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

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

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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power