Thursday 3 March 2011
Julie Burchill: Give me the brave trades unions over the bigoted politics of diversity any day
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!
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