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May 10, 2015

Comments

My read is that Labour has tried to take the centre with a "kinder, gentler Tories" position, but that only works if you have a Blair, or a Clinton or Obama, to give it appeal. Play it wrong and your centre support decides they might as well vote for the real thing, while the actual left stay home or split to the Greens and the Kippers.

Arguments that the SNP spoiled it by splitting the left vote are simply wrong, there weren't enough votes combined to match the Conservatives. They may have been used effectively as a boogyman to scare off Labour votes, but that's a different argument.

Lastly, I don't think Nick Cohen makes his case. Yes, bankers and media run the world. Yes they say the left aren't "real" (insert nation here) and hate ordinary people. Not successfully countering that doesn't mean you don't take it seriously.

Nitpick: it's Irvine Welsh.

And a little strange for a Chicago resident Scot to inveigh against the evils of globalisation quite so vehemently.

Shane, that's a good observation about Cohen's piece, but I do find the Canary Wharf crew cheering that Ed Balls a rather arresting image. I also read the various things about the Labour politicians and I think that the constant drumbeat of the Conservative media had a pretty remarkable effect.

That Ed Balls lost his seat. Sorry, every time I type 'Ed Balls', I marvel that a politician can have that name.

Conservatives won a decisive and unexpected victory in last week's UK General Election, roundly beating expectations set by pollsters to claim a clear majority in the House of Commons. But the Scottish National Party (SNP) also scored major wins, even beyond what was expected. The Tory win and the SNP gains set the stage for a divided nation—and possibly the end of the U.K. as we know it.
[...]

How Britain's Election Divided the UK: The Scottish National Party's huge gains signal a major turning point in British politics.

Note of course that Labour lost 25 seats despite accruing about a hundred thousand more votes, and despite being massacred in Scotland. In terms of mindshare, therefore, it seems to me that Labour were broadly persuing a reasonable strategy.

Thanks Nigel, corrected that.

The thing is, while mindshare is not unimportant it pales in comparison to the importance (for a political party) of winning not just votes but seats in Parliament.

The UKIP, the Greens, even the Liberal Democrats all do reasonably well on the winning hearts and vote metric. But get very little in the way of seats because their votes are too difuse. Put another way, they suffer from not being sufficiently geographically concentrated. Having lost its hold on Scotland, Labor is now in a similar situation.

Frex Obama out performing Clinton in all the various Democratic primaries back when. Effectively adapting your resources to the system is a good sign.

Though I suppose that wasn't borne out in Obama's handling of things once in office.

Shane, I think gets it right in his first paragraph. If Labour run as Tories-lite, then they're going to have to look like more effective Tories than the Conservative Party. This is hard at the moment because Cameron talks the talk extremely well. Miliband could probably not have talked it better even if his heart had been in it. However, contra the Blairites' assertions, none of them could have beaten Cameron at his own game either. They're an unconvincing and uninspiring bunch, and that's being generous.

Their problem going forward is twofold. Firstly, they clearly have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. There is nobody on the inside track who is willing or able to do the hard graft of re-establishing them as a plausible centre-left alternative with a platform and then fighting hard on that position. Tom Watson's run for deputy leader is perhaps their last best hope, but much as I love the man he won't win and if he did his shoulders aren't broad enough to do the needful on his own. Meanwhile, Cameron is far from charismatic but exudes managerial efficiency and in 2020 he will stand down in favour of Boris Johnson who is charismatic.

Their second problem is that they can't even do opposition properly. For the past five years they have relied on dissatisfaction with the government to deliver them additional votes automatically, so where do they go from here? I see nobody on the Labour front bench with the skill or the cojones to take the fight to the enemy; all of them have an exclusively committee room view of politics, and while good committee work is important in a legislature, it cannot and should not be sufficient.

Chris, in a situation like Labour is in, the guy who turns things around typically comes, apparently, from nowhere. That is, a couple of years earlier, he wasn't on anybody's radar.

For just one example, consider Bill Clinton. In 1988 he was a not particularly prominent governor of a small (and, frankly, pretty backward) state. The other governors knew him, and were impressed. But his profile among voters nationally was negligible. And in 1992, he was doing badly (outside the South) through most of the early primaries. He didn't really look like a winner until he managed to take New York.

So I wouldn't be so sure that there is nobody on Labour's bench. Somewhere, there is a mayor or something who has been doing a competent job. And will amaze everyone when he steps in and turns the party around. It may not be in 2020, but when it happens, that is the way it will likely go.

the guy who turns things around typically comes, apparently, from nowhere

Though there are some structural differences that prevent that. In the US context, coming up from governor is unremarkable, but is very much the exception. In the UK, there are no comparable political units to states and as for mayors, London is the only place that permits that and that is Boris Johnson.

In addition, the system, with things like 'safe seats' and manifestos is very much geared to a network, which makes it even harder for newcomers to break in.

Somebody put it that the right said 'bail out the rich and f*ck everybody else', and when the liberals adopted that platform, they didn't have any alternative worth voting for.

I'd add that the right has the advantage of saying '..f*ck everybody else, and those [insert ethnic slur here] are the ones at fault'. The right has an edge in this.

I'd add that the right has the advantage of saying '..f*ck everybody else, and those [insert ethnic slur here] are the ones at fault'. The right has an edge in this.

Does anyone have an example of people on the right with real and not peripheral standing actually saying something like this? Or is this a made-up ad hominem? Because I'm on the right end of the spectrum and I don't say things like this and don't know of anyone running for office who does. Maybe I need to get out more.

...because dog whistles totally aren't a thing...

The right has an edge in this.

The examples should be easy to find, not merely assert.

the guy who turns things around typically comes, apparently, from nowhere

Indeed.
Fourth favourite in the Labour leadership betting is Liz Kendall (who seems fairly impressive).
Anyone heard of her before ?
Thought not.

She has a not unrealistic chance of winning - something that you could rarely say of the fourth favourite in a U.S. party contest.

