What We Think    
    November 1999: The beef war farce    

Britain's beef war against the French, energetically hyped up by certain newspapers, has recently attained something of the flavour of childishness, with some commentators engaging in the kind of language reminiscent of that used against the Germans in World War II. Put simply, the issue is that the French Government (at least up to the time of our going to press) has been determined to maintain a ban against imports of British beef on the grounds that it may be BSE-contaminated, while our own Government refuses to apply a reciprocal ban against French beef products, despite evidence of some French cattle being fed on sewage.

This has led to campaigns in the press in support of a trade boycott not only against French beef but against other imports from our neighbours. In addition, numerous groups of people around the country, particularly in farming areas, have been taking their own measures to organise boycotts. Scenting an attractive bandwaggon on which to jump and boost circulation figures, some papers have even spoken of the French in terms which, had the same words been used to describe ethnic minorities in Britain, might well have brought the race relations police down on their necks.

So what is it that our press-hounds and politicians have against the French? What they are saying is that the ban on British beef violates European Union rulings on the matter, and that behind the attempts of the French to justify this ban on grounds of safety lies simply a policy of giving preference to their own farmers. "The worst kind of protectionism" was one phrase used by a Tory MP to describe this policy.

But if the French attempt to keep out British beef does amount to protectionism, so what? That such a term has become one of abuse these days is only an indication of how muddled our thinking is on such matters. There is nothing whatever wrong with a country seeking to protect its own industries; what the French are doing in the case of their own farming industry is exactly what we British should be doing in the case of ours. We might say to those who express pained outrage at these French practices: "Welcome to the real world!"

So what should Britain's reaction be to all this? Very simple. We should take the behaviour of the French over the beef issue as a lesson to us in the international facts of life - facts which France always seems to have been better able to grasp than we have. Nations - at least those which have not taken leave of their senses - put their own interests first. They protect their own economies and safeguard the livelihoods of their own people. Their ways of thinking and acting are, quite basically, nationalist. When they enter into international agreements, it is not in pursuit of some airy-fairy 'One World' fantasy but in order to extract the very maximum benefit for themselves. So it has always been with the French in Europe. We British, by contrast, have always been the poor saps who have believed that other nations are in the EU to do us favours.

The only sensible way out of crises like that presently surrounding beef - though a way no British Government in the foreseeable future will be adopting - is to quit the European Union altogether and free ourselves from every attendant rule and regulation that prevents us (even it does not prevent the French) from taking whatever measures are required to protect our own economic interests. We should then carry out a policy of 'Buy British' in respect of all farm products, and indeed all products of any kind, including manufacturing, which we have the resources to supply ourselves. Then there will be no need for our farmers to sell their yields to the French, for they will have ample enough market in Britain itself. When we reach this happy state of affairs, there will be no corresponding need for rows with the French of the kind now raging. We can then be good neighbours with them in a way no internationalist seems able to appreciate - by a mutual agreement between us that we each put our own nation first and desist from squealing when the other does likewise.

'Racist' or not?

Woe of woes! Waheed Alli, 'gay' millionaire media tycoon and pal of Tony Blair, elevated to the Lords last year, appears to be finding life there none too congenial. According to a report in The Independent on Sunday (October 24th), the good Lord Alli (don't forget the second 'l'!) has accused his fellow peers of "deep-seated racism and homophobia."

Said the IoS report:-

"Senior government sources last night said they had little doubt that the claims of Lord Alli were well founded. Other peers backed his allegations. Planet 24 boss Lord Alli, 34, was one of the young entrepreneurs appointed to a life peerage by Tony Blair but soon became appalled at the way he was treated.

"Broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, who was one of the first peers created by the Prime Minister. said: 'Waheed is a very honest man and he wouldn't say anything like this lightly. I really am sad people feel like that.'

"Lord Alli, who is openly gay, has told colleagues he feels that other peers believe he doesn't belong and that, although they wouldn't say so to his face, are asking: 'What are you doing here? You don't belong.'"

