Margaret Hodge may or may not be a racist. But she sure does a good impression of one. Having boosted the prospects of the BNP in her Barking consituency at the last general election, she now states that “even if we were vastly to increase the amount of social housing available, we would still need to ration what will always be a limited resource” (a strange argument that she noticeably fails to explain – surely it depends upon exactly how “vastly” the stock of social housing was increased?), and then goes on to state that “the legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family overrides the legitimate need demonstrated by the new migrants”.
Hodge raises some important issues, but the charge against her -as with Enoch Powell and the “rivers foaming with much blood” speech- is that she is surely intelligent enough to realise that the way she raised the issues, and the language she has used, will inevitably legitimise racism and give aid and comfort to fascists.
This woman is unfit to be in government (she’s presently Industry Minister) or even to be a Labour MP.
John Cruddas, MP for nearby Dagenham, gave Hodge a well-deserved rebuke and put out a welcome call for more council housing. For one brief moment I even considered the possibility that he might just be worth voting for as Deputy Leader…
The best response so far, however, has been from the brilliant Catherine in today’s Graun:
“Not for the first time, Hodge raises a subject that must seem of crucial importance to a large number of unhappily housed, forgotten-feeling families, only to do it so ineptly that their concerns, as represented by her, can readily be dismissed as racist and illegitimate by people whose principal contact with immigrants is leering at Polish girls in Starbucks. And, not for the first time, Hodge gets herself compared with Enoch. It is beginning to look careless”.