May 22, 2007

Ignore myths, stick to facts

(Click image for full-size)
It would be rough justice indeed to compare MP Margaret Hodge's weekend call for "indigenous families" to get a bigger share of East London's social housing to that watershed moment in 1968 when Enoch Powell made his "rivers of blood" speech in Wolverhampton.

Powell's crude, calculated talk of bloodshed ahead and "wide-grinning piccaninnies" sullied his reputation for ever. Hodge too was seeking - not for the first time - to articulate complaints of her constituents in Barking, that newcomers are making it harder for their children to either rent or buy a home.

In her case only the coded word "indigenous" was deemed offensive, just as David Blunkett was chided for repeating Mrs Thatcher's 1978 use of "swamped" in regard to schools and doctors' surgeries. The British Sociological Association has a list of racially sensitive words which is constantly evolving. In 1968 Martin Luther King, as well as Mr Powell, used "negro".

But, like Mr Powell, Mrs Hodge was challenged to provide hard evidence, not "rumour and inaccuracy", to justify giving the oxygen of publicity to the BNP which has 12 councillors in Barking and Dagenham. It feeds on myths about immigrants. The fact is that the Labour council's points system does give preference to people with local links; that the real local problem is the cumulative shortage of new social housing to replace that lost to the Tory rent-to-buy policy which Labour has not rectified since 1997.

Last year the number of council and housing association units built in the borough fell from a very modest 572 to 230. What is true, as Jon Cruddas, Dagenham's Labour MP now running to be deputy leader, keeps saying is that social services in poor boroughs do feel the pressure of globalisation. So do falling local wage rates. "Racialising" problems will not help, better statistics leading to more Whitehall cash will, argues Cruddas whose local activists beat back the BNP. Labour in Barking did not, add Mrs Hodge's critics.



Anonymous said...

Do you mean Hodge who is Jewish?

Antifascist said...

No, we mean Hodge who is Inuit.

It doesn't matter what she is - she's still capable of dancing with the devil.

Anonymous said...

She still capable of being fucking stupid too.

Anonymous said...

'Do you mean Hodge who is Jewish?'

And a Jew can't come out with racist crap?