in the Indie (on the anti-Trevor Phillips campaign - I blogged it here
Black people have watched with mounting dismay as he made a series of interventions on race which were at best silly and at worst revealed no grasp of the facts and figures. First came his attack on multiculturalism. This baffled and upset very many ordinary people, both black and white, who had spent a lifetime fighting racism in their communities. Then there was his claim that we were "sleepwalking to segregation". Manchester University academics had to point out that there was no statistical evidence of "white flight" from inner-city areas with high numbers of minority ethnic residents.
The 'Manchester University academics' being of course Steven 'Ludi' Simpson
and perhaps the lovely Dr Nissa
. I took a look at his idiosyncratic definition of integration in the first link. But the "myth of the myth of white flight" seems to have at last taken off.
Pity about this comment
, by one john b ellis :
Of course some native Brits live pretty much unperturbed alongside new immigrants, and the children and grandchildren of earlier immigrants. The philosophy of "live and let live" and "take as you find" runs reasonably deep in the national psyche, and lots of folk find no reason to take flight.
But there's another side. My other half and I visited some of her vast array of relatives last week, and particularly an eighty-four year old step-aunt in Wolverhampton. That lady and her sister, neither of whom had married, continued to live for very many years, long after the death of their parents, in the council house in which they had been brought up in the Black Country town of Tipton.
They moved, rather against the grain, because of the effects of immigration. Gradually, most of the council houses around them had come to be occupied by families of new Commonwealth origin. One day, one of the sisters observed a neighbouring family carefully spreading one of their carpets down the middle of the street, and proceeding to wash it. Presumably traffic had to take a detour while the operation was in progress! They decided, quite quietly and without any conflict, that it was time to move house, and did so.
It wasn't a move spurred by hatred, or even dislike, much less fanatical racist ideology. They just felt uncomfortable. The customs were different. They no longer felt at home.
Another liberal myth. Remember a couple of years back, Margaret Hodge
and her worries about the allocation of council and housing association ('social housing") properties ?
We should look at policies where the legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family overrides the legitimate need demonstrated by the new migrants.
We should also look at drawing up different rules based on, for instance, length of residence, citizenship or national insurance contributions which carry more weight ... most new migrant families are economic migrants who choose to come to live and work here. If you choose to come to Britain, should you presume the right to access social housing?Need is an important factor, but it's not the only factor. This is about a rebalancing; listening and responding to a strongly felt sense of unfairness in the allocation of public resources.
It caused a bit of a media firestorm, she was accused of giving aid and comfort to the wrong sort of people, of feeding the myths peddled by the likes of the BNP - that 'they
' get all the houses - and generally of letting the side down. When the BNP won nearly half the council seats in her constituency she was blamed.
My thoughts at the time
were to the effect that as long as the system of allocating housing was needs-based rather than entitlement-based it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that incomers would get a disproportionate share of what housing was available. Read this pdf
- from the BBC, of all people. No conspiracy necessary. Sure, you might get a few corrupt types or white idealists (after all, no one ever got fired from a council job for discrimination against white people, whereas even an unproven accusation of discrimination in their favour would impact negatively on a career) tilting the balance a tad against the natives - but apart from the strange concept of the Black and Minority Ethnic Housing Association
it really did seem unlikely that there was much overt, direct discrimination. The discrimination was indirect - natives being likely to have fewer dependants and higher incomes than incomers - and indirect discrimination is not a concept
I'm terribly happy with. As the Guardian
put it :
It is true that many immigrant families have larger families and can benefit from the points system but the system itself is racially neutral.
The great and the good leapt into the breach against Ms Hodge. The Guardian in May 2007 was chocker
with HYS pieces deploring her 'dog-whistle
', unsubstantiated myths
. Jon Cruddas was in the forefront
- but the interesting stuff was in the comments. This one
was from IShouldApologise, a paid-up Guardianista :
I am sorry, but I have to agree with Margaret Hodge.
When we arrived back in the UK four years ago my wife had a small job and so did I and the only house we could afford was a small cramped second story flat. My children had to share one small loft together with barely enough room to stand up in. Furthemore, it was a firetrap.
