Julie Burchill: Give me the brave trades unions over the bigoted politics of diversity any day

Share
Related Topics

I am very much a creature of the Left. My mother was a cleaner, shop worker and factory hand while my father worked in a distillery (mmm... distilleries!) and later as a car-park attendant, so I would have been really stupid not to be.

We were a hardcore trade union family, my dad a shop steward who took a real delight in refusing the offers of promotion that his factory thought might stop him being such a hard-headed upholder of his members' rights.

I totally worshipped him; other people's dads had cars and hobbies, but my dad had his politics, and this made him such a giant in my eyes compared to them. It didn't hurt that he resembled a taller, fairer version of the actor Sean Bean, who actually played him – in a vest lots of the time, happily – in a brilliant BBC film I wrote about him ages ago, called Prince.

Only once in a while did his righteousness get on my wick. Like the Christmas when he heard there were some striking bakers nearby and he made my mum pack our Christmas dinner (with all the trimmings!) into Tupperware boxes so he could take it down to the starving brothers freezing around the brazier down on the picket line. "Mu-um!" I whined, full of tweenage self-pity (if nothing else), "they're ba-akers! I dunno, why can't they... BAKE something and have that instead?" My mother didn't miss a beat, shoving chipolatas into the squashed smorgasbord with real savagery; "Because if we don't do it, your dad's gonna be miserable all day. Best get it over with."

It's easy to sentimentalise those days when the trades unions held sway, but they were far better than what replaced them; the politics of diversity. While working-class Left-wing political activism has always been about fighting the powerful, treating people how you would wish to be treated and believing that we're all basically the same, non-working-class Left-wing politics is about... other stuff. Class guilt, sexual kinks, personal prejudice and repressed lust for power. The trades union movement gave us brother Bill Morris and Mrs Desai, heroine of Grunwick. The diversity movement gave us a rainbow coalition of cranks and charlatans.

Yes, it was an eye-opener for the teenage me when I came to London, got involved with non-working-class Left-wing politics and discovered that the Left contained easily as many bigots, bullies and ocean-going nutters as the Right. They weren't all like Julian Assange – SORRY, I meant Gerry Healy of the Redgrave Revolutionary Party, but they were weirdos, no two ways. I'd been brought up to believe that the socialist way was colour-blind, but I quickly became aware that the non-working-class Left operated what was best described as Paint Chart Politics – the further from white, the more likely you were to be right. In the 70s, this would lead to reggae bands who believed stuff about women that would have had them condemned as fascist Neanderthals had they been white playing under the Rock Against Racism flag; in recent years, it has seen the Left support similar Islamist stone-agers just because they're the right (Left) side of beige.

Thus democratic Israel, which gives full civil rights to women and gays, is worse than the countries which surround it, which don't but are darker. (It's always particularly funny to see pasty-faced Western pro-Palestinian activists being bundled into vans by dark-skinned mizrahi IDF, their simple Paint Chart Politics brains trying to take in the fact that Israelis can be brown- and black-skinned too.) Similarly, in Darfur the Left were thrown a curveball when it turned out that the Arab Muslims were terrorising the black Christians. Um, Islam good, Christianity bad – but hang on, Christians darker here! DOES NOT COMPUTE!

If John Galliano had confined himself to insulting the Jews, he could probably have got away with it after a period of contrition. Mel Gibson, after all, had his defenders when he said that Jews start all the wars in the world, such as the writer Andrew O'Hagan. But then Gibson had to throw the N-word into the mix, as Galliano did with Asians; their gooses were cooked when they contravened the PCP rules on who it's ok to hate these days. Of course if a half-witted rag hag was going to hate an ethnic group, it would be the Jews, writing all those books and winning all those Nobel prizes! (22 per cent of recipients from a world population of 0.2 per cent, fact fans! Must be some sort of Scando-Semitic conspiracy, like the one that's gunning for Saint Julian!)

PCP being as dumb and destructive as it is, I was pleased to read this week that more Asian Britons than white ones believe that immigration should either be stopped permanently or halted until unemployment falls. Here at last is a return to the colour-blind common sense collectivism of my dad's day – there's a reason why the CBI have always been against immigration controls, and it's called driving down wages, stupid! For a decade now I've been winding up my angsty liberal mates with the slogan STOP WHITE IMMIGRATION NOW! so how lovely to find that despite my five-star lifestyle, I am at one not just with the street, but with the Southall street. BOOYAKASHA!

Why does the Church embrace its enemies?

So the Archbishop of Canterbury has drawn a line in the sand, and sworn that Adam and Steve will never become husband and husband in one of "his" buildings. Still sucking up to Islam, are we, Ro-Wi? Taking on their Medieval attitude to homosexuality in anticipation of the inevitable arrival of the sharia law which you seemed so intensely relaxed about three years ago?

So far as I know there is no country in the world where gay dictatorships burn down churches and execute those who chose to convert to Christianity. But there are many Muslim countries which do exactly this to Christians, who now make up the majority of those persecuted for their religious beliefs worldwide.

It's at times like these I'm really pleased that I never bothered with that theology degree, if this is how confused you end up – lashing out at those who wish to be married by you, while embracing those who are murdering you – after five years of debating how many angelfish can dance on a pin-cushion or whatever. Two-thirds of British people see no reason why homosexuals should not marry in church; please, let's have no more lectures from the C of E about human rights and loving thy neighbour when they are lagging so far behind public opinion on this most obvious of inequalities.

Abortions are best avoided if you're the crying kind

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is confirming what anyone who doesn't live their life according to the Care Bears knows already: having a termination is less of a threat to a woman's life than having a baby, and most women who have abortions will not suffer psychological damage. I've had five abortions – or was it six? I can never remember. And each time I saw scenes bordering on jubilation when women woke up and realised the deed was done. Of course there are cry babies who go away and beat themselves up. But they're probably the type who cry at romcoms and funerals. If you don't want an abortion, DON'T HAVE ONE!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The truth about kids on holiday

Rosie Millard
 

August catch-up: Waiting on the telephone, tribute to Norm and my Desert Island Discs

John Rentoul
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home