Of Race and Britain

from Richard Lutz

I am in a small rural village in Scotland. I go for my newspaper and the man waiting to pay for his stuff is having a venomous rant. He has just come out of a Glasgow hospital and ‘they’ were in the same ward. ‘They’ didn’t want to speak English; ‘they’ didn’t eat our food; anyway,   ‘they‘ cheat on our welfare system.

‘They‘ were not be believed, trusted or, it seems, tolerated or liked.

I took on this guy as we waited by the sweets, the milk and the tinned meats for the attention of the newsagent. I asked who ‘they’ are. It was the Asians, I was told. I told him his stay in hospital was probably bouyed up by Pakistani doctors, Bengali nurses, Indian technicians and Sri Lankan cleaners.

‘Oh, not all are like that’ he said. But, he added, ‘they‘ do cheat on benefits.

I explain that there are a huge swathe of white people who bilk the welfare pot. Not as many as ‘them’  he spits out and he gets angry, ignorant and angry. The encounter ends on a jaundiced note.

Unfortunately, it is the third time I have heard racist garbage in this village and I am sure it is multiplied in towns, large and small, throughout Britain. It is ugly and poisonous, built on ignorance which feeds fear. But it is there, in the strangled  voice of the racist clod in the newsagent, in his  voluminous hatred and  his deranged tiny brain.

That word ‘they’ is an ugly word and summons up the deep race  mistrust in this country whether it is in this out of the way town in Scotland or in a major city.

The John Terry incident, the BNP marches  or Boris Johnson’s rancid  racist language  is a reminder that we are far from being a multi ethnic culture. We are a deeply riven nation. Beneath the veneer of political banalities, this country is far from being equal or fair or open handed.

Those who disagree only have to have a chat with my friend in the newsagents who probably just now has spittle drooling from his pestilential mouth as he remembers the jerk who questioned him as he waited for his paper on an autumn morning in Scotland.