Richard North, 10/12/2019  

It is increasingly difficult to focus on general election news. It is getting increasingly manic, especially over the treatment of four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr, and Johnson's reaction to it when questioned by ITV's Joe Pike.

The subsequent Twitter storm raises more questions than answers, and once a story gets to this level of intensity, it is very hard to separate truth from fiction – especially at the height of the campaign when everything you hear and see is suspect.

From a personal point of view, we have experienced the joy of all joys. Having waited for the whole campaign for a Brexit Party leaflet, on Sunday – like waiting for the proverbial bus - we got not one but three.

Produced for the local candidate, Kulvinder Singh Manik, the man claims to be from Bradford, having lived there all his life. But he gives his current address as Pudsey, which is that no-man's land between Leeds and Bradford. It certainly isn't Bradford.

Yet, on Twitter, he tries to give the impression he is a local lad, complaining about the closing down of a local sports centre, put down to the "the tragic spoils of 75yrs Lab MPs & 40yrs of Lab-dominated Bfd Councils". "The loss of Bradford’s proud heritage", he declares, "must stop".

Would that he knew it, the sports centre was never much good, and had lousy swimming facilities. Although we lived but ten minutes away, to get decent swimming, we would have to drive to Shipley. But now, just round the corner, not five minute's walk away from the old centre, the Council has built a brand new, state-of the-art facility, with the very best on offer.

If Kulvinder Singh Manik was the local lad that he pretended to be, then he would have known this. But it's all for show from a man who knows nothing at all of our area or the local issues.

But, with the famine broken, on the Monday we got two more leaflets from Labour and, almost taking our breath away, an election address from our Conservative candidate, Narinder Singh Sekhon.

At least with this son of a millionaire property developer, there is no pretence. There is no concession at all to local issues in his leaflet. It is entirely generic, a universal text that could have served for any number of constituencies. I think the technical term for this is "taking the piss", but certainly no-one can accuse Narinder Singh Sekhon of actually trying to win the seat.

As for the Lib-Dems, we still await anything from them. But then they have even less incentive to try than the Tories. They have absolutely no chance of getting anywhere and, this time round, might even lose their deposit.

One thus has to give Judith Cummins the accolade for at least having some local awareness. But then, as the incumbent Labour MP, and a local lass who lives in the area, even she has picked up some of the local vibes. For those that know West Yorkshire, it is the "Twocking" centre of the universe – the word based on the police acronym for "taking without consent", the current euphemism for stealing cars.

With these stolen cars racing around, and the high-powered racers bought by local Asian dealers with drug money, the streets of Bradford South can be perilous places, and our Judith has clocked this as a problem, putting it number one on her list. This is perhaps just as well because, this time, Brexit doesn't get a mention – not a single reference.

Those who prioritise on "getting Brexit done", therefore, must look to either the Brexit Party or the Tories, even though neither have a hope in this constituency. And there may be those who are even less inclined to give the Brexit Party a punt after the nakedly racist tone of two party officials in Hartlepool, as reported by Channel 4.

One, a Brexit Party councillor, apparently boasted that he tried to bury a pig's head under a mosque – which is a slightly different variation on the use to which David Cameron is said to have made of one. But then, that wasn't "racist".

This councillor, by the name of David Mincher also told an undercover Channel 4 reporter that the Moslems were "outbreeding us" and bringing down house prices because they "live like animals".

Whether racist or not, in the judgement of Channel 4, it is nevertheless a fact that the birth rate in the Moslem communities is higher than in the established white areas, and it is also a fact that, when the Moslems do move in and colonise an area, as they do, it depresses house prices. House-owners can expect to lose as much as 40 percent of the value of their properties.

Perversely, even though the offending councillor has since been expelled, some of his remarks will have a resonance with some hard-pressed voters who are on the fringes of the multi-cultural experiment of successive governments. The remarks may do the party less damage than Channel 4 expects.

The party, however, can take comfort in the words of Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, another of their PPCs of Indian origin. As eleven British-Indian candidates have been chosen, she sternly demands: " How dare you call the Brexit Party racist?"

Actually, deliberately to appoint candidates for their race, with the intention of demonstrating that you are not racists, is in fact a cynical racist act. And so is appointing candidates for this reason, in order specifically to garner votes from the same racial group. And, in that sense, both Labour and the Tories are quite obviously guilty of racism, stoking the flames of racial tension for electoral advantage.

Oddly enough, reservations are shared even by members of the Indian community, with Asad Mirza, a New Delhi based journalist remarking that the move to politicise the UK Indian community in favour of one particular party, "will only taint the image of Indians in all those countries where they are present in big numbers and will be seen as not giving up their Indian baggage in spite of obtaining coveted passports of other countries".

Mirza does note that expat Indians wherever they live, constitute a big pressure group in their host country. But if they start (or continue) to exercise that power to promote issues (such as Kashmir) that are not of concern to the host country, this is a dangerous slippery slope.

Of the move by OFBJP, Mirza feels that this "might boomerang against them," as the campaign might be seen as interference in a foreign country's affairs. However, there is no "might" about it. Many of those who are aware of what is going on are profoundly disturbed by it.

Nevertheless, we are told that analysts wonder how and why the organisation is trying to rake up issues which are India-centric, in an election which has got nothing to do with it.

Every political party and government, Mirza says, is free to form its own opinion on an issue. If the Indians have any grouse against any party, then they should try to use the channels available in that country or to force a government to government level talk on the issue.

What is doubly disturbing, though, is the willingness of the UK political parties to play the race card, and when even the Brexit Party is playing this game, it adds an extra dimension to the decline of politics that we have already observed. But then, this has been going on for some time and the temptation to appeal to specific ethnic groups seems irresistible.

However, for most people, they need not even be aware of this to know something is amiss. The poor quality of leaflets, the general way campaigners are ignoring their voters in safe seats and taking them for granted, all paint a picture that is unmissable.

From all accounts, it was exactly that picture which led so many people to vote "leave" in the 2016 referendum. And, from the evidence of this election, the political elites have learned nothing from the experience.

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