Margaret Hodge’s disgusting duplicity


by Sunny
21st May, 2007 at 4:25 pm    

Margaret Hodge is a typical example of why the Labour party is going to the wall and losing all its ideals in favour of cheap tabloid soundbites. Writing in the Observer yesterday she said in essence that ‘indigenous’ Britons should have preference over housing compared to migrants. This means we move away from a policy based according to need, to one based according to people’s race or nationality (let’s face it NI contributions mean nothing).

There are two reasons why such a policy is now inevitable: (a) providing housing to asylum seekers is constantly used by the BNP for their own electoral campaigning and is a big source of resentment; (b) Labour has invested so little in new housing stock that such shortages and the vicious fight over them are inevitable. But here lie clues as to why Margaret Hodge is such a disgrace to the Labour party.
In an article for CIF last year I said this:

Let’s take Margaret Hodge’s pitiful outburst on Sunday. Among other things, she said: “They can’t get a home for their children; they see black and ethnic minority communities moving in and they are angry.”

I thought that was amusing. Last year the BNP started circulating leaflets in Margaret Hodge’s area with spurious claims that Africans were being paid £50,000 to move into the area. Sitting on a huge majority at the time, Labour did very little to counter these claims and was accused of ignoring working-class concerns by its own constituents. A few months later when the BNP failed to get anywhere in a local byelection, Hodge said: “It is a great result. The people of Barking have resoundingly rejected the BNP’s message of hatred and division.” Now she has clearly changed her tune.

The same applies to the East End, as we pointed out on PP a few weeks ago. The narrative that whites were ignored in favour of Bangladeshi immigrants who got housing without any fuss does not provide the whole picture.

In other words Margaret Hodge cannot muster up the courage to confront BNP lies about housing being allocated to migrants or asylum seekers. Instead she is happy to change a policy that, in all likelihood is unlikely to make much difference. The BNP are not going to stop spreading lies tomorrow and neither are housing shortages going to stop people from blaming asylum seekers for New Labour incompetence. But are there any Labour politicians willing to openly challenge the BNP and the Daily Hate tabloid agenda with the real picture? Apart from Jon Cruddas and John Denham I can’t think of anyone. It’s a sad state of affairs and Margaret Hodge only confirms her unsuitability as a Labour politician.

Update: More from Obsolete and Blood & Treasure.


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  1. soru — on 21st May, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

    This means we move away from a policy based according to need, to one based according to people’s race or nationality

    Who precisely is suggesting it should be based on race?

    (let’s face it NI contributions mean nothing).

    A lot of things can be argued to mean nothing. Example: the pension rights of Mirror group employees. Taking them away is still generally a source of anger.

  2. ChrisC — on 21st May, 2007 at 4:56 pm  

    Wasn’t it Margaret Hodge who had to apologise for attempting a couple of years ago to smear a victim of child abuse in Islington (where she was head of the council)?

    She is a total scumbag.

    Which is not to say that this:

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=260

    is not causing problems. It is.

    But hers does not strike me as the most sensible solution somehow!

  3. sid — on 21st May, 2007 at 5:56 pm  

    It’s a sad state of affairs and Margaret Hodge only confirms her unsuitability as a Labour politician.

    On the contrary this is wholly representative of New Labour’s elastic definition of “centrist” politics. If you can’t beat them, out-Right them.

  4. brachyury — on 21st May, 2007 at 9:34 pm  

    “This means we move away from a policy based according to need, to one based according to people’s race or nationality (let’s face it NI contributions mean nothing).”

    Why should NI contributions mean nothing? I have always understood social security as a safety net– Me and my family paid my dues and it was there for me if something went wrong. Quid pro quo. It is a social contract not a god given right.

    If someone has just arrived then they maybe poor but I don’t think they have as much right as someone who has paid their dues. If after a few years they have paid their way then they should be liable to further benefits.

    Of course policy should target welfare at people of British nationality– what on earth do you mean? Does believing that make me a racist in your eyes?

  5. William — on 21st May, 2007 at 10:45 pm  

    On Mathew Wright this morning there was a single black mother who was concerned saying that she was told by housing that new immigrants were being given priority over herself. As well I have encountered face to face the same complaints from others and including several people from ethnic minorities. As such, today this is not just a whites dissatisfied with immigrants issue as it was in the past. Some of the complaints may be real some may be unfounded as in the past. There were such worries in previous decades some no doubt fuelled by racism but housing did not exactly dry up. As well past accusations of Asian people taking up council housing did not apply as most of them took up rented or private accommodation.

    Of course the BNP will use the issues whether they are true or not as such groups have done in the past.

