Priti Patel vs Tyrone Mings

I don’t follow UK news closely, but I do try to learn more about Not America.

So this, apparently invective language fills every online source.

Could someone more familiar give me a bigger picture of what’s going on, or is this just sound bite nonsense?

Haha - man, you aren’t giving away much in that OP, are you.

In short, Priti Patel is a British MP (and other things) who was vocally critical of football/soccer players for taking a knee at the beginning of matches to protest racism. In essence, she called it virtue signaling. Some fans booed the kneeling gesture, and she sort of said, about that, well they’re free to express their opinion, and I don’t have any other opinion about that. Other commentators took the position that booing an anti-racist gesture was, like, a little racist; she did not.

Tyrone Mings is a black British football player. He has been vocally critical of Patel for the above. In the past few days, there was a torrent of abuse toward black England national team players and persons of color generally, after England lost the European Cup final to Italy. A lot of the abuse was directed at players who missed penalty kicks in the decisive shootout at the end of the match. Those players happen to be black.

Mings takes the position that Patel has to own the racial abuse as a sort of natural consequence of her ‘stoking the fires of racism’ with her response to the kneeling. In particular, when Patel tweeted that the racial abuse that was happening was very bad, Mings was quick to say that, well, that’s the thing we were protesting, and what did you have to say about the protests?

Thank you, ignorance fought.

For anyone who’s interested, here’s an article about it:

Jimmy Chitwood summed it up, pretty much.

Priti Patel is the Home Secretary, one of the most senior secretaries of state (fourth in ranking). She’s not not just an MP. She’s also been the enthusiastic face of anti-immigration policies in the current government.

Tyrone Mings is an English footballer with Barbadian heritage. He plays for a premier league team and for England, including in this match. A large majority of the players in the England team had parents or Grandparents born outside the UK.

Football has a lot of problems with racism and has been trying to deal with it for the last forty years or so. League football - Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, et al - is not really that problematic these days, but with national matches racism sometimes rears its extremely ugly head.

Yes, this can’t be emphasised enough. She’s a very senior politician, who is in charge of policing and immigration, so what she says with regards to race matters. She’s also non-white herself.

She initially accused the players of ‘gesture politics’ for taking the knee. Apparently only politicians are allowed to be political.

Of course, the Government is now frantically back peddling on criticism of the England team because (a) there’s been some really inexcusably racist stuff on social media which they have to condemn, and (b) the majority of the country like the England team - and their politics - more than the Government. Saw an amusing tweet about the England team currently being the Government’s most effective opposition.

Sad but true.

It’s not just Patel, of course. Boris Johnson, who has (rightly) come out against the racist abuse of the football players, has also been stoking anti-immigrant ire for decades, and has a couple of spectacular public statements in his past from about 20 years ago:

And this, on the Congo:

They are a delight, this Government. To continue with a football analogy and the point about Opposition, Labour has had an open goal for years, but its leaders and members have instead devoted their efforts to discovering just how hard they can all repeatedly kick themselves in the face.

The piece that brought a tear to my eyes was the neighborhood mural of (Manchester United player) Marcus Rashford – that had been defaced with racist epithets – being covered, afterward, with heartfelt notes of support for Rashford:

Sadly, it reminded me just a wee bit of the 2020 US Presidential election: 81M over 74M may be cause for hope, but it doesn’t feel like cause for celebration.


I left this in GQ at first because it was just asking “What’s going on”, and that’s a factual question that was answered factually in the first few replies. It appears, however, that folks would like to get into political discussion of this question, which would be better suited for the P&E forum. Since the factual question is, I think, answered, let’s move this over there.

The position of Home Secretary in the UK is a senior position within the Cabinet, the group of senior ministers surrounding the Prime Minister, that have significant executive powers.

The Home Office, led by the Home Secretary, Pritti Patel the lead government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime, fire, counter-terrorism and police.

Those areas become quite important when the government is trying to convince the British voters it has everything under control. They deal with the non-military side of the defence of the nation from its internal and external enemies. Bad stuff the like criminals and terrorists, drugs and human trafficking. Both internal home grown problems, but also dealing with the crimes perpetrated by international criminals coming to the UK by exploiting weakness its immigration and asylum seeker policies.

The messages that come out of the Home Office on these issues is widely reported in the Press. Especially the socially conservative popular newspapers owned by Murdoch and read by the older generation. This constituency has a taste for sensation, scandal and generally being appalled by the decline in the moral fibre of the nation, as if it were any better in their day. They are also very active in civic life and they all VOTE. So in any UK Government the Home Secretary has the responsibility of putting the governments position on some very important, potentially vote losing, issues that flare up from time to time. Home Secretaries have to look strong and decisive and win the confidence of this important constituency of voters.

