2007 - 2022

The X-Men

_78603259_coburntwo_paBy Mike Small

Last week UKIP’s David Coburn, who was elected as a Euro MP last year, referred to “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him Abu Hamza” in an interview with the Sunday Mail. The comment marked Coburn and his UKIP supporters as X-Men, xenophobes mired in bigotry.

The response to Coburn’s comments was swift and comprehensive across the political spectrum. But after the condemnations we need action to do two things, demarcate UKIP and other racist organisations operating in Scotland as an unwelcome part of political dialogue and promote a positive narrative about immigration, internationalism and multiculturalism.

This is an important debate for a mongrel nation like Scotland, who, as a country has been enriched by so many for so long, and who also have a history of traveling the world to settle and roam.  In this context that Jean Urquhart MSP is  launching Not My Xenophobia, a new campaign to challenge xenophobic attitudes in politics and the media.

Jean was inspired to create Not My Xenophobia by the success of the #everydaysexism social media campaign, and the Scottish Government’s See Me campaign against mental health stigma.

She said:

”From exploitative programmes like Immigration Street to the UKIP MEP David Coburn’s disgusting, racist comments about Europe Minister Humza Yousaf, we are surrounded with xenophobic messages in politics and the media. But speak to ordinary Scots and you will find a very different attitude. Most of us value our friends, neighbours and colleagues from all over the world. The xenophobia we are being bombarded with isn’t ours – it’s being imposed on us by people in positions of power and influence who want to set us against one another. I’ve started the Not My Xenophobia campaign to give a voice to the majority of Scots who reject these hateful attitudes, and to name and shame the media organisations and politicians who promote them for their own gain.”

As Humza Yousaf himself has stated: ‘UKIP are a party who don’t just have a few bad apples.. they are rotten to the core’

The party has been treated like a joke for years but the slurs and smears keep coming and the true face of racism is never far from the surface.

It’s not just about racism.

Christopher Monckton, Ukip’s former head of policy for Scotland once stated that “gay men have ‘20,000 sexual partners’ in their ‘miserable lives’”  and called on the far-right British Freedom Party (BFP) to “come back and join Ukip” in 2012. Kerry Smith, Ukip’s candidate for target seat South Basildon and East Thurrock, was forced to resign after he made a number of homophobic and racist remarks and joked about shooting poor people. There’s not space to kist the full litany of UKIP ‘gaffs’. They are part of  a wider resurgence of the far-right in Britain.

Perhaps a sister project to Not My Xenophobia would be to mirror this great crowdsourced poster project from London which celebrated the positive contribution of people arguing: ‘Immigrants are part of the fabric of our society. It’s time to celebrate, not vilify.’ See more at NoXenophobia here.

We would do well to start with Coburn standing down or being sacked. But the positive alternative needs to be present too. Why can’t we and why don’t we celebrate all of our communities and welcome people to Scotland?

Part of the reason is our own history of bigotry that we need to face up to, and part of it is being tied to the racist British State. While we’re working on the latter we can put our own house in order by dealing with the former. Not My Xenophobia is a great place to start that journey, they’ve issued a statement saying:

“Not My Xenophobia invites Scots social media users to name-and-shame examples of xenophobic language, stereotypes and attitudes they see being used by newspapers, adverts, TV programmes and politicians, using the hashtag #notmyxenophobia. A website, www.NotMyXenophobia.scot, a Twitter account @notmyxenophobia and a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/notmyxenophobia will support the campaign.”

We need to live up to the ethos of Freedom Come All Ye and celebrate the Irish, the Polish, the Indian, the Pakistani and all of our communities. Hope not Hate.

Comments (28)

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  1. Chris says:

    Minor: Daily Mail rather than the Sunday Mail I think.

  2. lastchancetoshine says:

    Unfortunately Mike, a lot of people share Coburn’s views, it’s a hard fact that has to be acknowledged. We need to get over the self-delusional idea that it’s just those nasty chaps at UKIP and their hardcore following.

  3. Johnny come lately says:

    Agree with every single word, but please do try sending a copy to Cameron and his Tory boot boys. I doubt it would prevent him from forming a coalition with UKIP if the need should arise.

