Labour MP Stephen Kinnock appears to have been disowned by many on Twitter. A remark he made at a recent event organised by right-wing pressure group Progress sparked outrage:
— stuart braithwaite (@plasmatron) November 29, 2016
One Twitter user was quick to point out what the son of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock appears to be implying:
There is no hierarchy of culture in Britain. No traditions are superior, no skin colour is 'better' than another.
— Two Flames 🇵🇸 (@msjenniferjames) November 29, 2016
Kinnock is saying we must ‘assimilate’ other cultures into our own, seemingly suggesting these foreign cultures are of less value.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, assimilation was an ideological basis for French colonialism. If their foreign subjects adopted French culture and disregarded their own heritage, then they could earn civil rights.
On Twitter, others smelt a whiff of colonial rhetoric from Kinnock:
— Ruaidri Ua Conchobair ☘️ Ireland's last Irish King (@Irish_Ulster) November 30, 2016
But most left the historical context out of it and were very blunt about how they felt:
The sheer cheek of this talentless silverspooned hereditary bureaucrat spouting dodgy fascistic rhetoric like this
— Trevor Bastard NVQ Level 2, CEO Grannymugger Media (@GRANNYMUGGER) November 29, 2016
what the hell is wrong with you?
— Patricia (@PatriciaNPino) November 29, 2016
On the other hand, sometimes comedy says it best:
assimilate yourself into the bin.
— Sasha (@SashaBK) November 29, 2016
— Bankrupt (@bankruptspurs) November 29, 2016
But a Dalek was not the worst thing Kinnock was compared to. One social media user said he was being “borderline BNP”.
Others suggested that might be the idea.
The Labour right and pandering to UKIP
While Jeremy Corbyn has refused to “fan the flames” of anti-immigration rhetoric, a number of figures on the right wing of the Labour Party appear to think that spouting UKIP rhetoric will win votes.
But Maya Goodfellow of Media Diversified has her own warning for Reeves and other members of the Labour right who are adopting such rhetoric:
…this kind of mealy-mouthed approach encouraged some to vote for parties that are aggressively anti-migration because they were seen as being able to deal with falsehoods Labour had legitimised.
In contrast to the leadership, Labour MPs have begun peddling these “falsehoods” in the press. This vindicates UKIP’s anti-immigration position, allowing it to pick up more votes.
As well as his recent comments, Kinnock has peddled multiple myths that legitimise UKIP.
Myth 1: immigration causes racism
In September, the MP for Aberavon said:
Nobody is born racist, but immigration that reaches levels beyond a society’s capacity to cope can lead, in extremes, to racism.
But a report from The Guardian has shown that areas with the highest level of immigration overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU:
London, which absorbed 133,000 of the 330,000 net arrivals in 2015, voted the most strongly for remain. Manchester also voted for remain – and at 13,554 had nearly double the level of net migration seen in Birmingham, which voted leave.
Kinnock’s point seems to be nothing more than an arbitrary inclination.
Myth 2: immigration destroys public services
Kinnock also supports UKIP rhetoric when he suggests immigration is “beyond a society’s capacity”. This diverts attention from massive government cuts, letting the Conservatives off the hook. For example, here’s a chart showing the impact of Tory austerity on the NHS:
Kinnock and other right-wing Labour MPs need to stop vindicating UKIP rhetoric and start debunking it. Or people will begin to think they don’t seriously want to challenge the economic inequality behind the problems UKIP blames on ‘foreigners’. People may start to wonder if these MPs only want to preserve existing power structures. Fortunately, this time, Twitter users were there to put Kinnock in his place. And rightly so. Xenophobic rhetoric must be condemned wherever it rears its ugly head.
– Join the campaign against austerity.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.
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