You can rely on Home Secretaries to make bold populist statements that appeal to the more nervous parts of society, parents and grandparents. This is not a government department that thinks in the long term. Joined up policy is not what they do. It is all about current melodramas and how to deal with the latest pantomime villain or hate figure.

Sad to say, this situation is true of both major parties. As soon as an aspiring politician hits the Home Office, they seem to adopt the image of an outraged vigilante who will lead the posse to deal with the bad guys. Whether they are socialists or conservatives, they have to put aside any personal values and put on this act.

As you can imagine, this role featured quite prominently in the Brexit debate. Strong borders, with a mighty moat surrounding fortress Britain defending itself from interfering Eurocrats, terrorists and the great tide of immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers and any other people who have the temerity to fetch up on our shores. Theresa May was Home Secretary for five years and she seemed to spend most of that time trying to make life difficult for immigrants and just about anyone else who did not have a vote. As we all know, she went on to greater and better things and became the first Prime Minister for Brexit. May was succeeded by Amber Rudd as Home Secretary, who later resigned after it was she was found to have lied to a government committee about targets for removing immigrants and the ‘Empire Windrush’ scandal which led to the Home Office unjustly deporting pensioners originally from the West Indies. This scandal was too much, even for the most conservative voters. She was suceeeded by Sajid Javid. This guy did quite well at the Home Office, steering between various challenges but still engratiating himself with the party and got promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer, the head of Finance. This is second in seniority to the PM. So though the Home Secretary job can be fraught, with a department exposed to lots of difficult issues. It is also a significant stepping stone towards the top job of being Prime Minister.

So now we have Pritti Patel.

It is safe to say that this politician is not going to win any popularity contests. She has a reputation of being Hell to work for, fond of histrionics and prone to bullying her staff.

She, like Javid, and indeed, the current Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is a member of the generation of Asian immigrants whose parents came to the UK in the 1960s and 70s. As politicians they found the Conservative Party to be a much better to progress a political career than the Labour. I would not be surprised if the next leader of the Conservative Party was from such a background. This makes it difficult for the left to paint the Conservative party as a bunch of reactionary old White men. Very difficult to play the Race card.

So now here we have Pritti Patel espousing the Conservative position on Black Lives Matter and taking the knee by sports teams, which tends to be cynical and suspicious that it is vehicle for left wing radicals.

This is the Race issue that has blown in from the USA following the George Floyd killing by the police and many other similar incidents before that. Many repressed minorities all over the world identified with that manifest injustice. But the dynamics often do not translate very well. There were no domestic cash crop plantations in the UK, too cold. So none of the rivalry between the Southern Plantocracy and the Industrial North the rent the US into a vicious civil war and the persistent legacy of racism. There is certainly racism in the UK, but it is more connected with the insecurities of the industrial working class when the government addressed a labour shortage by opening up immigration in the post war boom of the 1960s and subsequent rises and falls in the economy.

So here we have Pritti Patel, who is an example of the opportunities that can arise from successful immigration. On the other hand we have the England footballers who have also achieved great sporting success, but have been exposed to some withering racism on Social Media taking issue with her. They see ‘taking the knee’ as a sign of solidarity against racism. Football is a very working class game and has been at the forefront of fighting racist attitudes over the decades as immigrant communities have gradually redefined British and English identity. The football teams are institutions that derive their support from communities across the country. Black players are very prominent figures that promote inclusivity in sport. They come from those same working class backgrounds and some, like Marcus Rashford, have spoken eloquently about growing up in poverty and have used their fame to highlight some of the fundamental social problems that the government should address. This has been very well received and the politicians had to respond. Politicians really want the footballers to ‘Get off my lawn!’ But they are on delicate ground because these players are national heroes and role models.

Patel is just casting doubt over the gesture and that is consistent with the party line. Regarding it as playing into the hands of political operators keen to captalise on the back of BLM. To Conservatives these young players are suspected of being used as pawns by left wingers in the background. There are many that deny that there is a hidden political agenda. On the back of BLM there has been a lot of soul searching about the history of colonisation and statues.

So who is right?

Sadly it might reduce to the competition between which public figure with a dark skin tone gets the most racist tweets from anonymous trolls on the Internet.

The obvious solution is to kick the backside of the Social Media companies to do something about it, which seems to be something everyone can agree on.

Hate to defend bojo on anything, but i think his (crudely stated) point there was that Blair viewed people in the commonwealth as savages, not that they actually were.

On this latest scandal he is absolutely reaping what hes sown with all the other racism hes spewed.

