Monday, June 11, 2007

Lip service

Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, has been sticking her toe into the waters of multiculturalism - and found them distinctly chilly. Kelly told the BBC's "Politics Show" that immigrants must do more to learn English and that councils should do less to help them with translation.

Of course, Kelly's statement is all bluff. Behind it all is a government that wants to be seen trying to recoup some of the ground they have lost to the BNP as many of the areas in which the BNP have been most successful are traditional Labour heartlands - the working class conurbations. The working class are the ones most effected by immigration - because it is their jobs that are taken by cheap immigrant workers, their homes that are taken by new arrivals, their schools that are swamped by foreign children with no English and their streets that are becoming alien to people who have lived there for generations.

But the government don't intend to actually do anything about it themselves as they can't risk upsetting their new core voters - immigrants - but they still need to retain their old core voters - the working class that they abandoned long ago and who are slowly starting to realise it.

So, instead they are shifting the blame and the responsibility on to local government. The Labour Party believes this is a safe policy as local government has no power. By allowing the blame for all the ills of immigration to fall onto local government they believe that the parliamentary Labour party can come out of it more or less unscathed - as long as they appear to be talking the talk. So we've had a succession of prominent Labour luvvies - Brown, Blears and now Kelly - apparently voicing their concerns over immigration while doing their darndest to apportion the blame to someone else for their policies - because open door immigration IS a Labour party policy (albeit a covert one).

Personally, though, I think this is not as safe a policy as it might seem for Labour. They are undermining their own grass roots - and that may come back to bite them.

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