Vile hypocrisy. That’s the only possible verdict as the Tories and sections of the right wing press claimed to be anti-racists this week.
After the Euro football tournament, several black players for England were met with a torrent of foul racist abuse. The Tories said they were on the players’ side.
“The England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” said Boris Johnson on Twitter.
This came from the man who described Muslim women who wear the burka as looking like letterboxes, and called black people “picaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”.
Home secretary Priti Patel added that she was “disgusted that England players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media.”
As England footballer Tyrone Mings said, she had “stoked the fire” by dismissing the England team for taking the knee against racism as “gesture politics”.
And it is Patel who is now pushing the racist Nationality and Borders Bill that would further criminalise asylum seekers and their supporters.
The real Tory attitude was revealed in a message from Tory MP Natalie Elphicke.
She said Marcus Rashford should have concentrated on football rather than “playing politics” in a reference to his campaign for free school meals.
Meanwhile, pausing briefly from its attacks on migrants, refugees and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, The Sun newspaper made its own play.
Its front page on Tuesday had England players Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho on it. The headline read, “We’ve got your back.” The Daily Mail took a similar line.
But it’s not just the Tories and their media allies who are hypocrites.
Labour leader Keir Starmer was at it too. He said that he thought it was “appalling” when Johnson didn’t support players when they took the knee.
Yet this is the same Labour leader that described BLM as a “moment, not a movement” And he’s the man who wouldn’t confront a caller to his radio show who said, “The racial inequality is now against the indigenous people of Britain because we are set to become a minority by 2066.”
Millions of people will have been outraged and disgusted by the racism against the footballers.
And many of them will instantly see through what the Tories are trying to do.
Anti-racism has to mean real action against the core of Tory policy, not just the disgusting comments this week.
Now there has to be a mass push to defend the rights of refugees and migrants. We need a storm of protest and action against the Nationality and Borders Bill.
The grim daily reality of Islamophobia and employers’ racism has to be confronted.
And that means taking on the British state.
There has been a determined effort over the last month to rekindle the idea that there is something progressive about English-ness.
It has come from the right but also from far too many on the left. It’s a profound mistake.
The state that rules over us, and is seeking to ratchet up its powers, is against working class people and is racist to its centre.
It is the state that allows cops to murder black people with, usually, no comeback at all.
It is the state whose border regime pushes desperate asylum seekers into dinghies, with the inevitable deaths that follow.
Strengthening that state’s ideology or pretending that there is such a thing as “national unity” is doing our rulers’ job for them.
It’s time to smash racism. That means a battle against the Tories and the state.