OPINION - Why is it okay to be racist to Right-wingers? The Left's double standards are a disgrace

 (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)
(Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak reacted to a Channel 4 undercover investigation that found a Reform campaigner calling him a “f***ng P***”with a heartfelt response about how upset and angry he was that his daughters had to hear him being called such things in this country.

It was interesting but not surprising that Rishi focused on his daughters rather than himself, because as a Tory person of colour he is not afforded the “privilege” to be impacted by racism. In what is one of the most bizarre examples of Left-wing mainstream political culture in this country, it has become acceptable that when a Conservative politician is racially abused people just seem to turn a blind eye and move on — or worse, actually justify the abuse because Tories of colour are seen as some kind of race traitors.

Last week I saw more people calling out Rishi and saying he had no right to complain about being abused because he was a Tory, than calling out the abuse and the abuser. But again I was not surprised, because two years ago Rupa Huq said that Kwasi Kwarteng, the then-chancellor, was “superficially black”, adding: “If you hear him on the Today programme you wouldn’t know he’s black.”

She basically meant that because Kwasi was well educated and spoke as he did, he was not really black. As incredible as that sounds, she felt confident to say what she did because, as a Tory, Kwasi had lost his right to be protected against the accepted norm of what we deem and know to be racist.

There is a narrative of what people of colour in this country should be like and how exactly they should act

Huq lost the whip for those comments but was reappointed after she apologised and underwent “anti-racism training”. But some on the Left think it’s basically acceptable.

It is really dangerous for us to be selective about who we think has the right to be offended and who can be protected against racism. You don’t have to agree with people in order to ensure that their safety and that of their families is protected.

And let’s not start with the line as a few have done this week that in taking money from Frank Hester, Tories can’t complain. The view that racism towards Tories of colour was OK has been common practice well before that story broke.

During the 2019 election I saw first-hand how dangerous the rhetoric that has dehumanised Conservative members of colour was and is. On the streets of London, people have shouted racial slurs and no one batted an eyelid. And because I was supporting the party at the time, I was inundated with racist comments online.

Some of the people who openly tweeted calling me things like a “c**n” were white Leftist activists. When I tried to call this out, I found myself where Rishi and so many are. I was ignored because having sided with the Tories I had lost my basic human rights to be protected from abuse. It is really depressing that I even have to call this bullshit out, but here we are.

And call it out we must because the truth is the people that want to dismiss the feelings of Tories who are being racially abused do so because they have created a narrative of what people of colour in this country should be like and how they should act.

They have a concept of homogenised communities allowing them to pick and choose who is worthy of their rights. This view leads to not just communities being unserved and those who complain othered but also people’s individual rights being violated. It is not for others to decide who can act or speak in a certain way nor is it preordained that people should belong to one political party or another because of their colour.

That itself is racist and limits our freedom as well as cheating our democracy of diversity. This is something I have had to learn from as well, because having been raised on the Left I have come to see, in the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, how dangerous the single story can be.

Many of the things we are led to believe about people of colour who step outside of the traditional parties of the Left are often formed from misconceptions. But at times these rigid straitjackets of what is “appropriate” have been created maliciously with intent to suppress minority voices and groups from developing outside the mainstream of those who the single story serves.

Nimco Ali is an Evening Standard columnist