‘The first step to Britishness is your poppy’

Carol Gould claims she got into an altercation with “a young Arab man” on London’s Edgware Road because she was wearing a Remembrance Day poppy. Fortunately help was at hand, in the form of a BNP-sympathising taxi driver:

“I hailed a taxi and, thankfully, my pursuer, who was by this time shouting, did not get into the taxi. The driver was enormously sympathetic but told me that I had been ‘asking for it’ by walking in what he called ‘Little Beirut’. He then told me that we were in World War III. His white, working class anger at what he perceived as ‘the Islamic takeover’ of Britain was palpable. He was not the first London cabbie who has told me he would gladly join the far-right British National Party if pushed.

“(It is worth noting in this context that London Mayor Ken Livingstone is trying to institute an initiative to bring ethnic minorities into the taxi fleet, to tackle its almost exclusively white domain. Keeping in mind that Washington D.C. has one of the worst taxi systems in the world, in part because most drivers can barely speak English and do not know the meaning of the words ‘cordial’ or ‘polite’, especially where female passengers are concerned, one prays the Livingstone initiative will be approached with caution.)

“The driver dropped me at Marble Arch. I decided to walk back slowly should my scary have made his way in my direction. As I walked, I realized that not one of the hundreds of Middle Eastern and British-born Muslims who run all of the establishments along Edgware Road was wearing a poppy.”

Front Page Magazine, 25 November 2005