Racism in politics

As I’ve said before, I’m an immigrant. Actually, a double immigrant.

My family moved from Bombay to America when I was 7 months old. I then came to London to do a Masters and stayed because I fell in love.

The UK’s my home now.

One of the best bits about it is how international it is. From the daily news to the sport, the UK’s at its best when it’s open to the world. When it confidently steps up to its role in the world.

But recently, it’s like this still great country has forgotten what makes it great.

It’s not the only country that’s responded to the consequences of globalisation by taking a step back, by becoming more cautious, by doubting our place in the world.

This insecurity has made us more insular. Rather than confidently asserting our values to solve global problems (Russia, Isis, economic stagnation), we turn inwards, pulling ourselves apart and withdrawing from the world in the vain hope this will make our problems go away. The Scottish referendum and the EU referendum are but two examples of the belief that turning inwards would make our global problems go away.

Our insularity has turned us into ‘Little Britain’.

We complain about 6,000 refugees camped out across a channel in another country when Germany has accepted 1,000,000 refugees. In one year.

What does that say about our values?

Our Government rejected the Dubs amendment to accept 3,000 refugee children. We accepted 4,000 in WWII. I know what percentage of our population that is, but who cares. These are children whose lives have been torn apart by war. We have refused them a future.

What does that say about our values?

And in the past two weeks we have seen racism perpetuated by the Conservative and Labour Parties.

First we’ve seen the Tories rally around a narrative that says that the Muslim Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan MP has given succour to an Isis sympathiser (despite overwhelming evidence this guy is a Tory supporter and been to No10).

Basically they are saying that all Muslims are the same; that all Muslims are extremists. But as I’ve been mistaken for Sadiq on several occasions, they’re basically saying all brown people are the same: they can’t be trusted. Muslims, brown people, people that are different can’t be trusted.

That’s racism.

The Labour leader is no better, refusing to stamp out growing anti-semitism in Labour and actually actively downplaying it.

What does that say about our values?

You cannot be a little bit racist. Racism is binary.

I do not believe for one second that either the Labour Party or Conservative party are racist.

But they have opened the door to racism in our politics.

There’s a great debate on about whether Brexit will diminish our country globally

While I believe it would, in some ways the Brexit debate is only a symptom of the wider malaise.

Breaking us up weakens us. Withdrawing from global challenges weakens us. Closing our borders weakens us. Identity politics and racism weakens us.

We need a politics and politicians capable of standing up for our strengthens, rather than pandering because that are weak.

In other words:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

What are our values?

What change will we make that we want to see on the world? Will our insecurity continue to feed our insularity and lead us to withdraw from the world – and the problems – around us?

Our challenge is to overcome weaknesses without losing our values.