Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/201/8464
What we think
Football trial fiasco will stoke anger about racism
THE HIGH-PROFILE collapse of the prosecution of Leeds United footballers, combined with other developments, has the potential to further inflame anger about racism in British society.
Regardless of the fiasco surrounding the Sunday Mirror's contempt of court, the lasting debate will now centre on the judge's criticism and rejection of parts of the Macpherson Report over the definition of what is a racially motivated crime.
It should be noted that there have been other high-profile cases, such as the Birmingham Six, Winston Silcott and suspected IRA members to name a few, where tabloid newspapers have shown blatant contempt of court proceedings and incurred only a nominal fine as the 'prejudiced' case continued.
The defendants denied any racial motive to the alleged attacks in the Leeds footballers' trial and the prosecution concurred. However, the father of the victim of the attacks disagreed. Not surprising given the other high-profile cases where the police initially denied race being an issue - the murder of Stephen Lawrence being the most notorious example.
But the way the trial collapsed, combined with the reactionary judge's remarks, now make it less likely that proper scrutiny of any alleged racial dimension will actually take place.
Poverty and prejudice
TWENTY YEARS on from the Brixton riots in 1981, which led to other inner-city riots and the Scarman Report and two years since the Macpherson Report, racism is still a massive and highly charged issue in British society.
Scarman's report 20 years ago expressed horror at the prejudice and deprivation experienced by ethnic communities in Britain's inner cities. It supposedly aimed to show how to overcome those problems.
But, today poverty and prejudice in many inner-city areas remains. Prejudice is perhaps not as open as it was 20 years ago but in many ways it has shown signs of increasing - especially with establishment politicians whipping up racism on asylum seekers.
A climate has developed where Tory MPs make openly racist speeches, which go unchallenged by the party leadership, and where the fascists, who are still extremely small, feel confident to organise demonstrations in racially sensitive areas every week (see below and page 5).
The Metropolitan Police admits there are racists in their ranks and promises to tackle it, but new incidences of police racism occur with monotonous regularity. Football clubs regularly have anti-racist initiatives but racism still persists in the game.
Despite these 'official' anti-racist initiatives, the position experienced by the majority of Britain's ethnic minority communities has not improved significantly in 20 years.
The reason these initiatives have not succeeded is because they attempt to tackle racism as a moral issue. They don't tackle the fact that racism has always been used by the capitalist class to justify policies and maintain their power through divide-and-rule tactics.
Neither have these official reports tackled the racist suspicion and prejudice which stem from rising unemployment, cutbacks in public housing and services and a general deterioration in working-class living conditions.
Combined with the leaders of the labour movement doing little to effectively tackle racism, then a situation develops where a 'soft' racism can harden. Certainly, Socialist Party campaigners have encountered working-class people who agree with many of our ideas but then say what about asylum seekers etc?
It is not asylum seekers or Black and Asian people who are shutting down the factories or making cuts in public spending: it is big business and the Labour government and councils who are so keen to do the bidding of big business.
Labour representatives often speak at anti-fascist protests yet vote through measures such as the privatisation of council housing and cutbacks the next day.
It's Labour politicians' support for the capitalist 'market' and their failure to improve working-class people's conditions which enables the fascists to seek support in working-class areas.
There is enormous wealth and productive capacity in Britain that could be used to overcome the many problems working-class people face, which can foster racist prejudice. But to eliminate the scourge of racism, society has to be organised under working-class control and management in a democratic socialist economy.
In The Socialist 13 April 2001: