Why Jo Swinson’s ‘white men’ jibe matters

Anti-whiteness has replaced class analysis on the left. This is a gift to the right.

Rudi Abdallah

Topics Politics UK

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson last week described Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and their aides’ attempt to thrash out a new Withdrawal Agreement Bill timetable as ‘six white men stuck in the past, conspiring to wreck our future’. And although you cannot fault Swinson’s impeccable power of observation – all the men were indeed white – many have rightly noted that the ‘white’ jibe was unnecessary.

The austerity arsonist and tuition-fees turncoat could have found fault with many aspects of Johnson’s voting record, perhaps his fondness for bankers, but instead she went for his skin colour. Her performative anti-whiteness was meant to show that she is on the side of good against the source of all evil: white men.

Most concerning has been the lack of condemnation from the left. Her remarks should surely have been treated with the same disdain as Sajid Javid’s ‘Asian paedophiles’ tweet. Many were outraged at this response to the conviction of 20 members of a Huddersfield grooming gang.

Both MPs knew what they were doing. Javid’s tweet implied that sexual abuse is the preserve of the racial other. Meanwhile, the Lib Dem leader was appealing to socially liberal hypocrites who baulk at the likes of Javid but cheer performative anti-whiteness. These liberals see no contradiction between anti-racism and insulting white people on the basis of their skin colour.

Any objection to this is met with accusations of whataboutery. Is using ‘white’ like Swinson did the worst thing in the world? No – and by quite some distance. But it is not harmless, either. Examples like this have a cumulative effect, even if white people are not the victims of structural racism. Anyone who saw Swinson’s tweet – and the confidence with which she claimed those six men’s skin colour was part of why they are failing the country – will rightly question the hypocrisy of liberals and socialists denouncing prejudice on the basis of skin colour.

The growing use of ‘white’ as an insult speaks to the left’s relegation of class analysis. Whiteness means nothing when Thomas Cook goes bust and its avaricious CEO defends over £8million in pay and bonuses pocketed since November 2014. If you are a white working-class man or woman who worked for British Steel, you will be more than aware that your ‘white privilege’ has done nothing to prevent unemployment and deprivation.

Anti-whiteness has been a gift to the right. As long as whiteness continues to be used as an insult by the liberal left, working-class men and women in provincial towns will continue to be susceptible to ugly English nationalism. Working-class people – black, white, Asian men and women alike – should be the foundation of the left and the engine of revolutionary change. If the left is to truly represent the 99 per cent, we must stop insulting the majority of the country. Instead, let’s promote more white working-class voices to the forefront of the socialist movement.

Rudi Abdallah is a journalist based in London.

Picture by: Getty

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Hugh Oxford

9th November 2019 at 6:10 pm

White men are hated because they are the most progressive, least racist, least sexist and least homophobic men that have ever walked the planet.

Not in spite of that fact.

The more they give, the more they surrender, the more they care, the more they compromise, the more they subordinate themselves, the more they are hated.

It’s just biology.

chris hornsby

5th November 2019 at 11:16 am

What about white women? They are now part of the privileged white matriarchal/patriarchal establishment who enjoy the privilege of female quotas in politics and business.

antoni orgill

3rd November 2019 at 3:39 pm

I think the lesson to be learned in the light of this white-skinned, brown-haired woman’s wise words is that having limitless ambition is a sign of weirdness. Typical Lib-Dem superficialite …

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3rd November 2019 at 7:47 am

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Ven Oods

31st October 2019 at 4:33 pm

I remain to be convinced that anything Swinson says really matters. Another in a long line of LibDem nonentities.

David McAdam

30th October 2019 at 9:55 pm

The power she enjoys was given to her by white men. I admire white men who take rather than whine for power as feminists do.

Hugh Bryant

30th October 2019 at 4:54 pm

This woman embodies everything that is repulsive about neo-liberalism and the terrible divide-and-rule politics that it has spawned. I pray that voters everywhere will have the sense to recognise the danger that she and her cronies represent to social harmony in this country and boot them firmly in their ample behinds at the coming election.


30th October 2019 at 11:48 pm

You are confusing ‘liberalism’ and ‘neoliberalism’ – two very different things.

Marvin Jones

30th October 2019 at 4:35 pm

She is using the best tool in the box that a jumped up fool can use against any white patriot who would like their country back. She is bending over to the BME population, which by now are around equal to the white population who are rapidly diminishing in numbers into a minority very quickly. SO! this is her ACE like Corbyn’s anti-Semite deep rooted meme.

David Michael

30th October 2019 at 4:33 pm

Brain-dead and offensive comment from the deeply anti-democratic Swinson.

a watson

30th October 2019 at 11:23 am

The ulterior meaning of her comment was ‘White working class men”. The prejudice and patronising attitude in Labour and LibDem parties towards working class men, and their seeming encouragement of that prejudice amongst immigrant and ethnic minorities, is very apparent and shocking.

