The British Labour Party have been in power since 1997. The main advantage of this appears to be that the Conservatives no longer seem that scary. The Tories have taken to attacking the British Labour Party from the left or at least the centre (there’s really not that much room on the right). Tony Blair and co. have certainly done their best to ensure that even people who want a mildly social democratic government have realised that the British Labour Party are not going to deliver.
So they’ve responded to the fact that everyone hates them with attacks on brown people. In particular Jack Straw had the following to say in his local paper about women who wear veils over their faces:*
All this was about a year ago. It was not the first time I had conducted an interview with someone in a full veil, but this particular encounter, though very polite and respectful on both sides, got me thinking.
In part, this was because of the apparent incongruity between the signals which indicate common bonds – the entirely English accent, the couples’ education (wholly in the UK) – and the fact of the veil.
Above all, it was because I felt uncomfortable about talking to someone “face-to-face” who I could not see.
So I decided that I wouldn’t just sit there the next time a lady turned up to see me in a full veil, and I haven’t.
I thought it may be hard going when I made my request for face-to-face interviews in these circumstances.
However, I can’t recall a single occasion when a lady has refused to lift her veil; most seem relieved I have asked.
Would she, however, think hard about what I said – in particular about my concern that wearing the full veil was bound to make better, positive relations between the two communities more difficult.
It was such a visible statement of separation and of difference
I mention not just to point out again the vile racism that supposedly left-wing polticians will stoop to. But because I think it demonstrates really well the point Rachel was making in her post Bikinis and Burkas – that demands that women cover themselves, and demands that women uncover themselves, are both ways men claim ownership over women’s bodies (she also had some excellent points about how the discourse around these issues enable imperialism to hide itself and you should go read her whole post).
Jack Straw feels entitled to women’s faces. he believes that if a woman comes to his office asking for help, he is a better judge than her about what she should wear, and that he is well within his rights to demand that she dress in the way he wishes to.**
* To be clear while Jack Straw is obviously a troglogdyte he isn’t quite so stunningly ignorant as our own Bob Clarkson – he does appear to know the difference between a head scarf and facial veil.
** Can I just randomly mention that I hate George Galloway? Because I do. It’s not just that he’s part of the current push in Britain to restrict abortion rights. It’s that his comment on these eventscontroversy could be summarised as:
George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, called on Mr Straw to resign, saying he was effectively asking women “to wear less”.
Lets be clear you misogynist moron – the problem isn’t with asking women to wear more less, it’s men demanding that women dress for them in the first place.