I am indebted to Michael White in the Guardian for providing some perspective on Margaret Hodge's article on immigration and housing:
In her (Hodge's) case only the coded word "indigenous" was deemed offensive, just as David Blunkett was chided for repeating Mrs Thatcher's 1978 use of "swamped" in regard to schools and doctors' surgeries. The British Sociological Association has a list of racially sensitive words which is constantly evolving.
The BSA describes the use of the word "indigenous" in the British context as "not a helpful term as it would be difficult to identify the indigenous British..."
White quite rightly brings the debate back to facts, rather than "myths about immigrants":
Mrs Hodge was challenged to provide hard evidence, not "rumour and inaccuracy", to justify giving the oxygen of publicity to the BNP which has 12 councillors in Barking and Dagenham. It feeds on myths about immigrants. The fact is that the Labour council's points system does give preference to people with local links; that the real local problem is the cumulative shortage of new social housing to replace that lost to the Tory rent-to-buy policy which Labour has not rectified since 1997.
Last year the number of council and housing association units built in the borough fell from a very modest 572 to 230. What is true, as Jon Cruddas, Dagenham's Labour MP now running to be deputy leader, keeps saying is that social services in poor boroughs do feel the pressure of globalisation. So do falling local wage rates. "Racialising" problems will not help, better statistics leading to more Whitehall cash will, argues Cruddas whose local activists beat back the BNP. Labour in Barking did not, add Mrs Hodge's critics.
Shelter also confirm White's point:
In response to Margaret Hodge's comment on the allocation of social housing in the Observer "A message to my fellow immigrants" (20 May 2007), Adam Sampson, chief executive of Shelter, said: "The failure to build new homes and the devastating impact of the Right to Buy leaves the small amount of social housing stock vulnerable to being exploited for political means. "These comments perpetuate the myth that social homes are given to new immigrants coming to the UK at the expense of the indigenous population - when in fact homes are allocated by balancing what people are entitled to against immediate housing need. "The real problem is the desperate shortage of social housing, which is why Gordon Brown must now deliver on his commitment last week to build more social homes to tackle the ever-deepening housing crisis."