AN OPEN LETTER TO WEST YORKSHIRE MPs, COUNCIL AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN RESPONSE TO THE GOVERNMENT’S INTENTION TO ROLL OUT ITS RACIST BILLBOARD VANS
JUST West Yorkshire is calling on elected representatives and religious leaders in West Yorkshire to demonstrate leadership by writing to the government to condemn its intention to roll out the racist billboard vans calling on immigrants to go home or face arrest, outside of London.
The incendiary language – reminiscent of the National Front’s ‘Go Home Pakis’ slogan used in the 70s – is not only deeply offensive to ethnic minorities but has the potential to incite racism and xenophobia. Communities in West Yorkshire have worked hard over the past decade to combat racism and promote community cohesion and the Home Office campaign threatens to roll back these hard-won gains.
The Advertising Standards Authority has already launched an investigation into the Home Office’s campaign for potential breaches of the UK advertising code. However, JUST also believes the initiative contravenes the Equalities Act, which places a positive duty on public bodies to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. JUST is therefore urging MPs, council and religious leaders to ask the government to publish its Equalities Impact Assessment to ascertain if due consideration has been taken to evaluate the impact of its policy on minority groups.
However, notwithstanding the possible breaches of the advertising code and equalities legislation, the case for resisting the racist vans is ultimately a moral one. The Tory-led Coalition’s scheme diminishes democracy as its version of dog-whistle politics appeals to the lowest common electoral denominator. The narrow arithmetic of Tory electoral survival against UKIP has engendered a venal politics that puts ethnic minority communities and vulnerable immigrants at risk. The government’s recent assault on so-called shirkers and skivers and the disabled is part of the same gutter politics targeting the poor and the vulnerable.
West Yorkshire leaders must stand up to the government and declare that the Racist Billboard Vans are not welcome here in our name.
We look forward to hearing from you at admin about the steps you intend to take to challenge this retrogressive initiative.
JUST West Yorkshire
The letter was sent to the following elected representatives and religious representatives in West Yorkshire representing a cross-section of faith communities on Saturday 9 August, 2013:
Councillor Mehboob Khan – Kirklees Councillor Peter Box – Wakefield
Councillor David Green – Bradford Councillor Keith Wakefield – Leeds
Councillor Tim Swift – Calderdale
Members of Parliament
Bradford Leeds Wakefield
David Ward MP Alec Shelbrooke MP Mary Creagh MP
Gerry Sutcliffe MP Rachel Reeves MP Jon Trickett MP
Kris Hopkins MP Greg Mulholland MP Yvette Cooper MP
Philip Davies MP George Mudie MP
George Galloway MP Fabian Hamilton MP
Hilary Benn MP
Stuart Andrew MP
Ed Balls MP
Linda Riordan MP Barry Sheerman MP
Craig Whittaker MP Simon Reevell MP
Jason Mcartney MP
Mike Wood MP