Few were particularly aware of David Cameron before he ran for the Conservative leadership.
'Typically' is something of an overstatement, but I'd settle for 'often'.

hmm, McT, I can understand why you might take exception to the way it was stated, but if it were stated a little less sharply, would it be acceptable? Because the right is always able to invoke a simpler past, and appeal to both people who have made it and people how had made it in the past, but have slipped down, they've got an easier row to hoe?

As examples, Reagan's invocation of states rights, the Jessie Helms Hands commercial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIyewCdXMzk
virtually anything that comes out of Steve King's mouth
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-pitti/steve-king-immigration_b_3653145.html

I realize you might not accept those as examples, and I don't want to get in the weeds, but that would be what I would think of.

Some further evidence one could adduce is that every left movement has problems with residual privilege. Labor unionism had, from its onset, a large racist component, the conflicts between the various waves of feminism, environmentalism being the playground of yuppies, PETA and (maybe even Greenpeace) the enemies they choose to fight, all of these point to the fact that the structure of power always favors not-change or little change over a lot of change.

Somebody put it that the right said 'bail out the rich and f*ck everybody else', and when the liberals adopted that platform, they didn't have any alternative worth voting for.

If that somebody was talking about the UK, then they were pretty poorly informed. 'The rich' were bailed out in 2008, a couple of years before the coalition government took office.

As for xenophobia, it is certainly over-represented in UKIP compared with other parties - but UKIP draws nearly as many votes from traditional Labour voters as it does from Conservative.
Xenophobia doesn't map particularly well on the left/right spectrum in the UK (unless you use it as a defining characteristic of 'right wing', which is arguable).

I don't know from the UK, but "has an edge" is actually pretty mild wording, meaning that there are marginally more instances on the right than on the left.

(If my facebook feed is any indication of how it works in the US, it's a gross understatement when applied to this side of the pond.

/personal anecdote)

McKinney,

Let's imagine a person who favors all of the following positions:
1) reduce the top marginal rate of income tax;
2) cut the corporate tax rate;
3) abolish the estate tax;
4) increase military spending; and
5) balance the federal budget.

Suppose such a person also opposes:
1) the food stamp program;
2) expanding Medicare under the ACA; and
3) raising the minimum wage.

Would such a person be "on the right", or not?
What office, if any, would such a person have to hold in order to have "real and not peripheral standing"?

I doubt you'd claim that such persons don't exist. Perhaps you merely doubt that such persons would be stupid enough to say out loud the exact words "..f*ck everybody else, and those [insert ethnic slur here] are the ones at fault". If so, I would gladly concede that point.

--TP

Part of that difficulty with figuring out xenophobia is that race is such a huge issue in the states, it is more like the US is the outlier and the UK is like everyone else. Part of it is, I think, a tipping point phenomenon, in that the UK, like most other countries, has relatively small number of ethnicities outside of the majority. In fact, only recently has it gone over 10%. On the other hand, combining hispanic/Latino and African-American, 30% of the population is non-White, and of course, this distribution is not uniform.

Drug screening for welfare recipients is a relatively new favorite.

Except that xenophobia is not a synonym for racism, and most Latinos and African Americans in the U.S. aren't foreigners.

Likewise being anti-immigration and being racist (in the UK, at least) are overlapping, but some way from identical categories.
For example, I don't know of anyone who has a problem with Polish culture, but I have seen complaints about pressure on housing or education for the recent sizeable influx from Poland. What stereotypes there are (Polish builders; plumbers) tend to be fairly positive.
In contrast Romanian immigration, for example, attracts considerable negative stereotyping.

if xenophobia and racism aren't synonyms, they are certainly kissing cousins. A traditional rejoinder for Latinos or AA complaining about the US was 'why don't you go back to Mexico/Africa'.

It is quite difficult to be 'anti-immigration', in the broadest sense, in the US, so folks have to drop back to race theories in order to justify it.

Racism often has an image of whites against others, because of the legacies of imperialism and colonialism, and a basic Euro-centric slant to how the world is viewed, but if you park more than 15% of any kind of folk in a group where the majority are different, you are going to get some sort of xenophobic reaction.

Perhaps you merely doubt that such persons would be stupid enough to say out loud the exact words "..f*ck everybody else, and those [insert ethnic slur here] are the ones at fault". If so, I would gladly concede that point.

Obviously, and it's an easy claim to make. Of course, it's incredible (if not disingenuous) to imply that people not openly saying such things somehow proves that people aren't communicating it. Again, dog whistles. If we are, as lj was, harkening back to St. Ronald, then we can of course fondly reminisce about welfare queens in Cadillacs, or "young bucks" buying steaks with their food stamps while hard-working jus' folks like you and me have to make do with more modest fare.

Immigration is painted as a matter of law and order, or about stolen jobs and social services, but I've been in far too many conversations with jus' folks who transition cleanly from the politicians' piously-recited talking points to outrage about "those people" all being criminals and/or who will go after "our women".

Ferguson and Baltimore set off choruses of dog whistles so loud that anyone listening could hear them.

Etc.

But no, prominent figures aren't openly coming out and stating it in plain view, against the speaker's interest. Therefore, it's not being communicated, and it's a nefarious left-wing strawman dreamed up to slander the righteous and diversity-minded American conservative.

Funnily enough, the sole UKIP mp, Douglas Carswell, could with a strong degree of accuracy be described as anti immigration, but decidedly not xenophobic and certainly not racist.

He is one of those people who seem slightly odd, owing to their unwavering principle - in his case a blend of libertarianism and (relatively non toxic) nationalism.

He has already fallen out with the party...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32707357

Fascinating article in today's Times about Jim Messina (sadly read in the dead tree version, so I can't link), who ran the Conservatives' polling and voter targeting operation.
(Yes, that Jim Messina)

He claims to have know two or three weeks before the poll that the Tories were going to win - and says that the UK's commercial polling organisation simply didn't have the resources to poll accurately (access to large numbers of free volunteers made the difference).

