Politics.co.uk Blog

Thursday, 13 January 2011


It's the word which ruined Gordon Brown's general election campaign, but I can't think of a better way of describing the people I met in Oldham East and Saddleworth yesterday.

Later on today I'm going to contrast my experience at a Muslim community event hustings earlier in the week, which you can read about here, with the conversation I had in a pub somewhere in the constituency yesterday lunchtime.

But for now here's a summary of the views of this bunch of white men spending a Wednesday lunchtime in the pub, proving that the racial divide in this seat is as big as ever. Let me make this very clear: I am appalled by every single one of these opinions, which are definitively NOT my own.

The men in the pub thought that:

- Things have got "much worse" since the Oldham race riots of 2001
- Muslims are "smelly"
- Muslims don't help community relations because they refuse to work on Muslim holidays, unlike Christians who do work over Christmas, Easter etc
- Muslims are bent on global domination and eventually all British people will be subject to their rule
- Muslims cluster together, squeezing white people out of communities
- Jack Straw is completely right when he says Pakistani men prey on white girls

And, most shockingly of all:

- The only way to solve community tensions is to "kill all Muslims"

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of them were interested in voting in the by-election taking place today. Labour are definitely going to win, they argued, and in any case politicians won't make the slightest difference to their problems. I don't think I've ever felt so sickened by other people's views.

The big divide in Oldham East and Saddleworth isn't political. It's racial. It's ugly. And it hasn't been addressed near enough during the by-election campaign.

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