How Boris and his cabinet broke the left

The response to Johnson’s appointment of ethnic-minority ministers has been ugly and undignified.

Rakib Ehsan

Topics Politics UK

The left’s reaction to Boris Johnson’s first week in office, and to the appointment of his new cabinet, has been unhinged.

Since becoming PM, Johnson has been called a ‘fascist’ and has been accused of leading a ‘far-right’ administration. Calling Johnson a ‘fascist’ and labelling his new cabinet ‘far-right’ doesn’t only trivialise the suffering of those who experienced the brutality of fascist regimes — it is also an odd way to describe a liberal Tory like Johnson. While fascist dictators of the past systematically oppressed and brutalised minority groups, Johnson has long supported an amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants and has just removed the government’s cap on new migrant arrivals.

He has also handed two of the great offices of state to ethnic-minority ministers: Sajid Javid is now chancellor and Priti Patel is home secretary. Javid, of Pakistani-Muslim origin, and Patel, of Gujarati-Hindu stock, are part of a diverse cabinet which also includes Alok Sharma as international development secretary and Rishi Sunak as chief secretary to the treasury.

But this development was also greeted with rage. Had Johnson selected an all-white, all-male cabinet, he would have been absolutely hammered by the left. But his appointment of non-white cabinet members was also derided. It was dismissed by the likes of Kehinde Andrews, a commentator and professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, as ‘window dressing’. According to Kerry-Anne Mendoza, editor-in-chief of the Canary, the black and Asian MPs serving in Johnson’s cabinet are ‘turncoats of colour’. By being Tories with non-white skin, they are legitimising ‘oppression’, she argues.

This is nothing but vile bigotry. Ethnic-minority conservatives are increasingly being subjected to slanderous attacks from the left. Instead of being congratulated for reaching the highest offices of state, the likes of Javid and Patel are derided as ‘coconuts’, ‘bounties’, ‘turncoats of colour’ and ‘Uncle Toms’. They are accused of being traitorous upholders of ‘white privilege’. One of the worst responses came from Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal. Gopal asserted that ‘Asian Toryism’ is primarily based on ‘anti-blackness’. According to her, ‘Asians have a good line in white supremacy’.

Following Johnson’s rise, the left seems to be in complete meltdown. While many of these responses are so ridiculous as to be almost comical, we must not underestimate how divisive some of the language being used is. For an academic at one of our leading universities to attempt to drive a wedge between Asian Tories and black Brits, in such a shameless and careless manner, is not only embarrassing for British academia but also quite worrying for society at large. Besides, if ‘Asian Toryism’ is based on anything, it is a belief in economic self-sufficiency, a positive approach to integration and a deep love for family. It has nothing to do with ‘anti-blackness’ or racism of any kind.

Javid, born in Rochdale to working-class parents of Pakistani-Muslim origin, is the epitome of the self-made man. He attended a state comprehensive near Bristol before obtaining a degree from the University of Exeter. At the age of just 25, he rose to become vice president of Chase Manhattan Bank. He then worked at Deutsche Bank. He had to take a hefty pay cut to enter politics.

Javid’s background is not too dissimilar to that of Munira Mirza, the new director of No10’s policy unit. Born to working-class Pakistani migrants in Oldham, Mirza’s career has spanned politics, academia, the media and the arts. Mirza is a vocal critic of the British model of multiculturalism for its championing of difference over cohesion. She has also called out misogynistic behaviour and patriarchal structures within migrant communities.

But for the left, it seems that ethnic-minority achievement is only worthy of celebration if it fits within the left’s own agenda or narrative. If you are successful, non-white and have sympathy with either a left-wing or identitarian worldview, expect to be congratulated by the left. But if you hold different views, you can expect to receive a torrent of abuse.

There is another reason why the likes of Mirza, in particular, will be targeted by the more regressive sections of the left. It is because their personal life stories undermine the left’s prevailing narrative of ethnic-minority victimhood. In their worldview, ‘white privilege’ is understood to be society’s greatest scourge, standing in the way of socioeconomic progress for non-white people. But this grievance narrative is weakened by the success of people like Mirza.

