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Published on October 19th, 2011 | by Louise Pearce
Image © [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="273" caption="Cultural Racism Rife in British Politics"][/caption] In her book 'Who do we Think we Are?: Imagining the New Britain' Yasmin Alibhai-Brown described how politicians play the race card in order to win elections by such promises as 'controlling immigration'. This can be observed historically and in the present day. After all Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 partly on the back of cultural racism. On Granada Television she stated 'that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture' thus reinforcing the nations anxieties at that time. These feelings that Thatcher displayed appear to be nationalist; the assumption that there should be one culture in the UK and all those who do not abide by its norms and values are categorised as a second class citizens. In an academic article it was argued that more recently it has been the government's agenda to be more transparent with the general public about issues of risk. This can be observed by the way that terrorism has been politicised since the 9/11 attacks in America, and Muslims have been portrayed by the British government and newspapers as terrorists. Post 9/11 leading politicians, security specialists and news reporters have adopted alternative linguistic communications about global (in)security to gain consent from the general public for tightening up laws for the ‘war against terrorism’; such as Terrorism Act (2000), Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001), Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), Terrorism Act (2006) and Counter-Terrorism Act (2008). Demonstrating how constructions of ethnic subcultures as a deviant underclass can be observed to impact upon issues of law and informal social control in the UK since the 9/11 attacks in America. This demonstrates how political parties promote cultural racism within the UK thus it is hardly surprising that the likes of BNP exist within this country. Alibhai-Brown urges that instead policies of racial equality should be made whilst acknowledging and reassuring public anxieties, thereby creating a community of communities.

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Cultural Racism Rife in British Politics

Cultural Racism Rife in British Politics

In her book ‘Who do we Think we Are?: Imagining the New Britain’ Yasmin Alibhai-Brown described how politicians play the race card in order to win elections by such promises as ‘controlling immigration’. This can be observed historically and in the present day.

After all Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 partly on the back of cultural racism. On Granada Television she stated ‘that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture’ thus reinforcing the nations anxieties at that time. These feelings that Thatcher displayed appear to be nationalist; the assumption that there should be one culture in the UK and all those who do not abide by its norms and values are categorised as a second class citizens.

In an academic article it was argued that more recently it has been the government’s agenda to be more transparent with the general public about issues of risk. This can be observed by the way that terrorism has been politicised since the 9/11 attacks in America, and Muslims have been portrayed by the British government and newspapers as terrorists.

Post 9/11 leading politicians, security specialists and news reporters have adopted alternative linguistic communications about global (in)security to gain consent from the general public for tightening up laws for the ‘war against terrorism’; such as Terrorism Act (2000), Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001), Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), Terrorism Act (2006) and Counter-Terrorism Act (2008). Demonstrating how constructions of ethnic subcultures as a deviant underclass can be observed to impact upon issues of law and informal social control in the UK since the 9/11 attacks in America.

This demonstrates how political parties promote cultural racism within the UK thus it is hardly surprising that the likes of BNP exist within this country. Alibhai-Brown urges that instead policies of racial equality should be made whilst acknowledging and reassuring public anxieties, thereby creating a community of communities.

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About the Author

After leaving school I decided to take the accountancy route, however after having two children I switched to a career in childcare. One divorce later and still unsatisfied with my job I set out to undertake a degree in criminology. Having completed the first year of criminology I noticed that I had a real interest in politics so am now studying criminology with politics. I enjoy getting actively involved in politics which led me to blogging for Catch 21. Additionally I am a member of the labour party and student representative for criminology. Furthermore I enjoy the role at Chester University as the politics mentor for first year students. Volunteering is something which I consider to be beneficial to society, so I volunteer for a charity called Home Start. They work alongside social service to help families in need of emotional and physical support.



  • Matthew Howard

    I once spoke with an Indian man who had moved to Britain twenty years ago about this issue, and he complained that Labour had let in too many immigrants. I think we need to separate the BNP from the rest of the country, whom argue not through racist intent, but with legitimate pride in Britains heritage.

    If you take Yasmin's argument and apply it to the world, then she is effectively calling many other nations racist, such as Saudi Arabia, who resist any self-assertion by Christian minorities, or Indonesia, whose intolerance of Jews is revolting, or indeed Iran, whom might be considered the last place to tolerate a communit of communities, if the Presidents words are anything to go bye.

  • Louise Pearce

    Well let that be the argument then, perhaps the global community should take on a more tolerent attitude towards different cultures.

    Alibhai-Brown also argued that government policies create the underlying issues of inequality surrounding national identity due to policy making on satisfying the ill-informed public (It could be suggested BNP are ill-informed). Some arguments that I have read suggest that there is a forgetfulness of colonial and imperial past within the UK and that Britain has been a multicultural society for centuries.

    In the book 'The Attitude of Ethnic Minorities' by Field the argument was put forward that Britain was a multicultural society before New Commonwealth immigration due to the social norms and values that people within British society weaved in and out of, such as that of home life and the work place or different social classes. To assume cultural homogeneity to a nation state is an over simplification which is what BNP do. Field went on to suggest that the solution to promoting positive ethnic attitudes could be found in education, displaying an appreciative acknowledgment of different languages and cultures in the class room.

  • Matthew Howard

    I think national identity will always need to work with generalities because of the differences within each nation, but when you consider that with each culture comes startlingly different ideological beliefs, such as the distinctions found between religions that underpin most cultures, we have a problem; Britain has been a Protestant nation in its most recent history, and this has defined much of its attitude toward the political system and social attitudes. Now that other cultures have become self-assertive, we have differences in ideas on how the fundamentals should work. It is legitimate to be concerned about the implications of self-assertive groups but not about the presence of people who hold different values.

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