McT: When it comes to racist dog-whistles in the UK, I remember Michael Howard as Tory leader in the run-up to the 2005 election on billboard posters with the slogan "are you thinking what I'm thinking?" which seems fairly innocuous but no-one in the country would have misunderstood that as being anything other than referring to a racist anti-Roma view that the Tories were carefully not-quite promulgating at the time. That's the leader of a national political party being very carefully not overtly racist.

I cannot think of a comparable event of such prominence from the British left-wing.

I cannot think of a comparable event of such prominence from the British left-wing

Me either.

Then again, we now have Howard's former protege (Cameron) describing UKIP as a home for closet racists and nutters.

Such views are hardly unknown in today's Conservative party, but much reduced by natural wastage and defection to UKIP - and my impression, FWIW, is that they are no longer welcome.

I remember the Labour Party trialling posters in 2005 depicting Michael Howard, the Jewish son of an immigrant from Romania, as Fagin and as a pig.

The Conservative victory in the recent election had nothing to do with the result in Scotland - transfer all the SNP seats to Labour and the majority would be the same - but fear in England of a minority Labour government dependent on the SNP may have been a factor.

There's no overriding reason why Labour couldn't have won this election, or couldn't win the next one. The Conservatives are an uninspiring lot. Labour just needs a leader who voters like, and to be clear about what it stands for.

One significant example: a few days before the election Miliband told a television audience that the last Labour government did not overspend. Now, that's a case that can be made - up to 2008 the government had slightly reduced debt as a proportion of GDP: since the crisis hit both Labour and Conservative governments have run large deficits. But the electorate generally thinks Labour overspent, so denying it offhand a few days before the election just makes you look irresponsible. If he wanted to say that, he had to say it clearly and often - with charts showing that before 2008 Labour's performance on government debt was better than the previous Conservative government's. And with quotes from the then Conservative opposition replies to Labour government budget statements, showing that the Conservatives were then little concerned about budget deficits.

Good electoral politics involves believing something that makes sense and explaining to the electorate why you believe it.

I'd forgotten that, Paul - thanks for the reminder.

Again, it's hard to imagine them resorting to that now ?

A more damning comparison for Labour spending ahead of the 2008 debacle is that with the other industrialised nations. There's a long analysis somewhere by the IFS, I think ( will try to find when I have time).
The real harm (IMO) was the fostering of an expectation of increased public spending irrespective of the economic cycle - and a structural deficit of 5% GDP is not sustainable in the long run.
(Of course in their first term from 1997, they continued with the existing Tory spending plans, at no political cost, and the deficit came down rapidly.)

Part of the trick of deficit reduction is sounding tough, as the last government did in 2010, and then letting up a bit. It's simply impossible to manage expectations the other way round.

Yes, I remember those posters too, though I'm inclined to think they were the product of stupidity rather than racism. It's interesting that Miliband's Jewish heritage has not been a thing even slightly throughout the campaign.

And Nigel, I have in fact heard of the egregious Liz Kendall and I'm relieved to say that there isn't a chance in hell of her winning anything unless Burnham, Cooper, Hunt and Ummuna are all trapped in the dungeon dimensions. Last I saw she was quoted at 19/1.

I doubt you'd claim that such persons don't exist. Perhaps you merely doubt that such persons would be stupid enough to say out loud the exact words "..f*ck everybody else, and those [insert ethnic slur here] are the ones at fault". If so, I would gladly concede that point.

So, you can infer racist intent because someone is negatively disposed to the welfare state? Because only minorities are on food stamps? That's a mighty finely tuned eye.

I don't follow UK politics very closely. Wasn't a guy named George Galloway a Labor MP until this last election?

as being anything other than referring to a racist anti-Roma view

Sometimes--and I could be overly sensitive--I detect a jaundiced view of Texans, Southerners and other identifiable groups. I suspect, when I see these views, the reason for the jaundice is the perceived behavior or attitude of, for example, Texans. Maybe we can call it *cultural*. Like "gun culture". So I guess I need the guidelines on when it is permissible to lump one group together for negative treatment but doing so with another is racism. I get the black/white/Hispanic thing. Leaving color aside, why would the Brits be generally ok with Poles but less so with the Roma? And why is it racist, as opposed to some other marker? I'm not challenging, I'm asking.

Last question: are there any leftish dog whistles?

So I guess I need the guidelines on when it is permissible to lump one group together for negative treatment but doing so with another is racism.

Racism isn't the only thing that isn't "permissible." But, that aside, using a term like "group" makes it hard to respond. The KKK is a group, for example. Murderers are a group. And racists are a group.

Are we talking prejudice or postjudice (my word, as far as I know)?

But you're too smart not to know all of this already, McKinney. Stop teasing.

(I'll let the Brits, or anyone else who knows more about the situation than I do, respond about the Poles and the Roma.)

Galloway was kicked out of the Labour Party 12 years ago for bringing it into disrespect. Since then he's been mostly associated with a somewhat shady far left outfit called, ironically, Respect. He was their only MP until losing his seat last week.

Galloway was kicked out of the Labour Party 12 years ago for bringing it into disrespect.

See. I told you I don't follow UK politics much. 12 years? Who knew?

"...are there any leftish dog whistles?"

Sure, there are the special ones that summon the Black Helicopters. But those FEMA guys have been so busy transporting people to the re-educations camps that it may take a while to get to you. Patience, Comrade!

Leaving color aside, why would the Brits be generally ok with Poles but less so with the Roma? And why is it racist, as opposed to some other marker? I'm not challenging, I'm asking.

They're less okay with Roma for historical reasons. And likewise, it's racism rather than xenophobia or such because, well, prejudice against the Romani people is an august European tradition (it has far less traction in the western hemisphere) that is explicitly bigotry against a long-recognized ethnic group. I don't want to insult your intelligence, but were you thinking Roma referred to Romanians, or were you unaware that "gypsies" are a distinct ethnicity? Antiziganism is unquestionably racism, and it's still very widespread in Europe. It's also politically correct in circles where any other form of racism would be strictly verboten - I've known extremely liberal, diversity-minded individuals become angrily prejudiced on the subject of the Roma.

Last question: are there any leftish dog whistles?

