June 8, 2021 - 11:14am

Some years ago the politician Nick Griffin caused controversy — as the British National Party leader was prone to do — when he began referring to “the indigenous British”.

There was a logic to the rebranding, since “white” now has such overwhelming pejorative undertones, and “white British” is an ugly phrase.

Strictly speaking he was correct, but “indigenous” has strong verbal associations with people who are displaced by others, most of the time by whitey, and so it never really caught on.

The memetic power of small neo-fascist parties based in Welling is rather small, while the memetic power of hysterical, over-indulged students in the Great Satan is enormous, so the phrase “indigenous” is now back. Its latest appearance comes in the NHS’s diversity A to Z, which states at one point:

That BIPOC/BIWOC people are made to feel their experiences, history and perceptions of reality are not justified; a subtle form of racist manipulation. This is important because it means that when BIPOC say they have experienced racism they are not believed. Consequently their feelings and experiences are not validated and in this case gaslighting becomes a form of racism.

BIPOC stands for “Black, Indigenous and People of Color”, so in the context of the NHS, I’m not entirely sure what “indigenous” means. The Beaker People? The Welsh?

Similarly last month there appeared an open letter in The Bookseller which was aimed at condemning transphobia in British publishing. It warned that: “We’ve walked down the segregation route before – was it really so long ago that we have forgotten notices above restrooms and public spaces that read: ‘No Blacks, No Irish’ or drinking fountains labelled ‘Whites Only’?”

The letter writers referred to themselves as “Those of us who have studied history” and warned “Let’s not make this a time when we repeat our history.”

They had studied history but presumably not our history, seemingly unaware that Britain has never had segregation or indeed separate drinking fountains. (I wonder what percentage of British adolescents now believe we used to have segregation? 10%? 20%?)

Similarly, last June when Londoners took to the streets to protest the police killing of an American man, I read about a woman interviewed by Esquire saying she was there because “there’s still racism going on, not just for black people but Hispanic people, Jewish, Muslims. It just needs to stop.”

What is a “Hispanic” person in England exactly? There is a South American community in South London, there used to be lots of Spaniards in Ladbroke Grove when I was growing up. There’s Michael Portillo, I suppose.

Five years ago, for better or ill, the British people voted to cut their political ties with mainland Europe; is there some way we can vote to cut our cultural ties with the US?

Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable