THE sinister spirit of racist Tory MP Enoch Powell lives on in his former Wolverhampton South West constituency, in the surprising words of its current Labour Member of Parliament.
Now moves are underway to deselect the MP, Rob Marris, after he blamed Eastern European migrants for problems in his Black Country constituency.
His outburst, in an abrasive email, came five days before he resigned on 30 June, from Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, saying he would not serve as shadow financial secretary to the Treasury unless there was “a change of leadership in the Labour Party.”
Mr Marris has been MP for Wolverhampton South West 2001-10, and from 2015 until the present day.
During last year’s General Election both Mr Marris, his main opponent, Conservative Paul Uppal and even UKIP agreed that immigration was no longer a key issue in the constituency. It was therefore not debated between them – all conscious of the legacy of Enoch Powell.
Yet that poisonous legacy reared its ugly head just hours after the Euro referendum, during the black ops propaganda to blame Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for the Brexit vote.
As an ordinary Labour constituency member I emailed Mr Marris on Friday 24 June to seek his assurance that he would support Mr Corbyn and not be part of any coup to unseat him.
The fact that Mr Marris voted for the Iraq war and is pro nuclear weapons, didn’t unduly bother me at this time, as he had always been seen as a loyal MP.
But a shock was in store.
Just 24 hours after I sent my email I received his detailed reply.
Using words reminiscent of UKIP’s Nigel Farage or Enoch Powells’ infamous Rivers of Blood speech from 48 years earlier, his reply speaks for itself.
Here are parts of that lengthy email:
“Labour from 2004 to now should have been raising the free movement of labour. Labour from 2010 should have been shouting that the main reason that there is pressure on schools and hospitals is public sector cuts made by the Conservative government – not principally because of some builder from Poland.
“However, Labour should also have been acknowledging that the free movement of labour was worsening that situation.
“As it was, Jeremy Corbyn kept saying in the last month of the referendum that immigration is not a problem at all. It may be not in Islington, but it is perceived as a problem in parts of Wolverhampton; for example if a English-born child cannot get a place in the local Primary School, but Polish-born children can; or if an adult child has to pay a fortune for housing because so many of the local houses are occupied by 5 men from Eastern Europe – tenants who, as single young men are wont to do, sometimes add insult to perceived injury by leaving rubbish piling up in the front yard.
“It was over seven years ago that I first warned in Parliament of the issue of free movement of labour. The leaderships of Labour and of the Conservatives and of the Liberal Democrats then and now would not listen, UKIP did… and they have reaped the whirlwind.
“It was almost 10 years ago that I first warned in Parliament about the issue of Turkey’s prospective membership of the EU blowing up. The leaderships of Labour and of the Conservatives and of the Liberal Democrats then and now would not listen, but UKIP did… and they have reaped the whirlwind.”
In my opinion, as a life-long socialist and Labour voter, Mr Marris’s words are simply mindblowing. And with so many of his constituents from South Asian backgrounds the narrative is like a time out of mind.
According to the 2011 Census just 7% of the population of Wolverhampton were born in India or Pakistan. But more telling is that 17% follow a Sikh, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist religion – indicative of the fact that almost one fifth of Mr Marris’s constituents are second or third generation Asian immigrants.
But rather than fall into the obvious racist trap of skin colour set by Enoch Powell – Mr Marris turns his fire on white EU migrants.
I have already referred Mr Marris’s email to the Equality and Human Rights Commission – the successor to the Commission for Racial Equality.
And tonight at Wolverhampton South West’s AGM I had planned, with other Labour Party members, to table a motion of no-confidence in Mr Marris and demand he steps down as an MP.
But at 1.47pm today (Wednesday, 13 July) – just five hours before the meeting was due to start – I received an email from Margaret Holt, Acting Secretary for Wolverhampton South West CLP, notifying me that the AGM has been cancelled.
No reason was given for the cancellation.
Though after the tortuous machinations of some Labour MPs over the past two weeks, I have my own suspicions.
Watch this space.