Of course there are. Oblique statements and allusions are normal parts of human discourse, and when the speaker risks being called to count for their words at a later date or divorced from context, they'll naturally be inclined to adopt language that has connotations distinct from its denotations. Conservatives routinely accuse those to their left of engaging in dog whistle politics even if they don't use that phrase. Think, for example, of how many times you've heard a conservative chastise an opponent for invoking "politics of resentment" or "fostering class warfare"...

Think, for example, of how many times you've heard a conservative chastise an opponent for invoking "politics of resentment" or "fostering class warfare"...

We've heard many times how it's the strategy of the Democrats to keep a segment of the population on the dole to secure their votes, right? But it's all done with a wink and a nod, since no one would be dumb enough to come out and tell people they can have government goodies if they vote Democrat. But the message is out there, without a doubt.

McKT: at the time it was specifically anchored in some active news stories about Roma groups in the UK moving onto unclaimed land and setting up camp and being dirty, scary, foreign neighbours. I assume it was also connected to the entry of Romania to the EU and the ability of its citizens to freely move to the UK, but that might be off-base.

Perhaps that sounds like you could argue it was xenophobia, but I distinctly remember the tone of the debate as being racist. I'm afraid I can't offer up much evidence for that at this late stage though.

...are there any leftish dog whistles?

I'd say the most common one is "states rights". As in "He's pushing states rights." Which, when used by the left, means "He's a flat out racist, even if he knows better than to come right out and say it."

Not that those on the left won't agree, when talking specifics, that there are things that are better left to the states. (What the Brits and other Europeans call "subsidiarity".) But the perception on the left (and center, and even among the only mildly conservative) is that anyone who is invoking "states rights" is talking about being allowed to discriminate on the basis of race. (Or, but only very recently, on the basis of sexual orientation.)

But still, the focus of someone using that phrase is seen to be that they think that they should be allowed to do something that the majority of the rest of the country feels, and legislates, is unacceptable. Or, if you prefer, unAmerican. And it doesn't help that the phrase has been most visible in states from the old Confederacy.

Somebody put it that the right said 'bail out the rich and f*ck everybody else', and when the liberals adopted that platform, they didn't have any alternative worth voting for.

IMO you are correct to note that "bail out the rich" is pretty much a two-party project, at least here in the US. I can't speak for the UK on that topic.

I'd add that the right has the advantage of saying '..f*ck everybody else, and those [insert ethnic slur here] are the ones at fault'. The right has an edge in this.

Also IMO, this goes about 100 miles too far.

What I think is fair to say is that conservatives are relatively more likely to hold disadvantaged people responsible for their own situation, rather than seeing it as the result of broader social or economic dynamics.

I assume it was also connected to the entry of Romania to the EU and the ability of its citizens to freely move to the UK, but that might be off-base.

It is off-base, because this is about Romani, not Romanians. I.e., "gypsies" hailing from an East Indian ethnic background that migrated to Europe centuries ago vs. eastern Europeans traditionally hailing from Romania (and possibly Moldova as well, depending on how one parses these somewhat arbitrary things).

I'd agree with russell on both his points, FWIW.

I would say that Russell is close on his second point, but not quite right.

The wealthy and middle class take the view he states: the poor are basically responsible for their own plight. For them, it isn't really about race.

But for conservative poor whites, it is about race; they aren't going to buy in to the idea that their poverty is their own fault. Specifically, it's about giving them both someone (another race/group) to feel superior to, in spite of their own poverty, and a grievance, because someone else is getting benefits and they are not getting as much/enough.

It is off-base, because this is about Romani, not Romanians. I.e., "gypsies" hailing from an East Indian ethnic background that migrated to Europe centuries ago vs. eastern Europeans traditionally hailing from Romania (and possibly Moldova as well, depending on how one parses these somewhat arbitrary things).

But is that confusion common enough that people conflate their prejudices? How did the Romani get named as such to begin with?

As someone who grew up and lives in the Midwest in a lower-class rural environment (but whose family has middle-class values (well, petty bourgeois)) and who has worked in both decidedly blue-collar and white-color fields, I have to agree with wj over russell on this point. There is a noticeable divide among conservatives on this point along class lines.

Here in the States, Sikhs were attacked by people who wanted to punish Muslims, so I have to wonder.

I assume it was also connected to the entry of Romania to the EU and the ability of its citizens to freely move to the UK, but that might be off-base.

Not off base at all. These are the figures which caused such alarm among those likely to be alarmed by such things (and they are certainly far in excess of what government at the time claimed they would be):
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/migration1/migration-statistics-quarterly-report/february-2015/sty-bulgarian-and-romanian-migration-to-the-uk.html

Perhaps that sounds like you could argue it was xenophobia, but I distinctly remember the tone of the debate as being racist.

That's a slightly complicated one.
Anti Roma/Traveller/'Gypsy' prejudice is undoubtedly racist, and long predates any significant influx of Romanian immigrants.
Some of the concern over the sizeable number of immigrants from Bulgaria/Romania after the change in EU rules some time after their accession was undoubtedly economic - thanks to the huge disparity in living standards.
It would be very difficult to separate that concern out from simple prejudice, though - and equally difficult to differentiate between racism and xenophobia, particularly since not everyone appreciate the difference between Romanian/Roma.

But is that confusion common enough that people conflate their prejudices? How did the Romani get named as such to begin with?

I've only lived one year of my life in Europe, so I'm obviously speaking based on limited (francophone) experience and second-hand knowledge. I'm fairly certain that such conflations aren't common, not least because Romani aren't perforce called Romani in common speech - moreso gypsy or the equivalent, or even more pejorative labels. Which is to say, I doubt most low-information anti-ziganists are exposed to the more respectful names for the Roma. As to the second point, the terms Roma and Romani are taken directly from the Romani language (an Indo-Aryan language whose structure points to a departure from Asia around or before 1000AD), and are terms referring to their people.

(I'd take Nigel's commentary on this as being more reliable than mine, as mine is mostly speculation and my conclusion could be viewed as giving the benefit of doubt to bigots, which is rarely a wise move.)

