Race hate on the rise in Lincolnshire

Recent statistics released by Lincolnshire Police suggest that racially and religiously aggravated crimes in the county have risen by 22% over the past 5 years. The number of racist incidents has also risen by 12% over the same period. The most commonly reported crimes were racially  motivated criminal damage, verbal abuse and minor assaults. Nationally, racist incidents decreased by 18% over the same period.

The Lincolnshire Echo illustrates the story by interviewing Munir Zafar, an 18 year old from Afghanistan, who was attacked in Lincoln in 2010. Zafar suffered a fractured skull and cheekbone as a result of the racist attack.  “When I first came,” he said, “people would look at me in the street and argue with me over nothing. I was always thinking people might swear at me or want to start a fight.” He says he last experienced racist abuse in the street 4 months ago.

This very worrying trend might be partly explained by tension over the large number of migrant workers employed in Lincolnshire’s agricultural economy. Lincolnshire farmers have realised that they can take advantage of migrant labour at much lower wages than local workers. This has led to large numbers of migrants arriving in the area looking for work, often living in extremely poor conditions, and a strong downwards pressure on wages.

The far right have been looking for opportunities to exploit this tension. We are not talking about the deranged babbling of David Icke lovers, the Lincolnshire Voice here, but the more cynical elements in the BNP, EDL and their fellow travellers. They were given an opportunity last October, when Boston resident, Dean Everitt, organised a march against immigration on Facebook. Stating that “we are fed up of being second class citizens in our own town. The British person is being discriminated against in their own country”, Everitt claimed that “We are not racist…  but we are saying this place is now full and we should not have any more.” He was also reported as saying “The problem is simple – they need to shut the floodgates.”

Unfortunately Everitt failed to identify the problem as an economic one, driven by the bosses of the farms who want to exploit cheap labour. If decent pay and conditions were the norm and the practice of housing workers in poor conditions abolished, local workers would be able to find work again. Instead, Everitt focussed on cultural invasion, using language reminiscent of xenophobic politicians of the past. And whether or not you believe his claim not to be a racist, his march instantly became a beacon for fascists of all stripes.

It was soon picked up by the BNP as well as EDL offshoot, Casuals United. Each far right website moulded the story to fit its own agenda with the BNP trumpeting “People in Lincolnshire have had enough of migrant workers who have invaded their county”. The London Patriot used it to push the line that “the Labour party don’t support the white working class anymore” and the South West Nationalists claimed that “there are plenty of tales of drunken Eastern Europeans urinating in public, and of being able to walk through the town and come across next to nobody who speaks English.” Needless to say, no sources for these tales were produced.

Realising that he was going to attract all kinds of misfits, boneheads and delusional idiots if he went ahead with his march, Everitt cancelled saying that he was worried about it being hijacked.

The incident showed that organised fascists are taking an interest in the situation in Lincolnshire and trying to exploit the tensions between the settled community and migrant workers for political gain. Wherever the far right and their poisonous propaganda gain a foothold, racist attacks follow.

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