Posts Tagged ‘communities’

Labour’s lost estates

02/12/2010, 02:34:47 PM

by Atul Hatwal

In the seven months since the general election one of the few areas for genuine consensus within the party is a re-discovered desire to reach out and listen.

But if the party is serious about getting to the parts other big conversations have failed to reach, then the bandwagon is going to have to roll through a couple of tough neighbourhoods.

On one side of town, is a place, let’s call it, “white town”. Generations of white working class, big estates, low incomes, traditional Labour vote bank, rife with all the problems that decades of deprivation bring.

As Labour’s straight-listening express trundles through this area, immigration will be the hot topic.  And what comes back won’t be pretty.

It was on Labour’s watch that the rightward drift in the debate on immigration happened. A succession of ministers were happy to bow to the Littlejohn platoons and show how ‘sound’ they were on immigration.

In the past few years, talk of “white working class” issues (you know, those special issues, that Asian or Afro-Caribbean working class families living in the same areas don’t have and can’t understand) with its relentless whistles have turned parts of the PLP into a Westminster version of one man and his dog.

And over the summer our leadership candidates fell over themselves to pay their respects at Mrs. Duffy’s doorstep. David Milliband even made it inside for a cup of tea.

She might be a nice old lady, a bit overwhelmed by the media scrum, but the substance of what she said is clear. Immigration is causing unemployment and the burden of immigrant claimants is preventing deserving Britons from getting their benefits.

This summer, not a single one of our princes standing for the leadership had the courage to simply say,

“No, Mrs. Duffy was wrong”.

Not one. (more…)

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