The carefully worded letters all send the same sympathetic messages to local ‘white families’ about the difficulties caused by the record rise in immigration. Soothing words of comfort are combined with powerful pledges of action to ease the pressure on jobs, school places and council housing. ‘There is a great deal of worry about the pressure on schools, doctors’ surgeries and housing allocations,’ reads one of them. ‘I want you to help me keep the pressure up on the Government in relation to reforming and updating our immigration and citizenship rules and laws.’
Stirring stuff indeed. So which party do you think is promising to fight the Government on these policy failings? The Conservatives? UKIP, perhaps? No, with astonishing hypocrisy, these pledges come from the Labour Party itself. For the authors are senior Labour MPs who fear losing their seats as a result of the political fall-out from the mass immigration policy that they gladly helped to implement.
Dozens of these letters from sitting Labour MPs have been passed to the Daily Mail – and the authors all have one thing in common. They are fighting for their political lives because of the threat posed by the odious, far-Right British National Party. They include Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary and key ally of Gordon Brown, and Margaret Hodge, the Culture Minister who is fighting a seat in the East End of London.
Some of the leaflets sent out to constituents include dubious immigration questionnaires and promises that local people will be put first in the jobs queue.
Labour’s hypocrisy has come to light only days after the scale of Labour’s deliberate plan to create a multicultural Britain through mass immigration was revealed. A draft Cabinet Office report, uncovered by a Freedom of Information request, showed how, in 2000, Labour ministers deliberately plotted to open the floodgates to new migrants to achieve the party’s ‘social objectives’. Traditionally, new immigrants vote for Left-wing parties. The document also revealed how those who dared to question this policy would be branded ‘racists’.
Today, however, on the cusp of a General Election, many Labour MPs have realised that their secret plan has backfired spectacularly. As a result of mass immigration, many of their core white working-class voters complain that they feel like second-class citizens in their own communities, and believe that immigrants are given unfair precedence for jobs and public services. As a result, Labour MPs in marginal seats or with a BNP threat are desperately scrambling to play the race card in a shameless attempt to be seen as acting tough on immigration after all.
One of the MPs at the heart of the new get-tough policy on immigration in constituency backyards is Mr Balls, who is the Prime Minister’s closest political friend. Mr Balls has been at the centre of Cabinet decision-making over the past decade and will have been only too well aware of Labour’s encouragement of a multicultural Britain. Mr Balls, a front-runner to succeed Mr Brown as Labour leader, has held two public meetings and produced direct mail and questionnaires on the immigration issue in his newly-created Morley and Outwood constituency. Significantly, the Schools Secretary’s Yorkshire constituency is a fertile breeding ground for the BNP, which already has one BNP councillor and hundreds of members registered locally.
In his recent constituency newsletter, Mr Balls wrote: ‘I want to have a conversation with you about immigration. What we really need is proper discussion about the difficulties and benefits that immigration can bring to our country.’ He admitted that there were ‘concerns about jobs in our area’, and asked: ‘Do you support updating our immigration laws so that: migrants who want to settle here must speak English? A probationary period should be passed before they are able to claim state benefits?’
It is a similar story in Barking – the East London constituency where BNP leader Nick Griffin is fighting the Culture Minister Margaret Hodge. With one of the highest rates of immigration in Britain, Barking has seen a massive social upheaval as a result of Labour’s policy, with many local families struggling to come to terms with the sheer number of new arrivals from abroad. Yet in a two-page letter to constituents, Mrs Hodge paints herself as being tough on immigration, saying that it can be ‘very unsettling’ for ‘predominantly white’ and ‘traditional East End families’. She adds: ‘I respect your concerns about the pace of change. It is wrong for others to dismiss these out of hand and rest assured that you do have my support on this.’
Earlier this month, Mrs Hodge even suggested that migrants should be forced to ‘earn’ the right to benefits and council housing over several years. She warned that British values of tolerance were under threat because of an increasing sense of ‘unfairness’ over immigration. Yet at no time has she accepted responsibility for her part in creating these problems, through her own Government’s bitterly controversial ‘social objectives’. Only now that her seat is under threat has she seen fit to speak out.
In Wakefield, West Yorkshire, the Government whip Mary Creagh has produced similar leaflets and surveys on immigration. ‘One issue comes up time and time again,’ she writes, ‘immigration, and in particular its impact on local communities and the Wakefield job market.’ It is a desperate response to the fact that the BNP captured 13 per cent of the vote in her area at the European elections – and may build on that support at the General Election. In an echo of Mr Brown’s doomed slogan ‘British jobs for British workers’, Ms Creagh asks her constituents whether: ‘Jobs should be advertised first to people in Wakefield before being opened up to overseas workers’ – a statement that would almost certainly fall foul of race relations legislation.
Such concerns have also preoccupied Gisela Stuart, the former junior health minister, who is defending a wafer-thin majority in Birmingham Edgbaston. She carried out a recent survey which invited responses to the proposition: ‘Migrants should have to pay into a fund to support communities experiencing significant change as a result of immigration.’
Or how about Tom Watson, the West Bromwich East MP and another close ally of the Prime Minister, who has also been busy posing as being tough on immigration? (Nick Griffin and other leading BNP figures took part in a St George’s Day parade through West Bromwich which was attended by 20,000 people). In a recent direct mail and survey about immigration, Watson declared: ‘Most people told me that they were concerned about the level of immigration. More surveys were returned than on any other subject I have asked you about in the past. ‘There is a great deal of worry about the pressure on schools, doctors’ surgeries and housing allocations. Also unsurprisingly, a lot of people also mentioned the issue of protecting local jobs. I want you to help me keep the pressure up on the Government in relation to reforming and updating our immigration and citizenship rules and laws.’
In Burton, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth has gone even further, actively campaigning to portray the Tories as the party that is soft on immigration. Defending a majority of just 1,421 – smaller than the number of BNP votes in her constituency at the 2005 election – Ms Smeeth has highlighted how London’s Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson is ‘campaigning for an amnesty for illegal immigrants’.
Such breathtaking hypocrisy from the party that has presided over the biggest influx of immigrants in British history has shocked even seasoned immigration campaigners. Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, says: ‘It would seem that some Labour MPs are singing to an entirely different hymn sheet from the rest of the Government. ‘We have been pressing the Government on these issues for years. It appears to be only the onset of a General Election that has caused some of them to respond – even if it is in a surreptitious manner.’
Shown the evidence of Labour’s new electioneering tactic, Lord Carlile, QC, the Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, accused the MPs involved of willfully stirring up resentment and prejudice against immigrants. He says: ‘I don’t think that any candidate should demean him or herself by grovelling on the ground occupied by Nick Griffin and the BNP. ‘We need a sensible debate, and a true analysis of the effect of immigration issues on the economy, benefits and the work place. But pandering to and encouraging prejudice is a very bad idea.’
Lord Ouseley, the former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, is similarly appalled by these 11th-hour demands for action from vulnerable MPs. ‘Where have they been for the past ten years while this is going on? It is only because it has become such a high-profile issue and they fear they are losing support that they are now raising it. No wonder people are so cynical. ‘They were too busy at Westminster to worry about the threat from the BNP. Yet their constituents have been worried about this issue for years. They are trying to shut the door now that the horse has well and truly bolted. ‘The voters these MPs are trying to reach out to will not fall for this. They feel alienated because they have seen a government that is more interested in wealth and celebrity and has allowed the financial sector to bring the whole edifice crashing down.’
One thing is certain: however offensive, it seems that Mr Balls and his fellow vulnerable MPs will stop at nothing to cling on to their jobs and perks.