Ipswich: Ben Gummer Tory MP and Remain Campaigner Defends Migrants.
Racism against Eastern European migrants is just vile – we should be thankful for what they do, says Ipswich MP Ben Gummer
If you go to Handford Road in the early hours, when most British people are still asleep, you will see minibuses filling with Eastern European migrants, going off to work gutting chickens in a job that the Job Centres fail to get British people to do.
Hold that thought when you consider the vile eruptions of racism since Nigel Farage’s ‘Independence Day’ two weeks ago. Employees at a depot in Thetford chanting “you’re going home” to Eastern European colleagues; a Polish centre in Hammersmith sprayed with ‘Go Home’ in the middle of the night; a notice – charmingly written in Polish – encouraging Poles to ‘go home’, picked up by a little 11-year-old Polish boy; notes left on cars telling ‘Polish vermin’ to leave the country; a European man berated on a Manchester tram by some thug who told him to “**** off home”.
What has happened to our country? Whatever side of the debate you were on, no-one can deny that we are now a nation terribly divided, with intolerance unleashed.
Some have said to me that it’s a limited problem, an issue that has “always been there” – as if there is something inevitable about this treatment of foreigners, and that in the release the hatred will go away. They could not be more wrong. It is right that people should be ashamed to express racist sentiments, even if it is what they believe in their hearts.
That is why politicians should be so very careful in how they use words: by using language carelessly, by stoking fear of migrants, they can seem to permit something that is rightly impermissible.
Do not imagine that this is a sentiment reserved for bovine thugs: it exists behind many polite doors and neat gardens in our own town. Time and again I heard “I’m not a racist but…”, beginning a sentence that revealed a fear of foreigners and a wish to see them gone.
Most carefully, people express concerns about school class sizes and GP waiting lists. These concerns might be legitimate but they are rightly levelled at us politicians, not at the migrants on whom these problems in public services are so often blamed.
After all, the average EU migrant is more likely to be in work, paying taxes, than us Brits, helping to build – both in money and in labour – the classrooms all of our children need. And those GP queues? They are more the result of British people getting older – not young fit Lithuanian men, who rarely need a doctor.
I know Ben Gummer.
His office is about ten minutes from my gaff.
We have had conversations about Noam Chomsky.
I am a political opponent of Ben, he said, when out campaigning for Remain on his Tory stall (which obviously I had not part in) that this must be the first time in his life that he and me had been on the same side.
We fight the class struggle democratically.
Ben knows as well as I do that this racism has got beyond a joke.
Us lot in Ipswich are pretty close.
His words are very carefully weighed.
They merit utmost attention: Mit brennender Sorge.