I've heard some very strong language used to describe this situation from the media. What I haven't heard on the news is what exactly Nigel Hastilow had to say in the newspaper column. Peter Hain told Andrew Marr this morning that Hastilow's comments showed the racist underbelly of the Conservative party.
So what did Nigel actually say?
In a column for the Express and Star newspaper Nigel said: "When you ask most people in the Black Country what the single biggest problem facing the country is, most say immigration."
That to me sounds very much like a statement of fact, and Nigel is relaying the views of the public in his canvassing area of Halesowen and Rowley Regis.
Nigel went on to say that "Many insist: 'Enoch Powell was right'. Enoch, once MP for Wolverhampton South-West, was sacked from the Conservative front bench and marginalised politically for his 1968 'rivers of blood' speech, warning that uncontrolled immigration would change our country irrevocably. He was right. It has changed dramatically."
Again I feel that Hastilow is relaying the opinion of the people he has met in the area, and cannot be criticised for saying that uncontrolled immigration has changed our country. If it hasn't changed why are Labour's think tank (the IPPR) coming out with such rubbish as "downgrading Christmas" to improve race relations? And why have we got to the situation where our own citizens are trying to kill us in terrorist attacks?
Hastilow also wrote: "They have more or less given up complaining about the way we roll out the red carpet for foreigners while leaving the locals to fend for themselves."
This is just more of the same relaying of the local mood.
What do I think? I think that it was ill judged to bring up Enoch Powell. No matter how truthful Hastilow's comment's are, some people are always going to link Powell to racism. I don't think Nigel should be asked to step down as a candidate, but he should be shown the error of his ways.
No doubt a lecture from Caroline Spelman and the embarrassment of this whole affair will be lesson enough for Nigel.
Peter Hain calling for Nigel's head is frankly pathetic when his own glorious leader Gordon Brown is coming out with "British jobs for British workers."
Update: Nigel Hastilow stepped down after meeting with Caroline Spelman. He said: "I am very sorry that any remarks of mine have undermined the progress David Cameron has made on the issue of immigration, as on so many other issues."
I'm sorry to see this happen, another man has had to step down after being accused of racism without making a racist comment. Several times on the TV today I have watched news readers repeating what Nigel wrote, then turn to guest Labour politicians and ask: "but isn't that true?"
Isn't it a shame when telling the truth can seriously damage your career?
Sir Ian Blair. please take note.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device