The Last Whites Of The East End. Fascinating documentary or just a bid to start a race row?

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The Last Whites Of The East End. Fascinating documentary or just a bid to start a race row?

May 25, 2016 - 15:55
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The BBC is under fire for its documentary The Last Whites Of The East End, which chronicled the death of Cockney culture in the London town of Newham.

The Last Whites of the East End

The BBC is under fire for its documentary The Last Whites Of The East End, which chronicled the death of Cockney culture in the London town of Newham.

Amid the predictable Twitter storm of PC protest, one outraged viewer fumed: “This is the most racist programme I’ve ever watched.” There were many more tweets expressing the same opinion.

Evidently, in the past 15 years 70,000 immigrants have moved in and more than half the white residents have moved out. Mostly relocating to Essex to start a new life.

With 73 per cent of the Newham population now made up of ethnic minorities and black British, Newham now has the lowest white British population in all of the UK.

Pubs are closing in their droves, West Ham FC has left the area and – according to one disgruntled Cockney – the multi-cultural local high street is “like Bagdad”. There’s no doubt that for Newham, the times they are a changing.

Personally, as the working class whites lamented the end of their era, I didn’t detect any hatred. Although, it was a bit strong of that pensioner bloke to say they were being “ethnically cleansed”.

But for the most part the sad Cockneys reminisced about the alleged good old days and agreed they were over. There was no sense of them attacking this very different modern age. More shoulder shrugging acceptance than anger.

The closest we got to anti-Muslim sentiments was “They keep themselves to themselves… I feel like a foreigner in my own borough.” Was it racist of those two old ladies to observe they were the only whites on the bus? Or just a fact?

The point is, this programme shone a light on something profound that is happening in a fair few communities all over the country. And it recorded the thoughts of the people whose lives have been affected.

You might not like what they had to say. You might even brand them racists. But does this mean The Last Whites Of The East End shouldn’t have been screened? Surely, it’s better to know than not to know. What to do you think?

One final thing… the name of the show was bound to stir up controversy. If they’d have called it Whatever Happened To The Cockneys or something similar, it would have been far less incendiary. The Last Whites aspect was asking for trouble. Maybe that’s just what the producers wanted. You decide.

There are 4 Comments

PhilipStar's picture

I am sick of people being offended by the least bit thing, Of if they don't like it there is a off button or another channel. Personally I get more offended by the crap on Britain's Got Talent. Don't get me started on the storm troopers. Nanny state is a problem these days and has killed off a great number of shows because it has offended one person who can't be bothered to change the channel.

NancyD's picture

My cousin and her husband have just moved to E10 because with London's soaring house prices, it is an area where they can still afford to buy.

They love the multiculturalism, interesting shops and vibrant markets. There is rarely any trouble at night in their neighbourhood because most Muslims don't drink alcohol. I hasten to add, they are white, so they are reversing the trend to move away.

This is the East End of 2016, but if you'd grown up there or were white and terribly elderly, you may have a different story to tell. If 73 per cent of the local population is now made up of ethnic minorities and British blacks, how is that racist? It is a fact.

Cockneys are an endangered species in the East End of London. The documentary explained this and talked to people, like sixth-generation Newhamite Leanne Oakham. She's moving to Essex, but then it's only 30 minutes away.

Usman Hussain, who's a fifth-generation Londoner, said he misses his childhood friends who've moved out of the borough, many of whom are white. He is just as proud of his East End ancestry as he is of his Bangladeshi roots.

The streets of London do change. Brixton used to be very smart, while Islington was very working class. A house in Hackney can cost £1.5 million - way too expensive for the average family. Most areas have now been gentrified, but there's little chance of yummy mummies and bankers taking over Newham.

The PC brigade on Twitter who say this show was racist don't know what the word means. It was just realistic.

We're all doomed I tell ye's picture

Well done to the BBC for showing this programme..facts that everyone has known for years but are too frightened to discuss for fear the self righteous PC brigade will shout racist. You can bet those so called "outraged" people don't live in the situation that these Londoners find themselves. There wasn't the slightest bit of racism in the programme just people telling the truth no matter how hard and unpalatable the professionally offended may find it.

Barry Mahar's picture

Of course it is not racist. The PC Brigade take offence at anything. This is 100% truth.
I escaped to Somerset as Poplar and the Isle of Dogs, where I grew up, have changed beyond recognition. As a child the population was at least 90% Cockney, now it is barely 10%.