is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
The British group doesn’t just want to eradicate racism – it includes the end of imperialism, capitalism and the police in its list of revolutionary aims. But it doesn’t offer any clue as to what it would replace them with.
As the crowdfunding target of £700,000 for the UK offshoot of Black Lives Matter (aka UKBLM) was reached today, after just six days, you have to wonder: do those generous folk who’ve donated their hard-earned cash actually know where their money is going?
Because UKBLM is an all-flavours-of-liberal-grievance sorta outfit. A hotch-potch of causes hiding behind a big helping of anti-racism. And sure, what reasonable person would disagree with efforts to have equality be the norm across all communities? But UKBLM goes further in the struggle it imagines itself facing. A lot further.
On its official GoFundMe page, it declares: “We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.”
Well, there’s plenty of work to be done then. Might need just a tad more than £700,000 to fund that sort of revolution…
But would the good people of TNSrecords, who gave £62 raised by selling Bobby Funk’s album “Longing for the Bonging”, really expect their donation to be spent on the dismantling of capitalism? Or would the yoga class that sent in their donations, or the worthy folk who messaged that they stand by UKBLM, or the sensitive chap who just typed “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in capitals? No, is most likely the answer.
Because, like so many activist groups, UKBLM is huge on slogans and student-politics-level statements, but pretty short on detail. In fact, while it has a connection with the original US-inspired movement, the British organisation bears little comparison to the parent movement.
In the US, Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a respected human-rights organisation formed after the 2013 court acquittal of an overzealous Neighbourhood Watch member who shot dead Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in Florida. The surge of anger from the African American community that arose when George Zimmerman escaped conviction unsurprisingly led to the black population getting organised and creating a strong, vocal and widely respected movement.
BLM doesn’t mention anywhere on its website about wanting to take down imperialism and capitalism while dismantling state institutions such as the police. Those ideas are additional ‘inspirations’ conjured up by the UK affiliate, which seems dominated by social-justice warriors with little to focus on other than marching against the mistreatment of black people, baiting the cops and vandalising public property until they’re arrested, then complaining that this is evidence of systemic racism in the police force.
Oh, and there are handy tips on its Twitter account about what to do if arrested – say “No comment” to everything, apparently – along with the mobile phone numbers of obviously under-employed solicitors who will come to the rescue if needed.
But it’s all about fighting the police, and that, surely, is completely counter-productive. When statues of Winston Churchill are defaced, bicycles are thrown at police horses and 35 coppers are injured following clashes at a protest that included children marching, then the real agenda becomes clearer. The idea is to cause trouble for trouble’s sake and then blame everyone else – imperialists, capitalists, the police – for causing it.
This is not the American experience. Across the Atlantic, BLM has attracted more than $100 million in donations from supporters, including billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. That’s something UKBLM could only dream about.
OK, so it’s got £700,000, but what’s the plan now? There are some pretty broad ideas on its crowdfunding pages about how it plans to use the money. Develop this, deliver that – all in the sort of language a local-authority bid writer trots out when trying to snag some council funds.
One idea that does seem concrete, however, is the aforementioned abolition of the police.
It’s unclear how that particular move would help anyone. Sure, it would stop the likelihood of police brutality against black suspects – there would be no police to be brutal, after all.
And showing that they really do watch the news, there’s a promise to spend the money helping black communities fight the coronavirus. Well, if I may make a suggestion, I could help there. The best way to fight Covid-19 is to obey the social distancing rules, keeping two metres away from people in public and avoiding congregating in groups larger than six people. According to leading scientists, this would help minimise the risk of coronavirus infection – not just among the black community, but for everyone. How great would that be? As it happens, it’s also the current law, and should be policed.
The fact that demonstrations across the UK were allowed to go ahead at the weekend and were even applauded by many of our leaders – black and otherwise – should send a message to UKBLM about the supreme tolerance of anyone expressing a view, even when to do so is against the law, that’s shown by the society with which they find so much wrong. Somehow, however, I don’t think that’ll make any difference at all, as they unthinkingly pursue their true cause. Whatever that really is.