If you live in London you may have had a leaflet from the Council through the door inviting you to participate in 'Black History Month'. It is, of course, a highly selective history. It won't tell you that Africans had a history of capturing and selling slaves that preceded the arrival of the first Europeans by centuries, that the culture of Benin was founded on slavery, and that of the 11 -15 million Africans transported across the Atlantic in slavery, all but a few tens of thousands were enslaved by fellow Africans, not Europeans. It won't tell you that when Europe abandoned the Slave Trade in the 19th century, the Africans went back to selling their slaves to the Arabs. It won't tell you the trade in slaves amongst Africans is alive and well today.
And when disseminating more recent black history, it certainly won't tell you how the Trade Union movement and the Left in Britain fought to uphold the Colour Bar against the nasty capitalist bosses who wanted to employ West Indians, Africans and Asians.
The Englishman has found a wonderful piece in the Scotsman on how Labour saint Manny Shinwell incited riots and racist mob violence against black workers in Glasgow; "Newspaper reports tell how he spoke to 600 sailors and it was quite a rabble-rousing speech about black and what he called Asiatic, or Chinese, sailors. This led to around 30 black sailors being chased by a baying mob down James Watt Street. They tried to take refuge in a sailors' retreat in Broomielaw, but the mob smashed all the windows and they were turned out on to the street." Good old Saint Manny.
In 1954 Birmingham Council's bus company was short of over 1,100 workers, including 550 drivers and 480 conductors. The Council bravely decided to ignore the 'no blacks' agreement with the unions, and recruit black conductors for the first time. The fury of the local unions knew no bounds. They demanded a ballot to decide the issue, against the advice of officials in the Transport and General Workers' Union. It was only when an interim agreement was struck to limit black crews to 10 per cent of the workforce that the drivers backed away from demanding strike action. And despite the TGWU's stand on the principle of accepting black crews, one regional secretary acknowledged that the basis of opposition lay in the belief that ‘white busmen are afraid that the status of the job will be lowered ... that it will become a nigger's job'.
John Lord, a full-time official of the TGWU, not only advocated the need for immigration control but also proposed that preferential treatment for white workers with regard to promotion should be enshrined in law. On the Midlands Advisory Council for industry, Lord continually carped about 'coloured workers' in Birmingham. But he was especially critical of Birmingham City Council's decision to employ black workers on the buses. He claimed that the introduction of 'coloured workers' had failed to remedy the chronic labour shortage, since even more white employees were now leaving in protest at this policy.
And I've blogged before on how London Transport, with a white workforce even more racist and militant than Birmingham's, openly boasted on recruitment posters that 'we don't employ blacks'.
The Englishman was spot on; scratch a Socialist and you'll find a bigot.