In a move possibly designed to head off the BNP, John Denham has stepped up to the plate and stated that as much attention must be given to the poor white working class as is given to ethnic minorities. This from a minister of a party whose history was forged in the factories and union meeting rooms of the British worker. He has gone further by saying that councils and agencies should give poor white communities more priority.
Two weeks ago Alan Johnson had said that Labour had done too little to address Britain’s immigration crisis. This coupled with Denham’s claim will begin to sound alarm bells with the anti-fascists and start a battle on ground that Labour may in the end regret choosing.
This is more an indication of the wholesale failing of Labour policies over the last decade. Most reasonable people would not, I think, object to helping any disadvantaged person within our shores, up to a reasonable level. But government initiatives (whatever the colour of the party flag) don’t work this way. They are specific and targeted either by such things as geography, income and race. Every initiative to help one group will almost certainly automatically disadvantage another.
This new re-focus on the poor white working class will remove attention from other equally deserving areas. This at a time when there is a serious vacuum being pulled on the government coffers.
There is also widespread belief that Labour may have failed their core support. Even that, under Labour social mobility and the wealth divide have both worsened.
It is extremely important that every person who is legally in this country is treated exactly the same. Those with questionable legal rights should be given protection until their status is determined. When anyone talks to the Job Centre, benefits office or local council they must all know and feel they are being treated the same as the people before and after them. To do otherwise breeds discontent and unrest.
To his credit Denham did say that "We can only challenge racism and race inequality effectively as part of a strategy that tackles all forms of inequality and disadvantage. This must include poorer white working class communities, as well as disadvantaged minority ethnic communities".
But to do this we must ensure the laws and rules are written and just as importantly delivered in a way that achieves this aim.