    Housing is in a crisis because of past government policies. There needs to be large scale building of public housing although this will not solve immediate waiting problems. Large scale building has been done in the past and it can be done again. There used to be some fear of such things on behalf of some politicians as if it was too left wing or socialist to do have such large scale projects. But why could we not recognise that such things can be cyclical i.e.
    we can have periods of such things when needed for example after the first world war. Private house prices are now just utterly absurd and public housing has diminshed due to right to buy without plowing the money gained from that into building new houses. After all if we need immigrants so much as they are good for the economy etc then we should expect they will need to be housed why then do we not plan for this.

    On the point of whether someone born in this country should be given priority over new immigrants I would come down a bit on the side of someone born here.

  6. William — on 21st May, 2007 at 10:51 pm  

    When talking of the large scale building of public housing I mean to house all kinds of people not just immigrants, asylum seekers etc.

  7. William — on 21st May, 2007 at 10:54 pm  

    As mentioned on another thread. Brown it seems recognises that there is a housing crisis and has made a pledge.

    http://england.shelter.org.uk/home/index.cfm

  8. Sunny — on 21st May, 2007 at 11:20 pm  

    Why should NI contributions mean nothing?

    I don’t mean to imply they literally mean nothing, but rather that I doubt the govt is going to run around calculating people’s NI contributions in order to provide housing.

    Let’s say you have an unemployed single mother who has always been destitute and now thrown out of the house by her boyfriend. Compare that with some middle aged man who has split from his wife and given her the house. Commonsense would dictate she gets priority rather than him… yet your NI contributions scheme means the opposite.

    As such, today this is not just a whites dissatisfied with immigrants issue as it was in the past. Some of the complaints may be real some may be unfounded as in the past.

    I don’t disagree the complaints are real, and I don’t think its a problem of racism. I’m saying the problem is I’d like to see the evidence that housing is actually being freely doled out to asylum seekers. This narrative has been created by the BNP and Labour has done very little to combat it. That is the problem.

  9. William — on 21st May, 2007 at 11:32 pm  

    While on topic. In Birmingham last week Shelter appeared with a huge wall. That is a huge wall in front of the Town Hall. The idea is to get people to sign a paper petition then sign a plastic brick and place it in the wall. Eventually petition or/and wall to be handed to Downing Street.

    We need housing, we don’t need scapegoats.

    http://www.fishinabox.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/images/shelter.jpg

  10. Laban Tall — on 22nd May, 2007 at 1:03 am  

    “I’m saying the problem is I’d like to see the evidence that housing is actually being freely doled out to asylum seekers. This narrative has been created by the BNP and Labour has done very little to combat it. That is the problem.”

    I wonder that too, but I’m a cynical chap. Only a few years back people on the left used to criticise outfits like Migrationwatch for scaremongering over the volumes of immigration. I remember Aaronovitch criticising their ‘lies, damned lies, and statistics’.

    Turned out MW’s stats were pretty accurate and if anything slightly conservative. That kind of criticism is rarely aired.

    So you do have to wonder – could it actually be true ? Maybe that’s why it’s not being challenged. After all, asylum seekers aren’t living in tents. They’ve certainly been dispersed to social housing in places like Glasgow – the poor buggers. But generally I’d imagine they’re in private accommodation and some landlords are making a fortune from them.

    The BNP a few years back had a copy of a letting agreement between (I think) Sandwell Council and a 3rd party accommodation provider. It may have been a Zinoviev-style forgery, but if so it was well done.

  11. Laban Tall — on 22nd May, 2007 at 1:07 am  

    “It may have been a Zinoviev-style forgery, but if so it was well done.”

    I don’t mean it was a clever thing to do – the document (a copy of a fax with all that implies for print quality) looked convincing, that’s all !

  12. douglas clark — on 22nd May, 2007 at 1:51 am  

    Laban Tall,

    Take your anti Glaswegian attitudes and stick them where the sun don’t shine. Whomesoever lives next door to you is the ‘poor bugger’.

  13. Refresh — on 22nd May, 2007 at 2:07 am  

    Its a cover for a miserable failures of this government. Its also confirmation that the career politicians are here for a long time to come.

    The divisions created and thus the supposed rise in support for the far-right are very much a vote of protest against New Labour and not against their neighbours of a different hue.

    When push comes to shove they will happily sell your grandmother and get you to pay for the privilege.

    Nasty.

    Anybody for a hung parliament?

  14. emmanuelgoldstein — on 22nd May, 2007 at 3:19 am  

    Laban Tall fails to mention that quite a few of the asylum-seekers were housed in Sighthill; they were put there because large parts of it were unusable – Glaswegian families offered accommodation there had refused it – and therefore unused.

