Last week, Ofcom decided not to investigate a routine performed by the dance group Diversity on Britain’s Got Talent earlier this month. So far so good. The performance, which referred to the death of George Floyd and the wave of protests that followed, drew a record-breaking deluge of 24,500 complaints: that the dance routine was ‘racist towards white people’, portrayed the police negatively and supported a political organisation. ‘In our view,’ Ofcom responded, ‘the clear overarching narrative of the performance was to reflect the events of 2020 and to call for social cohesion and unity.’
Is a reasonable discussion about the Equality and Human Rights Commission and racism in political parties even possible? Honestly, it seems doubtful. The EHRC has been weaponised in the endless battle of ‘your racism is worse than ours’ between the Conservative government, the Labour opposition and their respective supporters. That the commission has investigated Labour for antisemitism but will not investigate the Conservatives for anti-Muslim hate has been used to undermine the antisemitism probe, painting it as part of a smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn. This is not merely bleak in its own terms. It also makes it harder to raise the question of Conservative Islamophobia and what can be done to tackle it.
What miserable terrain we’re stuck in, post-Brexit vote, as the free trade v. free movement argument is endlessly discussed. Round and round we go, warning that leaving the single market and slapping more controls – we already have plenty – on immigration would harm the economy, but insisting that the public wants one, or both, or neither; who really knows?