To continue doling out the shallow sources, it is a complicating point, and the Romanian gov't did recently try to revert the official name for Roma back to the Romanian equivalent of gypsy to avoid confusion abroad (which is an interestingly twisted little piece of "logic"). Romania does have one of the largest Rom populations in Europe, so that further confuses the issue, I'm sure. However, I would not be too quick to assume the comparatively recently adopted names for "gypsies" would necessarily have a high level of linguistic traction to the point that they lead to widespread confusion, although to keep with the general theme of the discussion I could certainly expect there's some opportunistic blurring of ambiguity for political purpose among those whipping up xenophobia.

they aren't going to buy in to the idea that their poverty is their own fault.

Actually, yes, I agree with this.

I'll amend my statement to say that conservatives are more likely to hold disadvantage people *other than themselves* responsible for their situation in life.

I have a question about the status and treatment of the Roma in Europe.

To what degree is it due to their being basically stateless, and/or to their nomadic way of life?

and equally difficult to differentiate between racism and xenophobia, particularly since not everyone appreciate the difference between Romanian/Roma

This is a good point, though I'd be tempted to reach the opposite conclusion as you. Historically, going back through the centuries, a large component of antiziganism has been an explicit refusal to consider Romani populations as members of a nation no matter how long they might have lived there. So while there might be some bleeding over of contemporary xenophobia into anti-Romani sentiments, it's not really new, and has been one of the driving forces behind the many pogroms carried out against the Roma over the centuries. Which is to say, as Roma are traditionally branded as foreign no matter where they live, how long they've lived there, or what nationality they hold, the racial bigotry against Romani has always had an explicitly xenophobic element, and it's not necessarily useful to try to tease the two apart. It would, however, be useful to observe if antiziganism is used to fuel xenophobia by conflating non-Roma foreigners with them for the purpose of demonizing them, but this isn't something my (limited) experiences have shown me. Foreigners - even those who had trouble integrating - were a different evil than "those people".

(It's also worth noting that conflation between Romani and Romanians pretty much only works in the abstract, because Romanians are visibly "white people", while Romani are visibly "brown people". Which is, of course, another reason that they're viewed as eternal outsiders, and another point towards viewing antiziganism as racism instead of xenophobia: Romani (or at least "foreign") origins can be visually inferred by European "host-country" populations regardless of whether the Romani in question chooses to reveal their ethnicity by manner, speech, dress, or explicit statement.)

I hear anecdotes about "Gypsy" groups who live here and there in the US. One such group supposedly lives around Ft. Worth. The stories one hears are not complimentary. If there was an identifiable group that, in fact, did not behave nicely and civilly, is it racist to have issues with that group?

There is no shortage of diversity in Texas. We have it by the gallon and, so far as I can tell, everyone gets along pretty well. There is a lot of disagreement on immigration, but that is much less race based than it is we simply lack the resources to educate/assimilate that many more non-English speaking, relatively uneducated people.

Russell is closer to what I think the conservative view is than Barry, but still misses it a bit. To the extent I can comment authoritatively on that view, my take is this: the state furnishes every citizen with the *opportunity*, generally through the public education system, to get the tools to make it in life. Outcome is not guaranteed. Failure to take advantage of the opportunity produces problematic results. Underwriting that failure produces more failure, not less. Address the cause of failure--generally a result of single, unskilled parenting--rather than subsidize it.

An uneducated, unskilled adult will almost never rise above subsistence level. Nor will that person have the skill set, in most cases, to raise a child successfully. Thus, the failure cycle continues.

You break that cycle by forcing those subject to it to change their behavior or face the consequences. Not pleasant to contemplate or to do, but it's the same rules the rest of us live by: don't work, don't eat, lose your home, live in the streets, starve.

While it is possible for a majority to support, for a while, a minority who will not or cannot support themselves, that regime ultimately fails when the majority shrinks to the point where it can no longer pull others' weight and its own.

While it is possible for a majority to support, for a while, a minority who will not or cannot support themselves,

it's also possible for a majority to support a minority with one hand while pushing down very hard with the other. which means the minority is forced to stay in one place, under pressure.

the state furnishes every citizen with the *opportunity*, generally through the public education system, to get the tools to make it in life.

To the extent that this is true, then yes, the fault for not making it in life belongs to the individual (aided and abeted by the subculture that he was raised in, of course).

But if one looks at the level of public education provided, the simple explanation gets a little more cloudy. In addition to the lack of effort to gain an education, some schools simply get more and better teachers, more and better facilities, etc. It isn't exactly a level playing field. Some people manage to make it anyway. But the average students? Not really comparable opportunity there.

I have a question about the status and treatment of the Roma in Europe.

To what degree is it due to their being basically stateless, and/or to their nomadic way of life?

By what I've read, it's complicated, and sorta both and neither. There's a lot of racial animus driving antiziganism - a millennia of condoned, semi-condoned, and uncondoned pogroms culminating in the Porajmos has instilled (and been fueled by) a deep-set cultural dislike of them, and normalized their persecution. There are also real cultural conflicts (warning: second-hand anecdata) between their traditions and those of their neighbors. However, as they're traditionally nomadic, they have remained a poor people in terms of social and financial capital, and this also has led to them being un-unified. There has never been a movement on par with Zionism among the Roma, though there have been unsuccessful small-scale efforts that went nowhere.

Another confounding factor is that there are traditions in the Roma culture that dictate that ceasing to follow their traditions means you cease to be Romani, regardless of your ethnic origins. Local non-Romani populations may or may not agree on this point, of course. However, this makes it difficult for the European Roma population to rise out of poverty, because if they hold to their traditions they're ghettoized and despised, and if they break with them to integrate and succeed in the larger society they're expelled from their native culture.

it's also possible for a majority to support a minority with one hand while pushing down very hard with the other. which means the minority is forced to stay in one place, under pressure.

The evidence for this, the pushing down part?