  15. Sunny — on 22nd May, 2007 at 3:30 am  

    So you do have to wonder – could it actually be true ?

    Perhaps you would like it to be true, so it justifies your concerns about immigration? The PM said this morning only around 1% of housing was actually allocated to foreign nationals.

  16. Puffy — on 22nd May, 2007 at 7:13 am  

    A few years ago i was chatting to a young white working class girl from the east end who echoed the kind of complaints raised by Hodge and said “these days the BNP are saying black and white unite against the Asians”.

    The well-known study on the impact of immigration on the east end may not be the whole picture as Sunny says (and let’s face it, what is?) but there does seem to be some evidence that the switch to “need” for housing provision impacted on the established east end community. And obviously immigrants without a home are more in need than those who, say, may be living with their parents.

    It seems pretty straightforward that you can’t have it both ways – allocate according to absolute need and live with the consequences, or provide members of the existing community with an in-built advantage.

    The irony is that most immigrants come here don’t expect to get hand outs. Like my own great grandparents I expect they thought they would work hard and get on. I doubt my great grans would have started complaining if they had found that they weren’t entitled to a council home had one existed in the 19th Century… Indeed on a note of social policy I wonder if it really sends the right signal to new arrivals about the values of our nation. Are immigrants to the US granted council housing?

    Hodge may well be playing to the BNP given her constituency, but I noticed she was at pains to mention all races when she made her statement. Actually I suspect the communities now most under threat from the new immigrants are black and asian. And who is threatening them? White Poles etc. So i don’t think its necessarily about racism – it’s older than that – it’s poor people fighting over scarce resources. And uktimately that’s about economics and class.

  17. ChrisC — on 22nd May, 2007 at 8:46 am  

    Immigration of itself is not the big problem.
    The big problem is *net* immigration which for a long time was close to zero, but has more recently been between 150-200,000 per annum. That is a big number, and as a matter of simple logic is bound to cause problems.

    Housing is only one of those problems, along with all other strains on public infrastructure.
    (And Gordon Brown’s 200,000 houses “pledge” is – no surprise for him – pretty meaningless. Average annual number built over past five years is already 175,000.)

  18. Chairwoman — on 22nd May, 2007 at 9:35 am  

    Sunny @ 15 – He also said there were WMDs in Iraq :-)

  19. Roger — on 22nd May, 2007 at 9:46 am  

    The idea behind National Insurance is just that: it is a national insurance policy and anyone who lives in the Uk is regarded as being a member and entitled to the benefits. Just as if you buy car insurance and have an accident the same day you receive the same benefut as someone who has been using the same insurance company for forty years.

    The competition for social housing is inevitable if the whole economy depends on people paying delusory prices for other housing.

  20. brachyury — on 22nd May, 2007 at 10:12 am  

    “Just as if you buy car insurance and have an accident the same day you receive the same benefut as someone who has been using the same insurance company for forty years.”

    Yes but no-one would let me join an insurance scheme if I was already sick– or I had already crashed my car. So why should someone who has just entered the country and has no house be eligible to join the insurance scheme.

    Thats not insurance its free money. In any case the probem is fairly limited due to the rarity of social housing.

  21. soru — on 22nd May, 2007 at 10:19 am  

    Of course the BNP will use the issues whether they are true or not as such groups have done in the past.

    I suspect many supporters of such groups are created when someone’s personal experience seems to them to match that group’s propaganda, and not match the mainstream story.

    In some cases, this is because they are like Jose Arragantio complaining about a ref’s decision – they can’t see straight about something they care that much about. Housing may even be more important than football.

    In others, the referee, or the rules of the game, may actually be wrong. It’s tricky to see which case is which, and impossible solely by listening to the complainant.

  22. A councillor writes — on 22nd May, 2007 at 10:28 am  

    Oh dear, Margaret is doing the BNP’s work for them again. She’s rather good at that. I suppose we should be happy that at least this outburst was after the local elections and not before them.

    The housing crisis in many places is getting worse not better and it isn’t the building of affordable homes that will help but the building of socially rentable homes. The category of affordable homes used by the government includes anything with a section 106 discount or anything with any form of shared ownership – things that are often way out of reach of most people who are on their council’s housing register.

    For instance, due to some contractual technicalities in the 4-day a week job, I am a supposedly key worker. Purely for the my own amusement the other day (I am unable to get a mortgage), I went to view an “affordable” home. It was a snip at £199,000, a mere six and a bit times multiple of the mean average household income in my city. But it counts on the Governments stats and there are plenty of properties like this due to Section 106 requirements (when the Section 106 isn’t spent on public realm improvements which are popular with both local councillors and developers).

