JBD

 

Aug 2001 Journal

previous article:The widening Atlantic
next article:AJR ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2001

Dark, satanic milltowns

Oldham and Burnley currently attract the media spotlight for two closely related reasons: simmering racial tension which occasionally flares into serious violence, and double-digit voting percentages achieved by the British National Party. The two Lancashire towns are in the general area where Engels collected material for the Marxist classic The Condition of the English Working Class (1844) and where, some decades earlier, William Blake had conjured up a nightmare vision of ‘dark satanic mills’.

The textile mills of the Pennines, whose postwar demand for labour sucked in immigrants from the Indian sub-continent, are now largely closed, leaving unemployment black spots in their wake. In consequence, places like Burnley and Oldham now accommodate a disgruntled majority of whites alongside sizable minorities of insecure Asians.

The whites readily believe myths that the authorities favour the immigrants over themselves in matters of social provision. This paranoia has reached a point where some are even convinced that the town council allocates more money to rubbish collection and traffic-calming measures in ‘black’ than in white areas. Such myths are assiduously spread by the professional racist hatemongers the BNP has sent into the area.

To bring this inflamed situation under control, the laws on affray and racial incitement will have to be strictly invoked – and new jobs, especially for the young created. In addition, immigrant leaders themselves need to be more focused on facilitating integration. Why, for instance, does Burnley have to maintain a costly ‘translation unit’ almost half a century after the mass influx of Asians? AJR Information appeared – in English(!) – within seven years of the mass influx of German Jewish refugees into the UK. It would contribute to inter-racial harmony if Asian communal leaders applied themselves more purposefully to turning their constituents into English speakers. When in Rome…!
Richard Grunberger

previous article:The widening Atlantic
next article:AJR ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2001