“More immigrants, fewer white-trash dole scroungers”

Actually, the prime minister didn’t say that in his speech today in Shoreditch, but you have to admit it’s an entertaining variation on the misrepresentative headline theme.

What Gordon Brown did say is that immigration in the British Isles is as old as the hills, and without doubt a very good thing. One example cited by Brown is that immigrants are less likely to claim welfare benefits than ‘indigenous’ Brits, and they contribute more in taxes than they receive in public services. Claims from whingeing white trash that ‘ethnics’ are taking all the jobs and social housing are not supported by the facts on the ground.

It was in large part a good speech, and helped reinforce the anti-racism typical of British social democracy and the now thoroughly secularised christian socialist heart of the Labour Party. In this case an anti-racism tempered with predictable calls for the preservation of “British values”, and the need for a “tough and hard-headed” immigration policy.

Surely we can forgive a little white noise, given that Gordon Brown and the Labour Party are at last facing up to the threat from the racist right represented by the BNP and UKIP. While Brown has left it a bit late in the day to be banging the drum for multiculturalism*, he should be commended for refraining from talking complete bollocks for the duration of his 30-minute speech in London’s still largely white and working class east end.

* I look forward to Gordon Brown extolling the multinationalism of the British Isles.