Jim Lawrie

30th October 2019 at 9:51 am

“As long as whiteness continues to be used as an insult by the liberal left, working-class men and women in provincial towns will continue to be susceptible to ugly English nationalism.” Urban elite, remainer arrogance.

” the engine of revolutionary change”? – no doubt to be led. But instead of the right, by you and your like. We, the gullible and easy led, bow down before you.

Jim Lawrie

30th October 2019 at 9:09 am

Part of this is appeal for the women’s vote. And the youth vote.

Millions of third worlders in this country who are only too glad to latch onto blaming white men for everything they do not like, and hostility towards white men is now palpable and manifest on the streets.
Many youngsters blame white men and older people for the fact that they have to work, pay bills, and can’t afford to buy a property.
Many women blame men for all their ills.

H McLean

30th October 2019 at 8:29 am

The saddest thing about Javid’s tweet is those men aren’t even Asian.

Ed Turnbull

30th October 2019 at 10:14 am

I don’t know that’s it’s sad – entirely predictable more like. Everyone knows that, in the UK, ‘Asian’ is used as a synonym for ‘muslim’. It’s an attempt to deflect attention from the bad behaviour, or outright criminality, of a particular cultural group by subsuming the cultural aspect into a racial category. Which then affords the opportunity to label critics of the culture in question as ‘racists’. And it fools no one.

H McLean

30th October 2019 at 7:48 pm

Thanks Ed. I’m aware of the context I just felt that stating the bleedin’ obvious was entirely necessary in this case.

Shitlord Olafssen

30th October 2019 at 8:20 am

“even if white people are not the victims of structural racism”. So what do you call being replaced in most of their homelands by third worlders if not this?

Jerry Owen

30th October 2019 at 8:06 am

The author fails to point out how Swinson’s racism is a gift to the right. Racism against minorities barely exists in Britain today.
In fact the only racism I witness is anti – white racism from under educated politicians and the media.

Stephen J

30th October 2019 at 8:02 am

There is nothing ugly about nationalism, whether English or otherwise. Most of the planet is arranged on this basis and the reason is that people are tribal, and the most manageable expression of that is found in the concept of nationalism.

A nation is generally speaking, an assemblage of people who largely speak the same language and share similar diet and customs. The accent though, regardless of whether you fit into the above scenario or not, is on pulling together as a single entity. It seems to work, since all attempts at larger communities has eventually led to conflict.

Democratic nations do not make war with each other, indeed when empires and federations break they usually become one or several nations. Since the end of WW2 when there were 50, we have seen the creation of a further 150. This is no accident, the globalists are behind the curve with their 20th century ideas.

Philip Humphrey

30th October 2019 at 7:30 am

Notice also the misandry, men are being singled out for blame. This is a growing problem in an age where masculinity is described as “toxic”. The reality is masculinity is not toxic, neither is femininity, but modern feminism definitely is, both toxic and divisive.

Tim Hare

30th October 2019 at 6:24 am

She could have said six politicians. We don’t need to know that they were men or that they were white but she needed to tell us. Obviously has a personal agenda to push.

jessica christon

30th October 2019 at 1:03 pm

My thoughts exactly. The comment is more anti-male than it is anti-white, or at least the point of it is. In Wokeland, Whiteness only demerits you if you’re also male, otherwise privileged White females like Jo Swinson don’t get to play the victim card.

Jane 70

30th October 2019 at 1:54 pm

Jo Swinson is a silly cow, in my opinion. Her pronouncements are increasingly, predictably annoying.

As to the article’s ‘ugly English nationalism’: another fashionably dismissive trope. This movement, so glibly dismissed by the left, is a reaction driven by a sincere and deeply felt sense of loss of culture, identity, tradition and rootedness.

Why is that the SNP and Sin Fein are seen as brave progressive standard bearers while English people are written off and patronised as bigoted ‘little Englanders’.

jessica christon

30th October 2019 at 3:03 pm

Yes. There’s nothing inherently murderous or expansionist about nationalism, at least no more so than any other ideology – communism, capitalism, environmentalism or wokeness. And as you say, it is never explained why Kosovan or Kurdish or South Sudanese or Scottish or Irish nationalism are a-ok but English nationalism isn’t.

Claire D

30th October 2019 at 3:43 pm

Cow is too good for her, I’m very fond of cows.

Perverted Lesbian

30th October 2019 at 4:17 pm

Is it just me, or does the Scottish accent always sound angry? Whenever I hear Swanson or a member of the SNP my blood pressure rises with them, not voluntarily, listening to them stresses me out especially what’s his name, leader of the SNP in the HoC, Penguin, that’s his name I think.

Andrew Leonard

30th October 2019 at 1:14 am

The centre continues to abide by the rules of antiracism, while the left becomes more racist by the day.

Western culture is weak and divided and is increasingly leaving itself vulnerable to ideological takeover.

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