  4. davidmccann24 says:

    We can start with a couple of quotes from the ‘candidate’ for the Southern Party, Kelvin MacKenzie.
    “While the 2.6m taxpayers of Jockestan (Scotland) paid £11.3bn in income tax in 2011-12, the 8.4m clever clogs in London and the South East coughed up £64.3bn.”
    “I would scrap stamp duty on all houses under £2m. How can I afford it? Chip in £5bn from the overseas aid budget. There would still be plenty of moolah left for African dictators to spend on their private jets.”

  5. bringiton says:

    We may have to put up with the UKIP bigots but they offer nothing that any rational person would want to aspire to.
    Isn’t that what politics is supposed to be about?

  6. The site Hope not Hate regularly features all the facts by UKIP, and I assure you, when taken across the country, there is a racist or bigoted comment made by a kipper in office, or running for office every day – it’s truly shocking.

    I fear they have traction down south, and we have to work to ensure this does not happen here – Co burn is one too many, and I hope it’s an aberration.

    Of course Scotland is not perfect, but we must call out and marginalize racism and bigotry of the everyday sort, that UKIP excel in.

  7. emilytom67 says:

    We have plenty of our own bigots and we cannot deal with them,how do you deal with them? when there is no dialogue no bridges to cross nada,it is very very difficult,Coming from an Irish Catholic/Scots Presbyterian back ground I have witnessed so much of it and none of it good,there was no bigotry shown in my family circles but my father was vilified for marrying a Catholic and having his children raised in the Catholic faith,he was accused of “jumping the dyke” and nothing could have been further from the truth,he was a quiet lovely man who did not deserve this kind of treatment especially after serving his country for 6yrs during the war,something that horrified him being a very easy going non violent person,it all but destroyed him,he was deserving of better.I think that deep down a lot of Scots cannot come to accept that the Irish “bent but did not break” against the establishment,they showed plenty of bottle and still do,we just have to respect those of a different religion/culture,how do we do it??.

  8. Economaster says:

    This is hilarious. A nationalist party (whose reason for existence is predicated on identity) calling another nationalist party xenophobic? Does the SNP’s inclusiveness stretch to those whose identity is primarily British (many non white people)? lol. Or is that xenophobia not really xenophobia because British isn’t an identity the SNP recognize other than as a political construct? For example a Jewish family who came to Scotland some generations ago may consider themselves British as it was still after the act of union?……But if this is the case, that there is no subject ‘identity’ upon which a state (in the sense of being) can be placed, how can British state (in the political sense) be racist. A non ‘identity’ can’t be anything at all! Weird????

    ‘We need to live up to the ethos of Freedom Come All Ye and celebrate the Irish, the Polish, the Indian, the Pakistani and all of our communities. Hope not Hate….’

    I see you missed out the English and the Jews there despite the former being by far the biggest immigrant non Scot group and the latter being one of the oldest and long standing….

    Although from what I hear since rise of nationalism in these here parts they’re all off, both the Engglish and Jews..

    It reminds me of that Reg D Hunter stand up sketch about Jewish paranoia….After 7/7 he took a stroll around Golders Green and saw that the Jews were still there and realized that everything would be ok….If they had been packing their bags he would have shit himself and packed up also…If the Jews are getting the fuck out you know it’s time to leave!


    1. ELAINE FRASER says:

      The other night BBC Reporting Scotland survey on immigration cited Polish, Pakistani and so on but did not included English when giving percentages or numbers of immigrants to Scotland . Why do you think they were not included?

      1. Dean Richardson says:

        The BBC, like almost the entire British Establishment, doesn’t recognise England as a nation or English as a nationality. To them, we’re simply British people living in regions of Britain.

    2. cattyclysm says:

      Having been involved in fighting racist organisations rearing their heads in Scotland for more than ten years, we’ve had plenty of support from speakers and members of SNP (as well as Greens Labour and Lib Dem supporters and MSPs). I was born in England and still see myself as English (as well as being a Yes campaigner). I have never experienced xenophobia against ‘the English’ from the SNP and there was no xenophobia in the campaigning for Yes.

