Saturday, June 9, 2007

Now Blears uses the dog whistle

Hard on the heels of Margaret Hodge, now Hazel Blears is using the dog whistle on immigration:

"We have got areas in Salford where private landlords are letting properties with 10 and 12 people in there. Now the community doesn't object to the people, they object to the exploitation and the fact that that leads to people being on the street drinking, anti-social behaviour. They don't object to the people being there, but they object if they are undercutting wages and not getting the national minimum wage and they are not abiding by health and safety, so you have got to enforce the law."

Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, accused Ms Blears of pandering to far-right rhetoric. "There is absolutely no evidence migrant workers are drinking on the street and most people would accept migrant workers are doing a good job for a fair price."

Norman Lamb, a Liberal Democrat MP, said: "To paint this sort of picture plays to dangerous and wholly wrong stereotypes."


  1. Paul,

    I know Salford about as well as I know Saturn, so I can't tell if she's accurate in what she says about the minimum wage and street drinking.

    But would you agree with some of her other comments in the Times article? -

    The controversy echoes the row surrounding Margaret Hodge, the industry minister, who suggested British indigenous families must be given preferential access to social housing. Ms Blears, who said she disagreed with Ms Hodge, called on people from different ethnic backgrounds to mix through sports clubs and in schools, and said there were "dangers" for society in segregated areas.

    She said: "You can't tell people where to live. You can't say this street is reserved for eight black families and eight white families. But you can provide a range of housing that people want to live in. You can make it attractive, secure and safe. Sometimes people cleave together because they don't think it's safe. Now if you have a proper police service, people will feel comfortable living in other areas."

  2. Chris, most of her comments (and indeed much of Hodge's comments) are relatively harmless, I agree. But she blows it with the street drinking and minumum wage comments. That is just lazy Alf Garnett politics. Politicians should reflect accurate research - not rehash lazy, racist saloon bar stereotypes.

  3. Blears seems to be arguing an indistinguishable position from Margaret Hodge.

    Of course in Reading, there are significant police shortages which leave people feeling significantly less safe. Labour politicians then bleat on about street drinking bans and the like. Who would police them?

    Meanwhile, regulations to give private tenants at least minimum safeguards about housing conditions aren't brought in by Labour councils.

    But thanks Paul for the reminder that bigotry is alive and well in the Labour Party - in case such proof were ever needed.

  4. Thank you for those interesting thoughts Gareth.