During the 1970s, if you listened carefully, you would occasionally hear references in the media to the "scandal of black members of Working Men's Clubs". The scandal was that there weren't any - a colour bar operated almost as effectively in the North of England as in Country Clubs in the American South two decades earlier.
I'd give you links to references to this, but there aren't any that I could find. As I have mentioned before, left wing academics have carefully avoided references to anything that might cast the Labour movement in anything but a saintly light, and in an age increasingly restricted to online reference material, this represents the sort of re-writing of history that Winston Smith did as a day job in that most telling of warnings against the excesses of the political left, 1984.
The bedrock of the Labour Party, the white working class, has been happy to vote for anti-racist campaigners, and Marxists who have translated their ideas of oppressed classes into those of oppressed minorities, so long as this has also meant voting themselves larger portions of other people's money than have been offered by any other party. But the racism is still there, and this means that if the "other people's money" bit seems to be wavering, they are perfectly happy to switch to the BNP.
Enter David T with a post at Harry's Place, entitled: "Despite Cameron, Tory MPs Still Bigots", in which he quotes a poll that suggests Tory MPs have less enlightened views towards... Well, here's the wording:
just 46 per cent of Tory MPs agree that gay couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, with 54 per cent disagreeing. For comparison, 83 per cent of Labour MPs and 92 per cent of Lib Dems agree.He draws this out as follows:
Similarly, there is a 52 to 48 per cent split among Tories on whether “the diverse mix of races, cultures and religions now found in our society has improved Britain”. By contrast, 92 per cent of Labour MPs agree, as do all Lib Dems surveyed. And while Labour MPs are virtually unanimous (94 per cent) in agreeing that “one of the things that would most improve life in Britain today is people being more tolerant of different ethnic groups and cultures”, that is the view of only 67 per cent of Tory MPs.
Most Tories I know are social liberals to the core. They are not, however, representative of the views of the base of the party. Instead, they reflect the attitudes of the floating voters, who the Tories must capture in order to win the next election.Indeed, both problems are familiar - to the Labour Party, whose MPs are no more representative of their voters than are the "liberal to the core" Tories he cites.
The problem which Cameron therefore faces is a familiar one. Play to the swing voters: but not so much that your grass roots stay home on Election Day, and not so little that your target voters think you're a phoney.
Attitudes towards race and homosexuality do not easily sort along party lines. Libertarian Conservative Party members in the Lords fought some of the earliest battles for gay rights. There is no deeper pool of hatred towards gays than among the Labour voting white working class, and not every coal miner ends up with tears of happiness in his eyes if his son turns out to be a ballet-dancing gay.
It isn't just competition for housing that worries the white working class. I'd be willing to bet I've spent more years living on Council Estates than David T, and I can report that racial hatred is absolutely normal, ubiquitous and overt among those who would never consider voting for any party other than Labour.
I admire David T's work on the whole, but it is depressing how routinely he slips into partisanship and tribalism. Is the Catholic Church the "Nasty Church" for its attitudes towards abortion and gay rights? Is Trevor Phillips the "Nasty antiracism campaigner", for his comments about multiculturalism (which is what the above questions actually relate to, not racism)? In the context of Islamism, David is perfectly ready to draw out some of the problems that large scale Muslim immigration has caused us. He isn't willing to concede that others are allowed to do the same if, and only if, they are Tory MPs.
And, as if to prove the point, the first comment relates to a website, "Hate My Tory", that has been puffed at Harry's Place before, despite being one of the most revolting pieces of political malice I've ever seen - and one that passes as humour in the eyes of many Labour supporters. The comment linking to it reads: "Remember children, the only good Tory is a lavatory."
When John Prescott says he is most comfortable fighting politics on the grounds of class, what he means is that he is most comfortable fighting people - hating people - because of the circumstances of their birth. This malevolent hatred courses through the Labour Party. No other political party defines itself through hatred of other people. I have never met a Tory who hated the working class. I have met dozens of Labour Party voters and members who hate with the venom and energy of a Northern Irish sectarian.
Now you bring it up, David, which party really deserves the title of "Nasty"?