“Britons never will be slaves”: the rise of nationalism and ‘modern slavery’

Elizabeth A. Faulkner - 11 September 2018

Right wing voices are using the spectre of ‘enslaved’ Britons to prop up their xenophobic and nationalistic appeals.

This summer the British government publicly expressed concerns that holidaymakers heading to Majorca might end up trapped in ‘modern slavery’. In response to this perceived threat, the UK Border Force launched a week-long awareness raising operation on labour exploitation which The Sun described, in its typical style, as “MAGA Slave Hell”.

The most interesting feature of this case is the specific focus on Britons as potential victims. It is a marked departure from the established convention of focusing upon ‘outsiders’ as both the victims and the perpetrators, such as foreign nationals working in nail bars and other foreign nationals forcing them to do so. Take, for example, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority’s (GLAA) 'Strategy for Protecting Vulnerable and Exploited Workers 2018-2021'. Or the 'Spot the signs' guide by the GLAA, which uses leading statements such as “unfamiliar with the local language” or “be distrustful of authorities” as identifying features of slavery .... See more

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