A Labour-run city council is planning to house Syrian migrants only in areas which vote Conservative. The move harks back to Labour policy on immigration during the Blair era, which one insider summed up as “rub[bing] the Right’s nose in diversity”.
Derby City Council has said that its allocation of Syrian refugees, taken from a pool of 20,000 which the Government has committed to rehoming in the UK, will be placed in the Allestree, Oakwood and Spondon wards of the city, The Telegraph has reported.
The three suburban wards are the only three represented exclusively by Conservative councillors. Eight other wards within the councils’ boundary are represented by Labour councillors only, while a further four have mixed representation.
The row is reminiscent of Labour Party Policy under Prime Minister Tony Blair, which sought – successfully – to massively inflate immigration in order to engineer a multicultural society. Andrew Neather, a former adviser and speech writer to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett later recalled: “I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended … to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.”
The “deliberate policy” ran for nearly a decade from 2000 to 2009, and was a resounding success – more than three million immigrants were added to the population. It also brought political benefits to the Labour Party.
Sir Andrew Green a former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Syria, in an article for Migration Watch noted: “Research into voting patterns conducted for the Electoral Commission after the 2005 general election found that 80 per cent of Caribbean and African voters had voted Labour, while only about three percent had voted Conservative and roughly eight percent for the Liberal Democrats.
“The Asian vote was split about 50 percent for Labour, 10 percent Conservatives and 15 percent Liberal Democrats.”
Derby Council leader Ranjit Banwait, who identified the three wards as suitable for the Syrian migrants, insists that they were chosen because two other wards previously used to house asylum seekers are at capacity. But Councillors representing the wards counter that they too are facing housing shortages.
Chris Poulter, Conservative councillor for Spondon, said “At first Mr Banwait said he did not want any refugees in the city. It is not for him to decide where refugees should live.
“Council and rented properties in Spondon are at an absolute premium. There is a waiting list for people who want to live in them. It is extremely hard to imagine a significant number of properties becoming available at the drop of a hat.”
Frank Harwood, a Conservative Oakwood councillor said that the suburban nature of the wards made them unsuitable for migrants due to a lack of public transport and shortage of other facilities.
But a spokesman for the Council countered: “The suggestion of placing refugees in the wider city area is in response to the heavy concentration of asylum seekers in the inner city.
“As yet we have not committed to being part of the Syrian vulnerable person relocation scheme. The suggestion is hypothetical.
“Any decision made to locate either asylum seekers or refugees across the city will be in the context of local capacity.”
Pauline Latham, the Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire, said during a parliamentary session on Syrian refugees: “Derby City Council are playing very silly political games, saying they are going to settle them in the Conservative wards, which is getting people exercised about this.”