Blears worried by alienated white working class

By Alex Stevenson

Members of the white working class feel their views are being ignored by the government, Hazel Blears has warned.

The communities and local government secretary’s comments came as her department published a report based on anecdotal evidence suggesting growing concerns about immigration.

Interviews with people living on estates in Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Thetford, Runcorn and Widnes revealed many believe it is easier for refugees and single mothers to find a house than a white working class person.

The research also suggested many fear being branded racist if they attempt to point this perceived injustice out to the authorities.

“White working class people living on estates sometimes just don’t feel anyone is listening or speaking up for them,” Ms Blears, whose constituency is Salford, said.

“While they might not be experiencing the direct impact of migration, their fear of it is acute.”

She said it was important to debate these issues in the open so that myths about council housing could be dispelled.

Ms Blears added: “If we don’t do that people from the far right will be able to pedal the kind of myths that they do and it will get some traction.”

Shadow community cohesion and social action minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said the investigation showed Labour had “completely lost touch with their so-called roots”.

“The danger for the rest of us is that this has now created a ticking time bomb of racial and class prejudice,” she commented.

Baroness Warsi suggested Labour would pursue what she called “a new ‘white relations industry'” to woo back its core voters.

“This should be a call to focus on the real core problems of worklessness, debt, welfare dependency, family breakdown and drug and alcohol abuse,” she added.