In a remarkably honest admission on part of the Conservatives, they revealed their deep-rooted racism with the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA) hosting the white supremacist, Denis Walker on 25 April.
Walker was Minister for Education in Ian Smith’s white minority government in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), a role in which he propagated a racially segregated education system not dissimilar to the Bantustan system in South Africa. This system was designed to teach Africans basic skills to ensure they could become useful labour for the white capitalists but went no further, helping to enforce white domination of the country. This racist education system ultimately failed in its task of subjugating the masses, who took power following a brutal revolutionary war that ended in 1979.
Despite the enormous evidence to the contrary, CUCA have tried to claim that Denis Walker is not a racist. They cited that his service in the early Mugabe government is testament to him not being a racist, despite the fact that his involvement was a compromise forced on the revolutionaries by the British government in the Lancaster House Agreement. This is an untenable position, for Walker’s involvement in the white minority government is testament alone to his view that only whites can rule.
This meeting has been held amidst the Windrush scandal, further testament to fact that the Tories are racist. Thousands of people who have lived in Britain for decades have suffered harassment from the state, with hundreds of people interned and even deported to countries they haven’t resided in since being children. This was an attack on the Afro-Caribbean community in Britain and one that does not lie in isolation. It has also been revealed that the Tories have a deliberate policy of creating a hostile environment for migrants in this country. This is no surprise when we consider the vans that told people to ‘go home’ and a policy that forced deportations on non-EU migrants who earn less than £35,000 a year.
The racism within the Tory Party is not an accident. The Conservative Party is the political representative of the bourgeoisie in Britain, it is a party that has long served the interests of capital. Racism is inextricably linked to imperialism, which is a stage of capitalist development. The ruling class developed and propagated ideas of racial hierarchy to justify the imperialist conquest of Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia.
Indeed, these very same ideas were deployed in justifying British expansion into the Zimbabwean plateau to found the colony of Southern Rhodesia. This expansion occurred because of the pursuit of profit with the owner of the British South Africa Company (BSAC), Cecil John Rhodes, believing that the Zimbabwean plateau contained enormous mineral wealth that his mining companies could exploit. In 1890, the first ‘Pioneer Column’ was sent into Matabeleland, a region in southern Zimbabwe, beginning the process of colonisation by BSAC (backed by the British state).
White minority rule was established following the British victory over the Ndebele kingdom in 1895. What followed was decades of brutality against the Shona and Ndebele people as British capitalists extracted the limited mineral wealth of the region and introduced commercial farming. They forced Africans into labour, establishing barracks around mines where workers were not allowed to leave. They also forced Africans into the most marginal land, termed ‘Native Reserves’, which led to mass malnutrition as the land was unable to sustain the overpopulated areas and people were unable to purchase the food produced on the commercial farms. The scale of this was enormous as the Land Apportionment Act of 1930 apportioned 29.8% of the land to the African population which numbered 1 million whilst allocating 51% of the land to just 50,000 whites.
It was this state of affairs that Denis Walker sought to defend. His party, the Rhodesian Front, were a far-right party that won the whites only election in 1962 and every one till 1979. They defended the interests of white capitalists, suppressing African demands for citizenship in their own country and maintaining the African population as a mass pool of labour for the capitalists. This abhorrently racist Rhodesian Front declared unilateral independence in 1965 in an attempt to maintain white supremacy, which was coming under pressure from Britain. The Labour government of Harold Wilson had developed the policy of ‘no independence without majority rule’ with regards to the empire. What followed this declaration was a brutal war of independence, with the government stopping at nothing to hold onto power. Murder and torture were common tools for the state apparatus in Rhodesia, something for which all government ministers were responsible.
The invitation extended to Denis Walker is therefore a salute to white supremacism and the ideas of racial hierarchy that capitalism has produced. CUCA has let the mask slip and revealed to us all the racism that is embedded in the Tory Party and the entire ruling class.
by Keelan Kellegher, Cambridge Marxists