Has there ever been a crime panic as flimsy, as see-through, as explicitly designed to make political mileage as the post-Brexit hate-crime hysteria? Too many people are nodding along to this nonsense, accepting as hard fact every doom-tinged utterance from the police and evidence-lite statement from the Home Office. They repeat and tweet every claim from officialdom about ‘soaring hatred’ since the 23 June referendum, and hold it up as proof that the vote to leave the EU unleashed the latent xenophobia and even homophobia of Them: those sections of society that are Eurosceptical and therefore evil. Enough. This is a moral panic, plain and simple: a naked example of the kind of ‘crime construction’ by the powers-that-be that liberals and leftists might once have critiqued, back when they were more questioning.
The hate-crime hysteria doesn’t stand up to even the mildest scrutiny. This week, the gay-rights group Galop caused global waves when it claimed homophobic hate crime rose by 147 per cent in the three months after the referendum, due to the ‘toxicity fostered by the EU referendum debate’. How does that work, then? There was no anti-gay sentiment in the Leave campaign. None of the arguments for leaving the EU was related to homosexuality. Yet we’re expected to believe that, somehow, a discussion about the future of a Brussels-based institution led to people thinking: ‘Bloody gays. Let’s get them.’ Who’s buying this?
If you’re buying it, hopefully a glance at Galop’s laughably unsubstantiated report will make you think again. The report claims 2.1million gay people in the UK have experienced hate crime at some point in their lives, and many such crimes happened in the three months after Brexit. But these ‘facts’ are based, not on court cases or police investigations or images of bruised bodies, but on one online survey of 467 LGBT people. This survey was distributed through ‘community networks’ of ‘LGBT activists, individuals and professionals’. It asked the 467 self-selected LGBT people if they had ever experienced any kind of hatred relating to their identity. Around 80 per cent said yes. Working from the assumption that there are 2.7million LGBT people in the UK – and, as Galop admits, this is a big assumption, since ‘there are no census figures about LGBT communities’ – Galop extrapolated from the responses of these 467 individuals to say that 800,000 gay men, 500,000 bisexual people, 400,000 trans people and 400,000 lesbians have been the victim of hate crime at some point, with a spike in such crimes after Brexit. I’m going to put my neck on the line and say this is not good science. What we have here are unproven claims, made in surveys distributed by ‘community networks’ that might, just might, have a vested interest in bigging-up the victim status of the gay community; and these unproven claims are then projected on to a gay population at large whose numbers are unknown in order to tell a story about mass hatred for homosexuals that simply isn’t visible in daily life. This isn’t science; it’s hocus pocus.
Yet much of the Remainer lobby bought into this mystical Brexit spike in homophobic crimes, just as they have uncritically accepted every claim of a post-Brexit hate-crime rampage. For months now, politicians and the media have been telling us that Brexit unleashed an ‘epidemic’ of violent spite. Media Remainers latch on to every police statement about spiralling hate crimes as proof that leaving the EU is a disaster, and Britain has overnight turned into a cesspit of backward thinking. Their cloying, uncritical faith in the cops and their figures is touching, but it’s misplaced.
Yesterday, the Home Office issued its annual report on hate crimes. It says there was a ‘sharp increase’ in hate crime after the referendum. In July there were 5,468 hate crimes – 41 per cent higher than the number of hate crimes in July last year. But again, we need scepticism – a lot of it. These 5,468 alleged incidents – I know it’s evil to use the word ‘alleged’ these days, but some of us still believe in due process – have not been investigated, far less tried in a court of law, and therefore there is no hard proof of what happened or whether it happened. This is because these ‘crimes’ (the police and Home Office have given up on the word ‘allegations’) are simply things that have been told to the police, often through their phone or email hotlines. And then the police instantly – instantly – record them as hate crimes, with no need for questioning or investigation of any kind. Every single person who phones a hate-crime hotline is believed. Again, this isn’t science.