spudtater: (Default)
( Apr. 29th, 2010 11:52 am)
So, everybody's talking about Gillian Duffy and her remarks on eastern Europeans "flocking" in, and of course Gord's leaked after-comments on her being a "bigoted woman".

The right wing's having a field day, of course, with claims that debate on immigration is being "stifled". Lord Pearson of UKIP was invited onto BBC Breakfast this morning and got his chance to make that very point. Happily, he was then grilled by Sian on other aspects of their manifesto, over which he reverted into a blathering upper-class twit. Cutting a third of NHS staff, but not including a single doctor or nurse? Seriously?

But I have to admit as well that I think that there's an element of dismissiveness in the left-wing reaction to the story that does not sit well with me. Particularly the large amounts of people saying things along the lines of "well, she is a bigot".1

Sure, the belief that immigration from eastern Europe is inherently problematic could be described as bigoted — or racist even. But in a country where a vast portion of the population holds that belief to some degree, I dispute that labelling all such people "bigots" is the correct response. Because to label somebody is to push them away, seperate them from us. And that works both ways. If they're a minority, like the BNP, then it helps to sideline their stance. But if they're a group that the majority of the population sympathises with, then I would say you're actually sidelining yourself.

You see this all the time in left-wing debate. Somebody will say that the majority of people in society are racist, or sexist, or whatever anathemic word is applicable to the debate. And its effect is to split the commentor away from mainstream opinion — after which it's easy for the average person to point to them and call them a "loony lefty".

To call Duffy a bigot is to place yourself in a bubble where immigration is a non-issue, a taboo subject. Which may be very reassuring to yourself, but unfortunately there are more people outside the bubble than there are inside. And especially with an election round the corner, that puts you outside a position of power.

So Gord's original, public, reaction was the correct one. Do not get upset, but defeat the argument with logic and common sense. Then politely, but firmly, show that you do not wish to debate the matter any further. You may be surprised at the proportion of people who will respond positively. (If they continue to push it, then they're probably not worth engaging with.)

The third leaders' debate is coming up, and immigration is now bound to come up. My eyes are on Clegg, as the candidate with the most obviously pro-immigrant policies. How will he respond? Will he be dismissive of the question, hoping not to draw attention to Lib Dem policies? Or will he seize it, and present immigration as a positive force that improves our economy and society — in the hope that there are more people to win with this stance than there are to lose?

I can hope, can't I?

[1] This paragraph edited for clarity.

Edit: Aaaaaaand, he's on the back foot. Poop.   8^(
Today I made Moroccan-spiced chicken, lentils, and Jersey Royal potato salad.

It tasted of middle-class.

Good, though.
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