Cameron turns to racism as government support drops

Photo: Conservative Middle East Council

By David James

Anyone who wants to understand why Cameron chose to launch his attack on multiculturalism last week, to the delight of the English Defence League and other fascist groups, need only follow the daily tracker polls carried by YouGov – which are a useful resource. Cameron’s speech was an attempt to bolster Tory support by one of the oldest capitalist manoeuvres – attempting to promote racism to divert the population’s attention from the real problems that are affecting them.

As can be seen in Chart 1 below, ‘approval’ of the Tory-led government has been falling since soon after it was elected. The latest one, on 7 February, saw approval of the government at –25%.

Chart 1

Source: YouGov

But until January it was the Lib-Dems who were taking the brunt of increasing disapproval of the government, with their support falling towards single figures. Tory support remained up and roughly equal to Labour.

The big change is that since the VAT increases in January, and the big student protests, Tory support has begun to fall and Labour to rise – see Chart 2. In the last poll on 7 February Tory support had dropped to 37% and Labour was 6% ahead on 43%. Growing opposition to the cuts had spread beyond students to increasingly wide sections of the population.

Chart 2

Source: YouGov

Cameron therefore needed something to try to distract attention from the real issues affecting the population. The method to try to do so is the old one  developed by the ruling class since the middle of the 19th century – organised modern racist movements.

The prototype form of such racism was modern anti-semitism – developed by the ruling class in Austria and other countries to use against the working class movement after the defeat of the 1848 revolution. Then a similar movement was developed in the US after the Civil War against the black population. Anti-Irish propaganda was used in Britain in the 19th century. Such racist movements, of course, found their ultimate expression in Europe in Hitler and the Holocaust.

Such racist movements periodically change the proclaimed enemy but their methods remain the same – to divert the population from the real problems that confront them. Today the principal group chosen as the target for racist offensives is Muslims – although Jews or black people can always be put back in the centre if capitalism finds it useful. As the Tories support falls they therefore will increasingly turn to racism. That is the meaning of Cameron’s speech.

He is following the same pattern as in France, where Sarkozy is using anti-Muslim attacks to try to divert the population from the movement against his attacks on pensions and other social rights. According to Sarkozy the really vital issue confronting the population of France is not whether their living standards and wages are cut but whether Muslim women wear the burqa.

The answer needs to be crystal clear. What needs to be banned is bankers not the burqa. The problem in Europe is not Muslims, it is bankers and capitalists. It is they who created the problems of the cuts and falling living standards. And they are the friends and supporters of David Cameron.

That is why the Tories are trying, and will increasingly try, to divert attention from the real enemy people confront.