19 January 2012
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
Open–letter Against racism: Age–old and continuingdivisive 'cancer'
My letter follows the furore that enveloped the recent 'black' and 'white' tweets by the Prime Minister's parliamentary colleague Shadow Health Minister Miss Diane Abbott MP; particularly as the Prime Minister appears to have opted not to be drawn into the matter while Deputy Prime Minister the Rt Hon Nick Clegg is reported to have dismissed elements of the tweets as "stupid and crass generalisation".
In terms of the issue of the historical and continuing divisive 'cancer' of racism, your parliamentary colleague ought to be heard and engaged, and the underlying substantive message in the tweets, given careful consideration in the interest of social cohesion.
Unfortunately, the tweets do adopt a relic of an eon of pandemic racist European-empire 'colour branding' of indigenous peoples to institutionalise apartheid by skin-colour/race — with non–European race labelled 'black' and European race labelled 'white'.
The UK Census 2011 form used a hash of 'black'/'white' colour-labels, geographical race-origins, and colour-mixes, to classify ethnicity/race.
However the Office for National Statistics is not able to give reasonably definition of who are deemed 'blacks' nor can Ofsted, in spite of its reports referring to 'black' children nor is there a definition of 'black' in the laws of England and Wales. Eton College says it does not use colour labels — that is barring when reporting to government.
I have written previously to the offices of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister on matters akin without gaining ministerial attention but the departmental replies I received might well have been dismissed colourfully by the Deputy Prime Minister. Furthermore, an issue that can threaten the job of a shadow minister, might now seem worthy of ministerial attention — to avoid consequent 'double whammy'.
The identification of race and citizenship/nationality and their reduction to mere 'skin–colour' labels as also adopted in UK governance, needs urgent attention in the interest of national and international efficacy.
The points I address may cause some discomfiture but my approach is with 'open hands' and the matter of some merit. The points I raise are supported by the exposures in and around football, of stark and damaging racism — stark and damaging racism which I believe to be endemic in our society. In an effectively socially hostile environment, children/young adults/pensioners are left uncertain as to the key family facets of race, citizenship, nationality.
Important too are those who are deeply concerned about being branded merely by skin-colour. Well placed people, political and otherwise, really do need to attend the matter with wisdom, fortitude and resolution.
It seems a reasonable view that the blotch of racism exposed around football became ingrained during centuries-long European–colonial ruthless exploitation in Africa, south Asia, Americas and Arabia where indigenous peoples became branded and segregated and treated or mistreated merely according to skin-colour/race.
The means of ingraining included by way of dehumanising apartheid or apartheid-like divide and rule policies under which Europeans separated themselves from other races as to social and legal rights and humanity of treatment.
It might reasonably be claimed that that ingraining across European–empires globally, is the foundation of the pandemic institutionalised racism we have faced and now seek to tackle more seriously and directly in and around football in England, as well as across wider UK society and in international football.
Points from football and reference to an event in my experience, support a view that racism is ingrained and continuing and so damaging, that our society and its leadership cannot afford to be complacent. Following particularly nasty race abuse of a footballer by spectators at a Premier League ground in September 2009, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club manager, Mr Harry Redknapp said,
"That is disgusting there's no place for that in the game. Surely we can't have that sort of behaviour now? Anyone who does it should be put in prison not banned from football. Stick them where they belong, in the nut-house. It's wrong.".
Thus, as recent as September 2009, it was still not a parliamentarian or a chief constable, but a football manager who was left to speak out, to try to impress upon our Police force, the need for resolute action to ensure due investigation and prosecution of allegations of race abuse. Mr Redknapp went on to criticise as inadequate, the then paltry and usual sanction of a race abuse culprit being merely banned from attending football matches.
A few days ago in this first month of 2012, at an English Premier League football match, a footballer broke down in tears in the face of alleged race abuse issued against him by spectators — no doubt the tears shed publicly by the young man will have been, in part, out of anger and frustration owing to the widely held view that the powers that be are accustomed to playing down race abuse by penalising the–odd culprit with a paltry and derisory 'ban from football'. More often nothing is done and so no penalty at all.
The facts uncovered in the wake of the recent–past Suarez race abuse incident that occurred actually on the field during an English Premium League football match, coupled with Liverpool Football Club's handling of the matter, affirms racism as indeed pandemic; particularly if Suarez's evidence is accepted as to inter–races behavioural attitude in 90%–European race Uruguay.
In September 2010, I was present when a UK civil service welfare manager told a British Army ex–serviceman who is in receipt of a service disability pension that if the ex–serviceman did not like it here [in England, rather than complain] he should go back where he came from.
The ex–serviceman lodged a race discrimination claim in the county court. The claim is due to be settled out of court, by consent without acceptance of liability, and without a gagging clause as to the facts of the matter, so a public statement about the occurrence is likely to be published.
I hope that the Prime Minister will welcome this letter as being formed of deeply considered points and founded also upon personal experiences. Had I been called to do so during Army service, I would have had to stand–up in the face of military action. Now as a common citizen, I write to share a view and encourage — no respectfully urge — considered action in the interest of our ourselves and our children and grandchildren.
Race abuse of Jason Euell in Blackpool v Stoke Football League Carling Cup 22/09/09; per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_association_football
Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
Miss Diane Abbott MP
Chairman of Liverpool Football Club (& Mr Luis Suarez)
Chairman of The Football Association(England)
Chairman of The Premier League (England)
Mr Harry Redknapp
Headmaster of Eton College