Local Homes for Local People. Germany to the Germans. Are we in V for Vendetta?

So, the supposedly “liberal” government of Gordon Brown (whom a whole lot of people are still fawning about) has now decided that they need new legislation to protect social housing from evil immigrants.

[from Britain: Government housing bill promotes nationalist “local homes” policy] Introducing the government’s new legislative programme for housing, Brown claimed its intention was to ensure local authorities are able “to meet housing needs of people in their areas.” To this end, he proposed that “local” people are given priority on social housing waiting lists.

The strategy document released by Downing Street states, “There is a perception that allocation policies for social housing are unfair, inflexible and act as a barrier to people being able to move when they need to.”

Citing “perception” is a means of concealing the fact that anti-immigrant sentiments have been encouraged by the incessant promotion by the right-wing media of the lie that migrants and asylum-seekers receive preferential treatment from the welfare state.

Oh, some of you might say, but it is a difficult situation, with all those foreigners taking up all the space. Well, the reality is rather different:

A survey by the Institute of Public Policy Research found that 64 percent of people who arrived in the UK within the last five years live in private rented accommodation; and just 11 percent of these new arrivals get help with housing—of which almost all are asylum-seekers.

Most migrants rent from the private sector and suffer some of the worse substandard housing facilities in the UK.

After five years, when many immigrants are able to get residency and become entitled to government help, just one in six live in social housing—the same proportion as those who were born in Britain. Immigrants to the UK over the past five years make up less than 2 percent of the total number of people living in social housing.

Context is everything, and in this case the context shows one thing very clearly: this isn’t about the reality of the housing situation, but about using racism as a way of winning votes. And it should remind anyone with the slightest bit of historical knowledge of Germany in the 1930s. It’s the exact same type of language, the exact same type of demands: Germany to the Germans, out with the foreigners… and then let’s relocate those pesky Jews.

And that is profoundly frightening.

Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. JM

     /  July 23, 2009

    This parallel doesn’t really work. Deutschland den Deutschen was a slogan directed against the native population that was living there for generations but didn’t fit into the NSDAP image of being german. There were almost no migrants except for displaced persons from the war.

    Anyway, the legislation doesn’t surprise me. Labour is a right-wing party, in some fields moreso than the Conservatives.

  2. I think the parallel does work – not in terms of the “minorities” involved, but in terms of the type of discourse it represents.

  3. JM

     /  July 23, 2009

    But nationalism doesn’t automatically lead to fascism. It’s bad enough in itself most of the times. I see parallels to other right-wing governments, but segragation is not that uncommon. I mean, if you would have said it has an element of Apartheid, ok. Comparing it to Nazi Germany feels like Godwins Law entered the debate a bit early. As for the discourse, it’s nothing extraordinary, most governments use some populist policies to appease their closed-minded voters. If the article is to be trusted, then the effect wouldn’t really be that big on immigrants, so it is a measure to do just that.

  4. Jonas

     /  July 24, 2009

    Well, we shall have to agree to disagree. To me the parallels in the mindset evoked are strikingly similar. I actually see a lot fewer parallels to Apartheid – this isn’t a case of segregation, but of creating an “other” (to use the fashionable and often misapplied postcolonial terminology) that can be blamed for the current situation.

  5. Also, Godwin’s law is really irrelevant. The comparison makes sense. That’s simple linguistics.