'Racists need to be told to get back in their box', says integration think tank director

'Racists need to be told to get back in their box', says integration think tank director

Some found Nigel Farage's 'Breaking Point' poster offensive

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Amid reports that there has been a sharp rise in racist attacks since the result of the EU referendum, the director of think tank British Future believes that politicians must make stronger calls for racists to 'get back in their box'.

Reports have claimed that cards have been posted through people's doors in Cambridgeshire saying 'no more Polish vermin', while a Polish centre in West London was recently daubed with graffiti in what is believed to be a racially motivated attack. British Future supports open conversations about identity, integration, migration and opportunities in Britain, and director Sunder Katwala is calling for more to be done by political leaders to discourage this behaviour.

"There's always an element of racism in any society and these incidents would be terrible at any time," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "It's clear a toxic minority who carry these views – they are absolutely not, of course, the views of 17 million people who voted to leave or 16 million people who voted to remain. 

"The problem is that the sort of toxic and racist minority of people – BNP voters, EDL marchers – have been slipping away in our society. They might have taken the view of Britain voting out of Europe as people agreeing with them.

"If they've taken permission from that, they need to hear very strongly from our political leaders, from our media from people on all sides: get back in your box."

During the referendum campaign, many people took issue with UKIP's 'Breaking Point' campaign poster, finding it offensive due to its similarity to Nazi propaganda posters from the 1930s. Katwala agrees that the party's leader Nigel Farage, went too far.

"I think [Farage] is sending a signal with that poster about a type of debate that people don't want – people want a debate about how to manage the pressures and treat people who are in desperate need well, and Nigel Farage was going too far for most people.

"In some of the ways [Leave] talked about Turkey, in the debate about whether it was going to happen or not, when they said more Turks means more crime, they were stepping over the line," Katwala added. "That is stereotyping of a whole group. We don't want good stereotypes or bad stereotypes of whole groups, let’s treat people as people."

Katwala, a British Asian who has been the victim of racist abuse himself, is calling for a debate about the issue to help tackle the problem.

"Its absolutely important to have a debate. It's not racist to have a debate about the pressures of immigration in our society, its not racist at all to have a debate about 'is integration working, isn't it working, who needs to do more?'

"No one should be allowed to use the words that were used against me in the playground, that used to be acceptable in society."