CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Hollow words from Johnson and Patel

15 July, 2021

Leader: Marcus Rashford. Photo: Volmetro – Wikimedia Commons

• WE write to express the solidarity of many trade unionists across the borough with members of the English men’s football team – specifically Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho – who have been subjected to a vile torrent of online racist abuse and cynical sniping from the likes of Tory MP Natalie Elphicke.

The racist vitriol directed towards these young men is especially infuriating not least because all three players have made good use of their platforms as celebrity athletes in the past year.

With civility and quiet determination Rashford has been a de facto leader of the opposition to Boris Johnson’s government, proving a champion of children and young people facing food poverty last autumn.

There has, of course, long been a toxic, sometimes violently racist and xenophobic element supporting the men’s national team.

In some respects the situation has improved thanks to the efforts of anti-racist campaigners over the last four decades, but an overtly racist, far-right, core persists.

Such elements have drawn encouragement from the prime minister and home secretary’s refusal to oppose the booing at England matches of the team’s collective act of “taking the knee”.

While both Johnson and Priti Patel are now keen to condemn the racist abuse, their words ring hollow.

As England midfielder Tyrone Mings put it: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘gesture politics’ and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

GEORGE BINETTE
Chair

UNA DOYLE
Vice-Chair, Camden Trades Council

GARETH MURPHY
Branch Secretary
Unite Community Camden

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