Monday, January 14, 2008

Migrant Row- MP needs to apologise.

There has been a stonking row going on in Torbay over comments the MP made over the mayoral vision for the local economy. How wise was it to bring race and immigration into the debate about the Mayoral Vision?

Lib Dem Mp Adrian Sanders made a long and (for him) unusually opinionated statement expressing his view that more jobs for immigrants was in general a bad thing and that the mayor should not be encouraging it; and he further claimed the mayoral vision would make Torbay a 'jobs agency for Eastern Europeans'.

This led to an orgy of congratulations for him from some voters on the Herald Express website and a flurry of angry letters and protests from other voters who were horrified at his comments which they felt were racist in overtones; even though the MP has gone to some lengths to reassure them that they weren't.

Comments like "Thanks Mr Sanders, something has to be said about the floodgates being open to the migrants";"Call me racist or what there is two many migrants in England. What the bay wants is proper well paid jobs for English residents, English people of this country. Lets start and put the English first not the migrants first the English become third class people in our own country. Mr Sanders is right with is comments" or "We need immigrants like a hole in the head" would suggest that the MP's comments have indeed been a great comfort to people on the far right.

I can't decide if this is either a very sneaky political ploy or a catastrophic mistake on his part. On the one hand it has the potential to shore up his flagging support with people from the BNP and UKIP but on the other hand I think he has possibly isolated himself from many of his own natural supporters on the Liberal wing of the Liberal Democrats.

Indeed a couple of high profile Liberal Democrats have publicly rebuked him for straying into such illiberal territory and my emailbox has this week come alive with pledges for support from people who say his statement is the last straw.

I don't believe Adrian Sanders is a racist. Whatever disagreements we have I cannot imagine Mr Sanders consciously intended his comments to mean what it seems they did mean to the dozens of people who rushed to applaud him on the Herald Express website, so if it wasn't conspiracy it must have been a cock-up.

I don't mind having a debate about controlling immigration, indeed we did have a debate about it at the last election; but there is a need to tread very carefully to ensure that the way this topic is discussed does not serve the purpose of extremists. Adrian has drawn the issue of immigration into the completely unrelated issue of the Mayors Vision for Torbay and I think that was a serious error of judgement

Either way it would be wise for him to apologise for the offence he has caused, especially to those Eastern Europeans who contribute a very great deal to the Torbay economy and whom might reasonably feel slighted by his statement.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh how right you are, but it's not just Eastern Europeans who feel victimised.

My partner is an Asian resident living in Torbay and he is beginning to feel self-conscious for the first time since coming here four years ago.

We have considered moving to nearer my parents in the Midlands since these comments were made.

Tom Ward said...

I note your comments in tonights Herald with interest; you are right that Adrian has miffed a few supporters and he certainly didn't take the chance you gave him to get off the hook which he could have done if he wanted to.

Sadly that tells me all I need to know about what he really thinks. He did intend for people to see him as anti-immigrant, which is disgraceful.

I oppose racism and bigotry in all it's forms - I cannot promise you my vote (I have never voted Tory in my life - and I'm retired) but I do promise I won't be voting for him; and if you get in as a result well then so be it.

Anonymous said...

I can feel the warmth of your insincerity Marcus! Political opportunism of the lowest order. If you really want to make a difference for Torbay, you could start by apologising for your party's contemptuous and idiotic selection of Nick Bye the Tory party Mayor! If you were ever to win the parliamentary seat for Torbay, I suspect you will spend most of your time trying to sort out the ground zero mess he's creating in Torbay!

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that Marcus has not blogged about Conservative Councillor Roger Kerslake and his car accident as a result of his 'over refreshment'.

Councillor Kerslake has resigned from the Conservative Council Group, but remains a Conservative Party Member. Presumably he will be helping Mr. Wood at election time.

To have any credibility Mr. Wood should be calling on Cllr. Kerslake to resign as a Councillor.

Marcus Wood said...

If every councillor who broke the law had to resign we'd never have a week without a by election somewhere!

Roger is a decent enough bloke who made a stupid mistake, he has taken his penalty from the court as any citizen would.

I think being vindictive about it is wholly unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Bet if Kerslake had been a councillor from another party, you'd have demonstrated that you thought being vindictive was wholly necessary!

Marcus Wood said...

I think I'd have twigged that the public don't think that kind of pious attitude is very attractive in their politicians.

I was suprised to see the Lib Dems gunning for Roger, they didn't take the same line in Bermondsey in August when Cllr Capstick was discovered to have been prosecuted for the same offence.

Anonymous said...

And the Lib Dens in Stoke on Trent refused to sack one of their councillors who was found guilty of racism ...