An Asian man, Oli Khan who is secretary general of the Bangladesh Caterers Association, has written in The Guardian about his regret over his ‘leave’ vote and the fact that he influenced 150,000 members and 12,000 restaurants to vote leave. In effect, he feels that he was put up as an Asian poster boy by Tory Brexiters.
There are two parts to his regret. Firstly, that he allowed himself to be used by Priti Patel and Boris Johnson to spread their “lies”; and secondly, that he used his influence to enable a large number of ‘leave’ votes.
Being Asian and a curry lover you would think that I would feel sorry for him but I don’t. Those from immigrant communities who vote or advocate for narrow interests always draw my ire.
Even if Oli Khan had voted ‘remain’ for similar narrow interests I would feel the same (but, inherently, the ‘remain’ vote was for a more inclusive society).
The basis of his voting intention was to exclude others. Pure and simple. From a business point of view he states that Asian restaurants are struggling to bring in qualified chefs from abroad. He was promised looser immigration laws to rectify the recruitment problem which involved paying lower wages.
Somewhere in there he forgot about the other staff equation in the Asian restaurant trade – EU workers. I myself frequent an Indian restaurant in Central London which employs Eastern European workers. It doesn’t take a numpty to recognise that businesses have to rely on a myriad of nationalities to keep their concerns going.
Immigrants forgetting about the greater good of other immigrants is a common affliction. Oli Khan, in his defence, isn’t the only one.
According to psychology professor Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton based at Berkeley in America who studies stereotypes and inter-group relations, newcomers who arrive in the midst of a stable population that’s already worked out who gets what will have the most “ common human reaction” which is to hog resources and not to share.
Unfortunately it doesn’t take a PhD qualification to work out that if you vote against your interest you will bear an end negative result. Oli Khan forgot to define his own interest in a broader sense in the first place and now testifies to the rise in racism post Brexit, which I have blogged about too. He talks about an ‘inward looking nationalism’. Somebody ought to tell him that nationalism is inherently an inward looking concept.
As a quick fire solution to the problem of chef recruitment in the UK Asian restaurant business why not consider employing women? There are millions of Asian women in the UK who cook delicious curries at home but it’s still a male dominated industry.
Conflating one’s racial identity with business interests and bundling it up with politics is a recipe for disaster.