But if one looks at the level of public education provided, the simple explanation gets a little more cloudy. In addition to the lack of effort to gain an education, some schools simply get more and better teachers, more and better facilities, etc. It isn't exactly a level playing field. Some people manage to make it anyway. But the average students? Not really comparable opportunity there.

Sure, the quality of education is not evenly distributed nor are teachers fungible. But, you never get to qualitative differences when the topic is children of uneducated children who have no sense of why education is important and who therefore do not avail themselves in the first place.

The evidence for this, the pushing down part?

for one example, look at how the justice system top to bottom in the US treats blacks:

stops: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/02/us/justice-department-report-to-fault-police-in-ferguson.html

stops: http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Report-Some-police-departments-may-skew-6183721.php

stops and searches: http://time.com/3482859/boston-police-racial-bias-aclu/

arrests: https://www.aclu.org/news/new-aclu-report-finds-overwhelming-racial-bias-marijuana-arrests

arrests: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/18/ferguson-black-arrest-rates/19043207/

arrests: http://www.msn.com/en-nz/health/other/investigation-uncovers-racial-bias-in-tampa-bike-arrests/vp-AAbpgkO

prosecutions: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/09/nyregion/09race.html

jury selection: http://www.eji.org/raceandpoverty/juryselection

sentencing: https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/news/2170-new-study-by-professor-david-s-abrams-confirms

etc: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/juvenile/bench/race.html

(copied from this)

If there was an identifiable group that, in fact, did not behave nicely and civilly, is it racist to have issues with that group?

This is essentially the crux of all racism, at least when paired with conflicting assertions as to how universally members of an identifiable group don't behave nicely and civilly. Aren't we supposed to be judging the merit of people by their actions and accomplishments?

To the extent I can comment authoritatively on that view, my take is this: the state furnishes every citizen with the *opportunity*, generally through the public education system, to get the tools to make it in life. Outcome is not guaranteed.

Of course, the problem with this is that it has an unfortunate way of filtering the "sins" of the parent down onto their children, because outcome may not be guaranteed one way or the other, but it's systematically slanted very heavily, especially in regards to public education. If the quality of your public education is entirely a factor of the income of your parents and their neighbors, it is very likely that being born into poverty will lead you to poverty moreso than to wealth, and vice-versa. While in principal everyone is given an opportunity to obtain the same basic set of skills to succeed, in practice it's much less certain. And pointing to rare individuals who buck the odds and achieve great success in spite of their origins can't change that unless we take seriously ideas like e.g. people being would still be able to win the lottery shows that Social Security isn't necessary to provide for one's retirement. Or if you prefer an example less fixed on luck, that someone can be recruited into professional sports out of high school proves that access to quality education should be viewed as unrelated to whether a person has been given an opportunity to succeed.

Or more succinctly, what cleek said.

*people being able to win the lottery

That was probably understandable despite the atrocious post-editing, but I feel compelled to clarify it none the less.

I don't think letting people live on the street and starve is the thing that's going to break the cycle of poverty. It would be one thing if people on public assistance were afforded a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle, over their entire lives, simply because they didn't feel like working, despite the plethora of wonderful opportunities for meaningful and rewarding work awaiting them. But I don't think that's exactly how it works.

You break that cycle by forcing those subject to it to change their behavior or face the consequences

I wish we could apply this worthy principle uniformly, across all demographics.

Briefly, not to completely jack the thread, but to identify unskillful single parenting as the primary, let alone one and only, cause of social dysfunction and economic hardship in *any* community - black, white, blue or green - seems remarkably myopic.

If we're talking about the black community, specifically, black people in the US are treated differently than white people, or pretty much any other people. Because of the color of their skin. Day in and day out, each and every day, regardless of their personal character and accomplishments or lack thereof.

If you don't think that's true, then I don't think you have an accurate understanding of the experience of being black in the US.

Treating people differently because of the color of their skin is racism. The US is a deeply racist nation.

None of that is a statement about people being good or bad, or having any particular animus toward black people. There is lots of that, but it's not a necessary condition for observing that the US is a deeply racist society.

Americans are, in general, acutely aware of dark skin vs light skin, and people are treated differently based on their skin color.

Lots of things follow from that, not least among them the resources that are available for skillful parenting and coherent family life.

You're a conservative, I'm not. Your comment above, and mine right here, demonstrate the difference in point of view.

Just for the sake of satire, taking a bit of my comment and a bit of russel's, I'm imagining the want ad starting:

Seeking starving, homeless black man to fill lucrative, high-level position at major corporation.

There are also real cultural conflicts (warning: second-hand anecdata) between their [Roma] traditions and those of their neighbors.

What are the cultural conflicts?

This BBC story describes some of what people associate (rightly or wrongly) with Roma culture. The article describes crime gangs who exploit children for begging and fraud.

Discrimination, inhumane treatment, and violation of rights is inexcusable, and if people are driven to criminal acts because of oppression, the oppressive society is at least partially to blame. But if an ethnic minority insists on "cultural" practices that are abusive, the practices shouldn't be tolerated.

I don't claim any knowledge of what behavior is cultural, so my question is a sincere attempt to learn more.

If there was an identifiable group that, in fact, did not behave nicely and civilly, is it racist to have issues with that group?

Here's a maybe funny example of prejudice. It's one that I, personally, have to cop to.

My first reaction when I see someone displaying any of the visible markers of WASPy white collar money - polo shirt plus those weird pink shorts plus expensive sunglasses plus Range Rover, for example - I immediately think "asshole". Immediately. Entitled, smug asshole.

It's completely unfair. It's a prejudice, and when it comes up, I have to deliberately recognize it and put it to the side, so that I can deal with the person as they present themselves, rather than based on the assumptions I make about them.

Most people carry some set of prejudices around with them, and make assumptions about other people and respond to other people based on them. It can take a lot of work to filter it out.

Depending on what assumptions are made, prejudices like that can be very damaging to the people they are applied to. Mentally, socially, economically, any old way.

It is dead normal for black people in the US to have markedly negative assumptions made about them. Every day, all the time, by lots of people. That is regardless of their intelligence, character, work ethic, accomplishments, personal grooming, whatever. They just have to be black.

