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Banksy in Clacton.

WHEN THE UBIQUITOUSLY absent graffiti artist Banksy left one of his statements on the wall of a building in Clacton-on-Sea the other day I don’t suppose he was expecting the local council to scrub it off — because someone complained that it was racist.

The work depicts a group of pigeons holding banners saying “Migrants Not Welcome,” “Go Back To Africa,” and “Keep Off Our Worms” to a suitably lonely but colourful swallow. It’s not clear from the council’s statement whether the complainant was someone suffering from an irony deficiency who took the picture at face value or whether it was a local citizen sick of being branded racist by the liberal establishment and portrayed as a dull and ugly pigeon.

bankCThis “clever and succinct piece of satire” as Jonathan Jones of the Guardian calls it is as subtle as a spike in the eye. It signals to the citizens of Clacton, who are about to vote Ukip’s first MP into Parliament, that they are a flock of unthinking racists. Obviously something must be done to counter this descent into apartheid and slavery – and a painting by Banksy is obviously just the thing. What a pity the liberal establishment have been hoist by their own PC language petard.

Now that the painting has been removed, however, critics are complaining that the council missed a trick in not selling it, since Banksy graffiti can go for hundreds of thousands of pounds. Fortunately, the irony of an avowed anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist revolutionary benefiting financially from the evil free market has not been missed, even by the perceptive Jones himself, who acknowledges the “gushing” at the prices Banksy works can achieve.

Unfortunately, hypocrisy doesn’t figure among the great sins condemned by the liberal establishment. Banksy is thus absolved of being a money-grubbing, faux rebel because he’s an exposer of the truth. He can stick it to The Man and pocket the kudos and the cash at the same time. That’s how the scrubbing out of this piece can be hailed as no less than a “vicious act of censorship”. The little Lenins of the metropolitan establishment love this down-with-the-people, street art stuff. It combines the pretentiousness of the cultural world with a yearning for the authenticity of working class experience, of “real people”.

Real people for the little Lenins vote Labour and welcome mass immigration because it means their dull, pigeon-like existence gets to be enriched by the multitudinous, colourful swallows of diversity. Real people are not susceptible to the “swirling currents of prejudice” sluicing modern Britain. Real people put up with the overcrowded schools, hospitals and surgeries with big, happy smiles because they’ve now got lots of neighbours with brightly coloured clothes, a Babel of tongues and the exotic attraction of foreign cuisines.

If the voters of Clacton vote Carswell in as a Ukip MP they’ll have disqualified themselves as real people. A strong dose of re-education will be in order. More Banksies, perhaps.

Michael Blackburn.

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