But perhaps Mr. (sorry, Lord!) Alli has not got it quite right. Perhaps it is not 'racism' or 'homophobia' that are the causes of his rather less than warm reception in the Lords. It just could be that some of the occupants of that institution realise that he is there precisely because is a member of both a racial and sexual minority, rather than because he has made any particularly distinguished contribution to the nation's life. When Alli thinks that his fellow peers are asking: "What are you doing here?" it just might be that that is the reason.

There could perhaps be other reasons too. By all accounts, Waheed Alli is something of a pushy, bumptious individual. He has been reprimanded for making an unnecessary noise when talking in the peers' lobby with a fellow 'ethnic'. He also appears to have made something of a fuss when, at the time of his being sworn in, there was not a copy of the Koran available for the purpose.

But of course, whenever a member of a minority, let alone two minorities, feels peeved about the way he has been treated, 'racism' and/or 'homophobia' always provide convenient accusations to level at people. It is all so much easier than acknowledging that perhaps the individual in question has some unattractive personality traits that get others' backs up.

Meanwhile, down at Fords...

From the Upper House of parliament to the factory shop floor, 'racism' seems to be rampant - thus providing yet more business for the operatives of the race industry. Now we are at the Ford plant at Dagenham, where relations between white and 'ethnic' workers are reputed to be getting so bad that a riot recently broke out there and a troubleshooter from the firm's headquarters in the United States has made a special trip over here to sort things out.

So what has gone wrong at Fords, where 40 per cent of the 9,000-strong workforce are black or Asian? It all apparently boils down to this: Some coloured workers complain that they regularly are subject to 'racist' taunts by their white colleagues, while there has also been discontent at the fact that only very rarely are they considered for promotion to supervisor level. Apparently, the word 'Paki' is in frequent use among white staff when addressing Asian colleagues, and this causes offence. Of course, Scots no doubt get called 'Jock' and Welshmen 'Taffy' but they usually accept it in the friendly spirit in which it is usually intended. One of the white workers in trouble for alleged 'racism' at Ford's was Michael Lambert, who is on the tall side and gets called 'Lofty', but that's alright. It is when you are a member of an ethnic minority that these special rules governing how people may speak to you come into force. Lambert, incidentally, claims not to be a 'racist' but, on the contrary, to have coloured friends; but that hasn't saved him from the sack.

Fords, of course, like every big multinational company, are horrified at the idea of getting a reputation for 'racism'. At Dagenham the company has set up a telephone hot line for ethnic minority workers to ring if they felt they were getting intimidated or abused. But, said a report in The Mail on Sunday (October 24th), "it backfired when the company failed to provide staff who speak Asian languages so they can understand the callers."

The report went on to say:-

"The danger for Ford is that it could face a mass of tribunal cases from employees leading to millions of pounds in compensation. In America, the company has just set up a £5 million fund to compensate victims of racism among its Chicago workforce."

Ah, compensation! Now perhaps we're getting a little nearer to the root of the problems. The particular Asian worker who thought he had been subjected to 'racism' by Lambert, one Sukhjit Parmar, took Fords to a tribunal claiming racial harassment and won his case, getting his alleged tormentor fired. Now, said the MoS report, "the floodgates holding back countless similar claims are on the verge of bursting open." The mind boggles at the likely bill when all these claims are settled to the complainants' satisfaction.

And how are these cases adjudicated upon? Said Lambert to the paper: "What Ford has done is allow every ethnic minority to make a complaint, and all they need is one witness. I had dozens of witnesses to say I had not done what Mr. Parmar claimed but they took his word."

It rather looks as if, when a dispute concerning 'racial harassment' arises, witnesses divide up largely on racial lines. The non-Whites take the side of the alleged victim while the Whites support the accused. As to who is speaking the truth, this will probably rarely, if ever, be known. But what is clear is that the non-white complainant stands to win a goodly payout if he can convince the tribunal that it would not be in the company's interest to be seen failing to uphold a charge of 'racism' brought by one of the ethnic minorities. Fords are obviously hypersensitive to the media image they need to sustain as an 'equal opportunities' employer - even if by 'equal opportunities' is meant that they must invariably take the side of the non-White in such an enquiry!

Of course, motor manufacturers in such countries as Japan and Korea just do not have these problems; their workforces are ethnically homogeneous. This not only means more harmony but no such compensation bills. No wonder their cars are selling so well!

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