      Your somewhat rambling and incoherent section on the construction of identity shows very little understanding of the social practices of either identity or racism. When groups like UKIP or SDL promote Islamophobia it is possible to plead that ‘Islam’ isn’t a race but that doesn’t prevent them from being able to identify the people they hate or promote violence against. Pay attention to the frequently used phrase about Scotland as a ‘mongrel nation’: that promotes a national identity that celebrates hybridity and diversity, completely contrary to the exclusivity and division that is at the core of UKIP mythology.

      That is not to deny that there is racism in Scotland; merely to make it clear that it has no place in SNP policies, perceptions or membership.

      1. Chin Scratcher says:

        No xenophobia in the Yes campaign what so ever? Fair enough it was marginal but it wasn’t completely absent. That ‘vote Britain’ with the baying SNP crowds hooting when the final line ….forever England.. was snarled (at the party conference) might have been a wee bitty intimidating if English or pro British. In fact the whole ‘poem’ conflated the English with British in a stereotypical and unpleasant manner. Plus some of the imagery and language was a little uncomfortable for wishy washy liberals like myself. Need to keep an eye on ourselves also!

        And although I voted Yes, I can know a little of the history of Scottish Nationalism and the SNP and am grown up enough to recognize that both the left swing and ‘civic’ nationalism was initially motivated by political expedience and therefore may be seen by others as contingent in the same way as UKIP having an ‘ethnic’ candidate is. Although the two parties are different.

      2. cattyclysm says:

        Perhaps a little clarification will help. Having written for National Collective and been involved in RIC and Common Weal since the start and continuing my interest, I can state quite plainly that I never experienced any sense of being identified as an ‘enemy’ due to being English. The conflation of ‘English’ and ‘British’ is, regrettably, a commonplace in the mainstream media and perhaps a little ironic in being performed in the opposite direction. I would certainly agree that we need to keep an eye on ourselves and when remarks have appeared on fb pages like Scot 2 Scot and Aye Mac generalising about what ‘the English’ think in a shorthand manner I have intervened and drawing attention to the heterogeneity of the inhabitants of Scotland and the populace of England has received backing from the vast, vast majority of contributors.

        I love the ‘I am grown up enough’ (with its implicit suggestion that I’m a nipper) preface to the shift in SNP. Pushing 50 and having been a political activist for my entire life, I too am pretty grown up and am more tha aware of the emergence of SNP as a many headed beast from the merger between the Scottish Party and the National Party of Scotland in the 30s through the factional struggles of the 80s. However, to compare the contingency of particular shifts to UKIP’s efforts to mask the degrees of racism that is at its heart is not to compare like with like. I am painfully aware of racism in Scotland, primarily directed at Muslims but, and I hope you would agree, the goals and means of recruitment of UKIP and SNP are poles apart.

      3. Mac the knife says:

        Maybe you never experienced any negativity because you were part of the gang? Do you really think it would have been the same had you been a skeptic? Maybe you should look in other places (i.e beyond the Yes bubble) before being so complacent?

    3. Saor Alba says:

      The answer to your question in sentence 2 is Yes. The SNP is inclusive of all and is not predicated on identity at all. Your arrogance is obvious and you are obviously into “whataboutery” and playing with semantics. You do not have a grasp of the facts Economaster.

      1. Chin Scratcher says:

        What’s concerning is that non of the posters have addressed the article what so ever… Instead all have been outraged by the perceived slur on the SNP…Why is this the case, when the former is much more concerning if you are you insist all so inclusive?

    4. I hope you realise the difference between ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism, especially in relation to the SNP. Evidently, from your post, you do not. On the English & Jews, well there are not a lot of Jews in Scotland and I’ve never heard any Scot being anti-semitic, and in case you didn’t know, Scotland probably only European country to have never expelled the Jews from its land, there were no pogroms, they were never persecuted here (if you want anti-semitism, look at British history, the Aliens Act, English attitudes to its Jewish community during WWII and beyond) and furthermore the English are white and caucasian and would not be called out on the street in a racist manner, so it cannot be compared.