    Similarly shared ownership properties at £99,000 or more, sounds nice on paper, but a three times multiple with 50% rent (and RSL rents are between council rents and private rents in prices) and repairs and service charges on top which renders them on a par with private rents and similarly unaffordable.

    The “immigration” issue comes about as the law has been modified by rulings from our judiciary. The old definition of “habitually resident” used to be two years, now it’s down to somewhere between six months and immediately depending on the type of application and the circumstances.

    In addition, homelessness law has changed by case judgements which now means that priority homelessness now covers a lot more people than it used to. I have a lot of sympathy with the ideals behind the rulings on homelessness, but I know that they are not very implementable, all that will happen is that councils will have to spend even more money on lawyers to fend off the claims and even more money on converting properties to meet needs from a declining stock.

    The main effect of increased immigration is actually in the private rental sector, hence the buy-to-let boom. However, this has had the side effect of pushing prices higher in this market and pushing people out of it and down towards the social rented sector. Your average “White Pole” doesn’t have much cumulative housing need as they tend to be young, healthy and childless. They may well be squalidly over-crowded, but that will be about it.

    However, as I have said before, the requirement in many authorities to have multiple housing needs is affecting our estates in several negative ways. The number of people who work and live in social housing is declining, more and more social renters are dependent on benefits, more and social renters have high levels of medicial needs. This leads to less and less balanced estates.

    Margaret Hodge is correct in stating that local people brought up there often can’t get a socially rented property in the area (if at all). Also, there is a lot of resentment that time on the list doesn’t count for anything. However, the liberal in me says that needs are more important than dwell time, but that just doesn’t go down well.

    I would suggest a threefold solution to ease the problem

    1. Allow council’s to suspend the right to buy where their authority has acute demand. We are losing about 1,000 properties a year to RtB

    2. Only count affordable homes if they fall within a reasonable definition of affordable. Build less shared ownership housing and more socially rented homes, allow councils to build new homes if they want to.

    3. Allow a small percentage (say 10%) of lettings in each area not to be based on pure cumulative housing need but for community cohesion reasons to go to tenants with local connections based on their cumulative housing need and the time spent on the list.

    As for Gordon’s build new homes drive. Yes, it’s another number fudge and who is to say that they will be the sort of homes people want to buy. I have another two planning apps on my desk for mixed developments of 2-bedroom “luxury” apartments and 3-bedroom “executive” homes, both just 1 building too small to invoke Section 106 (ho,ho). The 3-beds will sell, the 2-bed will be add to the glut on the market of this type of property in the area, of the 60+ units built over the last couple of years, at least 10 are still unsold and another 10 are sold but empty. My areas prime needs are for a) larger family homes (4/5/6 bed) and any sort of socially rented property except sheltered 1-bed bungalows.

    As for the asylum seekers issue, the Government requires some councils to rent them some social properties through NASS, but the vast majority are in the private sector. Councils usually provide these out of the hard to let stock (nearly every council has some of this), although there’s a lot less of that than there used to be.

    Right, I’ll stop rambling now and get on with some housing casework.

  23. ryan — on 22nd May, 2007 at 11:00 am  

    Well we haven’t built many houses have we? But we have allowed 2million immigrants to move here over the last 10 years. And they would need about 500,000 houses wouldn’t they? Almost all in the South East since that is where the jobs are. And they are not looking for mansions in Chelsea – they are looking for cheap housing right at the bottom of the ladder. So either they are going homeless or the descendents of previous generations of immigrants are going homeless or the descendents of those that fought in WWI and WWII. So who is telling the truth here? The BNP or you? Can you imagine the resentment of those that happen to have the right to vote here?

    But don’t worry. I live in a six bedroom house and my Asian wife and I are going to be following in the footsteps of so many Brits and emigrating to Australia. So that will leave a bit of space. Give it a couple of generations and you Guardianistas will have the place to yourself. God knows how you are going to pay for it all….

  24. sid — on 22nd May, 2007 at 11:11 am  

    I live in a six bedroom house and my Asian wife and I are going to be following in the footsteps of so many Brits and emigrating to Australia.

    My Asian wife and I bid you farewell.

  25. sonia — on 22nd May, 2007 at 11:16 am  

    I think it would help if it was made clear what the current policies actually are – and how they related to different immigration status/categories.

    Until then it is a discussion where everyone no doubt has a different assumption and confused ideas about what actually goes on. I bet you money Margaret herself doesn’t know much – she’d have to ask the Home Office. chuckle – and they prob. dont know either!

    ps i found it funny that when i read about this on the BBC site they felt the need to point out she was born in Egypt! :-)

  26. sonia — on 22nd May, 2007 at 11:17 am  

    Do you any of you have an idea?

