Sharper eyed readers will notice that I’ve made a few changes to this post. That’s because I made a couple of errors in relating my family history. The changes are to reflect the facts rather than my half-remembered (& inaccurate) romanticising. My thanks go to my mother for keeping me accurate.
I’m a working class white bloke. My grandmother started life as a domestic servant and my grandfather left school as a young boy to be apprenticed to an undertaker. My great grandfather was instrumental in starting the first union in my hometown and was consequently ‘blacked’ by the local bosses. He never worked again.
My mother struggled to get herself trained as a teacher whilst bringing up three kids on a shoestring. I’ve been homeless, a busker, a care assistant, a barman, a salesman and eventually a nurse. I’m as working class as you can get – but I’m not special – and I’m not racist.
I’m writing this because I’m annoyed and I’m insulted. There is a growing sense of nationalism, of sectarianism and of racism in modern Britain that claims to represent me and others like me. The hard-working white people of UK, by virtue of skin colour, are expected to welcome fascism and racism as though it’s an indispensible, undeniable part of our group heritage. It isn’t.
In truth – nothing could be more removed from the heritage and traditions of white, working class Brits than the fascist ideal our grandparents fought against during the second world war. During that war huge numbers of ethnic soldiers wore British uniforms in a combined struggle against the extreme right wing policies of Hitler and Mussolini. Many others were our allies.
To say that I’m insulted though is only half the story. I’m also worried. I fear that the neoNazis of 2013 will continue to terrorize and abuse large sections of UK society. I worry that they will destroy all that the working classes have struggled for without ever realising how toxic right wing politics is to working people. And I am outraged that all this will be done in the name of ordinary working people, most of whom want no part in such abuse.
Why the English Defence League (ELD) doesn’t speak for me!
I worry that the footsoldiers of this nationalistic rise, themselves working class Britons, are blissfully unaware of the wholesale oppression that their violence could bring about – not only upon those whom they mistakenly think of as ‘the enemy’ but upon themselves and their families. The current nationalistic, racist fervour is the thin end of a very large wedge. It’s a slippery slope that threatens to devour working people of all colours, creeds and backgrounds.
I worry that our working class youth is being hijacked into supporting the very same people who kept their ancestors downtrodden in the past. The divisions being created by right wing opportunists, aided and abetted (however unintentionally) by the alienated, the downtrodden and the disenchanted threaten us all.
Throughout this series I will attempt to explain why I feel so strongly about this nationalist, racist, fascist cancer and why it is so vital that it stops before UK citizens destroy everything that they hold dear.
Read part 2 here.