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The Guardian guide to the white place to live

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IN March, coronavirus brought the UK to a standstill. And as our ability to travel the nation freely ground to a halt, so did the Guardian’s ‘Let’s move to…’ feature.  

You know, the Guardian – pro immigration and multiculturalism, suspicious of borders and deportations. The paper so baffled by Brexit, Trump and Boris that it blames Nazis, Russian election-meddling, Cambridge Analytica and evil Tories.  

The ‘Let’s move to …’ feature was a weekly showcase of the best areas in the country. The towns and villages where readers could start afresh, raise a family and live the good life. For some reason however, despite the Guardian’s diversity proclamations, the places it urges its readers to aspire to are strikingly monocultural.  

Of the recent recommendations, Linlithgow in West Lothian was 98.6 per cent white at the last census. Masham in North Yorkshire, noted for its two breweries and fine fish and chips, was 99.2 per cent white and East Grinstead, West Sussex, 94.9 per cent white.  

It’s increasingly difficult to find parts of the Bradford Metropolitan District Council area that are 97.3 per cent white, but the Guardian managed it in Ilkley.  

The New Forest makes an appearance (but not New Cross or Waltham Forest). Before that we had Inverness, Glossop, Tavistock and Dumfries – a list of everywhere in the country unspoiled by the ideas and issues the paper champions on every other page.   

Multicultural Coventry does appear, and a vegan cafe run by refugees is recommended. Yet the specific areas highlighted are out-of-town and around Warwick University, where the established middle-class Sikh population are the largest minority demographic in areas around 80 per cent white.  

The top tip, Earlsdon, had only 36 Arabs out of 15,000 residents at the last census. Refugees would only be serving hummus if you ventured into town – and they probably won’t be moving in next door to you.  

Oddly, there’s no mention of Coventry’s problems with shootings and stabbings, gang warfare, schoolboys murdered in parks, rappers shot in the head, or teens slain in drive-bys. 

Rapper Stormzy’s home of Croydon, South London, got a mention for its craft beer and gluten-free brownies. Moped gangs, acid attacks, running street battles etc, were deemed less important and left out. For anyone still interested in moving to Croydon, Sanderstead has the lowest percentage of BAME residents, with the highest average house prices.  

Scroll through the pages of ‘Let’s move to…’ and there are mock Tudor pubs, village greens, fisherman’s cottages, cathedrals and canals – the old country, a vanishing country. The last photograph to even suggest multicultural Britain was Ilford, in May 2017. 

It’s not just as if the 2015 migrant crisis didn’t happen – the EU and post-war Commonwealth migration are practically undetectable in the articles. Most of the images could pass for colourised snaps from a century ago.  

Contrast this with the Guardian’s position on multiculturalism, obvious through its regular output and explicitly outlined in September 2018. 

The paper attributes any challenges to multicultural harmony as stemming from Tory austerity, even though all the locations listed in ‘Let’s move to …’ were under Conservative rule throughout the last decade.  

Local government cuts may affect the village hall roof or May Day festival in Malmesbury and Ledbury, but they don’t seem to have resulted in Morris dancers hacking at each other with machetes. 

Tea rooms aren’t opening only in the evening to sell fried chicken and local bowls group aren’t money laundering the proceeds of the heroin trade. Perhaps Tory austerity doesn’t have the powers attributed to it in the areas that do suffer these phenomena.  

The Guardian’s editorial concludes that a multicultural UK would be best served by a ‘project to bridge differences’ and ‘adopting a US policy prohibiting discrimination in rental housing’.  

A nice sentiment, but easy to say if you plan to self-segregate in Somerset orchard country. With the Windrush generation, victims of the hostile environment, Fijian soldiers, Jamaican criminals, paperwork becomes advisory and negotiable – all have the right to live here. Their advocates, however, will be as far away as possible. 

Every other section of the paper features ethnicity and culture. Current and historical events, domestic and foreign policy, sport, TV, music, film and theatre, all can contain conclusions and inferences based on race and skin colour. The only exception is made for ‘Let’s move to…’, which is merely selecting the best places to live. 

For the Guardian to thus be nationalist and a champion of British culture – however unwittingly – wouldn’t be so remarkable if the paper wasn’t the fulcrum of a type of British Leftism. 

This is a Leftism vague in economic or foreign policy details, but one that prefers spicy food to fish and chips; winces at the sight of the Queen or the Union Flag; would tut disapprovingly if all the adverts featured white faces; likes to see Chris Martin working with African artists, but wants you to know the African artists are loads better; thinks Idris Elba would shake up that stuffy James Bond role, etc. A Leftism where the only coherent thread seems to be embarrassment in the face of Britain and its culture.  

The White Van Man, the gammon and Karen who all also like the pub, fish and chips, ancient forests, and speaking the same language as their neighbours, simply have the bad taste to not be deluding themselves, and therefore say what they feel and why they feel it.  

Perhaps they can’t afford not to. White Van Man has been priced out of these ever-shrinking desirable areas by Guardian readers. They step in to take the reins, only their cultured internationalist outlook able to appreciate the leafy churchyards and beer gardens by the river.  

They pat themselves on the back during their monthly poverty safari to the rough part of town to pick up hummus, all the while assuming White Van Man is racist for pining after the things he’s lost that they haven’t … yet.  

It is easy to want borders down, deportations ended, gentrification blocked and stop-and-search quashed if none of it affects you. It is easy to martyr yourself in speech if your actions don’t then follow.  

It’s easy to dismiss as racist the complaints about gang and sexual violence, pub and cafe closures, grassroots and community events disbanded, if you’re only observing from a distance. Perhaps the complainers aren’t racist. Perhaps they just can’t afford to move out. 

There might be a reason Brexit, Trump and Boris caught the Guardian off guard. Elections and referendums aren’t lost because of Nazis, Russian meddling, Cambridge Analytica or evil Tories.  

It’s because the same things middle-class progressives find idyllic and aspirational for themselves, they deem parochial and embarrassing among their fellow citizens. The things they hate others for wanting are what they want for themselves. This isn’t a recipe for coalition building, or winning landslides at the ballot box.  

‘We have more in common than divides us’ is often heard in response after a British citizen has attacked a rival gang with a large-bladed instrument at the school gates while high on khat, or after a British citizen has gone on a killing spree in a foreign desert.  

In reality, perhaps the Guardian and its readers have more in common with the vulgar patriots they seem to despise. Both want to protect the same thing. But if you can’t afford it, you’re stuck in the past. If you can, it’s your dream future.   

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Leon Varkalis
Leon Varkalis is a freelance writer who didn’t plan to talk about identity and culture, but seeing as everyone else is, feels it’s only polite to join in.

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