By Man of Kent -Bristol City Council’s website states: ‘Bristol has a changing population. New communities are settling in central parts of the city and beyond, bringing both advantages and new challenges around cohesion and integration.’
In other words, the town is being swamped by settlers, creating insoluble problems.
Bristol has the highest proportion of Somalians of any city in the country and of any local authority outside of London, and the third-highest Somali population in absolute terms behind London and Birmingham.
And it made headline news when two ethnic Bristol councillors went to court in the most ludicrous court case in British legal history.
On February 15th 2010 the case of Regina v Shirley Brown was heard by Bristol magistrates. Councillor Brown, a Liberal Democrat on the city council, stood accused of being a bit rude to a member of the Conservative Party.
The official charge was causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress, and I should mention at this point that the Conservative in question, Councillor Jay Jethwa, is South Asian via Uganda, and that Brown is black (so to speak).
A year before, the council was discussing the city’s Legacy Commission, which was created to atone for Bristol’s role in the slave trade.
Atoning for slavery was an expensive business, for which the commission required £250,000 a year from the council. Councillor Jethwa said it was pointless posturing, a waste of money ill-afforded in a recession, while black Brown was of the opinion the commission was worth every penny.
Black Brown said to Jethwa, ‘In our culture we have a word for you… coconut.’
A human coconut, you see, is someone who is brown on the outside but white on the inside, who is an ethnic but promotes the interests of Whitey.
It is a racial slur that goes back at least as far as 1988, when the influential political organisation Black Section expelled Janet Boateng, a former Lambeth Council firebrand, for being one.
Millions of inhabitants of Britain consider it an insult. Another version is ‘choc ice’. The Chinese have their own variant - ‘banana’.
Like so much else in the race relations industry, the insults all go one way. The opposite does not apply: there is no equivalent in the other direction.
Jack Straw, champion of the rights of ethnics, has never been called a mushroom because some varieties of this fungus are white on the outside and brown on the inside.
Neither councillor came out of the ghetto. Brown had a comfortable upbringing in Bath, while Jethwa’s rich family came to Britain after being thrown out of Uganda by dictator Idi Amin for being South Asian.
Brown’s attack was received in silence but Jethwa subsequently said she was very hurt, had never been spoken to in that way before, it was an absolute disgrace, and so on.
A couple of days later Brown apologised lavishly, albeit after complaining to reporters: ‘How can I be racist? I’m black.’ (So was Idi Amin, dearie, and he hated South Asians so much he expelled them from his country.)
And that should have been the end of it. Bristol Council could get on with running Bristol, atoning for the slave trade, that sort of thing.
So why did this playground name-calling case continue for so long?
Partly because the Conservatives reported Brown to the council’s standards committee for ‘causing embarrassment to the city’.
She was found guilty of this and suspended from office. That verdict was overturned on appeal, but the case went back to court when she was charged under the Public Order Act with using ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress’, a serious charge that comes with the threat of a criminal record.
As Brown had apologised, why was it necessary to turn this into a criminal prosecution? The Crown Prosecution Service stated that its approach was ‘in the public interest… because it alleged an offence where the subject demonstrated hostility towards the victim based on discrimination against the victim’s ethnic origin’.
The case was adjourned twice, until finally Brown was convicted, given a twelve-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs.
This farce is the legacy of the race relations industry: people can no longer tell the difference between racial hatred and vulgar abuse.
If Jethwa was obese and Brown had called her a ‘fat cow’ that would of course have been a worse personal insult but not a criminal offence, or if the impulsive councillor had said, ‘You have disregarded your cultural roots’ she would likewise not have been taken to court.
The maximum penalty for this new offence, ‘speech crime’, is six months in prison or a £5,000 fine. Surely this is not enough for such a despicable crime.
Maybe a second Legacy Commission could be set up to atone for the awful slur against Jethwa. Such suffering can hardly be compensated for.
Would £150,000 a year be enough atoning?
At the same time, Bristol priest Richard Barrett was calling for the town to be made ‘a city of sanctuary for asylum seekers’.
In his column in the Bristol Evening Post, he wrote: ‘Moves to make Bristol a “City of Sanctuary” are important. It’s about taking a compassionate attitude to people who have had to flee for their lives, often after terrifying experiences and physical attacks, leaving their families and homeland, and arriving in a strange country with nothing.
‘It’s about actively welcoming them and affirming their contributions to our city life. It’s not about increasing numbers. It will be a public declaration that we are a city proud to hold to the long-standing British tradition of offering sanctuary to the persecuted.
‘Making the stranger welcome is at the heart of our faith. We should all sign up to the City of Sanctuary movement… ’
And then, to add to the story of Bristol stupidity, Jon Kelly reported on the BBC that the town’s Somalians, along with others in Britain, were ‘keen to show their support’ to Kent couple Paul and Rachel Chandler, kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
‘Sensitive to their homeland’s reputation for civil war, piracy and lawlessness, Somalis across the UK have mobilized behind a campaign to release the pair,’ Kelly wrote.
‘TV and radio stations serving the [Somali] community are broadcasting regular appeals for the Chandlers’ release, while demonstrations and public meetings demanding their freedom have been organized by Somali leaders across the country.
‘They hope that the pressure will be felt back in their mother country - and that the strength of feeling among Somali Britons [sic] will be felt by the pirates themselves.’
Paul, 60, and wife Rachel, 56, were captured while sailing towards Tanzania on October 23rd 2009. Their captors threatened to kill the couple if their demands for $7m (£4.4m) were not met.
A recent video had shown Mrs Chandler saying that she was desperate and that she had been treated cruelly.
Kelly wrote, ‘The couple’s plight has prompted a series of displays of solidarity from the UK Somali community [sic], whose numbers were estimated at 101,000 in 2008 but which some observers believe could number as many as 250,000.
Hundreds are expected to attend a public meeting in London on Sunday, called by community leaders in support of the couple. Somalis in Bristol have already launched their own campaign, when a large crowd gathered to witness the unfurling of a banner in support of the couple outside the Al Baseera mosque in the St Jude’s area.
‘Kayse Maxamed, editor of the Bristol Somali Voice newspaper, has spoken out about the plight of the Chandlers on the radio in the US and Africa.
He believes Somalis in the UK owe a debt of gratitude to the country that has given so many of them shelter from war and violence. “The Somali community is very angry,” he says. “We feel we have to do something. Britain welcomes Somalis. Many of us came as refugees, as asylum seekers, and now we live freely. Britain gives millions to the Somali people.”’
(It was Britain’s first Muslim minister, Shahid Malik, who, when Minister for International Development, generously gave all that taxpayers’ money to Somalia, which, according to both Transparency International and the International Corruption Index, is the most corrupt country in the world. Virtually all of it was siphoned off long before it got anywhere near ‘the Somali people’.)
Maxamed continued, ‘We think the pirates really damage that relationship. They blacken our names. Because we are British now, we see our fellow citizens have been taken hostage.’
One organiser of the London meeting, a man named Omar Yusuf, said, ‘We want people to use their influence back in Somalia. We want word to get back to the pirates that what they are doing is madness.
We’re emphasising the cultural aspect as well - it is un-Islamic, it is un-Somali, to take these people.’
Ah, what sweet Somalians! And we thought they were all jobless ponces! I stand corrected!
Who am I to comment, when I know almost nothing about Bristol? I have only one connection with the town, and that slight.
A couple I knew in Kent, Pete and Sheila Garrett, moved there a long time ago, soon after they were married. They now have a grown-up son who works abroad.
We have kept in touch and they recently informed me they were leaving Bristol because of all the Somalians.