Leicester is a proudly multi-racial city, which has a long history of actively opposing racism. Obviously no-one would argue that there are no racial tensions, but what is clear is that many of these problems are aggravated by our political representatives’ unwillingness to fight for the needs of their constituents.
All the mainstream political party’s share some degree of responsibility in perpetuating racial tensions across Leicester. Instead of using their positions to point the finger at the wealthy tax-dodgers, elected officials attempt to divide the working classes.
Recent and ongoing examples of racism continue to plague the mainstream parties in Leicester and surrounding counties. In 2009, current Conservative councillor for Groby and Ratby, Robert Fraser, was fined £250 and temporarily suspended for delivering a racist public rant against Romanians, saying that they would “stick a knife in you as soon as look at you“.
Moving to the present, this week the secretary of the UKIP South Leicestershire branch was outed in the national media for his disgusting comments on Facebook, where he was quoted as saying that Leicester was “Britain’s biggest shithole”, which was “full of pakis”. He also said:
“We have coped with a [sic] African invasion, a [sic ] Indian invasion, a Chinese invasion, a polish invasion, the Romanian invasion is one invasion to[sic] far the other groups have the plus points, the Romanians are pick pocketing criminals, fuck the European Union time to get our borders and say no, get fucked you left wing bastards your [sic] not fucking us again”.
The Labour Party have also courted controversy this week for standing a candidate, Teresa Aldred, in Leicester’s Thurncourt ward who appears to have been a fellow traveller of the BNP. As the Leicester Mercury reported on Tuesday:
“Councillor Rashmi Joshi, secretary of the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party, said Ms Aldred had not declared anything about the BNP on the form she signed when seeking to become a candidate. He said she had given an explanation of the Facebook post and her appearance in the BNP video in a meeting with Labour officials on Sunday.”
Councillor Joshi added: “We are still fully supportive of her” – although this may, of course, change once their “ongoing investigation” is completed.
Ms Aldred’s apparent connections with the BNP are particularly worrying given the significant role played by far-right groups in stirring up racial hatred in her ward in the recent past. Unfortunately, the Labour Party has done little to assuage their own guilt in these instances, with local MP Keith Vaz seemingly siding with the anti-Muslim protesters.
But there are political groups that are campaigning to fight racism and its causes. Leicester Independent Councillors Against the Cuts (LICAC) stand opposed to the crippling austerity that is being used to turn ordinary people against one another. There would be no need to make cuts if the super-rich were forced to pay their taxes.
One essential way that local LICAC councillors demonstrate their resolve to fight racism is by supporting local campaigns committed to this task. This is why LICAC councillor Wayne Naylor has been invited to speak at the forthcoming meeting organised by Unite Against Fascism. So why not come down to the meeting at Highfields Community Centre on Wednesday 4th March and get involved in LICAC’s campaign?
By working together we can prove to people that there is a real reason for voting in the coming elections.