Friday, March 09, 2007


A difference in class

Well done to Ms Lo Staying with my coverage of the North's election, I was very pleased indeed to see the Alliance Party's Anna Lo, pictured left, get elected to the North's Assembly.

Ms Lo, originally from Hong Kong, is the chief executive of the Chinese Welfare Association and has taken a seat in South Belfast. She becomes the first person from an ethnic minority background to take a seat in the Assembly.

It is a victory for a woman who has suffered racial attacks and who has even been kicked on the street.

I saw her on the BBC's Spotlight programme a few weeks back and found her a breath of fresh air compared to the childish bickering we have come to expect from the other parties. There is another reason however why I take great delight in seeing her get elected which I will touch on below.

The big news in Britain on Thursday was not the fallout of the North's election results, but rather the fallout stemming from racist comments made by a Tory MP which have cost him his job.

Shadow homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer said he had met "a lot" of "idle and useless" ethnic minority soldiers in the British Army who used racism as a "cover".

The former officer also told The Times that being called a "black bastard" was a normal part of Army life.

Here are excerpts from the dishonourable gentleman commenting on black men in the Army:

"They prospered inside my regiment, but if you'd said to them 'Have you ever been called a nigger,' they would have said 'Yes.'

"But equally, a chap with red hair, for example, would also get a hard time - a far harder time than a black man, in fact.

"But that's the way it is in the Army. If someone is slow on the assault course, you'd get people shouting: 'Come on you fat bastard, come on you ginger bastard, come on you black bastard.'"

"I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours.

"I remember one guy from St Ann's (Nottingham) who was constantly absent and who had a lot of girlfriends.

"When he came back one day I asked him why, and he would say: 'I was racially abused.' And we'd say: 'No you weren't, you were off with your girlfriends again.'"

"That's the way it is"? Is this guy for real? This Mercer fellow treats racism the way most people treat drizzle.

A disgrace

I can't say I'm really surprised to hear a Tory minister say this sort of thing. After all, this is a party that embodies the very worst of Britishness. They are stuck firmly in the past. Dinosaurs for the most part.

Before anyone brings up the fact that Tony Blair clone David Cameron has condemned Mercer's remarks - which admittedly he has and fair play to him for that - sadly many close to Mr Mercer have leapt to his defence.

Newark Conservative Association chairwoman Sheelagh Hamilton claimed his comments were taken out of context while Richard Alexander, a cabinet member of the Tory-run Newark and Sherwood District Council, said:

"We all say things in the heat of the moment that do not read too well in print, but I understand where he's coming from."

On second thought calling these people dinosaurs is being generous. 'Fossils' might be a more accurate description.

Meanwhile Leroy Hutchinson, a black former corporal who served with Mr Mercer for 12 years, remarked:

"In the forces... name-calling - whether you be black, white, ginger, red, brown - it is part of the establishment."

WHICH IS A BAD THING. Sadly these guys just cannot grasp that. One shouldn't dismiss racism on the grounds that it's part of the culture.

"Ah well, it's part of the establishment what are you gonna do?"

You denounce it, that's what you do. You don't do as Mr Mercer did and try to justify it. The point of politicians is to try and help improve society.

But to get back to my earlier point, those with a good grasp of Irish history should be aware of the significance of these events, as well as the election of Ms Lo.

For it has traditionally been a Tory policy to use, or should I say exploit, the community divisions that have existed in this island. Here in Ireland, especially the north of Ireland, the Tories took great satisfaction in pitting unionists versus nationalists, Protestants versus Catholics, as a means of consolidating their own power in the UK as a whole. They never really gave a damn about the people of this island but they did not hesitate to capitalise on the tensions that existed here. In the immortal words of Randolph Churchill:

"The Orange card is the card to play."

So then I must admit, without a shred of shame, to taking great satisfaction at seeing that same party now become a victim of its own bigotry - while the people of the North cast off the shackles of sectarianism and demand something better, something more worthwhile.

The Tories delighted in utilising the bigotry that existed in this island to hold the Irish people in the North back, but now it is the Tories themselves who are being held back by their own bigoted beliefs in their own pathetic "Establishment".

The people of the North are now waving goodbye to bigotry, and it seems the Tories are now having to wave goodbye to bigots like Patrick Mercer.

The orange card was once the card to play for the Tories - now they are having to play the red card.

It seems we're not the only ones moving on.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.