“The Right Crowd and No Overcrowding”


English: Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit.
English: Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often try (and fail) to link my passion for motor racing with my trade union activities.  This is not a neat fit.  The two don’t really have a lot in common.  There are some very working class examples of motor racing but the image of the sport is one that involves the playgrounds of the rich and famous, a sport funded by major corporations whilst all the time destroying the environment.  I’m going to blog one day about how motor racing is a force for good re the environment but I’ll leave that one for now…. you’ll just have to trust me for the time being.

Over the last residential weekend at Ruskin College we had a lecture on migrant workers.  We covered a number of issues from the difficulties in organising / recruiting members from a range of different cultural backgrounds to the issue of trade unions creating different kinds of structural ways for organising and campaigning around migration.

One major area of concern is the way in which migration is seen as a problem in itself.  The word has a political meaning in the popular press and amongst politicians.  It’s quite different from the word mobility which is often used to describe the type of economic migration that the powers that be approve of.

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to find that in the UK the word mobility might be used to describe mega rich Russian oligarchs entering the country to set up businesses whilst the word migration is used to describe the world’s poor trying to earn a crust by getting themselves into the country. How often do you hear about rich white people struggling to move around the world?  They’ve got mobility all right.

All the way through the session on migration I kept thinking about how snobbish the establishment attitude is.  This is an attitude not based on free movement of people or the restrictions that can be put in place binding everyone.  It’s much more about the type of people that “should” be restricted and who is entitled to free movement.

The quote in the title of this blog post sums that attitude up nicely.  Back in the early days of British motor racing the sport was an establishment pastime.  It was where rich folk came together to show off their machinery to each other.  When events were advertised they used the slogan “the right crowd and no overcrowding” to make sure that the ladies and gentlemen attending knew they would get a pleasant day out.  The last thing anyone needed was lots of the wrong kind of people.

Patronising and elitist, it seems fitting to compare it to establishment views on migration.

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