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Homegrown Neo-Colonialists On The Loose

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Britain has got form.

The last few weeks have provided numerous examples of that, all of them deeply disturbing.

First off, exactly one week after Price Charles guest edited the Voice newspaper to mark its 40th anniversary, an issue in which he identified with the struggle of the African/Caribbean diaspora to be given equal rights and equal opportunities in Britain, his mother died.  The entire country and its institutions reacted as if they had a meltdown. Capitalism took time out as a mark of respect.  Even high-end estate agents that typically advertised properties worth not less than a couple million quid replaced the display of those properties with images of the deceased monarch in varying guises and stages of her long reign over us.  The one trade that bloomed was that in floral tributes, millions of pounds worth of the stuff, placed outside the many royal houses, at a time when unprecedented numbers of QE II loyal subjects were dependent on food banks to keep themselves and their children alive and were worrying as to their impending choice to heat their homes or to eat, as winter beckoned.

Such was the weeping and mourning, the suspension of satire, joy and levity, the solemnity of the media, that one could have been forgiven for thinking that it was the institution of the monarchy itself that was finally being buried, rather than a 96 year old woman who had presided over numerous massacres and state sponsored atrocities during her reign and had kept millions of people across the globe subjugated; people who in large measure had been responsible for generating the wealth that the House of Windsor enjoyed and that she would bequeath to her descendants, free of the burden of inheritance tax.

After many decades waiting in the wings, Charles finally became King and his son William next in line to the throne.  The idea of Charles as king in modern Britain is so anachronistic that one would hope that William would aspire to be the would-be King who finally buried the monarchy simultaneously with his father, when Charles eventually goes beyond the veil to join his parents.  Meanwhile, however, it remains to be seen whether and how Charles translates his sanctimonious expressions of sorrow and regret over African enslavement and his concern for the existential reality of British descendants of enslaved Africans into tangible and meaningful efforts to make reparations, both as the former slave owning monarchy he now heads up and the British state that was constructed upon the barbaric exploitation and displacement of peoples across the globe, the theft of their land and natural assets and the erasure of their spiritual, religious and cultural traditions.

Britain has a long and sordid history of moulding and deploying neo-colonials to advance its interests and take care of business on its behalf in territories across the globe appropriated by the British Empire.  That was anything but a benign and developmental process, even though the British argued that imperialism and colonialism were about civilising brutes and pagans who in their racist and white supremacist view could not be trusted and indeed might never be ready to run their own affairs.

Second, after the Second World War, Britain imported the reserve pool of labour it had abandoned in its former colonies and systematically presided over the formation of new ethnic colonies, especially in urban areas across the land. Controlling the number of ‘coloured immigrants’ coming to Britain was near the very top of the political and policy agenda of successive post-war governments.

But from within those same ethnic colonies, Britain has succeeded in moulding and grooming an increasing number of home-grown neo-colonials, who are proud to perform a function akin to that of those whom Britain could rely upon to take care of its business in its former colonies, including Jamaica.  David Cameron famously told the Jamaican people to ‘stop the noise’ about reparations, ‘get over’ their preoccupation with African enslavement and its abiding consequences and accept £25 million to build a new prison to contain its dispossessed and impoverished working class at home and to receive those whom the Tory right wing were hellbent on deporting to Jamaica, even if they had lived most of their life in Britain.  Colonial Jamaica for its part, out of gratitude for British enslavement and loyalty to QE II as its head of state, immediately declared 12 days of national mourning once news broke of the Queen’s death.  That government announcement had absolutely no regard for the views of the majority of people in the country, views that they expressed loudly and clearly when William and Kate, soon to become Prince and Princess of Wales, visited the island recently in the name of the said Queen.

I do not believe that it is pure coincidence that one home-grown neo-colonial Tory politician after another has been put in charge of immigration and border control by Tory prime ministers since Amber Rudd MP was made to resign for being economical with the truth about her knowledge of targets to reduce immigration.  First there was Sadiq Javid (he of the ‘Compliant’ environment); then there was the dreadful Priti Patel who appeared to want to prove that she could be even more brutal than Theresa May on the question of immigration; and then just when we thought things could get no worse, Liz Truss, the prime minister elected by the Tory party to replace Boris Johnson, appointed Suella Braverman as Home Secretary.  Patel and Braverman might as well have been catechised in a Sunday school run by Enoch Powell, given the utterly disgraceful positions they have both displayed on the question of immigration.

The Tory party’s logic appears to be that since we received such condemnation over the ‘hostile environment’ and our ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’ campaign, with many in the population accusing us of racism, we would put these neo-colonials in charge of immigration and border control, who are so right wing that the country would come to regard Theresa May as Mother Teresa in comparison.

Listen to Suella Braverman, for example. Addressing a fringe meeting at the recent Tory conference, Braverman asserted with joyous anticipation:

‘I would love to be having a front page of The (Daily) Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda (with refuges and asylum seekers), by Christmas. That’s my dream. That’s my obsession’.  In her speech to the conference itself, she stated that there were too many asylum seekers abusing the system.  She committed herself to bringing forward laws “to make it clear that the only route to the United Kingdom is through a safe and legal route” and stated that anyone entering the UK illegally from a safe country should be swiftly returned to their home country or relocated to Rwanda.

Braverman told the conference that her parents had loved Britain from afar and came to Britain in the 1960s from Kenya and Mauritius as young adults.  Britain offered them security and opportunity. Totally without irony and displaying ignorance about the pattern of migration and settlement of African and Asian people in post-war Britain, she expressed her desire to see migration that grows our economy and to cut down on those numbers that are not meeting the needs of our economy.

She made no mention of race discrimination in employment, or of the assault on black communities by neo-fascist groups of the sort that engaged in ‘paki-bashing’ in communities such as that of her parents.  No mention of the fact that despite evidence of the murders, maiming and arson committed by such groups over many decades, successive governments refused to outlaw them as organised, far right extremists.  

It was not so surprising, therefore, that her leader, Liz Truss, was quick to congratulate Italy’s new prime minister Giorgia Meloni, the right wing leader of  the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party, a party which will no doubt become the country’s first far-right-led government since World War II.

Thankfully, representative democracy or not and Asian and African or not, the crop of home-grown, right-wing neo-colonialists in the Tory government and party are not representative of the many Tories who believe in decency and social justice, let alone of the global majority populations of which they are a part.

By Professor Gus John

First published in Jamaica Gleaner 



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