A “Westminster elite” of Labour MPs look down on people with Northern accents, a politician from the region has claimed.
Wansbeck’s Ian Lavery, himself a Labour MP, said that when MPs hear his North East accent they think “that man doesn’t know too much” and claimed his party has too many politicians who haven’t worked “on the factory floor”.
But he today claimed the remarks were not a criticism of party leader Ed Miliband – saying they were about getting more working-class MPs into Parliament.
The Northumberland MP was recorded making the remarks at a conference on social mobility in London organised by the think-tank Class.
“I’ve got to say there are some superb Labour Party MPs,” he was reported to have said.
“Sadly, there’s not enough MPs who’ve actually worked on the coalface, on the factory floor.
“We haven’t got enough ethnic minorities, we haven’t got enough disabled people in, who have actually been there.
“We’ve got an elite in Westminster which, quite frankly, frightens me.
“They haven’t been anywhere or done anything, and when you’ve got an accent like mine, they think ‘Well, that man doesn’t know too much’.”
Mr Lavery, a former president of the National Union of Mineworkers, said some national media had “willfully misrepresented what I said” and stressed that he fully supports Mr Miliband as his party’s leader.
“My comments were about the need for more working-class MPs and in no way a criticism of Ed or his office.
“For the record, I believe s absolutely the right man to bring in policies that will be of great benefit to people in the North and across the country.”
It comes after former Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared to criticise Labour leader Mr Miliband.
The ex-Sedgefield MP told The Economist that May’s General Election was shaping up to be one “in which a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result”.
> Sounds good – remind me, which is the left-wing party ?
Asked if he was implying that the Conservatives would win, Mr Blair is reported to have said yes.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 01 Jan 2015
Women, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities may be put off taking part in Britain’s political system because of abuse or threats of physical attacks, a North East MP has warned.
Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington & Sunderland West and the Shadow Equalities Minister, said attempts to make councils and Parliament more representative were being undermined by fears that candidates would face discrimination.
And she said that every party had to act to stamp out intimidation and prejudice in politics.
She was speaking as the Commons debated the findings of an inquiry which found candidates standing for election need protection from racist, Islamaphobic and anti-semitic attempts to smear them.
The findings were published by the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct.
Jeremy Beecham, who led Newcastle City Council for 17 years and is now a Labour peer, revealed that he had faced anti-semitic campaigning from political opponents when he first stood as a councillor in the city in 1967.
The inquiry also highlighted the case of Parmjit Dhanda, a former Labour MP, whose children found a severed pig’s head outside his house after his election defeat in 2010.
Gay rights group Stonewall highlighted a number of incidents of homophobic behaviour by candidates from many parties including an example from 2007 in which a Labour party council candidate with parliamentary ambitions, Miranda Grell, labelled her opponent a paedophile.
Ms Grell was convicted in 2007 by magistrates in Waltham Forest of two counts of making false statements about another candidate.
Mrs Hodgson told MPS: “None of us goes into politics without the fear of attack, and none of us is immune from attack on some level; but we should always expect any attacks on us to be based on choices or decisions that we have made, the things we have said, the way we have voted, or what we have done.”
But she warned: “I am sure that for many candidates the threat of their skin colour, background or faith – not to mention their children’s or relatives’- being turned into smears or innuendo or leading to harassment or abuse such as we have heard about today is a real consideration. I worry that the fear I have described will mean that many excellent candidates never seek their local party’s nomination or get the chance to be elected.”
The number of MPs in the House of Commons from ethnic minority backgrounds has increased. After the 2010 General Election there were 27 minority ethnic MPs, 12 more than in the previous Parliament.
It means 4.2% of MPs are from an an ethnic minority compared to 17.9% of the UK population as a whole.
The 2010 census of local councillors in England, carried out by the Local Government Association, showed that 4% came from an ethnic minority background, compared to 20% of the English population as a whole.
Equalities Minister Helen Grant said: “The inquiry on electoral conduct was thorough and detailed and made recommendations to a number of bodies, including the Electoral Commission, the police and political parties. Building its findings into current work and guidance and working with the right organisations is the best way to ensure that political life becomes a battle of ideas, not of race hate and discrimination.”
