Labour MP Stephen Kinnock drops a colossal clanger, gets disowned by half of Twitter [TWEETS]

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:

One Twitter user was quick to point out what the son of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock appears to be implying:

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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:

But most left the historical context out of it and were very blunt about how they felt:

On the other hand, sometimes comedy says it best:

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.

Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who said she’d be tougher than the Tories on benefits in 2013, has warned that the UK could “explode” into riots if immigration is not curbed following the Brexit vote.

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:


It’s a similar story with education and the welfare state.

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.

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