Starkey accused of racism over ‘black culture’ claims
Historian under fire for claiming that ‘the whites have become black’ during riot debate
Historian David Starkey has been accused of racism after blaming the riots across England last week on black culture and claiming: "The chavs have become black. The whites have become black."
He made the comments on Newsnight on Friday night and immediately came under fire.
Another guest on the show, author Owen Jones, claimed afterwards that Starkey's TV career had "ended in disgrace" and said "he has introduced race into the debate in a very inflammatory way."
During the interview Starkey said that he had been re-reading Enoch Powell's infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech about race relations.
"His prophecy was absolutely right in one sense," he claimed. "The Tiber didn't foam with blood, but flames lambent wrapped around Tottenham, wrapped around Clapham.
"But it wasn't intercommunal violence; this was where he was completely wrong. What has happened is that the substantial section of the chavs have become black. The whites have become black.
"A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion. Black and white, boy and girl operate in this language together, this language, which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has intruded in England. This is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country."
He also said that Tottenham MP David Lammy, who is black, sounded as though he was white.
Commentators lined up afterwards to attack Starkey. On Twitter BBC reporter Robert Peston said: "David Starkey's nasty ignorance is best ignored, not worthy of comment or debate – though I fear there will be a media feeding frenzy."
Piers Morgan added: "RIP David Starkey's TV career. And good riddance. Racist idiot"
However, Starkey was not without support. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, James Delingpole described the Newsnight set up as a "trap".
He also said Starkey was telling the truth. "The cultural point he is making is indisputable," he wrote. ·
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