the slogan ‘We’re Not Trying to Start a Race War – We’re Trying to End One’, unfortunately that is the impression some BLM protests make. The right-wing put up another video a few days ago about a group of BLM protesters demonstrating against White privilege in Birmingham. The photograph for that video showed a White middle-aged women waving a placard with the slogan ‘Use your White Privilege for Good’. This is particularly tin-eared. Whites and ethnic minorities are not homogenous communities occupying distinct places in the social hierarchy. While Whites generally have higher status, better jobs and education, and are more prosperous than Black, this is certainly not uniformly the case. Some ethnic groups, such as the Chinese, outperform Whites. Indians are only slightly behind Whites in society as a rule. Muslims and Blacks are at the bottom, but nevertheless there are many Whites who are as poor or poorer than parts of those ethnic groups. And the worst performing group at school are White working class boys. By waving such placards, the protesters appear to show that they are indeed elite middle-class Whites with a hatred of the working class. But if they do, those protesters do not speak for all left-liberals.

The Labour left support the White working class, just as they support all the disparate communities of the working class. The Tories don’t. They only appear to in order to garner votes, fostering racial antagonism in a very cynical policy of divide et conquera. As we’ve seen over the past ten years of Tory rule, they have cut welfare benefits, frozen pay and introduced mass unemployment and job insecurity to Whites as well as Blacks and Asians, while at the same time lying to them in the pages of the Scum, the Heil, Torygraph and Spectator that they are really defending them. It’s a classic piece of misdirection that the racist elites have done for centuries. In 17th century America the colonial rulers after Bacon’s rebellion found a way to prevent White indentured labourers joining forces in revolt with Black slaves: they simply defined Whites legally against Blacks, but gave them no extra rights nor privileges. White indentured labourers were as exploited as before, but it worked. Whites felt themselves to be superior and no longer joined Black revolts quite as they did. Although many White working people, as well as liberal Whites further up in the social hierarchy could still have considerable sympathy for Black slaves. James Walvin in one of his books on slavery has a passage from a 19th century article stating that in Scotland, the women who demand slave emancipation are working class.

The likes of Hodges have been lying to Black and White for a long time. It’s time we stopped listening and exposed this lie for what it is. Working people of all colours unite – you have nothing to lose but your chains, as Marx could have said.

 

Conservative Radio Host Smears Left Over Leicester Sweatshops

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/07/2020 - 12:34am in

For some reason unknown to me, my YouTube keeps putting up videos from Alex Belfield. Belfield’s the Conservative host of the ‘Celebrity Radio’ channel, which regular attacks the left. And this afternoon up came one of his videos with the title ‘Leicester 10000 on £2 an Hour Where’s the Left’. This obviously refers to the garment sweatshops in Leicester which were at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak a few days ago. It was revealed on the news coverage about them that their employees work far less than the minimum wage in appalling conditions. Clearly they’re a scandal, and something should have been done about them long ago. So where were the left when these people needed protection?

From what I’ve heard, they were trying as hard as they could to get something done about these places, and were ignored. I went to the conclusion of the Arise Left Labour festival on Zoom on Saturday. There were some great speeches by some really great left Labour politicos – Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Ian Lavery, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and the former leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn. And one of the speakers was the Labour MP for Leicester East. Claudia Webbe. And she was very well aware of the sweatshops.

She was not surprised that there had been a Coronavirus outbreak there. They had been around for a long time, employing a workforce mostly drawn from ethnic minorities. Many of them were undocumented immigrants, who had no other form of support. These people were exploited, not only working for disgracefully low wages but packed into their workshops, making it easy for the infection to spread. Webbe said that they had been trying to get the authorities to act on them for years, but they took no notice. Leicester had become the sweatshop of Europe, thanks to neoliberalism and the Tories. And she wanted this ended. Working people, whatever their ethnicity, need proper pay, decent working conditions, and undocumented immigrants also particularly needed to be properly supported, which meant tackling the racism of the immigration service. And with the other speakers at the festival, she wanted neoliberalism smashed and the existing social and economic system transformed.

Belfield wonders where all the lefties were. From what Claudia Webbe said, they were there, doing their job and trying to get help for these people. But the authorities charged with actually looking after exploited workers weren’t interested. From what I’ve read, the agencies charged with protecting them have been cut to the bone by the Tories so that they can’t do an adequate job. And it might also be that those same government bodies and agencies were stuffed full of Tories, who had no intention of doing anything about it, so long as it made money and the bosses donated to Tory coffers.

The left aren’t at fault for the scandal of Leicester’s sweated workers. It’s the Tories, who have removed protection for workers and looked the other way when abuses like this happened.

No doubt confident in their knowledge that if something did happen, and their exploitation was exposed, right-wing media shills like Belfield would immediately start spreading the falsehoods to direct the blame away from them.

I’m not putting up a link to Belfield’s wretched video. I don’t want to give him the publicity. If you want to find it, you can Google it using the title I’ve given.