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Defending Hodge

The belief that those who have lived in a community longest should have housing priority isn't racist

By Julian Baggini   June 2007

When the Labour minister Margaret Hodge said that long-term British residents should be given higher priority for social housing than recent immigrants, she knew that she was entering dangerous territory. “In our open, tolerant country, there are… few issues that remain taboo,” she began her Observer article. “But, motivated by the fear of both legitimising racism and encouraging the extreme right, migration is one.”

The response to the piece proved that she was right. Shelter’s chief executive Adam Sampson said, “These comments perpetuate the myth that social homes are given to new immigrants coming to the UK at the expense…

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