What "Bacon Butty Ed" says about the UK's political climate on migration
November 29, 2014 3:39 AM Subscribe
Claudia Roden, the great chef-historian of Jewish food, believes that the detachable bits of ham and bacon that go into so many Spanish stews may – for secret Jews and Muslims alike – have served as a convenient way to appease the inquisitors when they called. In Majorca, as she notes in her book The Food of Spain, the "new Christians" conspicuously cooked large quantities of bacon out of doors in order to deflect suspicion. But for Grand Inquisitor Torquemada and his fellow kitchen sleuths, any man who bridled at a bacon butty would have instantly revealed his tainted blood.Labour leader Ed Miliband has consistently been mocked for being weird. Boyd Tonkin worries about the anti-semitic undertones of some of this criticism.
Miliband is of a Jewish background, coming from immigrant stock and has lost family in the Holocaust. Last year his father, the Labour politician and theorist Ralph Miliband, who had come to Britain as a refugee during WWII, was called out by the Daily Mail as "the man who hated Britain", while only this week another tabloid, The Daily Express, called British-born children of foreigners "hidden immigrants".
All of which is taking place in a political climate in which even Labour finds itself needing to go along with the UKIP dominated "debate" about immigration and pandering to bigots. Where UKIP feels comfortable to call out the BBC for political bias by holding a poll in front of a mosque, though that turned out to be Westminster Cathedral.
The problem with the whole debate on migration, apart from the increasing xenophobia of part of the press and the public, is that anything that could be done while the UK is part of the European Union would only have a marginal effect. This has further fueled the anti-EU sentiments amongst a large part of the Tory backbenchers and the rightwing tabloid press, with the call to leave the EU being stronger than ever.
If Britain did leave the EU, some 2.2 million Brits leaving in Europe would be left hanging, as the EU Law Analysis blog shows:
Usually, patriots and nationalists are concerned about the plight of their fellow citizens living abroad. One might think this would be particularly the case in the UK, given the large number of British citizens living abroad due to the current forces of globalisation – never mind the country’s colonialist past. Yet it seems more likely that British expatriates in the EU will be, in effect, the eggs that have to be broken to make the omelettes of those British politicians who feel uncomfortable living next to Romanians.EU nationals living in Britain would not fare better:
Those advocating the exit of the UK from the EU as a solution to unwanted intra-EU immigration do not seem to have grasped the unpalatable nature of the alternatives even in the terms of their own anti-immigration agenda. Maintaining the benefits of free access to Europe for UK citizens will almost certainly involve accepting inward movement from the entire EU on terms which are similar to those existing today but accompanied by the loss of influence that an exit implies. Alternatively, the UK can choose an isolationist position and apply domestic immigration controls to EU citizens. The price will be the loss of innumerable business, educational and cultural opportunities as movement from Europe becomes more difficult, and likely increased difficulties for UK citizens who may no longer take for granted their own privileged access to Europe for work, education, holidays or retirement.
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