Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How many foreign nationals are there in Lewisham council homes? And what is Liberty GB?

In his profile in the local paper News Shopper, one of the parliamentary candidates in Lewisham West and Penge, one Dr George Whale, claimed that "much of the borough's social housing is let out to foreign nationals." On the internet, he has thrown out figures such "one in three" and "up to 40%". Does this claim have any basis in fact?

He gives as his source a MigrationWatch "briefing paper" from April 2012 entitled "Who is being allocated social housing in London?" Does this "briefing paper" back up Whale's claim? The MigrationWatch briefing uses data on new social housing lets from the single year 2010; we can assume that longer term tenants are more likely to be "natives". The data shows that "9% of its social housing [less than one in ten] lets went to foreign nationals."

However, because 35% of these lets are marked as having not given their nationality, MigrationWatch say that the proportion "confirmed as going to British nationals is 58%" (six in ten, which is where Whale's "up to four in ten" claim comes from). However, it seems to me this is MigrationWatch spin - why assume those who didn't give their nationality are foreigners? In my experience, it is majority ethnic "natives" who are most hostile to ethnic monitoring, but isn't it safest to just assume the proportions are the same among those who did and those who didn't give their nationality? If that were the case, then just over 13% (still not much more than one in ten) of new lets would be to foreign nationals. 

But the figures are out of date. The briefing says that for its "local connection" requirement for getting social housing, Lewisham "just requires the applicant to be resident in the borough". Since then, Lewisham has instituted a two year residence rule, which will have dramatically cut migrants - and certainly new migrants - from the waiting list. Tory reforms have made it harder and harder for migrants to get access to council housing too, further cutting the numbers. (To be eligible, you need "settled status", i.e. permanent residence; to get that you need to have already lived here for three or in most cases five years plus pass a "Life in the UK" test that most of us Brits would fail. There are no situations in which, as Whale claimed when his numbers started to unravel, foreign nationals "get precedence" over British nationals.)

Given that 20% of Lewisham's population are foreign nationals, it looks like they are underrepresented in new lets, and probably even more underrepresented in existing social housing. Which is not surprising as all the evidence shows that most migrants are owner occupiers or private renters, and that most new migrants are private renters.

In short, George Whale is talking nonsense. 

Who is George Whale?

Whale represents a party called "Liberty GB", which he founded with his buddy Paul Weston in 2013. Previously, they had a party called the "British Freedom Party", a BNP splinter which they tried to make into the electoral vehicle of the proto-fascist street thugs, the English Defence League - but this didn't work well because the EDL were more interested in booze-fuelled hooliganism than standing in elections. 

The British Freedom Party's logo was based on that of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, which kind of sums up Whale and his merry band. Here are some profiles of Liberty GB: from Searchlight, Tell Mama, Hope not Hate, Rational Wiki. Here's the AFN summary:
Liberty GB

Paul Weston surveyed the far right scene in 2013 and was disappointed that there was no party that catered to his particular brand of racist insanity. So, after flirting with the English Defence League and Andrew Brons, Weston did what any self-respecting, self-important racist blowhard would do, and founded his own group. 
Liberty GB managed to stand three candidates at the European elections in 2014 and achieved a dismal vote. The group will likely disband when Weston’s attention span wanes.
Do say: Paul Weston is the only man who can save Britain from the Muslamic invasion.

Don’t say: Paul Weston is our only member.
Weston is also standing in the election, in Luton South, under the name "No to terrorism, yes to Britain", after announcing his candidacy at an EDL rally. Weston was last spotted in public speaking at a Pegida UK march alongside a speaker from the openly retro-Nazi "British Movement".

Liberty GB claim to be opposed to "Islamisation" (whatever that means) and jihad, but a quick glance at their track record and election promises - banning mosques, deporting Muslims, banning halal food - show that they can't distinguish between ordinary Muslims and jihadi Islamists. This makes them racist. They have no place in our community.

This is why it was completely sensible for some of the other Lewisham West and Penge candidates to refuse to share a platform with Whale at local hustings, and stupid for the local 38 Degrees group to invite him to theirs at the Honor Oak pub.


Tomorrow, we turn to Lewisham East, and an almost as unsavoury candidate there...

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