Skip to Content

Features

Labour’s U-turn on social housing for non-immigrants is welcome but too late

Rod Liddle says that metropolitan liberal ideology is too deeply ingrained in local councils, social services and the judiciary to be overturned by one panic measure driven by Labour’s sudden fear of the BNP

1 July 2009

12:00 AM

1 July 2009

12:00 AM

Rod Liddle says that metropolitan liberal ideology is too deeply ingrained in local councils, social services and the judiciary to be overturned by one panic measure driven by Labour’s sudden fear of the BNP

The government’s new and exciting ‘No Homes for Darkies!’ policy, announced earlier this week, has, for those of you on the right, a certain bracing, post-Weimar Republic feel to it. The policy — or, put better, pointless aspiration — was part of Labour’s relaunch, an amalgam of ideas with which it hopes to win the next general election, much in the way that Hull City might hope to win the Premier League next season by buying Michael Owen. The housing business was a £1.5 billion plan which included a proviso that local authorities should be ‘enabled’ to provide homes for people who’d lived in the area for a long while. It was immediately rechristened by opponents ‘British homes for British people’, in a snide reference to Gordon Brown’s previous promise of ‘British jobs for British workers’ which was itself borrowed, unconsciously or otherwise, from the British National Party’s manifesto. Certainly this latest initiative is absolutely straight-down-the-line BNP policy, something Nick Griffin and company have been banging on about for the past ten years.

Previously the Labour party, and its allies in the press, insisted that this supposed problem was a chimera, a nonsense, a nonexistent issue. Asylum seekers and immigrants in general do not push their way to the top of the housing list and never have — it is a spiteful, politically motivated fiction along the same lines as the EU banning bananas which are not bent, or too bent; local councils banning Christmas festivals because they are non-inclusive; and the Zinoviev letter. Even as Labour announced its policy, the Guardian was at it again, ‘proving’, by way of a survey carried out by that implacably neutral body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which showed conclusively that no black people were allowed social housing anywhere in Britain, or something. And yet beyond the M25 (and, in the case of Ealing, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth — well within it) everyone knows the truth: that for reasons which are, when you examine them, perfectly logical, incomers get social housing ahead of the indigenous population.


I know quite a few people who voted BNP last month. None of them are what you might call ‘racist’, in the sense of being ill-disposed towards an individual because of the colour of his or her skin. The thing that galled them was that the white middle-class liberals who run their lives — in county hall, in parliament, at the police station, in the schools and in the courts — seemed not give two hoots about the predicament of the white working class, either culturally or economically. And their chief grievance was about the provision of social housing, and how they never seemed to get it. So this is a momentous volte-face from Labour, a recognition that its core vote has been criminally neglected and thus become disinclined to vote for it. And I suppose the party should be applauded for it, much though it may irk its last remaining supporters in Fleet Street. But nothing will come of it; nothing will really be done, because to start unpicking the policy which gives social housing to foreign asylum seekers as a priority over the demands of the indigenous population will lead to a situation where the society which we have created over the last 25 years begins to unravel. And Labour does not have the nerve to follow through with that — to unpick all that botched stitching.

When the BNP won its two European parliament seats last month — taking, almost exclusively, former Labour votes — I suggested that Labour would attempt to claw back some of its support by at least giving voice to one or two populist measures championed by the BNP. But also that it would not be able to put any of this stuff into practice because the metropolitan liberal ideology is ingrained within local councils, the social services departments, the housing departments, the judiciary and so on. And this is precisely what has happened. For Labour to give priority in social housing to local people who have lived in the area a long time means to scythe away the policy of the last 25 years, where council flats were given on a basis of imminent need rather than longevity of existence on the waiting list. Second, the policy goes against the government’s own equal rights legislation which insists that local authorities must give priority to the utterly homeless — i.e., people who have just arrived here from a foreign country, rather than those indigenous people who have a place to live already, albeit somewhere which is cramped and unsuitable.

Even if Gordon Brown were to unpick that legislation, he would be left with a crisis of economic migrants and asylum seekers arriving here with no homes to live in, except in the choked privately rented sector. So he would then have to unpick the Europe-wide human rights legislation which insists that people who arrive from ghastly countries — and almost all asylum seekers arrive from ghastly countries — must not be deported. He would also have to unpick the EU legislation on free movement for economic migrants within the Eurozone — otherwise, on both counts, he would have thousand upon thousand of people camping out in the streets. So it’s just words; he can’t actually do it, because the laws he has created, and those created in Brussels, will not let him.

The rather sinister and strangely named Grant Shapps, the opposition housing spokesman, had it right when he said that by using the word ‘local’ the government was simply attempting to tell us that they understand the frustrations of ordinary people — but they have missed the point. Enabling local councils to give homes, as a priority, to local people requires nothing short of a revolution — a tearing up of the ideology which has governed this country for a quarter of a century and which governs us from Brussels today.

On a related issue — the BNP’s election to the European parliament was greeted with enormous chattering-class dismay and the fear that they might actually gain a Westminster MP next time around. It seems to me more likely that they will suffer the fate of the Green party, which shocked us all by gaining such a large proportion of the popular vote (about 17 per cent) at the 1989 Euro-elections — coincidentally, also a time when the government of the day was seen as being on its last legs. The Greens came nowhere near gaining Westminster representation next time around, but they did find some of their more amorphous policies co-opted by the three main parties as a consequence. Or maybe not policies, just rather vague aspirations. The same thing is happening right now to the British National Party.


Show comments
Close