According to Chris Dillow, there’s a direct link from the Tories’ austerity policies to the rise of racism in England and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
His argument is that economic stagnation since the crash of 2008, which has been exacerbated by the economic policies of Britain’s Conservative Party (under Prime Minister David Cameron andChancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne), has led to stagnant or falling living standards for most working-class households. That deterioration, in turn, created a level of discontent that showed up in support for Brexit.
Now, Dillow makes clear, support for Brexit was not in and of itself a form of right-wing extremism. But the campaign against the European Union, and now its victory, have helped to generate anti-immigrant attacks and expressions of racism.
As he explains,
There’s a direct link from Osborne’s criminal economic mismanagement to hate crimes.
You might think I’m going too far here. I’m not. In fact, this is basic economics. Econ 101 says that people respond to incentives. And the incentive to express racist opinions rather than keep them bottled up has increased recently because when politicians express neo-racist ideas, people believe that the stigma attached to being racist has declined. In this sense, the cost of being a low-level racist has fallen – and a fall in costs generates increased supply.
Granted, Cameron and Osborne sincerely deplore such attacks. But that misses the point – that if you dump a pile of shit on your doorstep, you can’t disown the flies.
And, is turns out, that’s exactly what’s been happening in the United States in recent years—with an economic recovery that has only benefited those at the very top and a campaign by and within the Republican Party that culminated in the nomination of Donald Trump. The cost of being an American racist has definitely fallen.
In both cases, in the United Kingdom and the United States, what we’re witnessing then is the sorry spectacle of the creation of “climate in which migrants and ethnic minorities no longer feel safe.”