The furore over what the Tory MP Anne Marie Morris said is quite extraordinary. Not because she used such an archaic and obviously offensive phrase in a committee full of Tory MPs, but mainly because of the vast swarms of right-wing Tory sympathisers on the Internet defending the phrase and crying that white people can’t lob the word nigger around with impunity any more!
It’s no surprise at all that a Tory MP has been caught using a phrase that should so obviously have been left in the past. The only surprise is that her Tory colleagues aren’t caught out revealing their inherent bigotry more often.
Theresa May has spent the last three months stumbling from one chaotic pratfall to another, but even she couldn’t make a hash of the “nigger in the woodpile” furore, doing the minimum necessary and temporarily suspending Morris from the Tory party.
A decent bit of media management could even have turned the incident into a qualified success for the hapless Tory leader as she symbolically ousts bigotry from the Tory party, and then begins trying to tiptoe out of the toxic extreme-right Blue-kip corner she spent the last year painting herself into.
The problem of course is that there are huge numbers of Tories out there who share the same out-of-touch bigoted mentality that Anne Marie Morris temporarily failed to hide.
Most MPs are trained to keep these bigoted attitudes carefully concealed (except Boris Johnson who inexplicably gets a free pass to say pretty much whatever bigoted nonsense he likes), but your run-of-the mill right-wing loudmouth has no idea how toxic this kind of bigotry has become in 21st Century Britain.
Many of these Tory supporting right-wing blowhards grew up in the era when it was fine to monkey chant and lob bananas at black footballers, call mixed race people “mongrels” and openly express racist, sexist, and homophobic views with complete impunity.
Obviously not all Tories are like this these days, but anyone who wants to deny the existence of this bigoted extreme-right Tory demographic should ask themselves where the million BNP voters at the 2009 European elections went next, and where the the most extreme-right elements of the 4 million disappearing UKIP voters went after Theresa May opportunistically stole UKIP’s Brexit flag and began slow-marching the UK towards a fanatically right-wing “no deal” economic cliff edge.
If you don’t think the electoral stats are convincing enough proof of this extreme-right Tory demographic, just go and read any article about the “nigger in the woodpile” furore or type the phrase into a Twitter or Youtube search, and marvel at the frothing hordes of right-wingers tying themselves in knots to defend the use of the phrase.
Apparently, according to this thronging mass of right-wingers, the fuss over the phrase is political correctness gone mad because blacks say nigger all the time, so why can’t whites?
If people are unaware of the concept of oppressed groups reclaiming and repurposing offensive words they must have been living under a bloody rock for decades.
Just because gay fellows call each other “queer” doesn’t mean that you can chase them down the street yelling “queer” at them; just because women protested against rape culture and systematic misogyny with “slut walks” doesn’t mean the word is back in fashion and blokes can call women sluts again; and just because black rappers have reclaimed the word nigger doesn’t mean it isn’t inappropriate when coming out of the mouths of white elitists.
Another right-wing argument is that it’s a common phrase!
If the saying “Nigger in the woodpile” is common parlance in your social circles, that says absolutely nothing about the general acceptability of the phrase in modern Britain, and everything about the kind of people you associate with.
I’ve literally never heard anyone I know use the phrase, and I’m reasonably sure the majority of Another Angry Voice readers have either never heard it in real life, or have only ever heard it in the distant past.
Another right-wing argument is that there’s apparently no such thing as racism, and that it’s all some kind of leftist conspiracy to erode the natural supremacy of whites, which is such absolutely mind-rotting lunacy I don’t think I even need to posit a counter argument do I?
It’s actually quite amusing that all the frothing-at-the-mouth Tory bigots out there have made this another absolutely unwinnable situation for Theresa May.
For once she did more or less the right thing by quickly suspending Morris, but her election strategy of deliberately appealing to the bigoted instincts of the extreme-right ultra-nationalist blue-kip demographic has come back to maul her big style.
There’s absolutely no way that Theresa May can spin this into a “zero tolerance to bigotry” stance when every extreme-right blowhard on the Internet has spent an entire day vigorously defending the “nigger in the woodpile” phrase, Anne Marie Morris’ right to utter it in public, and the use of nigger and various other terms of bigoted abuse in general.
With fans like that, who needs enemies?