Barwell, the “race card” and some uncomfortable facts

Last month, ANDREW FISHER criticised Gavin Barwell for “playing the race card” by linking immigration to unemployment during the by-election campaign, something the Croydon Central MP tried to ridicule. Yesterday, the publication of the 2011 Census results provided some hard facts

Gavin Barwell speaking in parliament. His election line on immigration during by-election deliberately played to racists

Gavin Barwell speaking in parliament. His election line on immigration during by-election deliberately played to racists

During the recent by-election campaign, MP Gavin Barwell Tweeted “more Croydon North residents would have jobs if you’d had a better immigration policy eg accession controls on new EU members”.

I accused Barwell of playing the race card by making the accusation without any evidence. The editor of this website compared Barwell to the Croydon woman who launched into a racist rant on the Tram against immigrants.

Barwell responded by writing a very long and typically diversionary article. “I take particular offence at this accusation,” Barwell said. “I challenged Andrew on this and he replied that he wasn’t accusing me of being a racist, merely of being someone who is prepared to pander to racists. Classy.”

This week the 2011 census data was published. It reveals that Croydon has a population from the EU accession countries – including the likes of Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic – of just 2.9 per cent. As a whole, the outer London boroughs have 4.7 per cent of their populations from the EU accession countries.

So Barwell had been wrong about immigration’s threat to local jobs – either out of ignorance, or he did so deliberately.

This week, Barwell was on Twitter again, this time saying, “More good news on unemployment”, even though the figures showed that unemployment – while down across Britain in the past three months – was up by 5,000 in London. Hardly the good news for Croydon which Barwell claimed.

Similarly bad news for Gavin’s Tories is likely in the months ahead. As The Independent reports today, in October alone unemployment rose by 112,000.

This is no shock. The Office for Budget Responsibility expects unemployment to rise next year, rise again in 2014 and into 2015. This is the clearly foreseen and independently forecast consequence of George Osborne’s failing economic policies – and clearly not due to Gavin Barwell’s largely imagined hordes of eastern Europeans stealing our jobs.

One final bit of good news is that the public is beginning to see through the divide-and-rule of the nasty party. An Ipsos-MORI poll today shows that 69 per cent of people think that benefits should rise by inflation or more – and only 27 per cent support the Chancellor’s 1 per cent benefits cap. Among that minority is none other than Barwell himself, who yesterday stood up during Prime Minister’s Question Time to ask a patsy question supporting such a divisive policy.

Having failed to create jobs or economic growth, the Tories’ attempts to blame immigrants and to punish the unemployed for a situation not of their own making is perverse – and people are seeing through it.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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