To the letter… of whiteness…

7 03 2008

There have been two pieces of news that have rung with me recently. I am more concerned about the second piece of information, but this first one still annoys me.

Pub landowner Tony Blows has been told to pay almost £12000 in fees and charges for flaunting the smoking ban rules. Tony, speaking on Midlands Today this lunchtime, vowed to fight the charges, and claimed that such an amount was indicative of ‘big bully’ type action from the government. Now I’m usually critical of the government, as and when they deserve it, but to me, Mr Blows hasn’t got a leg to stand on here. He got caught breaking the law. He must pay the price. To me, it is that simple. If you see someone littering in public, you expect them to have to pay the fine. If you get a parking ticket, you have to pay the fine. If you break the law, there should be consequences. And most importantly, there should be no exceptions.

Mr Blows now has been forced to sell his pub in Herefordshire to cover the fees, and has pledged to leave the country, but continue the fight. To me this is a case of ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’. Tony will claim he has little choice but to leave because the government has come down on him like a ton of bricks for breaking the law. If he wants to leave, so be it.

Linking on from this in a roundabout sort of a way, last nights Newsnight programme was a really interesting one. To launch a series of programmes detailing white working class Britain, the programme had Culture Minister Margaret Hodge facing off against three outspoken men who felt that the government had let the working class down. I agree that the label ‘white’ working class is wrong, and that the problems go further than race or colour, but it is the one that the wise BBC decided to use. Nor did they define what the ‘working class’ actually was, a serious fault of the report I feel.

However, it showed many things, the results of which are here. The overall feeling of abandonment though shows something much more serious, and something I have already mentioned on this blog. Politicians are not doing enough to engage with the people. Especially the working class people. The Joe Normal Briton is not feeling satisifed with the current government. But that is only part of the tale. They aren’t satisfied with other options either, most agree that the Tories and the Lib Dems are equally bad. They also seem to think that the BNP is too extreme, and would not engage with the rubbish that Nick Griffin spouted on about in the programme last night (immigration of Pakistanis correlates to increased drug use? Are you actually kidding?). The overall feeling of frustration was the most telling point of the whole report, 58% felt under-represented. 88% felt they couldn’t talk about the subject for fear of being labelled a racist. The qualification “I’m not a racist but…” seems highly applicable here.

Now I am not part of the working classes. I would put myself in the upper-middle class bracket of society. But I too agree that there is something wrong with not being able to talk about immigration without being labelled a racist and having the slur hanging over me.

I also embrace multi-culturalism. I have no problem with people from various ethnicities in Britain, but I would like to see more of an effort made to embrace British culture. That does not mean go to the chippy every friday. It does mean do not hide behind religion or race. Do not use that as a reason you didn’t get a job for example. I feel if people come over here they must play by our rules. The trouble from my point of view is that the government are changing these rules to fit the people coming over. There is so much more I could say more about this subject, but for fear of boring you, I will refrain. All I would do is encourage you to watch the programme (it’s on the BBC’s IPlayer for the next week). And then read the website and the information. And then tell me that there is not something wrong.

The working classes are becoming more and more disenchanted with Britain, and are looking to jump ship. Just like Tony Blows.

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