For all of his many flaws, Johnson is a welcome break from the stale, lacklustre and uninspiring leadership we have recently had to endure as a country. The PM’s confident, optimistic, inclusive brand of patriotism will go down well with many voters – including those who do not usually vote Conservative. In sharp contrast, the British left increasingly offers very little apart from divisive negativity and personal attacks against anyone who challenges the politics of grievance and victimhood. The left’s divisive identity politics and hysteria could play right into Johnson’s hands.

The wing of British politics which supposedly celebrates diversity is increasingly hostile towards diversity of thought. And our politics is much poorer for it.

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a spiked columnist and a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. Follow him on twitter: @rakibehsan

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Amelia Cantor

1st August 2019 at 10:32 am

The Henry Jackson Society is a neo-con front that has supported horrible wars in the Middle East. Rakib Ehsan has precisely zero moral authoritiy. If what he said about the “racist” criticism on Javid and Patel were true, that would mean BAME were unable to recognize racism when it was coming out of their own mouths.

A ridiculous proposition, but nothing is too stupid for a neo-con. And I note that my comments of the previous day — which contained nothing worthy of censorship — were not allowed through. The truth hurts, eh, neo-cons and neo-con enablers?

John Reic

2nd August 2019 at 6:11 am

I know many Henry Jackson society members who are Marxist or were against Iraq

Amelia Cantor

2nd August 2019 at 10:57 am

Marxists come in many varieties and some of those varieties are highly toxic. The Henry Jackson Society works to enable wars in the Middle East, so if any of its members “opposed” Iraq, I suggested they need psychiatric or ideological advice. Or both.

Hana Jinks

2nd August 2019 at 5:47 pm

Ameliorate Cant.

What do they call it when someone deliberately says something designed to deceive?

Turn the mods off. I’d like to expose to everyone exactly what you are.

I deserve a prize of some sort, too.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:18 pm

This is gonna get nasty, beyond belief.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:22 pm

Choose ur side, Jerry Oven-Kraut, or choose your weapon.

Sean Robertson

31st July 2019 at 6:58 pm

Doris is just Theresa May in a clown suit.

gershwin gentile

31st July 2019 at 3:02 pm

“Calling Johnson a ‘fascist’ and labelling his new cabinet ‘far-right’ doesn’t… mean he is a fascist. No, just that his opponents have no intellectual argument to make, just emotion attacks”.

BTW Marx was a pothole.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:26 pm

Someone was advertising about how you suck dicks for free.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:27 pm

It’s just that l know a dude called Anti Moreswill that would be right up your alley.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:33 pm

Jerry Oven-Kraut.

Ur not gay, are you?

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:44 pm

Gotta dobit my way, Neil

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:45 pm

* do it

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:47 pm

Can you imagine how insane I’d be if I’d had your education?

Don’t look at it like that.

Jonnie Henly

31st July 2019 at 1:41 pm

Wow, that’s now 2 articles the supposedly anti identity politics Spiked has about the ethnic makeup of Johnson’s cabinet.

They’re gone overboard with this.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 2:39 pm

I agree with you on this , too. It seems crazy, and l dont understand it.

We’re obviously not going to agree on much. I’m glad that there are somevrhings, and I’d look forward to discussing any differences that we may have.

Just in case you’re wondering whether I’d play some kind of shitty gsme with you, then l can assure you that l wouldn’t. We’re obviously very different, and won’t be able to agree on many things, but l hope that we’ll be able to discuss these things.

Jim Lawrie

31st July 2019 at 1:40 pm

Johnson has declared open door immigration. Freedom of movement for all, making that part of Brexit an irrelevance. Under him EU control over us will remain.

Ed Turnbull

31st July 2019 at 1:02 pm

I found this interesting: “Kehinde Andrews, a commentator and professor of Black Studies”. Hmm? So, where will I find the professor of *White* Studies? Oh yeah, silly me, I won’t of course, because such a chair would be racist, obviously. The double standards of the (progressive) left and the racism industry never cease to amaze me. Do these clowns really think the average voter can’t see this utter cockwaffle for what it is. And now being ‘colour blind’ – i.e. *not* noticing or regarding race as a factor in a persons actions / achievements / failures – is, apparently, racist. Welcome to clownworld.

And as for Kerry-Anne Mendoza: “turncoats of colour”? FFS! Is this intellectual void reading from a Titania McGrath script? Or is K-A M actually the hand and mind behind ‘Amelia Cantor’ who stalks these hallowed halls? I had thought Cantor a parody account (certainly makes me giggle), but now I wonder.

