Sunday, January 09, 2005

Just Like South Africa

It's always been a problem for the UK Left that Britain hasn't actually got an unpleasant, preferably fascist or racist, recent history to scare people with. You can't say - "If the Daily Mail had their way, it would be like Britain under Anthony Eden !".

We have Mosley (yes, I know the Daily Mail once wrote something nice about him), Cable Street and what else ? Kristallnacht or the Wannsee conference they ain't.

So we have to import our demons from elsewhere and adapt for home consumption. The Shoah is always a good standby - as the Department of Education says "Such events could happen anywhere at any time unless we ensure that our society is vigilant is opposing racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry". Continuous parallels are drawn, for example, between modern asylum-seekers and 1930s German Jewry.

The Ku Klux Klan are another useful standby. I'd like to see all our outdoor Church services end with a fiery cross - it's a wonderful image. But 30 years of BBC documentaries have indelibly associated the fiery cross with a far-away people of whom we know nothing other than that they're not very nice. Only north of the Border does some small memory persist of the cross which summoned the clan to war.

In its time even Pinochet's Chile was used. Peter Hitchens wrote in "The Abolition Of Britain" that 'when he ran schools in his home city of Sheffield, Mr Blunkett abolished uniform - in defiance of a ballot he himself organised - and corporal punishment. In a barely coherent defence of the uniform decision, he seemed to link the idea of school blazers with repressive and reactionary forms of government such as apartheid south Africa and Pinochet's Chile. Many years later, as a consumer of schooling rather than a council leader, he would vote for the introdution of uniforms at his own son's school.'

South Africa is back, following the decision of Greater Manchester Police to ban the word 'township', previously used to describe the sub-divisions. What was wrong with the word sub-division ?

The author of the memo, Chief Insp Jeff McMahon, said the term had "clear connotations" with South Africa's old apartheid regime and outlined the ban in a newsletter to his officers on December 17.

It said: "The term township has been deemed unsuitable for use by the force. There are clear connotations with this term and (the) apartheid regime of South Africa and the discriminatory treatment of black Africans."

His statement continues: "With immediate effect this term will no longer be used. The new term is `partnership'."

It adds: "Thus, in all written and verbal communication this should be substituted where the term township would currently be used. The term partnership suggests the notion of working together to fight crime and protect people."

Inspector McMahon has grasped the essentials of PC policing - form is everything and content unimportant. I do like "partnership suggests the notion of working together to fight crime and protect people".

"Notion" is about right - I'm reminded of Churchill's remarks when WWII officials wanted to set up 'Communal Feeding Centres'. "Why not call them British Restaurants ?" said WSC, "Everyone associates the word restaurant with a good meal, and they may as well have the name if they cannot have anything else".

As you can imagine the locals are well chuffed.

Of course there is one way in which the UK is very like the South Africa of thirty years gone - the guilty white liberal's mania for racial classification. If you have children at a State primary or secondary school, they will have been classified, sometimes via a form sent to parents, sometimes (at secondary level) by asking the children to self-classify (in the process making them ethnically aware in a way they might not otherwise have been), often at primary level by the head teacher's fiat. My children have never been asked so presumably the head takes a look and decides.

Each school's PANDA report (a report on the school by the local authority and not available to parents) contains a page like this one.

PS - according to Gene Expression, nineteenth-century Tory Prime Minister Lord Liverpool would have been classified as coloured under the apartheid laws.

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