Source – Newcastle Journal,
British National Party leader Nick Griffin has accused Ukip of recycling and softening their hardline anti-immigration policy.
Mr Griffin made the remarks after Ukip council candidate William Henwood told Lenny Henry to emigrate to a black country.
Henwood, who is standing in a council election in Enfield, north London, made the comment on Twitter in response to a speech by Henry in which he said ethnic minorities were under-represented on British television.
“He should emigrate to a black country. He does not have to live with whites,” Mr Henwood posted.
‘Defending’ the remark, Mr Henwood told the BBC: “I think if black people come to this country and don’t like mixing with white people why are they here? If he (Henry) wants a lot of blacks around go and live in a black country.”
Griffin told the BBC: “If you look at Ukip they are using all our rhetoric, they are using our slogans, they are recycling our posters and people like it.
> Some people like it, Nick. Mainly the sort of people who thought your views represented balanced social comment.
“The only difference is that Ukip won’t deliver. Their actual policy is a 50,000 net increase in immigration every year.
“When they talk about balanced migration what Farage actually means is for every Brit who leaves Britain, they’d be happy to let a Pakistani or an Afghan in, which means their policy is actually about 300,000 new immigrants a year.
“Our policy is simple: shut the door, we don’t want anyone – black, brown, green or white.
“I think if the public get to understand that then Ukip’s vote is going to meltdown as they come under the scrutiny they deserve.”
> Weirdly, I find myself agreeing with Nick Griffin ! Only on this last point, mind… vote for UKIP, vote for the new British fascist party.
Source – Sunday Herald 27 April 2014
Accusations of dirty politics have been made in Northumberland after UKIP had to deny writing an election letter calling for mothers to lose state benefits.
Across south-east Northumberland, senior Labour figures received a letter claiming to be from a Newcastle UKIP candidate calling for an end to welfare for mothers after nine months and a demand that jobseekers never get more than the minimum wage.
However, UKIP has said the letter is an obvious fake, pointing out that the return address appears to be to a Labour Party freepost address.
Last night the party said it was considering complaining to the Electoral Commission, though it was unclear who had written the letter.
UKIP general secretary Jonathan Arnott said: “This letter is a disgusting hoax. Investigation reveals that the freepost given actually belongs to the Labour Party. If we hadn’t noticed this deception, an innocent woman could have been falsely branded as racist. At first sight it looks like the Labour Party were responsible, and I’m appalled that our opponents could stoop so low.
“The Labour Party should suspend its south-east Northumberland branch and hold a full investigation.
“We are considering all options at present, including reporting the matter to the police or the Electoral Commission.”
The contentious letter says Labour’s main focus has been on “so-called black and ethnic minorities” and adds that under UKIP the “Northern white working class” would be treated “just like the black and ethnic minorities living on welfare”.
The letter adds: “UKIP believe that if you are on welfare any child you give birth to nine months after is not the responsibility of the tax payer.
“If a lady on minimum wage had another child and asked her employer for more money she would be refused. Why should welfare recipients be treated better than workers on the minimum wage?”
The freepost address on the letter has previously been used by the Labour party nationally, though there is no suggestion the letter was produced by the party.
A Labour Party spokesman said the UKIP claim was “absolute rubbish”.
He added: “This old freepost address is freely available on the internet and could be potentially misused by anyone. We have reported this misuse to Royal Mail. To suggest this letter is anything to do with the Labour Party is absurd.”
South-east Northumberland politics have already descended into a bitter row of claims and counter-claims between UKIP and Labour, with the two sides rowing over accusations of election fraud.
The latest row follows a push by UKIP for seats in this May’s local elections. Polls suggest that the party has a good chance of coming second in this May’s European elections, taking one of the three seats in the North East.
If so, it is likely both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats would be forced out as a result, meaning Labour could take two seats.
UKIP is also set to field around 100 candidates in the upcoming local elections in the five Tyne and Wear councils.
Source – Newcastle Journal 26 April 2014