      1. Mac the knife says:

        Khalid, no offence…well just a wee bit, but I think it is you who is deficient in understanding nationalism. If you bothered to read the relevant academic literature on the subject instead of relying on lazy received wisdom you will know that the complacent divide between ‘eastern ethnic nationalism’ and ”western civic nationalism’ is highly contested. When I was at university reading the likes of Ellie Kidourie, Ernest Gellner,Hobsbaum, Benedict Anderson, among others this was and still remains the general consensus…(with the sole exception of Anderson)

        Sorry to burst your bubble, but nationalism is not a set of opposites it is a single sliding fluid scale (which is why it is dangerous!) Essentially, without ethnic nationalism their is no basis for civic nationalism (and the name is oxmoronic) Civic implies institutions, nationalism implies a focus on tied culture and ethnicity often artificial and manipulated by modern (not primordial) notions of politics and organisation and will to power.

        Educate yourself before being so pompous.



      2. Mac the knife says:

        Er that’s because there was no Jewish population in Scotland when expelled from England under King John? English attitudes, like the Kinder transport and the ripping up of entrance visa/ allowing the sponsorship system that all other countries including the US refused (after 39 there was little choice due to being at war.) And incidently why is this English and British history but not Scottish and British history?????

        Arguably, the UK did more to aid Jews during the war than any other country. And even then it was paltry.

        And again as pointed out, projecting victimhood and deflecting from the issue in the article does not make it go away!

  9. Economaster, conveniently misnaming the SNP. We are sick of correcting the bigotry you are trying to imply. It not about identity, except in the racist cartoons we see south of the Border, showing Salmond in kilts, and implying incest, and its disgusting.

    You know well what SNP promote, or if not, stop slagging them off in your ignorance.

  10. Cruachan says:

    The Prclaimers hit the nail on the head as usual…..

  11. arthur thomson says:

    @ Economaster

    Much as you would like to attach UKIP, the unacceptable face of British nationalism, to those who are committed to Scottish self-government, you really have to face up to the truth. UKIP is a British phenomenon, supported by British people and you Brits need to get your house in order.

  12. Big Jock says:

    I have an Irish name. I think I am more Scottish than people with Macs in front of their surnames.I refer to the ones that voted no and gave up their Celtic/Gaelic heritage in favour an invented Anglo Saxon invented heritage. The ones that ransacked George Square and burnt our St Andrews flag of peace and unity.

    My ancestors came from Eire but I celebrate Scottish culture. Its inclusive ,whereas the British Anglo heritage is tinged with racism and anti Scottishness. I could never adopt British culture as its alien and protestant in nature. It excludes Catholics and denies Scotland’s own identity.

    Hamsa is just like me. He is a Scot who’s family moved here from another country. I can walk down a street and no one questions my background because I am white. He walks down a street and some people think he is less Scottish than they are. They have the problem.

    I hear people refer to Pakis and foreigners on a daily basis. I have to say they are largely from the Brit/Scots who voted no. Yet they like to portray the party and people of the SNP as anti English. I am anti British and make no effort to try and disguise that. Its because of people like Coburn and the hooligans in George Square. I don’t want any part of that culture.

    1. Chin Scratcher says:

      TBF, I think the Reformation and Calvinism was more prevalent in Scotland than England/ Britain as a whole – The Scot James the 6th/ 1st was the source of the Ulster plantations, where as the gun powder plot was fermented by disgruntled English Catholics…

  13. cattyclysm says:

    While I wholeheartedly agree with the general tenor of the article I have never seen UKIP as a joke. They lend a misleadingly respectable facade to racism and scapegoating and, in contrast the BNP, have been granted a column in the Express as well as funding from the owner of the Express and the Tories and to a slightly lesser extent Labour feel the need to throw their supporters gestures of anti-immigation rhetoric and policies to win them over.

  14. Jean Urquhart says:

    Hello Bella.Thanks for mentioning ‘Not My Xenophobia’. Interesting responses. In my opinion and experience, Scotland has a problem with racism and bigotry and homophobia and a few other pretty horrible traits besides. Coming to terms with or learning about Scotland’s less than distinguished history (eg our enthusiasm for slavery, empire, etc) would be a start to dealing with some of these faults. Finding negative stories about ‘immigrants’ in the daily blatt is common place, but by not challenging this kind of discrimination and propaganda we are seen to endorse it. Scotland can be a different country, and acts of human kindness towards fellow human beings regardless of where they were born, needs to be part of that.

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