Shame on Patel, Johnson and Their Enablers – Labour Article
With the wrap-up of the Euros, I am reminded of an article I read the previous week. The comment was in the Danish newspaper, Berlingske. A pundit had written, “I do not know if the British deserved the victory. But I know they have nothing else”.
In a week where decades were made, it certainly feels we have nothing else. While I can only speak for my own pride in the nation, which peaked around about before the final’s kickoff, it’s very much a time to not be patriotic. The hooliganism that descended on London. The racial abuse of our players online. Not to mention the sneering pundits on Twitter afterward, who seem all too smug to tell the Black players to “stay out of politics”.
It makes me hate being English and it makes me hate patriotism. Patriotism can be blunt, ugly, and cold. It can be used to degrade those who give everything for this country but won’t ever be truly accepted by our own nationalistic fiction.
Patriotism can mean something else though. I rekindled what I think patriotism is over this summer, seemingly long extinguished by the weight of the world over this past year. Patriotism can mean being proud of an incredible team, who don’t just deserve to be in their position for their impeccable talent but for being good people. People who stand up for equality, who go beyond and try to better the lives of ordinary people in this country. A team that represents a side of England that is often forgotten. Diverse but strong in so many ways.
It’s horrible what Rashford, Saka, and Sancho have had to face for this final. I even know people who were targeted online after the game and had racial abuse hurled at them too. The condemnation of anonymous online racism has been needed. Equally needed and deserved is the condemnation of Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, and the wider media. I absolutely agree with Gary Neville, racism starts “at the very top”.
The Conservative government, by continually waging war on the taking of the knee has contributed to this racist environment we find ourselves in. While I do hate to write that the Tories have a monopoly on evil as they always seem to do, it’s been incredibly obvious which side has been pushing back on taking the knee.
Boris and Patel both initially refused to condemn booing players. Patel went as far as calling the whole BLM movement “dreadful”. Tory MP Lee Anderson boycotted the games over taking the knee, a stupid little gesture that netted him 20 minutes of fame and a quiet retraction of his abstinence at the last minute. Furthermore, Tory Mp Brendan Clarke-Smith compared taking the knee to a nazi salute. Tory MP Natalie Elphicke, alongside conservative commentator Darren Grimes, both told Rashford to stick his nose out of politics. This isn’t even mentioning the countless times MPs have decried BLM over the past year or the countless hit pieces in the Sun about our black players.
It’s disgusting. It’s a source of utter shame for our government and our country. We should expect nothing less but full condemnation of the language used by our ministers. Ministers who seem to hate governing so much that they leave a vacuum of an anti-racist leader that has been filled by Gareth Southgate. Those in power can still dodge responsibility, as they always do, saying close to what they mean but just vague enough to absolve themselves. Rinse and repeat. It’s as Andy Burham commented on the whole matter: “if you blow dog whistles, the dogs start barking”.
We have created a truly toxic environment in this country. A country whipped up into a mad frenzy to resist anything that can be called “woke”. It’s mass hysteria. GB News presenter Guto Harri took a knee on air in response to the abuse the footballers faced, citing a new understanding of the issue. Immediately after, the channel was trending on Twitter with calls for viewers to drop the channel completely. Some were saying that it had become the “controlled opposition”. Is this what patriotism is? Is this how we’re supposed to think if we’re proud of this country?
There can be better ways to be proud of this country. Working hard, being a charitable person, standing up for the oppressed. These are all qualities that we universally admire in people. We are a nation of these people. It’s unfortunate that one side of the argument is decrying these values as being “anti-British”. We need to understand that this hate in our society isn’t stemming from anywhere. Ultimately, we are a society of norms and norms take power and time to establish themselves. Thus, we all need to come together to support our team and condemn racism wherever it comes from.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Joseph Mclaughlin
Point of Information
Patel is just as much of a victim of racism as our footballers – A Conservative Response
I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague’s dismay toward what it means to be patriotic and the horrific racist outcomes that coincide with that. What we have seen over the past week since the Euro finals have been exceptionally horrendous. But unfortunately not surprising. I find it incredibly challenging to feel patriotic when I see the racist abuse that is being hurled at players Rashford, Saka, and Sancho. Moreover, I struggle to align myself with English pride when that racism is extended to so many other non-white people, as we have seen time and time again.
I do, however, feel that it is important to address the endless racist abuse that is regularly hurled at Priti Patel herself. Whilst her involvement in the discussion of ‘taking the knee’ is a particularly tricky subject, this most certainly does not warrant the racism that she has received. Additionally, I find it particularly challenging to read about white men telling Patel, who is a woman of colour, to take the knee. Ultimately, she understands racism significantly more than any white person ever could, and I think it is time that people start recognising that.
Some of the messages aimed at Patel include: “Go back to India”, “Coconut” and “You forgot your own skin tone dancing for your white daddy”. These are just a fraction of the racist abuse that has been aimed at Patel.
Why is it that when Priti Patel is a victim of racism, it is regularly disregarded?
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Rebecca Selt
Shame on Johnson and Patel but there is no shame in being English anymore – A Liberal Response
I too share disgust at the racist abuse and hooliganism that we witnessed over the last few weeks. Nobody deserves racist abuse, whether they missed a penalty or are the Home Secretary.
As Joseph writes, Johnson and Patel, along with the Conservative party as a whole, are complicit in the racist abuse. Ultimately, their initial refusal to support the taking of the knee is disgraceful.
However, where I disagree with both of my colleagues is in their views of patriotism and what it means to be English. I must start off by saying I am not a particularly patriotic person. However, what the English football team represents, led by Gareth Southgate, is everything I want English patriotism to be. This Euros has shown me a new side of the English football team. Yes, there are still acts of hooliganism and racial abuse which should not be sidelined. But on the whole, we are starting to move past that as the only image of English football and Englishness.
Southgate leading the team in taking the knee. Rashford’s relentless work to fight child hunger. Mings attacking Patel’s anti-anti-racist stance. Henderson raising money for NHS staff during the first lockdown. These are English values that we haven’t seen from the English football team before. No longer are the team seen as a bunch of entitled and detached maniacs, almost inseparable from the hooliganism that followed them. Instead, we are starting to see a team reclaiming and redefining what it means to represent England.
Whilst the abuse targeted at Rashford, Sancho, and Saka is sickening, what shocked me most was the outpour of meaningful support around the country for these lads. By meaningful, I don’t mean Boris Johnson’s weak condemnation. I mean support all over social media and at Rashford’s mural. My social media feeds were full of people supporting these individuals, who would not have seen every tweet or Instagram story. This is a massive step for this country in reclaiming what it means to be English. No longer is Englishness just associated with hooligans and racists. Instead, Englishness is becoming the very antithesis of this.
There is still substantial work to be done; however, for the first time I feel proud of the English football team and what they stand for.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Luca Boyd