Bonga Bonga Land sums up the prevailing attitude towards immigrants in Britain

We shouldn’t kid ourselves. While reference to ‘Bonga Bonga Land’ by UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom in a recent speech was predictably and rightly panned across the political spectrum, disowned by the leadership of his own party, and drew the ire of the liberal commentariat, it will not have been greeted with the same disdain in many homes up and down the country.

On the contrary, his disparaging and racist reference to those countries in receipt of UK foreign aid would not only have been understood by many, it would have been welcomed. We only have to look at the growth in electoral support for UKIP itself – an anti-immigrant party which harbours more than its fair share of racists in its ranks – to know that while the focus of the liberal intelligentsia, the left, and progressive forces in general has been the rise of the kind of active racism espoused by the BNP and the EDL, casual racism remains entrenched within many British institutions never mind among the wider public.

There is no clearer evidence of this than the Home Office’s recent controversial campaign against illegal immigration, comprising advertising vans touring areas of London heavily populated by ethnic minorities, a poster campaign, and spot checks carried out by immigration officers in train stations. While thankfully the Home Office has stopped the deployment of racist vans under pressure from various human and immigrants’ rights organisations, the fact the Government felt comfortable that such a campaign would meet with public support, and the fact the campaign exclusively targeted ethnic minorities – as if there are no Australian, American, or South African illegal immigrants in London – is significant.

Never mind outright support, public acquiescence towards this government-sponsored wave of anti immigration is in itself the product of a reactionary populist media, which has successfully promulgated myths regarding the impact of immigration – social and economic – which do not stand up to scrutiny. It is also a consequence of Britain’s foreign policy, which has redounded on society at home in the form of terrorist attacks and the essentialization of the Muslim community in particular but also on ethnic minorities in general.

Bloom’s description Britain’s foreign aid budget as constituting ‘treason’ in the context of austerity is of course the product of ignorance, not to mention mendacity. At 0.7 percent of GDP the amount we’re talking about is hardly cause for the kind of moral panic whipped up in the pages of the Daily Mail. On the contrary it conforms to the percentage of GDP agreed by the UN 35 years ago as development aid to poverty-stricken economies of the developing world, where an estimated 11 million children under the age of 5 continue to die year on year as a result of hunger and preventable disease.

The concept of interdependence may be an alien one in the narrow purview of your typical UKIP politician and supporter, but nonetheless it remains crucial to our understanding of foreign aid as the sine qua non of any serious attempt by nation’s of the developed world to forestall mass migration by those seeking an escape from the absolute poverty that blights their lives. There is also the moral case for foreign aid, which if made on the basis of justice would see the current level increased by a factor of at least 100 given the history of exploitation of the human and natural resources of the Global South by the North, responsible for the huge disparity in wealth and development.

On a wider note, isn’t it instructive that the use of the word Bonga Bonga Land to describe the developing world induces such condemnation from a Tory-led government that has mounted one of the most targeted and vicious campaigns of demonization against the poor immigrants in its own country of any in living memory?

Public attitudes towards austerity, welfare reform, immigration (which for many is indistinguishable from foreign aid in that both are increasingly viewed through a xenophobic prism) reveal that on these issues the Right has won the battle of ideas.

 

18 comments on “Bonga Bonga Land sums up the prevailing attitude towards immigrants in Britain

  1. Daniel young on said:

    O course they have won the ground, not only on migrant labour, but also the Banner that your line flies.A divided working class not only dinasaur in its arguing of other lands problems,but not even united to understand that those workers are like me,exploited to the point of hatred.

  2. I assuming it’s an error to say increase aid by a factor of 100, since this would far exceed total government spending.

  3. Matt: There is also the moral case for foreign aid, which if made on the basis of justice would see the current level increased by a factor of at least 100 given the history of exploitation of the human and natural resources of the Global South by the North,

    I think you’ve misread that particular passage, Matt. It refers to the moral case for foreign aid based on the centuries of exploitation of the Global South by the North and encompasses the West in its entirety in this regard not just the UK.

  4. robert p. williams on said:

    Look at these clowns:

    The Traditional Britain Group’s Standpoints

    (1) We believe in Britain and the British people, their heritage and customs.

    (2) We believe in a sovereign self-governing Britain and withdrawal from the EU.

    (3) We reject all forms of foreign interference in our government.

