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Is fixing potholes racist?

In Europe
June 08, 2024

Maggie Chapman, an MSP from the Scottish Greens, is probably best-known for her expertise on gender identity. In an interview last year, for example, she suggested that eight-year-old children should be able to change their own legal gender, while revealing that she doesn’t know whether she has XX or XY chromosomes, because “I’ve never had mine tested”.

Now, however, Ms Chapman has started offering us her expertise on transport, too. Because, during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, she declared: “Road building is a subsidy for wealthy, usually white men.”

This is a fascinating comment in several ways. First, in its use of the word “wealthy”. I had no idea that Scottish motorists were all so rich. Forget going to university. We should be telling our children to become Dundonian lorry drivers or Glaswegian Amazon couriers, instead.

Then there’s the use of “usually white”. In progressive circles, “white” is a familiar boo word, employed to indicate that something is inherently bad. If white people, and in particular white men, are thought to benefit from a given phenomenon, we must regard it as a heinous social injustice, and oppose it. So, if white men use roads, then road building is wrong. And possibly racist.

Admittedly, some people may object to Ms Chapman’s use of the word “white”. Personally, though, I would contend that it’s the one part of her comment that is factually indisputable. It is absolutely true that wealthy people in Scotland are usually white. Just as poor people in Scotland are usually white. And, for that matter, people in the middle, too.

Instead, I feel that the real flaw in Ms Chapman’s argument came when she proclaimed, “We should be investing in buses.” An intriguing statement. Because it rather invites the question: what does Ms Chapman think buses travel on?

Perhaps things are different in Ms Chapman’s part of Scotland. But, in my experience, buses generally require roads. I might also add that, since a bus is quite a lot heavier than a car, it’s liable to cause more damage to a road’s surface.

Logically, therefore, road building is a subsidy not for wealthy white men, but for poor, non-white women. Or whoever else Ms Chapman thinks travels by bus.

Labour hasn’t a leg to stand on

A scandalised Labour party has accused Rishi Sunak of barefaced dishonesty, after he claimed that Sir Keir Starmer is plotting to raise everyone’s taxes by £2,000 each. I’m sure we all sympathise. It’s awful when politicians lie about their opponents’ plans. None the less, I do have one small question.

Is this the same Labour party that spent the last election campaign telling voters that the Tories were plotting to sell the NHS to Donald Trump?

It’s just that five years have now passed – and, to the best of my knowledge, Trump has yet to take delivery of a single hospital trolley. This suggests one of two possibilities. Either Trump decided that he would rather spend his money on something other than a crumbing health service 4,000 miles away. Or Labour’s claim was fantastical nonsense, cynically designed to frighten voters.

Then again, I did ask whether this is “the same” Labour party. And Sir Keir would reply that it isn’t. He endlessly tells us that the Labour party has “changed”, now he’s the leader – rather than just a senior shadow minister who willingly went along with everything the previous leader said and did.

In some ways, however, the party doesn’t seem to have changed all that much. Because, only last year, Labour launched an ad telling voters that Mr Sunak thinks child abusers don’t deserve to be jailed. “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison?” asked the ad. “Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”

Was that an honest piece of campaigning? I for one do not recall Mr Sunak saying, “Jail paedos? God, no. I love child molesters. Why, some of my best friends are nonces.”

It’s also worth noting that, after the Tories cut national insurance in the last Budget, Labour told older voters that the state pension was “in real jeopardy”. Seriously? Whatever faults the Tories may have, they are not so clinically unhinged as to cut the state pension, and thus drive away the one remaining electoral demographic that doesn’t actively loathe them.

When Labour accuses Mr Sunak of lying to voters, therefore, I think it’s worth remembering the number one rule of modern political discourse. Which is: “It’s different when we do it.”

The absent-minded Nazi

This story in the Jewish Chronicle should shock us all. A London tattooist received a message from a customer cancelling an appointment – because “it has come to my attention that you are Jewish”. As a result, “I can’t in good conscience be tattooed by you at the moment, given the current political climate.”

What’s shocking about this message is not the anti-Semitism. After all, we know how widespread that’s become since October 7. The shock is that the customer used the word “Jewish”, rather than the handy euphemism that modern Western antisemites usually remember to employ: “Zionist”.

Talk about a rookie error. No doubt the customer is now kicking himself for being so forgetful.

Way of the World is a twice-weekly satirical look at the headlines aiming to mock the absurdities of the modern world. It is published at 7am every Tuesday and Saturday

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