It's fine to note that kids who are raised by single parents, in dangerous neighborhoods, with crappy schools, and limited resources, are going to have a harder time making it than other folks.

What is not fine, IMVHO, is failing to recognize all of the reasons that people find themselves in those circumstances.

Those reasons are not all of their own making.

HSH, you left out "high school diploma a plus."

You want to "break the cycle of poverty"? Simple. Don't have poor people. This is not rocket science.

But, you never get to qualitative differences when the topic is children of uneducated children who have no sense of why education is important and who therefore do not avail themselves in the first place.

I wonder how one "imparts the sense of why education is important" to trust fund babies? One can only wonder why they bother to obtain an education, since they obviously do not need one. But generally, they do.

How can that be? It's simply amazing.

Do trust fund babies attain an education? Or do they just attend college, and party? Not really the same thing....

(And I recall seeing a lot of frat boys, back in the day, who managed to stay in school (there wasn't actually anything wrong with their intelligence), but only barely. Even though they typically had the easiest major on offer.

In order to not irretrievably rend the fabric of our society, it is incumbent on us to break, once and for all, the cycle of richitude that plagues our society.

Lefty "dog whistles": Equality, justice, fairness, humanity.

Those words generally get libruls and other radical scum pretty worked up....ready to swing a few bankers from some lamp posts. They will know what the speaker "really" means when these words are uttered.

Discrimination, inhumane treatment, and violation of rights is inexcusable, and if people are driven to criminal acts because of oppression, the oppressive society is at least partially to blame. But if an ethnic minority insists on "cultural" practices that are abusive, the practices shouldn't be tolerated.

I don't claim any knowledge of what behavior is cultural, so my question is a sincere attempt to learn more.


This is an area where I have a modest, limited amount of knowledge - probably the best amount to make me dangerous as a source.

My understanding is that there's a strong insider/outsider dynamic which fuels things like the benefit fraud you mention, as well as more extreme parasitic/predatory earning strategies - all of which are of course tied to limited "legitimate" earning potential, and not perforce a fixed part of the culture (though some argue vehemently to the contrary). Other things are more clearly cultural - Roma culture has a fairly misogynistic bent, and tends towards childhood marriages resulting in comparatively large numbers of children for their daughters. Again, this is part and parcel with an impoverished culture, and it's hard to tell if these "traditions" would endure in the face of better prospects.

Which is a long way of saying that I agree with the unspoken accusation I inferred in your comment that I'm over-generalizing and/or oversimplifying. Mea culpa.

A couple links broadly on the subject; I'd warn you that the second's tone made me want to slap the author, but if you can ignore his overwrought style it's worth reading:

http://www.errc.org/article/child-marriage-a-cultural-problem-educational-access-a-race-issue-deconstructing-uni-dimensional-understanding-of-romani-oppression/2295

http://www.errc.org/article/in-the-eye-of-the-beholder-contemporary-perceptions-of-roma-in-europe/2881

"You want to "break the cycle of poverty"? Simple. Don't have poor people. This is not rocket science."

C'mon, people, the GOP has been trying to do that by killing off the poors for DECADES, but those stubborn donks just keep them on life support!

See? It's the donks that are the cause of the poverty problem.

As you say, rocket science it is not.

Thanks, NV.

And Nigel, I have in fact heard of the egregious Liz Kendall and I'm relieved to say that there isn't a chance in hell of her winning anything unless Burnham, Cooper, Hunt and Ummuna are all trapped in the dungeon dimensions. Last I saw she was quoted at 19/1.

Chris, does that mean you disagree with her politics, or are you unimpressed with her political abilities ?

Hunt is way too posh, I think; Burnham always looks as though he is about to burst into tears; Cooper has been an effective performer in the Commons, but needs to leaven her painful sincerity with the occasional hint of humour; Ummuna can also be impressive, but like Hunt seems to lack the common touch...

It will be interesting to see how the nominations pan out. I wouldn't rule Kendal out should she get past the first hurdle (not that I know much about her).
Burnham is probably favourite, but I suspect he'd be an ineffective leader.

Sorry, what is 19/1?

Also, one of the features of the US system, is that the relationship between the official and the area they represent is pretty straightforward. My impression is that though this linkage is there in Parliament, it is attenuated a bit. It is a bit surprising to me, given the smaller numbers that decide the parliament elections, so I'm wondering if I'm misreading it.

Though no one is obligated, if you aren't too put upon, feel free to talk a little bit about where you are coming from (in the literal sense) This isn't to dismiss anyone, but provides a bit of anchoring in terms of figuring out who, what and where. Again, not required, just a request.

The betting odds on her getting the leadership.

Though the recent betting has been rather tighter than that:
http://news.coral.co.uk/press-news/chuka-umunnas-odds-slashed-to-be-next-labour-leader_75701.html

one of the features of the US system, is that the relationship between the official and the area they represent is pretty straightforward. My impression is that though this linkage is there in Parliament, it is attenuated a bit. It is a bit surprising to me, given the smaller numbers that decide the parliament elections, so I'm wondering if I'm misreading it.

Pretty straightforward in the UK, too.
Each of the 650 constituencies elects (on a first past the post basis) a single MP to represent them in the House of Commons.

A significant point of difference with the U.S. is that the executive and the officers of state are largely drawn from those representatives, rather being separately elected and appointed:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Parliament#Relationship_with_the_Government
(Hence your impression of attenuation ?)

I think the impression owes more to the fact that, in the US, the representative has to live in the area he represents. And who runs for a particular party depends on the voters in that area.

Whereas (as I understand it) in the UK the party leadership decides who stands in each constituency. So the members of Parliament are more beholden to the party leadership (who decides if they get a safe, swing, or hopeless district to run in) more than to the voters in their district.

As money, spcifically money from outside the districts, plays an ever bigger part in our elections, we seem to be headed in that direction, too. But we are still quite a ways from it.

I think the impression owes more to the fact that, in the US, the representative has to live in the area he represents. And who runs for a particular party depends on the voters in that area.

