Are we re-playing the North Minhead by-election? Is someone re-running episodes of Love Thy Neighbour? Perhaps someone took Royston Vasey a little too seriously? Whichever, the descent by Home Secretary Amber Rudd into a state which is not unadjacent to full-blown xenophobia and bigotry is as real as it is disturbing - unless, of course, you take the press on trust, in which case it is mere Patriotism.
Back in 2007, Pa Broon was roundly ridiculed by not only the press, but many in his own party, when he said “British jobs for British workers”. It was a phrase used by the sneering Pundit Establishment to beat him, and Labour, with for years afterwards. Now, when Ms Rudd says the same thing, she is cheered to the rafters. And the cheering continues when she veers across the racism line, because, remember, this is mere Patriotism.
Thus we see the Murdoch Sun triumphantly announcing “JOBS FOR BRITS British businesses will be ‘named and shamed’ into hiring more UK staff under radical Home Office proposals … Companies will be forced to publish the number of migrants they employ as Amber Rudd attacked the use of cheap foreign labour”. This, though, has nothing to do with the European Union.
We know this because the article then tells “she revealed they could be required to publish the proportion of ‘international’ staff in the workplace as part of a new crackdown on immigration from outside the EU”. Perhaps those workers will have to display some kind of identifying mark, just for clarity, you understand. The Mail also got the memo.
“She announced plans to crack down on the 'generous' arrangements for students from abroad, saying they could be blocked from jobs if courses are not high enough quality.
Immigration checks will also be mandatory for taxi drivers, while landlords who rent to illegals could face jail sentences … New measures forcing companies to reveal how many 'international' staff they employ will effectively name and shame firms which bring in foreigners rather than invest in talent at home”.
“International”. It used to be such a glamorous word, but now it’s been appropriated to mean code for grubby and casual racism. Welcoming those from outside the UK is going to be reduced to demanding that they speak English. And a hint that the Tories are intent on amending the 2010 Equality Act - after all, discriminating against foreign workers would be in breach of it. And that is what Ms Rudd is suggesting.
“Businesses told to hire UK nationals first”. Just think how outraged the press would be if that practice was employed by firms in other countries, to the disadvantage of Brits. And “Firms must list foreign workers”. Do they get “named and shamed” as well? Where does Ms Rudd expect this to end, once she scratches that racist itch that she doesn’t really have, honestly? Hasn’t she overseen enough hate crime since the referendum?
Amber Rudd may not be a racist. But she does a frighteningly good impression of one.