  27. sonia — on 22nd May, 2007 at 11:18 am  

    ill do a ‘no recourse to public funds’ search on google and see what it turns up.

  28. S — on 22nd May, 2007 at 12:02 pm  

    “As for Gordon’s build new homes drive. Yes, it’s another number fudge and who is to say that they will be the sort of homes people want to buy.”

    Due to the housing chain I don’t think it matters too much if middle income housing is built — boosting supply anywhere in the chain relieves pressure further down.

    Building low-cost would be nice but less economical. We shouldnt let the perect be the enemy of the good.

  29. A councillor writes — on 22nd May, 2007 at 12:02 pm  

    Actually, I’ve just been reminded that the housing rules for EU citizens are even more complex that I remembered.

    “Old” EU citizen (i.e. the 15) need to be workers or workseekers who have been here for 6 months. I also think this includes the Swiss, the Norwegians and the Icelanders.

    A8 EU citizens need to be workers who have been here for 1 year (except for Malta and Cyprus)

    A2 EU citizens need to be workers for 2 years before having recourse to public funds.

    For non-EU/EEA citizens, it’s permanent residency which allows such *but* there are exceptions for homeless families with children in all cases and the definition of homeless is not roofless.

    Note this only applies to Council Housing, it does not apply to other Social Registered Landlords (not sure about ALMO’s because we don’t go down that route).

  30. Sunny — on 22nd May, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    I feel left out without an Asian wife…

  31. Rumbold — on 22nd May, 2007 at 12:57 pm  

    “I feel left out without an Asian wife…”

    And Ajay Devgan got there first anyway.

  32. sid — on 22nd May, 2007 at 1:00 pm  

    And Ajay Devgan got there first anyway.

    Is he a Guardianista too?

    *Proud to be a Guardianista with an Asian Wife*

  33. Rumbold — on 22nd May, 2007 at 1:01 pm  

    “Is he a Guardianista too?”

    I hope not.

  34. sid — on 22nd May, 2007 at 1:10 pm  

    So he’s a Hodgeist? An opportunist Blairite apparatchik with a semblance of left-wing convictions sheathed over shallow political convictions designed to win votes by any means necessary?

  35. Sunny — on 22nd May, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

    And Ajay Devgan got there first anyway.

    lol!!! I can’t believe you raised that Rumbold. you keep that joke to yourself young man.

  36. Rumbold — on 22nd May, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    [Smiley yellow face]; too late.

  37. Soso — on 22nd May, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    To seriously tackle this the gov’t should first severly restrict immigration ( at least for several years) until the backlog is cleared up. If the UK recieves between 150,000 and 200,000 legal immigrants per year, it should be remembered that these new arrivals tend to congregate in London.

    Second, publically subsidised housing doesn’t work that well; people tend to abuse and neglect that which which they don’t own. Instead, people should be “sold” these homes with part of the mortgage payment supplied by gov’t funds.

    Most people will take pride in ownership, and so therefore we’ll see less deterioration, less destruction and less vandalaism over the long run.

  38. Rumbold — on 22nd May, 2007 at 2:10 pm  

    For all you people who think that the Daily Telegraph is terribly right wing, there is a brilliant article in there today by Andrew O’Hagan on this, in which he demolishes Hodge’s arguments (not that demolishing said arguments is particularly difficult):

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/05/22/do2202.xml

    (The whole Telegraph site is having a problem loading).

  39. sonia — on 22nd May, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

    immigration is severely restricted soso – you don’t really imagine any tom dick or harry just says to the British embassy here gimme a visa and they get one?

  40. sonia — on 22nd May, 2007 at 2:35 pm  

    funny how people on the ‘inside’ who have never had to queue at British embassies seem to know so much about the reality of immigration! or imagine they can know how many people might want to come to the UK – and out of that huge no. how many actually get to come through, on a limited basis. there are 2 separate things. one is govt. severely restricting immigration i.e. few people get in out of the pot who want to get in. now the people on the ‘inside’ naturally aren’t thinking on that context – they’re just going to look at how many ppl are coming in full stop- oh its much more than before ( etc. etc). again, discussion needs to separate out these things.

  41. Soso — on 22nd May, 2007 at 3:20 pm  

    immigration is severely restricted soso – you don’t really imagine any tom dick or harry just says to the British embassy here gimme a visa and they get one?

    Sonia, I’m sure you’re aware of the current U.S. controversy over the new immigration legislation.

    Despite the furor, I think that the U.S. actually does a better job of controlling immigration when compared to the UK.

    The UK ( London really) can’t absorb the current levels.

    Business leaders want the cheap labour, but insist that same cheap labour be subsidised ( health-care, education, housing) by gov’t agencies financed by rank and file British taxpayers.