    (4) We ask for an understanding and consciousness by all our people of their nation’s greatness, achievements, and glory.

    (5) We believe that the heterosexual family is the primary social unit.

    (6) We believe in authority.

    (7) We believe in the spiritual values of life and of the respect that is owing to man.

    (8) We believe in the obligation of labour and the rolling back of the welfare state.

    (9) We believe in virtue and the sacred nature of Christianity and our Established Church.

    (10)We believe that our country is best served by our indigenous customs & traditions, its time-honoured hereditary principle and our monarchy.

    (11) We are in favour of localism and local communities.

    (12) We support the small businessman and entrepeneur.

    (13) We support British industry & manufacturing.

    (14) We are opposed to internationalism and globalisation

    (15) We are opposed to communism, to socialism, to liberalism and to anarchism.

    (16) We are opposed to mass immigration and multiculturalism

    (17) We are opposed to the Class War.

    (18) We are opposed to Political Correctness and support the repeal of all cultural-Marxist legislation, including race relations legislation.

    (19) We are against the purely materialist conception of life.

    (20) We support the Great British Countryside and its conservation for future generations.

    (21) We are against all the great heresies of our age, because we have yet to be convinced that there is any part of the world where the liberty to propagate such heresies has been the cause of anything good.

  5. John:

    I think you’ve misread that particular passage, Matt. It refers to the moral case for foreign aid based on the centuries of exploitation of the Global South by the North and encompasses the West in its entirety in this regard not just the UK.

    I see you point now. thx

  6. I bought some shoes today for £39, they were made in Vietnam. Not sure how this all feeds into the GDP figures, but I reckon we are living off them and they are not living off us.

  7. Political discourse surrounding immigration might be pretty horrible as are, of course, the removals of illegal immigrants. (BTW, I guess this piece was written before Chris Bryant’s inept attempt to wade into the ‘debate’ on Monday with his criticism of Tesco and Next preference for foreign rather than domestic workers – rather than take them on over low wages for ALL workers?) But still immigrants come to Britain. For example:

    http://www.channel4.com/news/immigrants-romania-bulgaria-workers-eu-migration-watch

    One of the features of the world after the economic crash of 2008 – 5 years on Britain and the Eurozone are only just emerging from recession, with major economies still contracting and horrendous levels of, in particular, youth unemployment – unlike the 1930s is that nation states have not closed their doors.

    Two implications in this. One, foreign workers are too closely integrated into contemporary capitalism for any realistic politician to demand the complete cessation of immigration, let alone it’s reversal (repatriation) – as the numpties from the Traditional British Group favour. Two, immigrants of all types, legal or illegal, continue to exercise agency in their determination to cross borders, find work and stay for a shorter-longer period or indefinitely.

  8. John Grimshaw on said:

    Lets cut to the chase. Lets answer some questions.
    1. Do immigrants undercut “British” workers wages?
    2. Why do the Tory’s play this card this when the CBI which supports them want “foreign” workers in this country?
    3. Why does Labour ( and that dope Bryant) not understand that the crucial issue here is to fight for REAL wages for all workers irrespective of where they come from?

  9. robert p. williams on said:

    John Grimshaw: Why does Labour ( and that dope Bryant) not understand that the crucial issue here is to fight for REAL wages for all workers irrespective of where they come from?

    Because the Labour Party follows the tracks laid down by all the other parties of big business.

    The Socialist Party calls for:

    Trade union struggle to increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour without exemptions as an immediate step towards £10 an hour.

    For an annual increase in the minimum wage linked to average earnings.

    All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual and migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, and sickness and holiday rights from day one of employment.

  10. Daniel young on said:

    Daft responce John.Just socialist responce for violence is the cheapest of all human commodity.

  11. Daniel young on said:

    Maggie.Sell them their homes, there history,sell it cheap to them there council houses.Get them understanding what ownership is about.You will have to excuse me, got a call from Zurich,that i have to take.

  12. Daniel young on said:

    Got me now, you can pigeon hole my socialism.Marx/Engels.The latter the road. the rest to catch and grow up in to.

  13. Feodor on said:

    (21) We are against all the great heresies of our age, because we have yet to be convinced that there is any part of the world where the liberty to propagate such heresies has been the cause of anything good.

    What does this even mean? I have no clue…