Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Diversity policies in history. Laban Tall - he pays a quid so you don't have to - has a splendid quote from an article Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has penned for the Independent. Referring, I think, to the Conservative Party, she speaks of:
"A party which has always repudiated equality and diversity policies...
Too right, sister. It is fact too little known that John Stuart, the Third Earl of Bute, generally reckoned to be the first Tory prime minister, would not countenance sex-change operations on the NHS.
...and produced a string of racist politicians, including Winston Churchill"
Hey, Churchill wasn't so bad. The English Democrats* website provides a page of quotes from his memos cited in the first volume of his History of the Second World War. Here is one:
There must be no discrimination on grounds of race or colour [In the employment of Indians or Colonial natives in the Royal Navy]. In practice much inconvenience would arrive if this theoretical equality had many examples. Each case must be judged on its merits, from the point of view of smooth administration. I cannot see any objection to Indians serving on H.M. ships where they are qualified and needed, or, if their virtues so deserve, rising to Admirals of the Fleet. But not too many of them, please.
One can read that either way. Whether you say that Churchill allowed his principled stand in favour of racial equality to be subordinated to the prejudices of the majority, or to winning the war, it is unarguable both that he made it and that he saw it as a secondary issue. Frankly I don't think Churchill's contemporaries on the left would have done much better: two incompatible tracks have always run in parallel in the British Labour movement; internationalism, and a belief in "British jobs for British workers." And simple protectionism wasn't the half of it. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century ideas could be discussed at Fabian Society meetings by some of the intellectual leading lights of socialism that would get you turfed out of the BNP nowadays. The Webbs, Wells, Shaw, Ruskin and Havelock Ellis all came out with some unlovely sentiments on the subject of eugenics and race.

Will Ms Alibhai-Brown mention any of this? I might even bestir myself to buy an actual paper copy of the Indy to see.

*in extra large print for older readers.

UPDATE: I am too late. The article was in yesterday's paper. The bit they do let you see tantalisingly suggests either that the general thrust of the rest was to denounce anti-semitism, and I have to say that she is on the side of good on that topic, or that Galloway defeating Oona King is somehow a good thing for race relations. Since I have an objection on principle (the principle that my money is better spent elsewhere) to paying for the Independent's "premium content", I shall never know which.