Monday, May 21, 2007

Hodge Podge

Margaret Hodge. I'm frowning at you right now. Frowning very hard. Madame, please desist in your stupidities.

Help! the immigrants are coming!Let's start at the beginning. Margaret Hodge thinks white people ought to have housing priority over everyone else because... well... she thinks *they think* they deserve it. She started off talking about newly arrived immigrants getting priority over "established" families, but halfway through she forgot what she learned in her diversity seminar on how to pretend you aren't a racist and started going on about giving priorities for whites. One Labour blogger puts it like this "This is precisely the sort of garbage which fuels the BNP."

Another Labour blogger says "taking need out of the equation, and replacing it with a characteristic irrelevant in the reflection of virtue in awarding people with a given social good (how is race, culture or the nature of your migrant status in any way relevant to whether or not you should be housed, as part of a just exchange?) produces a clear absurdity." Hodge's plan is a blue print for an unjust society.


These arguments often revolve around housing - which makes it doubly cheeky of a government minister to pretend that the shortage of affordable housing might have something to do with something other than the fact that this *Labour* government has overseen large scale privatisation of council housing and the continued erosion of that stock, not to mention the rocketing cost of private housing.

If there is a scarcity in housing who's fault is that Marge? You can't just blame the darkies these days, it simply will not wash. Have you tried building new council houses for instance? Jon Cruddas is quoted in today's Guardian saying "We're in danger of racialising arguments over housing allocation rather than concentrating on the need for greater social housing provision." Precisely.

YukZia Haider Rahman speculates on Hodge's presumptuous middle class arrogance that assumes that it's the the working class that are racist. After all she's the one going on about the "problem" of immigrants moving into her area. Who's problem is that then? What kind of problem is it that there are families that "get priority over a family with less housing need". Sounds rather sensible to me - after all what's the alternative? - that we tell those in need that they are too black to live in a decent home?

Lenin, I think, has it about right when he says that "it is her [Hodge's] assertion that immigrants are prioritised over local families, and she knows the exact pedigree of that argument. It was the BNP who initiated the lies that immigrants were given special preference for housing".

Hazel Blears has rallied to Hodge's defence saying "You have got to look at allocations policies to show that they are fair," although she may not have noticed that Hodge's argument is that we should make housing allocation *less* fair in order to pander to the racism of some, possibly including her own.

She says she's frightened of the BNP but it sounds to me that she's more frightened of an electorate that increasingly refuses to give unconditional support to her kind of minister. It sounds to me like she's wheeling out the BNP bugbear to try to shore up the decline in membership and support for the Labour Party, particularly in constituencies like her own.

I've no time for her. She's another one of these politicians who points at the scapegoat every time things get tricky instead of trying to tackle the actual problem. That's why her response to housing need is to issue a press release attacking racism and foreigners simultaneously (something for everyone surely?) rather than grapple with actually ensuring we have decent homes for all.


greeengage said...

Good point, well made. What she also mendaciously failed to point out is that the allocation of council housing already discriminates in favour of applicants who are local to the area. Giving people the impression that huge Romanian families are coming over and going straight to the top of the housing ladder is nothing less than rabble rousing.

ah said...

Shouldn't that photo of Ms Hodge be on the next post down?

Jim Jay said...

gg: "What she also mendaciously failed to point out is that the allocation of council housing already discriminates in favour of applicants who are local to the area." Yes that's right - in Cambridge you get an extra point a year.

ah: it was too horrorific, i needed pictures of nice calming monsters