Author Archives: Steve Cooke

Opinion: We do not belong to Labour!

Across Britain on May 6th people voted for the Liberal Democrats because they liked our policies, or they liked our values. Some voted for us because we were not ‘the other lot’. No doubt a goodly number voted Lib Dem because they felt (quite rightly) the party they truly wanted to vote for – the Labour Party – has lost its heart and lost its soul. People voted for us hoping, but never ever expecting they’d get a Liberal Democrat government.

After the votes came in it was clear that the Conservatives had won the election, but without a big …

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Opinion: Margaret Hodge should go

Margaret Hodge has provoked furious discussion by suggesting that ‘indigenous’ British families should receive priority for social housing over migrants regardless of need. I admit being shocked when I heard her comments on the BBC – they seemed so very clearly to echo BNP policy.

Throughout the piece I was prepared to accept that her comments without thinking her racist (though I did, and do, think she’s a damned fool), right up until I heard her say, in relation to the needs of migrants, “and their need will often override the entitlement that my white families feel”. What I’m still not clear about is whether she’s putting out her message because she believes it, or because she’s scared that if she doesn’t echo the BNP message in her constituency, she’ll lose votes.

I spent a couple of days mulling over what Margaret Hodge had said and found myself asking a few questions. I kept returning to just what an indigenous Britain actually is? Indigenous is a tricky word because it doesn’t have a clear definition. Trawling various dictionaries reveals connections with ethnicity, birthplace, natural association etc. What is clear is that it doesn’t refer to citizenship – and that is the problem. I think when Margaret Hodge linked indigenous population and white families she gave the game away. If she’d talked about the entitlement of British citizens over migrant workers to social housing then I think she’d be receiving far less criticism today. Sadly, she didn’t.

The question of whether citizenship should grant greater entitlement to social housing is, however, another area that’s not as straightforward as it first seems. You see; most migrant workers pay UK tax and make National Insurance contributions. Migrant workers also make a huge contribution to our economy and there are several sectors of our economy that could well collapse without them. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) concluded that every 1% rise in inward migration resulted in +1.5% growth to our economy. The issue of whether someone should be prioritised on grounds solely of nationality (or ethnicity as Mrs. Hodge would seem to want) becomes problematic – should a single British-born man be given priority for a council home over a large foreign family who are homeless (and might have lived here for many years)? I can certainly see how citizenship might be a factor used in the calculations that determine social housing allocation – but those calculations are currently based entirely on need. If we are to change that need-based calculation, then perhaps people might start asking for other factors to be taken account of – like criminal record, time spent in the country, contribution to society, etc. It becomes a very slippery slope.

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

Opinion: Immigration brings more than economic benefits


A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has provided an interesting slant on population movements in Britain. The report’s full of interesting stats, which, if I could be bothered to quote them, would probably bury the point of this post in numbers. The thing that really struck me was there are 5.5 million Brits living abroad. That’s 9.2% of the population and means there are more Britains living abroad than foreigners living in the UK.

Related to those figures is the finding that: “a small but significant minority are finding the settlement experience much more challenging. Often these Britons come up against linguistic and cultural barriers that they have not prepared for, and have, in response, clustered together away from the host society.”

Could it be that many Britains fail to integrate with their host communities? Surely not!

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    David Raw: On-train catering is generally run at a loss; while the market for sales is captive it is also rather small with a limited...
  • User Avatarrobin bennett 24th Aug - 9:26am
    The EU in the past has found a way of accommodating anti EU electorates in Ireland and Denmark. Bill Fowler suggests one initiative. Another would...
  • User Avatarfrankie 24th Aug - 8:37am
    Homeless people are always likely to look for some way to escape their situation they are in. The temptation to escape the world they live...
  • User AvatarJane Reed 24th Aug - 8:28am
    I absolutely agree with Caron. Thank you for this article. In particular I think the following is a real possible problem; Apart from anything else,...
  • User AvatarBill Fowler 24th Aug - 8:05am
    Well, Vince Cable et al need to camp out on Merkel's doorstep and persuade her to come out with a major concession such as no...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 24th Aug - 7:55am
    Practicality on the London Underground? Lots of new carriages?