Brooks Newmark

The Home Secretary’s speech and diminishing the Holocaust

I am not sure who I am offended by more: James O’Brien LBC’s resident shock jock or Steve Hilton former Cameron Svengali. Certainly not Amber Rudd the Home Secretary.

I think I will settle on Hilton for his comment that Ministers may as well announce that “foreign workers will be tattooed with numbers on their forearms.”

I don’t know about you but I am sick of commentators and pundits diminishing the Holocaust by such language.

Perhaps even more disappointing is the stony silence of the Board of Deputies and the Holocaust Education Trust when such language is used to turbo charge a political message or current political events.

So what exactly did the Home Secretary say? Reflecting the current US policy of President Obama (not exactly America’s most intolerant illiberal President) she said that her department was considering a consultation for companies to report the nationality of their employees so the Government better understands the proportion of UK versus non UK employees.

Not a list of names of foreign employees as the media in its hyperbolic fashion has been implying.

As we head towards Brexit it is not unreasonable for the Government to try to better understand which businesses and sectors have an over reliance on non UK workers and to develop skills based education policy to fill the skills gap.

But at the same time it is perfectly fair to criticize the proposal, as did the Home Secretary’s own brother, the Blairite, Roland Rudd, while at the same time defending her by saying “we should be able to have a conversation about what skills we want in the UK.”

James O’Brien, however, reading portions of Hitler’s Mein Kampf on LBC and comparing it to the Home Secretary’s speech was an insult to Jews and those who died in the Holocaust.

Further, picking up the gauntlet, Steve Hilton then poured paraffin on the fire by implying that the Home Secretary would next be calling upon foreign workers to have their forearms tattooed! Really Steve? Really? If Michael Foster can be condemned for calling Corbyn’s leadership team Nazi Stormtroopers then surely Board of Deputies and Holocaust Education Trust roundly condemn Messrs.’ O’Brien and Hilton for their even more intemperate language. In failing to do so they diminish the name of the Holocaust.

About the Author
Brooks Newmark was MP for Braintree (2005-15) and Minister for Civil Society. Currently he is a Research Associate in the Politics Department at St Antony's College Oxford.