    I see little justice in that, however I do see a great deal of potential for conflict in just such a scenario.

  42. S — on 22nd May, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

    “a brilliant article in there today by Andrew O’Hagan on this, in which he demolishes Hodge’s arguments (not that demolishing said arguments is particularly difficult)”

    Sorry. I read carefully through this article and waited patiently for said demolishing of arguments. No demolition was forthcoming however just a personal attack.

  43. S — on 22nd May, 2007 at 3:33 pm  

    ps

    Im not fully sure that the problem outlined by MH is a very large one, or that the alternative (a system based on prior contributions/ a waiting list) would be fairer.

    But O’Hagna adresses none of this.

  44. sonia — on 22nd May, 2007 at 5:53 pm  

    “Despite the furor, I think that the U.S. actually does a better job of controlling immigration when compared to the UK”

    well you might be well placed to know – i wouldn’t know myself. i guess it would depend on what factors you are referring to. firstly there is a far bigger pool trying to get to the US than the UK.

    what are you basing your ‘estimate’ on?

  45. Puffy — on 22nd May, 2007 at 8:10 pm  

    “For all you people who think that the Daily Telegraph is terribly right wing, there is a brilliant article in there today by Andrew O’Hagan on this, in which he demolishes Hodge’s arguments…”

    Actually I didn’t find it very brilliant. All he manages to do is call Hodge a nasty Nazi repeatedly over several hundred words and imply she wouldn’t be welcome at any dinner party HE attended for quite some time… Hodge’s instincts may be unpleasant but I also find it depressing how every time someone tries to raise the issue of immigration in this country they are shouted down. Suppressing debate won’t make the issues go away, they will simply emerge in other, possibly more violent, forms.

  46. El Cid — on 22nd May, 2007 at 9:12 pm  

    I’m sorry to see you go Ryan

  47. soru — on 22nd May, 2007 at 9:42 pm  

    ‘demolishes Hodge’s arguments ‘

    The comments on that article are fun:

    Is the Daily Telegraph a Tory paper any more or is it a liberal/Marxist paper with a hatred of the English people? Sounds like the latter nowadays.

    Having just read Frank Field, Rachel Sylvester, and now this tripe by Andrew O’Hagan, I despair. It is all such drivel that I could have been reading the Guardian

    Why does The Telegraph publish articles that would be better off in the Socialist Worker?

    And, as several people have said, it doesn’t actually demolish any arguments, it just calls Hodge a poopyhead. I suspect this has something to do with the way in which the equivalent token right-wing commentators on the Guardian and Independant are invariably idiots and blowhards – they are not there to persuade anyone of anything other than the fact they are already right.

  48. Clairwil — on 23rd May, 2007 at 12:35 am  

    ‘They’ve certainly been dispersed to social housing in places like Glasgow – the poor buggers.’

    Which as a Glaswegian refugee worker I can tell you that most asylum seekers and refugees prefer it here because they claim it’s less violently racist.

    Until now I thought they must be mistaken.

  49. douglas clark — on 23rd May, 2007 at 1:54 am  

    Sonia,

    Re post 39.

    “immigration is severely restricted soso – you don’t really imagine any tom dick or harry just says to the British embassy here gimme a visa and they get one?”

    Err, yes and no. Yes if you are talking about outside the EU, and no if you are talking about within it. The SE of England is an economic magnet, and there is nothing, bar withdrawal from the EU that can be done about people following the money. Personally I think it is no more than a symptom of a vibrant economy. And thus a good thing.

    The joke of it is that emmigration to Europe, to follow the Lotus Eaters, or to work, gets no mention whatsoever. Yet hundreds of thousands of Brits have done just that. The older ones will become a burden on the social services of their hosts. The younger ones will add to their new economy.

    It is that balance, freedom of mobility of people, rather than just money, that ought to be at the centre of the debate. I happen to think that freedom of movement is important.

    I also think that exporting democratic principles, in other words if you want to join the EU, you have to be democratic, has been a successful policy. Think Spains accession, ot the Eastern block, or the hoops that Turkey is currently having to go through. It seems to me that offering a club that is worth joining, and argueably not limiting it to a geographical Europe, is the way to go.

    For instance, I see no particular bar on India becoming an EU affiliate, or potential member. Which would, of course mean that Indians would have free domicile anywhere in the EU. And obviously vice versa. Quite fancy Goa myself.

    Ah, that old Beatles song is being played out in Brussels:

    “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…”

    Soft power has a lot going for it.

  50. douglas clark — on 23rd May, 2007 at 2:10 am  

    Oh, and one last point. This is a practical project. It is actually happening. This is not some dreamworld. Nuts and bloody bolts. Which is why I think Turkey’s accession – on EU terms – is so important for the world at large.

