Gamu proves that we are a nation of softies
By Sebastian Shakespeare
Never mind the big society. What about the just society? The most important issue dividing Britain this week was not about child benefits but adult benefits and whether Cheryl Cole was right to axe Gamu Nhengu from The X Factor.
It now transpires Cheryl was ordered to evict the singer because she was facing deportation to Zimbabwe after Home Office officials alleged that her mother was wrongly claiming working tax credits. Perhaps Gamu’s hapless mother was entirely blameless and was just confused by our overcomplicated benefits system. Her solicitor is now denying the allegations and seeking a judicial review.
Whatever the truth, Gamu is testimony to the immigrant work ethic. She is no obese couch potato like most of the 11 million viewers of The X Factor but got off her backside to put herself through the gruelling rigmarole that is the reality TV show. And the charming 18-year-old from Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, is undeniably talented, unlike most of the lachrymose no-hopers on that series.
The whole debacle smacks to me of a fix. But fix or no fix, what this saga reveals is how tolerant as a nation we are. In an online poll this week a “massive” 88.7 per cent of Sun readers said Gamu should be picked as a wild card and allowed back in the competition. Now The Sun is not normally seen as a hotbed of open-minded, progressive sentiment. Quite the reverse.
It confirms my long-held suspicion that Britain is one of the most racially tolerant societies on earth. Even those in this country who think of themselves as tough on immigration and the causes of immigration (lax customs and so on) are far more liberal at heart when it comes down to the brute reality. Which is why the average Englishman will always support the immigrant underdog at the expense of the spoilt, overindulged top dog (yes, that’s you, Cher).
When I went to visit post-apartheid South Africa 10 years ago I was amazed at how all the self-professed white liberals I met were in fact closet eugenecists. They were a living embodiment of that old White Zimbabwean joke: What’s the difference between a tourist and a racist? The answer: two weeks.
In Britain it is quite the reverse. Scratch a white van man and you will find a sentimental softie lurking underneath. We have known Gamu for two weeks now and we have already taken her to our hearts.
The British underclass may occasionally come across as dim-witted, boorish, burger-munching, lager-swilling neanderthals, but whatever their faults (and they are legion) they all know about the sword of truth and the trusty shield of fair play. As white van man’s straw poll in The Sun proved this week. That is a cause for celebration. Cry God for Gamu, England and Saint George. London Evening Standard