One of my students was a Sri Lankhan refugee: a very nice man. He was not allowed to work, but I think he did anyway; in one of the network of Sri Lankhan shops in our area. At the same time the government had given him and his family, with two children, a perfectly fine three bedroomed house to live in rent free. I saw it.
It seemed rather unfair to me.
We couldn't find anyone to help us. We were earning just too much to deserve help from the government, but not enough to rent a decent place to live in. My children suffered. Perhaps if my wife had been a single mother the council would have given us priority on a housing list. Perhaps if we didn't both work, then the government would have come to our aid. Perhaps.
But they didn't. Bitter irony. I didn't resent it overmuch, that my student had been helped, I resented, and resent, that we hadn't been helped. We were left to suffer by the politically correct.
There is definitely something very wrong in the system. It shouldn't stop helping refugee Sri Lankhans, but it should think about helping working people with British Nationality more than it does at present.
One contribution by a housing officer was mysteriously deleted, but rescued by another commenter :
"What many of them do is, get a 3 month visa, register to vote using their passport, get a bank account using the confirmation of residence letter from the electoral registration office, then get a national insurance number from the job centre and a job 'fixing' the underground at night (ie putting their feet up). Then they can take those documents to the housing office and go straight on to the list. If they've got a big family (often the case) they get higher up the list. And there you have it." ..
"these people then apply for an 'indefinite leave to remain', then they get their families over here, then they are the priority list because their house is overcrowded. They're playing it according to the rules, there's nothing we can do."
While another housing officer's remarks survived
As a Housing Officer I have worked in five different organisations, with five different waiting lists (including areas in Manchester and Blackburn - both areas with a strong ethnic mix) and newcomers are not the problem. Its the lazy-born and bred brits whose parent and grandparents have lived in council housing and who now know the system so well they can play it, and play it well. They're on every benefit going, have no intention of ever getting a job and are breeding like rabbits. They also know how to play the system. They apply for housing before they actually need it and they play the waiting game. Once in the system, you need never leave.
You can't imagine that a housing officer who talked about their minority clients like that would last very long in post, can you ? I think it's a pretty honest description of the UK underclass. On another thread she'd have been a hideous right-winger, blaming the victims of capitalism, the poorest and most vulnerable etc etc - here she was a heroine sticking up for the New Brits against the disgusting Old Brits.
"Any road up" ... with immaculate timing, even Gordon Brown
managed to imply this year that he would "change the current rules for allocating council and other social housing, enabling local authorities to give more priority to local people and those who have spent a long time on a waiting list
" - much to the horror
of lefties everywhere. Shades of 'British Jobs For British Workers'.
And then at last over the hill came the cavalry
- in the form of Trevor Phillips' shiny new Equality and Human Rights Commission
The allegation that new migrants are jumping the queue for council housing and housing association homes was nailed as a myth by research recently published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Phew ! That's sorted that one. From now on, anyone raising the issue can be slapped with the research. Only trouble is, their stats are crap
… The claim of a report published 7th July by the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) - to have demonstrated that there is ‘no bias in allocation of social housing to immigrants’ - has been shown to be baseless by independent academic analysis.
According to a leading statistical analyst, Professor Mervyn Stone of University College London, the figures that EHRC has disseminated as if they were evidence for the claim are of zero inferential value.
The report therefore constitutes a serious betrayal of the public interest that whatever is the truth of the matter should be established scientifically. In consequence, Civitas has made a formal complaint to the UK Statistics Authority asking it to appraise the reliability of the statistical methods used by the report and the statistical reasoning that underlies its claims.
As Civitas put it :
“A democracy relies on the honesty of official statistics so that our differences can be settled by peaceful debate, but the EHRC report on social housing fails the most fundamental tests”
The report, by Professor Mervyn Stone, is here
So we're paying to be lied to - the lies being in the service of a greater good - maintaining social cohesion and combatting the far-right. Admittedly that's the kind of thing we also get from, say, 'Manchester academics', who are also tax-funded, but the EHRC are far more directly an organ of government.
Sadly, this kind of tax-funded distortion may depress, but no longer shocks - which is in one sense the most worrying thing of all.