Enoch Powell was right about one thing, rivers of blood will flow, but it isn’t because of mass immigration or foreigners coming into the country, but rather stigmatization of migrants and the rise of racial prejudice within the UK. In a recent survey, 1 in 3 British people say that they harbour some level of racial prejudice, the main question is why? Why is it now that we have started to go backwards from when the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s took place? Is there anything behind the changing attitudes of the UK? Surely in a more diverse and tolerant society, we should be more welcoming to people of all backgrounds?

There has been suggestions in the past that this has been caused by the rise of the far-right within Europe and once again, some hint that the issue of immigration  has caused a feud in changing attitudes. Take UKIP for example, they came out on top in the European Elections lately with 24 seats ahead of Labour at 20 and Conservatives at 19, while the Lib Dems lost out on 10 seats, putting the Green Party fourth with 3 seats and the Scottish National Party fifth with 2 seats. The reasoning behind the recent talks on immigration has resulted because the three main parties haven’t necessarily handled the issue well, nor talked about it with the public in comparison to other issues. This has currently led to Labour leader Ed Milliband, coming out and ‘changing their immigration policy,’ obviously as a means of combating UKIP.

Bear in mind, there is a very fine line when it comes to debating immigration and racism, finding credible evidence and statistics is perfectly fine in such an argument, but labelling people as ‘those bloody foreigners!’ or using clichéd mottoes such as ‘British Jobs for British Workers,’ brings out the worst in politics and indeed people. People of all individualities, be it race, sexual orientation, gender, age, ability etc., come to the UK not because they’ve heard everything about how they can scrounge benefits, but because they want to live peaceful lives free from war and torture and be able to give back to the country that harbours their safety and new lives. Indeed, many migrants have given back more into the economy than they have taken out and it is indeed ironic that the first people to jump on the patriotic bandwagon of defending their culture, are the ones who refuse to work or have little understanding of the impact their comments make, and the harshness of other peoples’ lives in comparison. There is an excellent poem I encourage you to watch (some swearing included) but I will link it below.

Language can be a very powerful tool, on The View, Rev Harold Good, the former President of the Methodist Church, stated that: ‘One word can light a forest fire, we need to be desperately aware of the potential for damage.’  This is relating to an incident that took place within Northern Ireland this week. To put it simply, a well-known Pastor of the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, Pastor James McConnell, caused controversy after a sermon on the 18th of May: ‘Now people say that there are good Muslims in Britain, that may be so, but I don’t trust them. Enoch Powell was right, and he lost his career because of it. Enoch Powell was a prophet! And he told us, blood, would flow, through the streets and it has happened…there are selves of Muslims right throughout Britain…Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.’

What kicked up the controversy wasn’t the Pastor’s comments regarding the ideology of Islam itself as freedom of speech which allows us to criticize whatever religion / belief we want to without fear or intimidation. What has caused the controversy in these past few days, is that Muslims were branded as being untrustworthy (he later clarified on The Nolan Show that it was only those who followed Sharia Law to the letter). Many were outraged at these comments but the First Minister Peter Robinson of the DUP, came out in support of the Pastor, stating in the Irish News that: ‘I’ve known him for 20 years, I wouldn’t trust a Muslim to give me guidance spiritually or those that commit acts of terrorism or that follow the Sharia Law down to the letter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t trust them to go down to the shops or commit to everyday activities.’  This followed with further support from Ex-Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, Health Minister Edwin Poots and another prominent DUP figure Gregory Campbell.

The uproar of this is so great, that not only is Alliance MLA Anna Lo, the first Chinese-born MLA in Northern Ireland,  going to resign due to increased racial tensions, but a rally against racism has been called in Belfast on the 31st of May to speak out against racism and the increasing attacks on migrants and racial prejudice which stains our country’s name. Over 4,000 people have signed up to this rally tomorrow and rest assured it will be one of the biggest rallies in the past few years, almost as big as the Animal Rights campaign rally as of late. The campaign for a Racial Equality bill is still ongoing; seven years has passed since it was first introduced and nothing has been done in the Assembly.

If there is one thing to remember, remember this: we cannot use immigrants as a scapegoat against the failings of government to tackle unemployment, nor can we stigmatize a minority as being representative of an entire community, we need to understand that there are deeper economic reasons behind a lack of employment and that we need to stand against any form of prejudice in order to move the UK and indeed Northern Ireland into the twenty-first century.


References:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJX5XHnONTI – Poem by Hollie McNish on Immigration
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b044m64b/the-view-29052014 – The View 29th of May
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J_t7Eq1wdY (Pastor McConnell’s comments)
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/01/21/immigration-ids-may_n_4632089.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b044w6mv/the-nolan-show-series-5-episode-5 – Nolan Show Debate
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/05/labour-has-changed-immigration-we-recognise-public-was-right – Labour party changes policy on Immigration