Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shelter: Margaret Hodge's 'myth about immigrants and housing allocation'

I am indebted to Michael White in the Guardian for providing some perspective on Margaret Hodge's article on immigration and housing:

In her (Hodge's) 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.

The BSA describes the use of the word "indigenous" in the British context as "not a helpful term as it would be difficult to identify the indigenous British..."

White quite rightly brings the debate back to facts, rather than "myths about immigrants":

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.

Shelter also confirm White's point:

In response to Margaret Hodge's comment on the allocation of social housing in the Observer "A message to my fellow immigrants" (20 May 2007), Adam Sampson, chief executive of Shelter, said: "The failure to build new homes and the devastating impact of the Right to Buy leaves the small amount of social housing stock vulnerable to being exploited for political means. "These comments perpetuate the myth that social homes are given to new immigrants coming to the UK at the expense of the indigenous population - when in fact homes are allocated by balancing what people are entitled to against immediate housing need. "The real problem is the desperate shortage of social housing, which is why Gordon Brown must now deliver on his commitment last week to build more social homes to tackle the ever-deepening housing crisis."


  1. I came across your blog by accident (I was doing some online research on Anne Atkins [Hey, I'm writing a horror story!!] and found your blog showing up her hypocracy when she attacked Hate Crimes). I've read several of your recent entries and found them wonderful. Please keep up the good work, I'll certainly be reading your blog again.

    Drew Payne

  2. Hopefully this quotation from the BNP constitution will clear up what 'indigenous' means:

    “The indigenous British ethnic groups deriving from the class of ‘Indigenous Caucasian’ consist of members of: i) The Anglo-Saxon Folk Community; ii) The Celtic Scottish Folk Community; iii) The Scots-Northern Irish Folk Community; iv) The Celtic Welsh Folk Community; v) The Celtic Irish Folk Community; vi) The Celtic Cornish Folk Community; vii) The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic Folk Community; viii) The Celtic-Norse Folk Community; ix) The Anglo-Saxon-Norse Folk Community; x) The Anglo-Saxon-Indigenous European Folk Community; xi) Members of these ethnic groups who reside either within or outside Europe but ethnically derive from them.”

  3. Thank you very much Drew. I particularly enjoyed writing those Anne Atkins posts - particularly the bit about the lack of a blindfold on the statue of Justice on the Old Bailey!

    Thank you James - surely "indigenous" should only refer to descendents of the "beaker people" especially considering Anglo-Saxons are very recent arrivals in the scheme of things - i.e about 500/600 AD - it hardly compares to the Aborigines, for example, in terms of longevity in Australia?

  4. hehe, I was researching for more facts on the state of social housing in the UK and came upon your blog. After reading the comments here, it leaves me to wonder if this could be a clear demonstration of Word Play. In that "Housing Allocation and the impact of immigrants" is the issue, but you have chosen to pick words and not the core issues.

    When it is said that the allocation policies are fair, is incorrect. Although the current housing allocations are deemed to be fair, in practice this is NOT the case. The Housing Allocations is fraught with favouritism. e.g: How can it be so, that a single man with 2 boys and arrived in the UK only some 5 years ago, has been given a 3 bedroom house over a single mother with 3 boys and was born in the UK, but she is entitled to an OVERCROWDED 2 BOXroom flat. How can it be that a single mother with one child, was given a 3 bedroom house? How can it be that a couple with no children was given a 3 bedroom house? Do you really hold the facts or do you prefer talking on subjects that you have never experienced?

    Do you think it's correct for children to sleep in Bathrooms, Kitchens, Hallways and Living rooms?

    Do you not think that every child should be given a fair start in life or do you think that children should be stereotyped and penalized because their parents mistakes?

  5. Nick, I think you'll find that my other post (which you commented on) was about the word "indigenous". As you will see from the text, the main thrust of this posting is that it is a myth that immigration is an issue in housing allocation, and that the key issue is the government's failure to provide housing stock, a point backed up by my quotations from Michael White and Shelter.

    I think you will find that Shelter are experienced in housing matters.

  6. Paul,

    I thought you'd be flattered to know that you appear very high up the list if one Googles "Margaret Hodge housing".


    My friend Ali used to hang around with a Folk Community. Apparently, he could play a mean ukulele.

  7. Thank you Tom, so I do - blimey.