So, with the unhinged response to the appointment of Johnson’s cabinet we see the progressive left once again indulging in behaviour that they robustly condemn in their opponents. Their prime directive is undoubtedly “it’s ok when *we* do it”. There’s only one word for these people: evil.

A pox on their house.

Hana Jinks

31st July 2019 at 4:40 pm

Lol…l hadn’t heard about that ‘not noticing’ business. It really deserves to be exhibit A at the insanity trial.

Jerry Owen

31st July 2019 at 12:45 pm

I wonder how the BBC would respond if Farage referred to a black or brown man as a coconut ?

Jonnie Henly

31st July 2019 at 7:40 pm

They’d invite him on the next episode of Question Time.

Jerry Owen

1st August 2019 at 8:00 am

Little Jonnie
Not heard from you for a while on your school holidays eh !
Mummy taking you to the park later ?.. Remember not to take any sweeties from strangers, and keep covered up if the sun is too strong.

Neil McCaughan

31st July 2019 at 12:00 pm

“fascist” and “far-right” translated into English read “effective” and “a threat”. The idiot left are terribly afraid of Johnson, not because he is to the right of May (he isn’t) but because he has cooked their goose. Hence the more than usually incoherent gibberings of poor dim Amelia Cantor and daft Danny Rees.

Amelia Cantor

1st August 2019 at 10:23 am

Here’s one of my “incoherent gibberings”:

Cisgender white males are dying out fast. The Muslim community is growing in numbers and political power by the hour. You and your kind are the past. The Muslim community and other BAME folk are the future.

Michael McHugh

2nd August 2019 at 11:39 am

The BAME and Muslim community may be growing but many of them will probably end up being Tory voters. They’ll reject the lies and victimhood of the left and aspire towards self-sufficiency and aspiration instead.

cliff resnick

31st July 2019 at 11:15 am

the idiot children from Momentun have discovered Spike!

John Millson

31st July 2019 at 10:59 am

Of course it should be unremarkable: non-white people occupying the highest ranks. I find Kerry-Anne Mendoza’s statement repulsively weird. Don’t agree with spiked on much but agree on this one.

Danny Rees

31st July 2019 at 10:37 am

From the people who bought you “leftist snowflakes cry racist to shut down debate and black Labour MPS should quit whining about racism and man up” comes…


LOL looks like a hilarious picture to me.

Jerry Owen

31st July 2019 at 11:12 am

Danny Rees
Try some joined up thinking !
It’s about the racism of leftists.

Amelia Cantor

31st July 2019 at 11:31 am

If leftists were racist, then minority-ethnic folk would not overwhelming vote for the left.

I know you’re a rightard and therefore stupid and dishonest, but the logic ought to be clear even to you.

Jonnie Henly

31st July 2019 at 1:40 pm

How about you try some joined up thinking Jerry?

It’s plain old right wing hypocrisy…. again.

Hana Jinks

31st July 2019 at 4:49 pm

It’s like piranha’s sniffing your blood, Jerry Oven-Kraut. These one’s trolling you now are actually all certifiable, far-left loons.

This is what happens when you fail to give account, and this latest development has compelled to re-assess your case. You’re obviously far more dangerous than l thought.

Danny Rees

31st July 2019 at 10:32 am

No in fact Boris cabinet is trolling the Left by claiming they cannot criticise or disagree with his appointments because some of those he has appointed are from ethnic minorities and instead they should just celebrate “diversity”

Christopher Tyson

31st July 2019 at 10:14 am

There are often typo in what I post, I generally don’t worry too much and trust that people will know what I mean, but there is a glaring one here, I wrote ‘like of sympathy’ when I meant ‘lack of sympathy’, I wouldn’t want any misunderstanding there.

