Socialist Worker

'Maniac' in the Home Office

Issue No. 1817

HOME SECRETARY David Blunkett has stooped to a new low with a disgusting attack on young Asian men in Bradford who have been given outrageously long prison sentences. He described them in a speech last week as 'maniacs' who should stop 'whining' about receiving jail terms of up to eight and half years.

He has already blamed divisions in the north west of England on Asians 'segregating themselves' rather than on the racist discrimination. Blunkett's latest comments were reported on Friday, the same day that two of the scum suspected of murdering black teenager Stephen Lawrence were jailed for another racist attack.

Neil Acourt and David Norris got 18 months for trying to run down an off-duty black police officer on the same road in Eltham where Stephen was murdered. Yet Blunkett targeted his abuse at Asians who were defending themselves against racism and have been jailed for three to five times longer than them.

Twenty eight young Asian men from Burnley are on trial after they defended their community from invasion by a white racist gang last year. Defence lawyers rightly argue Blunkett's comments will prejudice the jury, which contains no black or Asian people. Sal Lal from the Bradford Fair Justice Campaign told Socialist Worker: 'We have written to Blunkett demanding an apology. His comments are like a slap in the face. He is saying we have no right to complain. But we are getting more and more support from people in Bradford and in other cities from Hull to London. We won't be put off.'

Bradford judge Stephen Gullick says his unprecedented jail sentences do not take account of what people did or didn't do. He told two men as he jailed them, 'The charge includes not only the actions of individual defendants such as yourselves, but also the unlawful conduct of all those around you as well.'

Blunkett says the jail terms are designed to send a signal to 'the community'. The message is, 'Do not dare to fight back against racism.' The disturbances broke out in Bradford last year when police allowed known Nazis to gather in the city centre after the National Front called a rally.

They included notorious Nazi thug David Appleyard. He got a lower sentence for kicking off the day's disturbances than the Asians who defended themselves against racists and the police.

Bradford came after similar Nazi-inspired confrontations in Oldham and Burnley, both towns that were targeted by the British National Party (BNP). Asian youth in Burnley took to the streets only after a white racist gang had attacked people and property, and was being given a police escort into the main Asian area.

Police hit Shahid Malik, a member of Labour's National Executive Committee, with a shield, knocking him out. Does Blunkett consider him a 'maniac'? Blunkett revels in portraying himself as a 'hard' home secretary. He sounded like far right Tory Norman Tebbit last week when he attacked 'bleeding heart liberals'.

Sickeningly Blunkett spewed out his bile just a week after the racist killing of Iranian asylum seeker Peiman Bahmani in Sunderland. There were no words like 'maniacs' from Blunkett to describe his killers. Blunkett made his outburst last week at a meeting of the Federation of Small Businesses.

He had nothing to say about the federation's former UK policy director Donald Martin who was forced to resign last year after a campaign by anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.

Martin sold anti-Semitic tracts such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion through his Bloomfield Books business. Blunkett believes he can shore up New Labour's vote by adapting to the language of the racists. That is music to the ears of the BNP.

Phone the Burnley campaign on 07930 869 895 and the Bradford campaign on 07966 215 696.

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Sat 14 Sep 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1817
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