Socialist Worker

Gordon Brown panders to bigoted lies

Issue No. 2158

Gordon Brown is playing a very dangerous game with his pledge that “local people” will get priority for social housing.

This announcement came this week as part of Brown’s “Building Britain’s Future” plan, which is expected to form the basis of Labour’s general election campaign.

Brown is pandering to the racist lie – put about by the BNP in particular – that immigrants are responsible for a shortage in housing.

Echoing right wing ideas doesn’t undercut them, it reinforces them.

This is not the first time Labour has opened the door to the BNP.

Barking MP and former minister Margaret Hodge made similar claims in May 2007 when she talked about a “legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family”.

But the idea that “foreigners” are taking homes is a racist myth.

People born outside Britain currently occupy only about 5 percent of council housing. The real scandal is that 1.8 million households are on waiting lists for council housing.

Many families – of all backgrounds – spend upwards of ten years waiting to escape overcrowded or unsuitable housing.

Council housing has been run down and privatised under Tory and Labour governments.

Now Brown plans to build only 20,000 more “affordable homes” over the next two years – including just 3,000 council houses.

This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the problem.

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