Azara Blog: Government claims that poor white people feel hard done by

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Date published: 2009/01/02

The BBC says:

White working class people on some estates feel their concerns about immigration are ignored, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has said.

She called for a greater effort to challenge "myths" from the far right.

It follows a report suggesting many white people on estates in England feel the government has abandoned them.

For the Conservatives, Baroness Warsi called for an end to policies based on "special needs identity" and a focus on "real core problems".

The study involved interviews of 43 people in Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Norfolk and Cheshire.

The interviews took place on four, predominantly white, housing estates and found people felt a sense of resentment, unfairness and betrayal.

The report said a lack of discussion about concerns had created an atmosphere where rumours spread by the far-right were soon believed to be true.

Ms Blears told the BBC the research showed it was important to get the debate out in the open, to stop the far right from "peddling myths" such as suggestions that immigrants got priority in social housing.

"The vast majority of people who come to this country have to go into the private rented sector, they don't get council housing" she said.

"There are an awful lot of myths about that people can come into this country, they can get a council house, they get grants for thousands of pounds - a lot of that is simply not true."

But she said, in some parts of the country housing allocation policies were "not as transparent as they should be" and politicians had to be "visible" to address the issues.

The report found it was on matters of housing allocation, that white people felt they were most discriminated against.

Facts which it also highlighted included:

Tracey Phillips, a member of the National Community Forum, oversaw the report. She told the BBC: "People told us that they feel they can't say, talk about the things that really bother them for fear of being accused of being racist and that political correction stops any kind of discussions.

"And as a result of that, myths build up and stories come about about how resources are allocated and that's where we get stories about queue jumping."

They only talked to 43 people, that hardly counts as a convincing survey. Further, what are the odds that the government, and therefore the people doing the survey, already had an idea of what they wanted the 43 people to say, and so tilted the conversation to bring in these talking points. And what do you want to bet that if you asked poor non-white people the same questions you would get pretty much the same answers. So poor non-whites probably also could be led to claim that "on matters of housing allocation, ... they were most discriminated against", etc.

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