Saturday, 5 November 2016

Dog Whistle Politics

Gina Miller has faced rape and death threats on social media for challenging the Government over its plan to leave the European Union (EU) without a vote in the Westminster Parliament.

The fact that Gina was born in Guyana is also being held against her as the tabloid press try to whip up an angry mob, just months after a Labour MP (Jo Cox) was murdered by some disaffected, right-wing nut-job in her own constituency.    

But these ugly 'dog whistle' tactics are not the preserve of the tabloid press or those on the right of politics as a visit to the blog site archive shows.

Because not that long ago my colleague Stefan Cross (QC) was being attacked for taking on the establishment over equal pay - while having the temerity to be English!

Just saying.


Image result for gina miller + thesun

Dog Whistles and Equal Pay (25/04/16)

Boris Johnson has been getting pelters all weekend, and rightly so in my opinion, over his dog whistle comment about President Barack Obama being "part-Kenyan", a phrase Bojo used in writing a very hostile, anti-EU article for The Sun newspaper.  

Now I laughed my head off at this latest piece of buffoonery from the outgoing London Mayor because Barack Obama's ancestry (his father was Kenyan) has nothing whatsoever to do with his track record as American President or his ability to comment, as a friend, on the European referendum.  

In fact, the last time I heard such stupid and reactionary views being expressed, they were used by Unison in a Scotland-wide newspaper advert which made a similarly pathetic attempt to smear and discredit someone - my colleague Stefan Cross, now a highly respected QC of course.

But back in the day Unison were so worried about the impact Action 4 Equality Scotland was having that any old tactics would do, hence the attack on Stefan for the terrible crime of being English.

Boris Johnson and Unison: who would have thought these two unlikely bedfellows have so much in common?

Dog Whistles (29/08/13)

Here's another post from the blog site archive which, if I remember correctly, was prompted by a Scotland-wide newspaper advert from Unison.

Now strangely the advert had nothing to say anything about the situation in South Lanarkshire - where the trade unions, including Unison, actively discouraged their low paid members from pursuing equal pay claims.  

Now that is funny.

But funnier still is the fact that the whole business has come back to bite them in the ass - after all these years.  

Dog Whistle Attacks (2009)

I’ve had lots of comment about the recent ‘attack’ advert from Unison – people are curious about their very deliberate use of the word ‘English’ in relation to Stefan Cross Solicitors.
Is the union becoming paranoid and xenophobic – because why else would they mention race and nationality - when these terms are of no relevance to equal pay?

‘Dog whistle’ politics is about sending a hidden message – one that you don’t want to admit to, up front at least, but the underlying intention is perfectly clear – emphasise a point (a negative one, of course) that you think will play to the prejudices of your audience.

In this case, a rather bizarre anti-English sentiment – it would appear - which is to be pitied, not admired.

Mark Irvine and Carol Fox are both Scottish – Stefan Cross lives and works in Newcastle, but does anyone (other than Unison) care?

We’re not motivated by people’s politics or where they come from – to paraphrase Martin Luther King: “It’s the quality of a person’s character that counts”.

As you’d expect, we’re happy to defend our colleague Stefan’s right to be English – to support Newcastle United, rather than Celtic or Rangers, Hearts or Hibs – or anyone else for that matter.

And here’s another amazing revelation - Mark Irvine was actually born in Canada, but so far at least no one has held that against him.

So, to lighten the mood we’re highlighting 10 good things to have come out of England and helped make life that little bit better for many Scots: 

1. The Road to Scotland
2. Emmeline Pankhurst – women’s rights activist and suffragette
3. Cockney Rhyming Slang
4. JRR Tolkein and “The Lord of the Rings”
5. Liverpool Football Club (1977 – 1987 vintage)
6. The Tolpuddle Martyrs – transported to Australia for trade union activity
7. The Beatles
8. The Daily Telegraph – for its scoop on MPs expenses
9. Gin and Tonic
10. Stefan Cross and Action 4 Equality

If you have any other suggestions, let us know – I’ll share the best (and worst) on the blog site.

PS If Stefan Cross had been Welsh, does anyone think Unison would have mentioned that in their advert?
Obama hits back at Boris Johnson's alleged smears

BBC - EU Referendum

Image copyrightPA

US president Barack Obama has hit back after Boris Johnson's comments about his "part-Kenyan" ancestry.

Mr Johnson said the removal of a bust of Churchill from Obama's office was seen by some as a sign of an "ancestral dislike of the British Empire".

The comments in an article for The Sun were branded "idiotic" and "deeply offensive" by Churchill's grandson.

Mr Obama made clear his admiration for Britain's wartime leader in pointed remarks at a press conference.

He did not mention Mr Johnson by name but said he had a bust of Churchill outside the Treaty Room - his private office on the second floor of his official residence.

"Right outside the door of the Treaty Room, so that I see it every day - including on weekends when I'm going into that office to watch a basketball game - the primary image I see is a bust of Winston Churchill," he said.

"It's there voluntarily because I can do anything on the second floor. I love the guy."


It had been in the Oval Office, he said, but: "There are only so many tables where you can put busts otherwise it starts to looks a little cluttered."

As the first African American president, he said, a bust of Martin Luther King would be "appropriate", to remind him "of all the hard work of a lot of people who somehow allow me to have the privilege of holding this office".

He added: "That's just on Winston Churchill. I think people should know that, know my thinking there."

Mr Johnson said he was "delighted" by Mr Obama's backing for Churchill, but did not respond to questions about whether he had been trying to suggest the US President had a grudge against Britain. 


Speaking earlier on a visit to a fast food restaurant in his Uxbridge constituency, Mr Johnson said: "The crucial point is that I'm a big fan of Barack Obama - I was one of the first people to come out in favour of him ages ago.

"But I think there's a weird paradox when the President of the Unites States, a country that would never dream of sharing its sovereignty over anything, instructs or urges us politely to get more embedded in the EU, which is already making 60% of our laws.

"I think the issue really is about democracy - America guards its democracy very jealously and I think we should be entitled to do so as well."

Downing Street said Mr Johnson was recycling "false" claims in relation to Churchill's bust.

Churchill's grandson, Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames, who is campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, called the article "deplorable" and "completely idiotic".

'Unacceptable smear'

He told LBC Radio: "I like to think, possibly - I'm mad enough to think - that it was probably written by some little twerp who works for Boris. I can't believe that Boris would really have done something so stupid, but whatever it is it bears his name and it is deeply offensive."

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell called for Mr Johnson to withdraw his comment, writing on Twitter: "Mask slips again. Boris part-Kenyan Obama comment is yet another example of dog whistle racism from senior Tories."

Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Campbell of Pittenweem said Mr Johnson's comments constituted an "unacceptable smear".

But UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended the comments, saying: "I think Obama, because of his grandfather and Kenya and colonisation, I think Obama bears a bit of a grudge against this country."

Stories about the removal of the Churchill bust were described by the White House in 2012 as "100% false".

"The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room," a senior adviser said in a rebuttal.

A Churchill bust lent to President George Bush by Tony Blair was removed from the Oval Office along with other art lent to the Bush presidency after Mr Obama's 2009 inauguration "as is common practice at the end of every presidency", the White House said at the time.

A separate bust of Britain's wartime leader, that has been in the White House since the early 1960s, remains on display.

Mr Johnson said in his article: "No-one was sure whether the president had himself been involved in the decision", adding: "Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president's ancestral dislike of the British Empire - of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender."

The London mayor, who penned a best-selling biography of Churchill, was born in New York but recently said he intends to renounce his American citizenship to prove his "commitment to Britain".