Eighty Years On are we Repeating the Errors of 1930s Germany?
Parliament must assert its sovereignty over the right wing cabal that has taken over the UK government.
Eighty years ago, on 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. The immediate cause was that the German authorities had defied an ultimatum and invaded Poland. The underlying reason was that the invasion represented an extension of the racist policy being pursued by the German government of the time, asserting the right of what Hitler described as,the ‘Aryan’ race to supremacy over all other races. The initial target of this policy of enslaving or eliminating non-’Aryan’ people were the Jews.
With the help of most of our European neighbours, the people of the commonwealth and, eventually, the USA, the war against this particularly virulent form of white supremacy was successful. The disease, however, remained. Most notably in the USA and in South Africa. Even in Britain it manifested itself in notices, often seen in small hotels and boarding houses, stating “No blacks, no Irish”. This, despite the fact that the reconstruction of Britain’s cities and her economy after the destruction wreaked by 6 years of war was facilitated by immigrants from South Asia, the West Indies and Ireland.
My father died in that conflict and I came of age during a period in which segregation in the USA and apartheid in South Africa were regarded as morally indefensible by all right thinking people. The realisation that such discrimination between sections of the community was being practised in a part of the UK was a shock. But the swift action of the government to assert the rights of Catholics to take a full part in the life of Northern Ireland was welcome, although it did not prevent extremists on both sides exploiting the situation by escalating violent protest.
The UK joined the EU and supported legislation which outlawed all forms of discrimination, enabling people of all nationalities and cultures to live, work and study anywhere within the member nation states. South Africa abandoned apartheid. The USA embraced the civil rights movement and legislated to guarantee equal rights for all its citizens.
But there remained an undertow of racism throughout the Western democracies, increasingly vocal in its opposition to trends that were defined as ‘political correctness’. Such attitudes were nurtured by certain sections of the media.
In Britain they were crystalised into opposition to the EU, culminating in pressure for a referendum to test the willingness of the electorate to see the UK cease to be a member of the EU in order to escape the many regulations that safe guarded the welfare of citizens both as workers and as consumers.
For me it was not just the result of that referendum that came as a shock, so much as the open hostility to foreigners that it seems to have legitimised. The right wing white supremacist undertow is no longer covert. Reading the experiences of European citizens resident in the UK and the snide remarks and comments to which many have been subjected in shops and on public transport is heart breaking for me.
To see them subjected to official examinations that a significant proportion of native born citizens would fail, in order to acquire something called ‘settled status’; to see a prime minister determined to circumvent the will of Parliament in order to assert the supremacy of the English over the rest of Europe, ready to abandon a treaty solemnly entered into 20 years ago to end the bloody conflict between hate filled factions within Northern Ireland, risking the break up of the United Kingdom in pursuit of a fundamentally racist ideal fills me with dread.
It is hard not to conclude that the prime minister is the puppet of a right wing cabal determined to restore the supremacy of a privileged elite at the expense of a people they have manipulated into believing lies about the EU and the alleged preferential treatment of foreigners.
It is because we seem to be repeating the tragic errors of 1930s Germany that I shall be joining other UK citizens resident in Ireland in a protest outside the British embassy in Dublin later today in support of those in Westminster who are attempting to assert the sovereignty of Parliament.