Barking campaign update

The Barking campaign is remarkable. Most notable have not been the antics, or should that be the absence, of Nick Griffin. Instead, it has been the response of the other main candidates – Margaret Hodge (Labour) and Simon Marcus (Conservative) – to the issue of immigration.

Hodge and Marcus have both rightfully slammed Griffin and the BNP, but then courted BNP voters and potential BNP voters with anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Asked about immigration by Eddie Nestor, host of a BBC Radio London one hour debate on Barking (April 16th), Hodge had not one positive word to say about immigrants. Instead, her analysis was as follows: “The first people I remember coming in here were from Westminster Council – Kosovan refugees in 1998/99. So there was a rapid change. There’s nothing in effect that one can do about that very rapid change except begin to understand how unsettling it can be to people. It can be unsettling if suddenly your neighbours change. If the English butcher becomes a Halal butcher. If there are different vegetables and fruits in the greengrocers.”

To be fair, Marcus does tell voters in his campaign leaflet that, “Britain benefits from talented people coming to our country”. So far so good – the sting is in the tail: “But not from uncontrolled immigration”.

“In Barking and in Britain”, his leaflet continues, “people are angry and worried about the extra pressure on council housing, school places, the NHS, the Police and pubic transport, especially in poor areas, that comes from out of control immigration”.

In his speech to the Conservative conference in February, David Cameron rightly called Griffin “a ghastly piece of filth2. When I challenged Marcus in a SKY television debate (April 10th), he repeatedly refused to endorse his leader’s comment. Marcus has a manifestly more favourable view of Griffin than Cameron does.

Interviewed on BBC Radio London, Marcus said the reason the BNP have prospered in Barking is, “because of an immigration policy that is totally irresponsible and out of control”.

Marcus went on to conclude his BBC interview with Nestor by saying: “If you think violent criminals should stay in prison for their full sentences, then vote for me”. That policy is nowhere to be found in the Conservative manifesto. But it is in the BNP manifesto.

“On the issue of housing, we need to give some priority to people on the length of time they have been in the borough”, Hodge told Nestor.

“On that, you agree with Nick Griffin of the BNP”, responded Nestor “to allocate housing on the basis of who has been in the borough for the longest (period of time)”.

Griffin also agrees that Hodge has stolen his policy.

“Ours is a sons and daughters policy in housing”, he told Nestor. “They might be white they might be West Indian, they might be Sikh, but they have to have been there for years before they get on the housing ladder”.

Gordon Brown called for a united front against the BNP two weeks ago. It is therefore a great shame that Marcus and Hodge are courting voters so openly with BNP rhetoric and policies. All they serve to do is to legitimize Griffin in the eyes of Barking voters as a serious candidate when he is clearly nothing of the kind. He is a dangerous, deranged individual whose policies are those of division and despair.

Griffin will also be delighted that the Tories and Labour are stigmatizing immigration as bad and using emotive words like “angry and worried”. It is the language of fear – the language of the BNP.

I stand by my comment on the same BBC programme: “50% of the children in schools in Barking are immigrants. Next year’s census will show that nearly 50% of the people of London are immigrants, non-white by their own definition. London is an immigrant city, built on immigrants. It’s about time politicians wanting to represent London constituencies stopped bashing immigrants and immigration”.

Dominic Carman is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Barking. You can watch Dominic Carman’s interviews with Nick Griffin, exposing what Griffin really believes, on YouTube.

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This entry was posted in General Election.
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2 Comments

  • Andrew Suffield 20th Apr '10 - 7:47pm

    When do they stop being “immigrants” and start being British? Most of these “immigrants” were born here.

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