Christina Patterson: What we can learn from the Sikh in the BNP

For ethnic harmony, you can go the route of a Tito or a Saddam Hussein

Share
Related Topics

So, the BNP is about to welcome a Mr Rajinder Singh. And, quite frankly, it's a bit of a shock. Members of the party that wants to put the "great" back in Great Britain are meant to look as though they've spent their lives in bunkers, safely locked away from sunlight, or people who've been in sunlight. Ideally, they should look as though they live on internet porn and chips.

But times change and in any case there's that joke called the Human Rights Commission, who couldn't organise a piss-up at the Dog and Duck, but who think you should let any Tom, Dick or Hari join your party even if they're the wrong fahking colour, and you can't be arsed with the hassle, you really can't. And so you're going to "adapt and survive" and let Mr Singh in. OK, so he's a darkie, and he wears a funny turban that makes him look like a poof, but his heart's in the right place. You know his heart's in the right place because he hates Muslims, too.

Singh, it turns out, hates Muslims because they killed his father in India during Partition. Yes, that's 62 years ago and yes, it was probably one Muslim, but Singh is a man of principle. He admires the BNP because they "do not wish to let anyone else oust them from the land of their ancestors" and, putting aside the issue of his own contamination of the land of their ancestors, he would, he says, be "honoured" to join. They have, a touch cautiously, returned the compliment. "He is perhaps," said a BNP spokesman this week, "the kind of immigrant you want if you are going to have them."

Well, if you are "going to have them", what kind of immigrant do you want? Do you want a quiet one, who perhaps struggles with their English and leaves public debate to the "indigenous" people who speak the lingo and know what they're talking about? Or do you want one who speaks it quite well and keeps mouthing off about their "rights"? Do you want one who works, one, in fact, who has nicked a British job from a British worker? Or do you want one sponging off the system who hasn't?

It's tricky stuff. It really is tricky stuff. And if Nick Griffin's brilliantly petulant performance on Question Time failed to lead to the surge in BNP membership that hysterical commentators had predicted, the issues his party addresses remain real. We're all mongrels now, and if we're not we soon will be, but mongrels are no more of a guarantee of societal stability than all-white, all-black or all-brown.

Some Sikhs hate some Muslims. Some Muslims hate some Jews. Some Jamaicans hate some Nigerians. Since that moment when God grabbed a rib, gave it breasts, chucked it next to an apple tree and said he must be going, tribes have fought with other tribes. Where I live, for what it's worth, the Muslims are pretty polite, the Eastern Europeans are a bit brusque and the Hasidic Jews are rather rude. Worst of all are the combat-wearing Caucasian middle classes, charging down the street with pushchairs like Challengers, in search of organic broccoli and gluten-free muffins.

I love it, of course. I've lived in London for more than 20 years and I'd hate to live anywhere now that wasn't ethnically mixed. But an "ethnic mix" is not the same as ethnic harmony. For harmony, you can go the traditional route of a Tito or a Saddam Hussein (both hugely effective at stopping different ethnic groups from slaughtering each other) or you can go the complicated route of trying to reduce the differentials in the standard of living between different ethnic groups, and trying to reduce the resentment of people who pay taxes endlessly forking out for people who don't.

This isn't helped if you have GP surgeries, like mine, in which a large number of the patients (according to the practice's own impeccably liberal nurse) are, in effect, health tourists. Nor is it helped by British politicians, and red-tops, pandering to the prejudices of Little Englanders with talk of "British jobs for British workers" and the need, in matters relating to immigration, to get "tough".

It isn't helped either by outraged tales of refugees or asylum-seekers who have been refused "life-saving" (and extremely expensive) treatment on the NHS. It's heart-breaking to see another human being not enjoy the full benefits of the culture that you were lucky enough to be born into, and they weren't. But governments can't operate purely on compassion. They can't simply decide that anyone resourceful enough to make it into this country can reap all the benefits. There are a lot of resourceful people in the world, and a lot of resourceful people traffickers willing to smuggle them in, but budgets are limited, taxes are limited – and compassion's limited too.

I would like to live in a country that treats asylum-seekers well (and doesn't strap them down on planes or shove them in prisons full of sadists) and one where the costs, and benefits, of immigration are carefully measured, and publicly discussed, and where there's an acknowledgement, on right and left, that this stuff is difficult, but that everything worth having in life is difficult, and if you're going to do it, you'd better do it well. And that an ethnically mixed society that worked, that really worked, could be the one thing that really does make Britain great.

c.patterson@independent.co.uk

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Andy Coulson  

Andy Coulson: With former News of the World editor cleared of perjury charges, what will he do next?

James Cusick James Cusick
Jack Warner  

Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Tom Peck
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?