Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture. His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem.
One accused him of misunderstanding the advice he had been given on the issue at a Downing Street summit.
Black community leaders reacted after Mr Blair said the recent violence should not be treated as part of a general crime wave, but as specific to black youth. He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped “by pretending it is not young black kids doing it”.
Oliver Letwin is in Labour’s sights as they martial all the indignant outrage they can muster and bluster…the BBC giving them every chance to pillory Letwin as a racist.
Right from the off the BBC deliberately misled people as to what Letwin actually said. Justin Webb on the Today programme(07:09) stated that Letwin ‘believed that black Britons had bad moral attitudes’….implying Letwin thought all black Britons had bad moral problems. The BBC news and various programmes that followed up on this ‘important’ story about a small memo from 1985 all took the same narrative and chose not to tell us what Letwin actually said in full….which is…
“The root of social malaise is not poor housing, or youth ‘alienation’, or the lack of a middle class. Lower-class, unemployed white people lived for years in appalling slums without a breakdown of public order on anything like the present scale; in the midst of the depression, people in Brixton went out, leaving their grocery money in a bag at the front door, and expecting to see groceries there when they got back.
“Riots, criminality and social disintegration are caused solely by individual characters and attitudes. So long as bad moral attitudes remain, all efforts to improve the inner cities will founder.”
Did Letwin casually assert that the whole Black community was predisposed to be criminals due to their inherent bad moral attitudes? No he didn’t. You don’t have to read that at all carefully to see exactly what he meant….I’m sure the many English graduates with gainful employment at the BBC can explain what ‘individual’ means…..seems some just don’t want to know what Letwin actually said….nor were they at all bothered about mentioning PC Keith Blakelock, beaten and stabbed 40 times, almost beheaded by Black rioters as they shouted ‘kill the pig’, nor did the BBC bother to mention Labour man Bernie Grant saying the police got ‘a bloody good hiding’. Curious how unbalanced the BBC can be, dodging the inconvenient ‘context’ that might distract from their own narrative.
All Letwin said was that certain individuals who commit these crimes or who riot do so because they, individually, have bad moral attitudes…he did not make a broad, sweeping statement condemning the whole Black community.
When Lammy, Watson, Umunna and Phillips and all the rest assert he was wrong are they saying that the criminals and rioters were morally right to be acting in that way? It does look that way.
The BBC quoted Trevor Phillips all day telling us he thought Letwin’s words were outrageous and racist and that basically all white people thought like that back in 1985. Trouble is Phillips, whilst saying that the comments were outrageous, [no, they weren’t…see above] actually went on to say he wasn’t interested in dragging over something from 30 years ago when Letwin, whom he knew well, didn’t have such an attitude now. Justin Webb ignored that and demanded to know if Phillips thought Letwin should resign…clearly not understanding a word Phillips had said, or blatantly ignoring it in the hunt for a Tory scalp.
And anyway….this is a Labour attack….desperate as they are to fling mud at the Tories after being nailed as Terrorist sympathisers. Shame the BBC didn’t spend half as much time on the allegations against Labour as they do with Letwin.
Let’s look back at some Labour history on race and culture….Jack Straw in 2007…
The “continuing problem” of gang violence is due to the absence of fathers in black communities, Justice Secretary Jack Straw says.
He said young black men needed their fathers as role models, otherwise their development suffered.
He was responding to US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson who said inner city violence was an economic problem.
“Gang violence is rooted in the economics of desperation,” said Rev Jackson, adding that some people were “profiting” from providing guns to deprived areas.
But Mr Straw, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said the problem was not due to economics.
“One of the striking things is the difference between the attitude and the success in life of black girls from exactly the same backgrounds compared to black boys.”
Black girls perform around the average at Key Stage 4, aged 16, compared to the overall population, he said.
‘Lads need dads’
“Black boys go backwards when they get to secondary school.
“It’s a cultural problem. It’s the absence of fathers who are actively involved in parenting.
So Straw is making the very same claims that Labour are now trying to claim Letwin was making…..crime was due to cultural factors in the Black community….oh and look who else was talking the same talk….
And last March Commission for Racial Equality chairman Trevor Phillips implied some absent fathers were partially to blame for the under-achievement of black boys at school.
Barnardo’s spokesman Errol John said the Babyfather Initiative acknowledged there were problems to be tackled.
“Some black men aren’t playing as full a role in their children’s lives as they should be.
“That’s an issue we don’t shy away from when talking to communities, along with the political stuff that needs addressing,” he said.
Mr Phillips said a lack of self-esteem and positive role models for black boys also compounded the problem, as well as an attitude that being clever is not cool.
“If the only way to break through the wall of attitude that surrounds black boys is to teach them separately in some classes, then we should be ready for that,” he said.
Because I had made it my business to spend part of each week in a community outside London, I already knew some groups were becoming so isolated that values and ideas which most people would find alien were tolerated and even encouraged.
And I saw a looming danger that these communities were steadily shrinking in on themselves, trapping young people behind walls of tradition and deference to elders.
Of course none of this was secret. But anyone who pointed the finger could expect to be denounced for not respecting diversity.
Our desperation to avoid offence is itself beginning to stand in the way of progress. And all too often the losers are minority Britons.
If African Caribbeans are statistically more likely to commit some kinds of crime than other people, as indeed they are — we are especially proficient at murdering other African Caribbeans, for example — it might make some sense to understand why, so we can stop it happening.
Even the Guardian’s Michael White backed Phillips whilst others tried to silence him for saying we were sleepwalking into segregation….
Petty crime patterns, high exam performance and levels of affluence are usually taboo if they threaten to carry a racial dimension: stereotyping is the usual complaint and, of course, it has some merit. Only some. Even a word of out place – think Benedict Cumberbatch’s well-meant remarks about the shortage of “coloured” actors – can raise a media mini-storm, though colour is again being used in the US to embrace all sorts of non-white ethnic groups.
Seems to me that there is a huge amount of hypocrisy around Letwin’s comments and not a little political opportunism. The BBC has indulged itself and gone on the attack instead of doing its job and sifted out the sanctimony, hubris and moral grandstanding as well as the far more dangerous attempt to stir up race conflict…something the BBC itself specialises in. Phillips has let himself down and made some cheap comments playing to the baying mob attacking Letwin whilst admitting Letwin doesn’t actually have an attitude like that, and Phillips says he knows him well.