  51. Jagdeep — on 23rd May, 2007 at 1:04 pm  

    I always find it hilarious when people complain about immigration to Britain, and then end their diatribe by announcing that they themselves are going to become immigrants by going to Australia. How hilarious.

  52. ZinZin — on 23rd May, 2007 at 1:12 pm  

    True Jagdeep but how many say that “my asian wife and I” are going to emigrate to Australia?

  53. Jagdeep — on 23rd May, 2007 at 1:18 pm  

    I never heard of that before ZinZin but it makes it even funnier, doesnt it?

  54. Chris Stiles — on 23rd May, 2007 at 1:48 pm  

    Err, yes and no. Yes if you are talking about outside the EU, and no if you are talking about within it. The SE of England is an economic magnet, and there is nothing, bar withdrawal from the EU that can be done about people following the money. Personally I think it is no more than a symptom of a vibrant economy. And thus a good thing.

    In part I agree with you – though of course there are economic costs and they tend to be levied on people who aren’t benefiting from the vibrant economy, which is where the resentment comes in.

    Having said that, at least part of the problem is that the Home Office predictions for migration from A8 countries was easily an order of magnitude lower than what actually happened.

  55. Jai — on 23rd May, 2007 at 1:48 pm  

    I think that was a misguided attempt my our friend Ryan to demonstrate that, despite his apparent support of the BNP’s stance in this matter, he is not racially prejudiced against Asians…..

  56. Chris Stiles — on 23rd May, 2007 at 1:51 pm  

    A2 EU citizens need to be workers for 2 years before having recourse to public funds.

    And AFAIK A2 citizens do not have an automatic right to work here, they need to go through the work permit route.

  57. douglas clark — on 23rd May, 2007 at 3:25 pm  

    Chris,

    Economics is not my fort̩ Рsome would wonder whether I have a fort̩ at all Рbut if there is more work to go around than there are people to do it, is immigration not well nigh inevitable? If I remember correctly there was internal migration, from UK regions, to the SE for similar reasons, going back donkeys years.

    Indeed, immigration was positively encouraged:

    http://www.icons.org.uk/theicons/collection/ss-windrush/biography/windrush-biography

    Briefly:

    “An advert had appeared in Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner newspaper on April 13th, offering cheap transport on the ship for anybody who wanted to come and work in the UK. The war had created a labour shortage but many of the positions were low-paid and lay unfilled.”

    I’d have thought, as a non economist, that people coming here to work added to the overall wealth, although there are obvious costs surely these ought to be met out of their taxation burden, no?

    I agree that the Home Office got it spectacularily wrong. My question is, does it matter? Ah, the problems of running a successful economy….

  58. Chris Stiles — on 23rd May, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

    I’d have thought, as a non economist, that people coming here to work added to the overall wealth, although there are obvious costs surely these ought to be met out of their taxation burden, no?

    Taxation is a centralised function, whereas a lot of services have to be provided locally via centrally provided grants. The basis for setting these grants is subject to change, but only very slowly.

    http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9193822

    but if there is more work to go around than there are people to do it, is immigration not well nigh inevitable

    Sure – but there is also a cost function in there, and evidence that for some sectors there have been negative wage pressures as a result.

  59. William — on 23rd May, 2007 at 6:44 pm  

    douglas #57

    Recently I have got to know a guy via an adult education class. He is 87 years old and one of his jobs in the past, that is in the 1950s was to visit Embassies, Consulates and discuss, persuade etc how to get people to come over to the UK to sort out the labour shortage.

  60. douglas clark — on 23rd May, 2007 at 7:08 pm  

    Chris,

    I take your point about the pace of central government response.

    William,

    Interesting. There was also an outflow of folk from the UK to Canada and Australia. You could get assisted passages out as well as in. Wierd.

  61. William — on 23rd May, 2007 at 7:16 pm  

    “Interesting. There was also an outflow of folk from the UK to Canada and Australia. You could get assisted passages out as well as in. Wierd.”

    Oh yeah I remember the adverts in the newspapers. Go to Australia for £10

  62. Ravi Naik — on 24th May, 2007 at 12:22 pm  

    “Oh yeah I remember the adverts in the newspapers. Go to Australia for £10″

    If you were white, of course. :)

  63. Refresh — on 25th May, 2007 at 2:10 am  

    Did I hear correctly that Ken Livingstone has suggested Margaret Hodges doesn’t stand for Parliament again?