Most MPs have homes in their constituency - though granted this is often after rather than before they are selected.
The local party organisation usually chooses the candidate - though again it's usually necessary to be on a party approved list in order to be considered. There have been some moves towards open selection 'primaries'.

Incumbents, particularly in safe seats, are not very beholden at all to the party leadership - unless of course they seek ministerial preferment, or appointments to select committees. Patronage is a powerful tool of control, but governments with small majorities (as the current one) are definitely vulnerable to back bench revolt.

Money is a huge difference between your and our systems. There are very strict limits on local campaign spending (which are set at a level you might consider pathetically low).
While this tends again to increase the influence of party at the national level, where the limits do not apply, it does mean there is a real possibility of insurgent candidates or parties competing at the local level, even without access to massive funding.

And we have nothing at all like the necessity of your incumbent congresspersons to raise millions of dollars in order to be re-elected.

McTx: ... An uneducated, unskilled adult will almost never rise above subsistence level. Nor will that person have the skill set, in most cases, to raise a child successfully. Thus, the failure cycle continues.

You break that cycle by forcing those subject to it to change their behavior or face the consequences. Not pleasant to contemplate or to do ...

Okay, I have started this comment 4 times now, toning down my snark 50% each time. So, here's my problem with McKinney's approach:

Children don't get to choose their parents.

Conservatives and liberals may agree on that premise, but we seem to draw different conclusions from it.

Conservatives seem to think that the best way to improve the lot of the next generation is to force their parents to sink or swim, and never mind whether the kids sink with them.

Liberals tend to not mind that the parents may cadge some unwarranted benefit from any life preserver we throw to their kids, because the next generation can't improve if it doesn't survive.

I could, grudgingly, accept the proposition that we should force the current generation of single black mothers and redneck meth addicts to live with the consequences of their "choices". But I could not possibly accept the proposition that it's OK to let their kids become collateral damage. Not even for the sake of comity with conservatives.

Russell nailed it at the tail end of the Texas Takeover thread:
What I've come to believe is that people who live in the US have profound disagreement about what they think is good and valuable. It's not a matter of specific issues, or policies, it's a matter of the most profound understanding of what life is about, and what the purpose of a polity is.

--TP

I'd like to know how it is construed that the poor of any race are somehow escaping and not facing the consequences.

Except for that one guy on food stamps who decided to treat his kids to some frozen crab legs.

The state of Wisconsin, among others, is going to make sure THAT never happens again.

Good thing too, because there is nothing that makes me happier than some small-minded consequences driven home with an enema power driver.

The closest that guys' wife is going to get anywhere near crab legs is emptying one of the Koch Brothers' bedpans the day after the Friday night seafood buffet at the Republican Home for Wealthy Sadists.

Under my Administration, we're giving out gun stamps.

But seriously, ride a bus someday in a major metropolitan area among the working poor, hauling their beat up bodies home day after day with sub par pay.

What are consequences exactly for the working poor, especially those with chronic diseases, whose jobs have gone overseas, or who face vote after vote in the U.S. Congress threatening to end their only route to affordable health care coverage.

Short of throwing rotten cabbages in public at these folks, what do people want?

Of course, if the poor got good at catching the cabbages with their mouths, they wouldn't have to put one over on us by eating crab legs on our dime.

We can't raise the minimum wage because low-level workers just make too damned much money already, and there isn't enough left for Wall Street or big-corporation CEOs. (That's the problem - and unions, especially the one's for school teachers.)

hey, if you're hungry, just call 911.

On the topic of the original post, I thought this was interesting.

More on the same topic.

One thing I take away from reading UK press is the degree to which London dominates the rest of the country. There are obviously large, influential cities in the US, but there really isn't one that overshadows the others to the degree that London appears to in the UK.

At least, that's how it strikes me. Is that impression accurate?

I'm also curious about the north/south divide that the articles refer to.

London is what geographers used to refer to as a "primate city," I believe. Way and above the largest city, the center of government, finance, and the arts, everything. (Not education, actually, but Oxford & Cambridge are close enough to London to be in its orbit.)

A number of countries have primate cities: Bangkok, Manila, Paris, Mexico City, etc. Others, like the US, do not - Australia, Canada, Germany, China, etc. (Governments often try to centralize everything in the capital, but it doesn't always work.)

As an American, I like the multi-centered model: Washington for government, NY for finance and theater, LA for movies, education all over the map. But then I go to England and remember Samuel Johnson: "A man who is tired of London is tired of life."

I'm also curious about the north/south divide that the articles refer to.

The north is comparatively poor and working class: think "Billy Elliot", "The Full Monty" or "Brassed Off". You can get a good sense of the economics by comparing house prices on sites like http://rightmove.com - also reflected is London's special status ...

here are two maps showing the divide:

http://www.zoopla.co.uk/heatmaps/

http://visual.ons.gov.uk/house-prices-in-your-area/

It's not really a North/South divide; more a London/rest of country divide.

The rest is incidental.

Nonsense

Look at the map or Google:

England porperty north south

It becomes a north/south divide if you concede that Devon and Cornwall are in the vicinity of Hadrian's Wall. The south west is always the poor relation in thee discussions.

Of course the higher the granularity of your map, the more complicated it gets. ONS suggests that the median housing price in Sheffield, where I live, is c.£130K, which is very likely true; but I can take you to neighbourhoods where it's well over twice that and a three bed semi-detached will fetch half a million plus.

The converse is not true in London, because the pressure on property prices is so insane that people on normal middle class incomes can't even think about buying anything.

Most of the dark green area on the ONS map should be interpreted as London (and to a lesser extent Birmingham) commuter belt, although they are enhanced by a few small specialist industries. People commute to London from the whole of East Anglia and much of the M4 corridor. Nigel's comment is shorthand, but generally true.

Thanks, chris; my comment was perhaps a little too succinct.

btw, in what respect do you consider Liz Kendall 'egregious' (other than being towards the right hand side of the Labour broad coalition) ?

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