I’m aware that it was satirical. And yet Boris chose the specific language he used, even if he meant to put it into a political opponent’s mouth.

Plus, as you point out, it’s not the only example of his racism, not to mention his slurs against homosexuals, Muslims, poor people, Liverpool, etc.

I am a football fan and seeing politicians and right wing English commentators jump on the bandwagon when the England team reached the final after mocking their intentions to take the knee and the work guys like Rashford were doing in feeding school kids was revolting. Furthermore I was reading an article that said no one has done more to defund the police than the Conservative government in the UK with 20,000 fewer officers than when Labour were last in power so by that logic if people think the players were endorsing BLM the organization (which they repeatedly said they were not) why are footballers held to a higher standard than the government.

No ‘Like’ button!

An excellent post.


[quote=“Gyrate, post:11, topic:946438”]Plus, as you point out, it’s not the only example of his racism, not to mention his slurs against homosexuals, Muslims, poor people, Liverpool, etc.

And it’s the “Ooh look at me being daring and controversial” insouciance of it all as well. But for him and his kind, getting up the noses of the bien-pensants is the whole point, whatever the wider consequences (or rather, they can’t imagine there could be consequences to what they see as mere debating points, or just top bants).

Boris Johnson has also referred to Hitler with regard to the Germans, called the French turds and recited poetry celebrating Britains colonial past when in a state visit to Myamar when he was Foreign Secretary.

Boris has cultivated the persona of a maverick who pays scant attention to rules and convention. He is fond of publicity stunts and humorous sound bites. Few will forget the time he got stuck on a zip wire waving union flags suspended above a crowd when he was mayor of London. He is funny and can be charming in a bumbling way. So people don’t take his frequent gaffs seriously and he is a rare example of a politician with a personality. Boris set out to become a famous celebrity, following the example of Churchill in his early career.

A complete list of Boris’s howlers would be very long indeed, but he can get away with it because he can raise a smile and convince everyone he is a loveable rogue.

This, of course, is an act. And it has been a very successful one that has taken him from being a writer and hack political journalist to mayor of London to Foreign Secretary to Prime Minister.

While Boris can get away with a lot, that is not the case with the other members of his lacklustre cabinet. Least of all Pritti Patel whose strategy seems to be to cultivate a resolute ‘Iron Lady’ image famously developed by Margaret Thatcher.

The current furore around racism and footballers is in the news at the moment, but it will not last. The footballers like Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford are very young men who know little of politics. They are not activists and they are also very privileged as highly paid sportsmen in pursuit of glittering prizes. That can easily be used to undermine their credibility when they talk about their experience of deprivation and prejudice. Millionaire footballers are often in the news for all the wrong reasons and if they get caught up in any scandal that will reflect poorly on the issues they have raised.

Rashford has made an important point about food poverty and free school meals for kids growing up in deprived circumstances. That may yet influence public policy. Not for moral and ethical reasons, but because it fits with Boris Johnson’s signature policy of ‘Levelling up’ the economic disparities between the rich London and South East England versus the rust belt cities in Northern England. He needs to keep their votes. Some sort of honour for Rashford and a free school meals programme for the poor kids growing up in the Manchester housing estates. Easy. Tyrone Mings is just being emotional about unfair press coverage. He can’t do much damage to Priti Patel because she has racists on her back as well. She can always divert attention to those irresponsible Social Media companies for giving trolls a voice.

The politicians are playing a long game and this is a little skirmish.

Free school meals policies already exist, though. They’re based on household income, not location. Poor kids in Manchester, whether they’re on housing estates or not (there’s nothing about living on a housing estate that guarantees you’re low-income), already get free school meals.

Rashford did already affect policy re free school meals, though - he got it extended through the summer holidays during covid last year (it’s usually only paid in term time). I’m not sure in what way he doesn’t qualify as an activist, to be honest.

Levelling up is a laudable policy on the face of it, and, even though almost all the towns that succeeded in getting funding did have Tory MPs, they were all genuinely areas that do need some extra, targeted, funding.

However, when it comes to schools, a lot of the “extra” money being promised is actually money that was already allotted to expanding academy chains - that sort of double-counting is not unusual in politics, of course. But, in addition to that, by ensuring that all schools have the same minimum level of funding - even if they are a grammar school with a very small percentage of pupils from low-income backgrounds - actually means that wealthier students will see a bigger increase in funding than poorer students will. It’s levelling up, but not in the way most people would expect it to go.

(Link: 'Levelling up' school funding policy favours wealthy pupils – study | School funding | The Guardian)

(I agree with everything you say in the rest of the post btw!)