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October 26, 2016


Patrick Kirk

The upper classes opverwhelmingly vote for progressive politics like the Remain campaign. That suggests that inherited provilege rather than racism is the underlying cause of the mournful statistics you mention. Its just a matter of fact that there were very few people of colour on the ships with William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest was the greatest period of social mobility in English history.


Any thoughts about the role of intelligence in addressing questions of this sort? You have books such as "The Bell Curve" that explain racial differences in socio-economic status in terms of intelligence differences. Not a popular argument, understandably.

Dave Timoney

Terms such as "the ruling class" and "the upper classes" have little sociological meaning. We have no idea whether they overwhelmingly vote for progressive politics (or voted for Remain) because we don't track them as such.

It seems odd to question the prevalence of racism in society without mentioning the middle classes.


"The upper classes opverwhelmingly vote for progressive politics like the Remain campaign..."

...and the Conservative Party.

I mean really.


Of course, these might be due to many factors such as differences in cultural capital or occupational sorting. But they might be due in part to racism by the ruling class.

I don't know how many bona fide members of the ruling class are actually sitting in HR departments at major employers going through the applications for the grad trainee scheme, but I'm guessing not many.

And that's one of the main blocks to BME employment: they're far less likely even to get called for interview, all other things being equal, than a white person (or specifically someone with a white-sounding name).

Racism at the point of first contact (the HR person) seems much more likely than racism at the top as an explanation...


Given that racism appears to be universal, perhaps we should prevent the immigration of people who would only suffer from racism if they were to immigrate. Let them go to more virtuous countries.


@Ajay, FATE - fair points. But I'm not sure they exonerate top management; if it took a harder line against racism, HR people would be less racist. Even if my talk of "ruling class" was imprecise, the point holds that the racism of people in power (and HR people have some power) is under-rated.

Warren Tarbiat

The problem with "White Working Class Racism" theories is that they assume "WWC" is a homegenous group; its not. The WWC we culturally think of unionized factory workers do not exist as much anymore.

The big driver of Trump & Brexit were people who are self-employed, financially secure and own a house. Its a big myth that "Trump & Brexit" are mainly powered by the "poor, de-industralized white working class". "WWC" are more "joe the plumber without a college degree" in the US while in the UK its the famous "White Van man" who the latter may have used the signature Right to Buy policy introduced by the Thathcer Ministry.


On the other hand some ethnic minorities (Indian Sikhs, Jews*) are wealthier than the average UK citizen, and some groups are more likely than average to be in positions of power. Two out of the last four Lords Chief Justice were Jewish, whereas the current incumbent is the first Welshman to hold the post since 1923. Four percent of MPs were Jewish before the 2015 election, higher than their proportion in the population.

If some group's poverty is caused by racism, as you seem to imply, is others success also caused by racism?

* http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/research/SocialSciences/Key-Facts-Background-Paper-BPCIV.pdf

Table 3


"Racism at the point of first contact (the HR person) seems much more likely than racism at the top as an explanation..."

How do ethnic minorities get on when appointments are made directly by wealthy and powerful people? Who do these peple place in boatdrooms? Who do they select to manage their football clubs?


In many ways we now have a caste system, with an hereditary Brahmin caste running most of our institutions and an untouchable caste doing the low-paid jobs or being on benefit.

There's no doubt that the abuse given to the untouchables is quasi-racist. Brexit has been a clear example. If I said that all black people were stupid bigots, that the criminal activities of a few black people were a reflection on all black people, or that black people were lazy and did not want to work, then I would quite rightly be deplored and made unwelcome in polite society. Nevertheless, people feel free to make these comments about the white working class, such as smearing a distinct group of people with the behaviour of a few, condemning by association, without any compunction or pause for thought that they may be making discriminatory comments of their own.


@Warren, Dipper - thank you!

I detest those fools who pose as "understanding working class concerns" (wink, nudge), then go on to bash immigrants/Poles/wimmin/remoaners. Similar to fools who think everyone in the Army loves Queen & Country.

Eminent emigrant

I think talk of racism is unhelpful.
The main driver of 'anti-immigration' is not racism, or immigration, but multiculturalism.

What gets called racism is actually 'culturism': the 'common man' instinctively (to my mind, rightly) rejects the notion that all cultures are equal, and that to hold otherwise is racist or colonialist. (And probably doesn't care two hoots what else you may call it). He would far rather have black neighbours who go down the pub, and to church on occasion, than white Islamists. Rather a Pakistani with an accent but obviously trying his best than some European who can't be bothered to even address the neighbours.

Integration is important. By and large 'they' are welcome to become part of 'us'. But come and carry on just being 'them', not so much.

