by Homa Khaleeli
Reports of xenophobia and racism have piled up in the media: the firebombing of a halal butchers in Walsall, graffiti on a Polish community centre in London and laminated cards reading: “No more Polish vermin” apparently posted through letterboxes in Huntingdon. Asked about the rise in hate crimes during PMQs on Wednesday, David Cameron said the government would be publishing a hate-crime action plan.
Why this sudden explosion? Paul Bagguley, a sociologist based at the University of Leeds, points to the gleeful tone of the racism: “There is a kind of celebration going on; it’s a celebratory racism.” With immigration cited in polls as the second most common reason in voting for Brexit, “people are expressing a sense of power and success, that they have won,” he says.
“People haven’t changed. I would argue the country splits into two-thirds to three-quarters of people being tolerant and a quarter to a third being intolerant. And a section of that third have become emboldened. At other times, people are polite and rub along.”