Hands up who's seen the film 'This is England'? It came out last year, but is a recent release to DVD. The reason I mention this film at this time is that the recent departure from government makes now a good time to reflect on the legacy of Mista Howard. What's a film about early 1980's UK got to do with present-day Australia? Well, the central theme of the film is a look at the unholy connection between Nationalism and the rise of racist organisations such as 'National Front' under a conservative government in a time of war. Hard to deny the connections to the present, but that's down to the film-maker, and is a pretty damming commentary on England's 'New Labour' under Tony Blair. 'New Labour' has much in common with the old Tories, as the film is about Thatcher, the Falkland war, and the complexities of racism/nationalism, with a spectrum of Skinheads and interrelations with National Front.
How does all this connect with the full measure of Howard's racist legacy? Well, many of the arguments that incrementally moved some people who weren't inherently racist into supporting racist causes have been dragged-out in Australia in the past decade of Howard, with similar results. The adoption of 'The Cross of St George' by National Front as banner they use in their race-war is reminiscent of that first ugly moment in Cronulla when it became clear that the Australian Flag could be used to divide this nation, that it could be a symbol of hate, where it was previously associated with the unity of multiculturalism.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the film 'This is England' made it that little bit easier to understand how people (who otherwise appear free of damage) can buy into the whole anti-Islam thing that the previous government wheeled-out to sell their wars, and the panic and changes to laws that convinced some that this country was under siege from one after another threat that only mista Howard could save us from. I wouldn't say that I 'enjoyed' 'This is England', but I'm glad I've seen it.