Rivers of Bloody Words

Tory candidate Nigel Hastilow has resigned in a ‘Rivers of Blood’ row. His choice of words in his Express and Star article is noteworthy:

“When you ask most people in the Black Country what the single biggest problem facing the country is, most say immigration,” he wrote. “Many insist: ‘Enoch Powell was right.’

My emphasis. Notice the way in which he attributes rather unpleasant views to other people. Hastilow then goes onto say: “He was right. It has changed dramatically”
No doubt his supporters will claim that he is not actually endorsing Enoch Powell’s views. That he is merely reporting other people endorsing such views. No doubt that his supporters will claim that it is true that Britain has changed dramatically. What’s he done wrong!?
The answer is that he is guilty of a double slieght-of-pen. First, by presenting the arguments of “many” other people, he is citing them approvingly and endorsing them. Its a trick of prose employed precisely to give himself cover, when he raises Powell’s spectre. He does not question the legitimacy of those views, nor make the distinction clear.
Second: The phrase “changed dramatically” When Powell sent out his warning, he saw it in purely negative terms. So “changed dramatically” is incomplete? For the better or worse, Nigel? Or about the same, Nigel? Or just dramatically different, Nigel? (why are all Tory candidates called Nigel?) Either Hastilow is also endorsing Powell’s fear that Britain is dramatically worse because of immigration… Or he is employing a meaningless truism. If the former, then he should rightly be ashamed of himself. If the latter, then he is being disingenuous.
It is an irritating turn of events I wish would never have happened. Hastilow’s dexterity with words, which surely come so easy to former newspaper editor, allow him to conjour up a shield of righteousness. You can bet he is not contrite, and that he will, in time, cite his forced withdrawl of his candidacy as an example of the Politically Correct elite knee-jerking him out the door.
But it is no such thing.

4 Replies to “Rivers of Bloody Words”

  1. It’s called stake innoculation, a more common example is “I’m not a racist but……..”
    Have to say he’s probably right about popular opinion in the black country, it is in the midlands after all.
    Seriously I think the idea that immigration is an all good/all bad thing has stifled debate on what is an important social issue, whether some points of the political spectrum want it to be or not. It’s a false dichotomy, the most reasonable position is to accept that there are both good AND bad things about immigration, and to be honest about the motivations for it (mostly economic) rather than pretending it’s some kind of socially enhancing national experiment in multi cultural group hugging. One of the reasons for the current backlash agaisnt the liberal left is their refusal to honestly discuss, let alone accept that there is any downside to immigration.

  2. Well said, MM.
    IMO, Britain is dramatically worse in many respects, including but not only due to the increase in population, coupled with the long-term effects on the infrastructure of 18 years of Tory rule.
    On top of this, I think there is a point that doesn’t tend to get heard for fear of accusations of racism, which is that immigration does need to be managed in a way which is sensitive to the indiginous population. In Powell’s era, I do not believe this was the case – hence the terrible racism that was subsequently observed.

  3. I think part of the deabte, and especially if we attribute most immigration to economic reasons, is its inevitability. Its a globalised world and rising imigration is a fact of that world, just as mass-migration from country to city was a feature of the Industrial Revolution. That, too, brought dramatic social change for the better and the worse. But on balance, we think more ‘better’ than ‘worse’ and we certainly do not demonise those who made the move. Indeed, it was they who drove the new economy that evolved, and (think 1914-18 or 1939-45) the survival of the country possible.

  4. Oh yes, I don’t doubt this, Rob. But where the population is growing faster than the infrastructure can support it, then I think we have a problem.
    Where you introduce multi-cultures to an insular population, then if you don’t want a racism problem, you have to educate and reassure the indiginous population, especially those who it might most affect, and those who are least educated and have the fewest resources. Responsible leadership, and respect for all involved – it’s not rocket science.
    On top of the basic prejudice issue, there is also the point that where resources are already overstretched, then the need for a sensitive immigration policy is all the greater. In the absence of such a thing, then you can’t really complain or be surprised when people’s fears and ignorance get the better of them.

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