Update 17th January 2011: A number of people keep referring to this post I wrote several years back, so its worth putting it in context as most won’t bother wading through the debate below and posts that followed this one.
I have never voted Conservative and never will. But during 2008 the Labour party was loudly supporting the use of racist stop-and-search powers, 90 days pre-charge detention and a constant barrage of anti-terrorism legislation used to target minorities, and hysterically shouting about how people in “ethnic ghettoes” were “refusing to integrate”.
It is paternalistic racism to say that minorities should stick with voting Labour under such circumstances given they were being targeted by this barrage. Most minorities are already quite socially conservative – they have stayed loyal to Labour primarily because of its relatively more open stance on immigration.
The only way lasting way to register your disapproval with a political party in a parliamentary democracy is to vote for a different political party. That is what I advocated here. I am not some Asian ‘community leader’ who can control people’s votes or force them in a particular direction. I merely stated my opinion that if people were pissed off with the spate of legislation then they should vote for another political party, after having discussed this with several people during that time.
I have since joined Labour, but only once Ed Miliband disowned much of the party’s earlier stance on civil liberties (stop and search, 42 days). My aim within Labour is to push for a more liberal and compassionate vision of politics. My point here could have been made less crudely, but there it is: I have a bad habit of writing tabloidy headlines.
Word from the street (ok, the Compass annual conference then) is that ethnic short-lists are not entirely dead, contradicting an earlier newspaper report.
To recap: the Labour party has been considering allowing only candidates from non-white backgrounds to stand for specific parliamentary seats. They’re doing this because New Labour is still very racially monolithic. It comes on the back of the success of all-women shortlists, which the party had to sneak through internally because of the intense opposition it was expecting.
The word is that while they’re not entirely dead, they won’t be exclusively non-white but mixed with women shortlists. In other words a white woman and a black man could both stand under these new hybrid shortlists. Harriet Harman, who is pushing this, said quite sensibly (shocker, I know) that she didn’t want to create competition between race and sex discrimination. Given the routing Labour will probably get at the next election though I doubt this will be pushed through; it’ll be every middle-class white man for himself, the women and ethnics be damned. Heh.
Saying that… given that New Labour wants to extend anti-terrorism legislation until every brown person in the country is locked up until proven innocent (or once the police can be bothered to let you out), it makes more sense for brown and black people, who will overwhelmingly face the brunt of this police-state legislation, to vote Conservative. At least the Tories have finally found some balls regarding the erosion of our civil liberties. And yes, I felt slightly sordid saying that. But its worth thinking about – if you’re brown, then its not worth voting Labour for the sake of your own security.
Update: a follow-up to this post is here.
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