Christopher Tyson

31st July 2019 at 10:05 am

Those of us who criticise the politics the politics of victimhood do not do this because we don’t care that people are having a bad time, or because we think that that’s okay. Victim politics saps the will, and becomes self-fulfilling. I’ve not paid too much attention to President Trump’s ongoing travails, but what is apparent is the strategic weakness of victim politics or what I call ‘the black ideology’. It is an unthinking reflex. To understand Trump, we have to remember what it was like to be eight years old. If you call Trump a racist, he will not back down, he will behave like a racist, he will play the racist role ‘if you already think I’m a racist, I might as well behave like one’. Those who present themselves as on the receiving end of racism appear to be surprisingly robust, ie not victims at all, more like playing the role of victim, passive aggression. ‘Calling out’ racism now seems to be an end in itself, or a form of virtue signalling or character assassination, nothing to do with making the world a better place or defending individuals who are genuine victims. Black chauvinism has been left unchallenged by the liberal left, on the contrary it has been deferred to. These individuals have become emboldened and now believe that they are entitled to be as offensive and chauvinistic as they want to be and that they are entitled not to be challenged or insulted in return. The liberal left believe that black people are too oppressed or childlike to be racist, that they are lashing out in frustration or defending themselves, I would agree that there is something specific about racism in relation to the traditions race theory, colonialism, slavery and so on, but I am also concerned that black chauvinism, does at times resemble racism, and an unthinking sense of victimhood can turn into a like of sympathy or empathy not just for those who actually are racist but to all white people. A few years ago now, demonstrations by black activists lead to the closure of an exhibition at the barbican centre in London. The show featured black people in cages making some kind of statement about slavery or dehumanisation, granted disturbing stuff on many levels. The black activists managed to close down the exhibition. I made the point at the time that the show featured black artists, so what we had was vocal black activists suppressing the work of black artists (with whom in they actually had much in common, both being attached to the ideology of victimhood, and guilt tripping white liberals). The point is that these vocal activists have become the recognised voice of the black community and the go to people for white establishment politicians and liberals, they expect to get their way. The strategic weakness of black politics is that it has no forward looking strategy and no defence either. In a game of chess you set up your defence so that your opponent cannot break it down, this is assertive defence. The ‘black ideology’ offers no compromise, asserts it own victimhood and withdraws in to its own enclave, a siege mentally that appears intent on creating a literal siege, like Stockholm syndrome.

Puddy Cat

31st July 2019 at 7:11 am

The opposition to the Tories at the moment is being supplied by the BBC. While we were in the moribund, gloom laden Maybot era we were largely blinded to the larding of our social economic bleakness with talk of loss, hopelessness (a lot of which was supplied by Mrs May) and vacuousness, which socialists traded upon when promoting ideas of nationalising and the open opposition to capitalism (as a failed project). Under the new Tory leadership that theme has been marginalised. In this period, whereby Labour are obviously having an internal debate and are inconspicuous, to find some new message to oppose ‘the Boris’ the BBC is constantly reminding us of how gloomy we had become and maintaining scepticism and its opposition to the popular vote which in the preceding gloom may have gone unnoticed. The BBC is mobilised in news and current affairs as well as drama and even comedy in opposition to any measure of Conservatism.

The times are perilous. The self-serving BBC would be merciless if Johnson’s legislation showed any sort of hesitation or back-tracking. The Corporation has staked its capital on the Brexit escapade being overturned. While it is all too ready to ‘out’ sceptics and deniers in other spheres it itself deploys the same tactics in any matter related to the EU and will not accept the majority view on the matter, where all too often the majority, it asserts, must be right; it picks its targets scrupulously with a vocabulary to match.

One can only hope that once this new form of Conservatism has found its feet that it may find time to turn its attention to the lack of impartiality at the BBC. We expect the national broadcaster to be representative of the people it serves and yet find a political entity with an agenda all it own.

Jonnie Henly

31st July 2019 at 1:42 pm

This would be the same BBC that’s been relentlessly promoting Boris for months, right?

Jerry Owen

1st August 2019 at 8:02 am

Little Jonnie
Supply us with an example of the BBC being positive over BJ.

Jim Lawrie

31st July 2019 at 1:51 pm

You place huge store in the BBC. Year by year the number of people who never tune in to them falls by one percentage point. That does not mean the rest pay much attention.
CBBC reaches 25% of 6 to 12 year olds, according to the corporation’s own figures.

Hana Jinks

31st July 2019 at 5:13 pm

It’s not the point. It needs to be defunded.

Jerry Owen

1st August 2019 at 8:03 am

Puddy Cat
The BBC is beyond reform, it needs to be defunded and stand on it’s own two feet, it will either swim or sink.

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