Foreword to IRR report ‘Racial violence and the Brexit state’
Whatever else Brexit means or does not mean; it certainly means racism. Born of the fortuitous circumstances, lacking programme or policy, the government has had to find its ‘mandate’; in the twin Brexit themes: that immigration is unravelling of the nation, and anything foreign, except investment, is abhorrent to its ethos – thus giving a fillip to popular racism and elevating institutional racism to fully-fledged state racism.
Of course there were signs of state racism from the time of the first Immigration Act in 1962, but these were counterbalanced by anti-discrimination legislation and community programmes – and for a while the way was opened to a truly multicultural society, the foremost in Europe, and its exemplar. The difference today is that racism and xenophobia have become tied into the state itself, making nativism the state ideology and ‘take back control’ its political culture.
In the post-referendum period, racial violence and harassment, as this report graphically shows, became widespread and brazen. But in going along with the dominant narrative, the government reduced racial violence, a socially-based issue, to individualised ‘hate crime’. In so siphoning off racism and racial violence to the terrain of law and order, the government conceals its complicity in the creation of state racism.
The struggle then is on two levels, both at once: against state racism and against ‘hate crime’.