Patrick Kirk

Sorry to reply twice but this article is relevant: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/10/the-fever-swamps-arent-going-away-so-we-need-to-adapt.html

We live in a world where people who are definitly not upper class are able to choose their own news media and many of them choose what might be called racist sources.

@ejh - The Labour Party is dominated by the AB1 social classes. Its been generations since the Tories were the default choice of the well off.

Ralph Musgrave

The above article is typical leftie dim-wittery. For example Chris starts by equating concern about immigration with racism. The two are entirely different.

Racism is defined in my Oxford dictionary as the belief that some races are better than others. Quite what that has to do with "concern about immigration is a mystery.

I might as well argue that anyone called Chris Dillow is a pedophile.

And finally, far and away the biggest act of racism perpetrated by anyone in the UK in the last hundred years was Labour's decision to take part in the slaughter of a million Muslims in Iraq for no good reason. Not letting someone migrate to your country is a piddling irrelevance compared to KILLING THEM.

Igor Belanov

Patrick Kirk:

I suggest you look at the electoral map of the UK before telling us that the Tories are no longer the 'default choice of the well off'.

There are some compelling reasons why the Home Counties are heavily represented by the Conservative Party and why Labour piles up huge majorities in Liverpool, and they have rather strong roots in social class.

Patrick Kirk

Igor Belanov:
Labour gets the votes of head teachers and doctors and the like - people on 6 figure incomes. The Tories get the votes of self-employed White Van Man - people often below median incomes. Class is not the defining issue for how people vote.

Thinking about Chris Dillow's post, the reason working class opposition to immigration matters more than upper class is that there are a lot more working class voters. The well off tend to be pro-immigration. Its the working class has solid majorities that oppose uncontrolled immigration. Calling them racist or bigots probably doesn't help.

Igor Belanov

But Patrick, you've said on the one hand that class doesn't define how people vote, then on the other that middle class professionals and the petty bourgeois vote separately along party lines.

You stay in your own little world.


Clearly there is a difference between anti immigration and racism and this is I believe appreciated by the WWC. It is the commentating intellectuals that try to conflate the two issues.. It then gets mixed up with "being kind to people poorer than us" and we are also described as being out of step with Europe. The latter point has not been tested in my view and I wonder what the opinion of the WWC in Germany, France, Netherlands etc is really? Trouble the ruling class in Europe dare not ask them!


Chris, your oversight in linking to Phil McDuff's article - it's here. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/25/white-working-class-brexiters-politicians-bigotry

On a wider point, raised by commenters here: Can anyone tell me what the moral argument is that would tell anyone that they can't live in a country of their choice? I mean, I understand that there is a moral argument to be made about regulating the speed of migratory flows because of the disruption that they cause, and this argument could even be used to limit migration a lot more than it is limited currently. But apart from that, what is the moral argument against free migration?

If one argues to for free migration from one place and not another, it starts to tip over into outright racism, I'd have thought?


Having read this, I still don't understand how it gainsays the racism of the working class.


I'm not sure politicians want to impose immigration controls - it's the political/management classes and the rich that benefit from immigration. An endless supply of cheap labour who can replace any british worker still clinging to retro concepts like workers rights
- Eminent immigrant - you're completely right
- PauloEvans - it's one thing for people to have the right to choose where they live , the problem is that moving to a country like the UK entails access to benefits/housing/employment/health care etc
The case against free movement is actually a pragmatic one ,I think the moral aspect is the effect on people already here (inc. recent arrivals) when the supply of houses, school places etc. starts running out
As someone once said (Bevan?) , you can have unlimited immigration, or you can have a welfare state, you can't have both


- “Ethnic minorities are still hugely underrepresented in positions of power” says David Isaac.

My goodness. It's almost like... no, that couldn't be... but maybe... European countries are countries of Europeans?

You go to Nairobi, or Hong Kong, or Dehli. Now find me anyone there complaining, "Gee, there's really not enough white people in positions of power". Do you think anyone there would even think of such a complaint?


I think the question "why do we hear so little about ruling class racism but so much about working class racism?" is somewhat tautological.

Why would anyone who benefits from social and class privileges in general NOT also receive the privilege of getting a pass on racism.

As for whether there is a "moral case" for opposing immigration, I'm not sure why this is relevant. I think one of the great problems with British politics over the last two decades has been an over-emphasis on morality, and a general disinterest in consequences. There seems to be an unsupported belief that correct moral choices can only have positive outcomes. This is the logic of the Iraq War - because we are getting rid of a bad man with weapons of mass destruction, there cannot possibly be any negative consequences.

Rather than asking the question "what is the moral argument against free migration?" we should be asking (or additionally asking) "what are the consequences of free immigration?" I humbly suggest that this would produce better policy.

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