How Can This Be?
The blacklist was referred to the EHRC in February 2020.
“It is hard not to draw comparisons with an undesirable guests list and the signs displayed in hotel windows 50 years ago, explicitly barring Irish people and black people,” said Alastair Pringle, the EHRC executive director.
“Banning people from services based on their race is discrimination and is unlawful. To say that such policies are outdated is an understatement. It is right to challenge such practices and any business that believes this is acceptable should think again before they find themselves facing legal action.”
As Séamas O’Reilly points out: “It even led to the irony of the Labour MP for St Helens North, Conor McGinn, revealing that Pontins had recently lobbied him to support its sites being reopened, despite the fact that by virtue of his being a McGinn, the document “would have banned me & my kids from staying there if they had”.
It’s important not to sidestep the issue. As O’Reilly notes: ‘It’s tempting to think of Pontins’ racism as a British crime against the Irish, a convenient way of positioning ourselves as the victims of oppression rather than complicit in a coalition of anti-Mincéir prejudice that spans both countries.”
The Pontins scandal is a mirror to the world we live in. The old signs ‘No Blacks No Irish’ were thought to be a symbol of a distant past we should be ashamed of. But the Pontins story shows its the very present we should be ashamed of.
And yet and yet the very same week we discovered YouGov polling showing the Conservatives taking a thirteen point lead.
In the same week we were told in the Budget that Boris Johnson’s controversial Test and Trace system is to get another £15bn on top of this year’s spending allocation of £22bn, taking the total bill for the controversial service run by Tory peer Dido Harding to a £37bn over two years.
The same Budget told us the government was offering NHS staff just a 1% pay rise in the coming year, a move described by the nurses’ union as “pitiful”.
So much for clapping for heroes.
YouGov reports the Conservatives on 45% (+4 from 25-26 Feb) and Labour on 32% (-4).
Our latest Westminster voting intention has the Conservatives taking a 13 point lead:
— YouGov (@YouGov) March 4, 2021
I don’t think I’ll be alone in staring at these with figures with incredulity and asking, How Can This Be?
But I am also (in desperation) asking: where is the political project – the mass movement for change that can do more than just instill a vague sense of Obama-style “Hope” but actually rekindle the notion of progress and carry us out of this downward spiral and this dark morass?