Hate crimes and other forms of overt bigotry are surging in the United Kingdom, and while the sharpest increase targets Muslims, other victims include people of color, the LGBT community, and the perennial targets of European intolerance, the Roma [previously].
One key reason for the rise was the venomous sentiment whipped up by winguts in their successful campaign for the Brexit, the successful referendum leading to the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union.
But Britain’s Prime Minister comes in for his share of the blame as well.
The rise in bigotry has drawn fire in a special report from the Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance [ECRI].
First, a video report from RT:
Cameron responsible for rise in xenophobia & racism abuse in UK – watchdog
A report condemning “considerable intolerant political discourse in the UK, particularly focusing on immigration” was published by the Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Tuesday. David Cameron was singled out, in particular, for describing asylum-seekers arriving from the Middle East and North Africa as a “swarm.”
More on the report from EurActiv:
In a report, the Council’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) condemned “considerable intolerant political discourse in the UK, particularly focusing on immigration”.
“It is no coincidence that racist violence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians,” said ECRI Chair Christian Ahlund.
“The Brexit referendum seems to have led to a further rise in ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment, making it even more important that the British authorities take the steps outlined in our report as a matter of priority.”
In a shock referendum result, Britain voted on June 23 to leave the 28-nation European Union.
Pro-Brexit supporters campaigned heavily on immigration, and the need to regain control on Britain’s borders, in a referendum battle fought against the background of Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.
Numbers, and assignment of blame
In the following excerpt from the report, note in particular the role in inciting intolerance played by the The Sun, a British tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the same loathsome corporation that owns Fox News.
From the report:
According to the Home Office, there were 52,528 hate motivated criminal offences recorded by the police in the year 2014-2015. These include offences of hate speech and violence. Of note, 42.930 (82%) belonged to the category of race hate crime; 5,597 (11%) were sexual orientation hate crimes; 3,254 (6%) were religious hate crimes; and 605 (1%) were transgender hate crimes. There was an overall increase of 18% compared with 2013-14; the largest increase was in relation to religious hate crime (43%).
When broken down further according to type of offence, the data show that 59% of all hate-motivated offences in 2014-15 were public order offences (the vast majority involving public fear, alarm or distress, 30% related to violence against the person and 7% to criminal damage and arson. ECRI was not able to access any data on offences of incitement to hatred recorded by the police.
In addition to reported hate crime, a survey to measure unreported hate crime is conducted annually. The Crime Survey for England and Wales is a face-to-face victimisation survey in which persons aged 16 and over are asked about their experiences of crime in the past 12 months. The latest survey data revealed that there are an estimated 222,000 hate-motivated criminal offences on average per year, of which 106,000 relate to the race strand. On comparison with the police figures above, it appears that approximately only one in four hate-motivated offences is recorded by the police. This may indicate deficiencies in police recording of hate-motivated offences and unwillingness of hate crime victims to report such crime.
Hate speech in political discourse
In its fourth report, ECRI recommended that the authorities take particular care, when developing and explaining policies, to ensure that the message sent to society as a whole is not one likely to foment or foster intolerance and it urged the authorities to take measures to tackle the exploitation of racism in politics. In this context, ECRI welcomes the Report of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct, published in October 2013, and its 2015 General Election Update, as good examples of politicians actively encouraging responsibility to combat racism in political discourse.