Saturday, 4 March 2017

Social Engineering Revisited

This post augments the one I wrote on this topic a few weeks ago, and re-iterates part of that post, leading onto a third part soon...

One oddity in my locality is a council ward currently called Rochester East. Part of this was formerly the smaller ward of Troy Town, and it is there that the uncharacteristic proliferation of social housing is to be found. This view from Google Maps shows where much of this is situated.

The main chunks are the two paired long blocks running between Cossack Street and Princes Street (Glovers Mill and Burritt Mews) and the 'chunky' blocks between them (Hussar House and Lancer House), also much of John Street and Hoopers Road. There are a lot of Labour voters living in those places, unsurprisingly when one looks at their nature and pays attention when passing through – which I have done many times.

The origin of all this goes back primarily to the 1980s when the then council leadership (Labour at the time) arranged for all this to be built, in order to skew the demographics of what was an essentially Conservative-supporting area. It does seem very much out of place in that part of the world – but it did work.It gave Labour a permanent and highly strategic foothold in urban Rochester.

When I was first elected to Medway Council nearly seventeen years ago, Troy Town was indeed represented by Labour councillors, even though other parts of Rochester were Conservative. Now, it wasn't always quite as clear-cut as that, for historic reasons from before I moved to Kent and which I have never been able to get to the heart of dependably, only conflicting anecdotal material being offered; so I am now sticking with the period I know personally.

Anyway, even with ward boundary changes a few years after the Unitary Authority came into being, what then became part of Rochester East ward has consistently swung it for Labour, even when other seats they held in the wider Rochester & Strood parliamentary constituency area came and went (in Strood North and Strood South wards, for example) – and they are now the only two Labour-held seats out of the twenty-two in that constituency.

That is highly significant. Without the social engineering of some three decades ago, they wouldn't even have those two council seats. The demographic slant also helped them at parliamentary election level, though never enough to make an actual switch: it was only Tony Blair winning (and John Major losing) in 1997 that ensured that the Medway area had three Labour Members of Parliament from that time.

Actually, it is just two-and-a-half MPs, as one of the constituencies (Chatham & Aylesford) was and is only half in the Medway council area.

Anyway, this does show what goes on in politics and why it is done (because it works!) Any party can do this when it has the power to do so; but it is only Labour who drag whole areas downward for their own power-lust purposes, as is of course a very old story nationally. I think the practice first came to public attention back in the mid 'sixties, though I was too young at the time to fully appreciate what was going on.

The modern-day context is Labour's 'Refugees welcome' initiative, which leads into a whole new story for which the background information in this post will aid understanding. It is, though, a separate story, which I intend to tackle here soon...

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