  64. David Miller — on 25th May, 2007 at 7:43 am  

    Predictable over reaction from the trendies. Well done Ms Hodge for telling it just as is it. What the hell is the point of a lifetime investment in this country and the sacrifices of our parents in conflicts to protect it if new comers walk straight to the head of queues for housing etc. And please don’t say it doesn’t happen its does!
    Now we have all the creeps wanting to be deputy Labour leader trotting out what they think is the “right” line about equality etc. Utter drivel from these wannabees.

  65. Refresh — on 25th May, 2007 at 10:50 am  

    David,

    You are wrong. But you are welcome to recruit Ms Hodge. We’re done with her.

  66. Leon — on 25th May, 2007 at 11:01 am  

    She’s given the deputy leader candidates a bit to chew on:

    Education Secretary Alan Johnson has added his voice to attacks on trade minister Margaret Hodge over comments she made on housing allocation.

    Mr Johnson accused her of “using the language of the BNP” after she said British families had a “legitimate sense of entitlement” over immigrants.

    Jon Cruddas and Peter Hain, who like Mr Johnson are Labour deputy leadership hopefuls, have also attacked Mrs Hodge.

    Link

  67. Laban Tall — on 25th May, 2007 at 11:11 pm  

    “Perhaps you would like it to be true, so it justifies your concerns about immigration ?”

    Really, Sunny. I just wondered if it WAS true. Can’t you address the ball and not the man ? Or should I be responding “perhaps you’d rather not think about it, in case it IS true ?”.

    I’m being quite serious. And this is a serious politics site on occasion. Isn’t it ?

    For the last 10 years I’ve been reading in the Guardian

    a) “why can’t they refute the right-wing tabloid scare-mongerers with their exaggerated immigration stats ?”
    b) “why can’t they refute the right-wing tabloids with their stories of soft judges and social workers ? Britain is most punitive nation in Europe etc etc”

    It turned out that the reason for the inability to refute was a dire shortage of evidence. The moronic tabloids turned out to be right on the money.

    So when I hear “why can’t they refute …” in the Guardian, my nose twitches suspiciously …

  68. Laban Tall — on 25th May, 2007 at 11:18 pm  

    PS – on the Jon Cruddas Guardian thread someone calling themselves a London housing officer described the steps you can take to get yourself housed soon after arrival. The Guardian pulled the comment – but not before another housing officer, one who actually disagreed with Ms Hodge, posted that they recognised the issues H.O. #1 was describing.

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/jon_cruddas/2007/05/making_barking_mad.html

    Lynne Featherstone in Haringey agreed with MH btw :

    “In Haringey – where we have a desperate housing need and high immigration – these issues walk into my surgery week after week. What is actually the case is there is a clash – but it’s not racial – anyway not here in Haringey.

    It’s a clash between the ‘already here’s’ – and they are of every race and culture – versus the ‘newcomers’. And the system of points for housing that gives priority to number of children, illness, etc often results in what either is or looks like queue jumping. That does cause resentment. What we need is a system that is both fair and transparent. It’s difficult to balance the rights of those who have already been waiting with those newly in need, but it’s a balance we have to strike – and in an open, transparent way so that people can have confidence in the system.”

    http://www.lynnefeatherstone.org/2007/05/margaret-hodge-and-housing.htm

  69. Sunny — on 25th May, 2007 at 11:54 pm  

    Or should I be responding “perhaps you’d rather not think about it, in case it IS true ?”.

    I’m not sure what I should be thinking about here? I have no doubt that the perception that new asylum seekers are getting all the resources while Britons have to wait in line, as perpetuated by the BNP, makes people think the system is unfairly stacked against them.

    But that doesn’t take away from my article, or refute the fact that about 1% of such housing went to ‘foreigners’.

    Secondly, on immigration. It isn’t about the Guardian refuting the stats… it is about how you view them: whether one sees immigration as a cultural and economic benefit, or one sees a problem with non-whites coming into the country to work.

    And… why can’t they refute the right-wing tabloids with their stories of soft judges and social workers ? Britain is most punitive nation in Europe etc etc”

    I’m not sure what you want my response to be. You’d like me to “refute” the “fact” that tabloids always pick up on anecdotal cases where social workers or judges are “too soft” on people?

    Unless you’re talking about some piece of govt policy across the board which is unduly lenient on asylum seekers, there are no “facts” to be refuted. Only examples blown up by tabloids to pretend there is a broader trend. If you fall for it, that’s your problem not mine… right?

  70. douglas clark — on 26th May, 2007 at 2:19 am  

    Laban Tall,

    I missed your first comment. So far you come across as someone who’s mind is made up. Would you care to comment a bit more openly? We had been discussing emmigration as well as immigration. Are you aware that that occurs?

    Will Andalucia become Spurs supporters in the hills? Will anyone, much, care? There or here?

    Freedom of movement is a good thing, discuss.

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