One aspect of the Hodge affair which has not received attention is the fact that Margaret’s husband, Henry, is involved in immigration decision making.
Industry minister Margaret Hodge’s proposal for a return to housing policies privileging ‘indigenous’ communities over immigrants has attracted much comment. It has been pointed out, not least by her own constituents whose ‘legitimate fears’ she claimed to be speaking for, that the real problem in Barking, as elsewhere in the country, is the abandonment by government of responsibility for social housing provision by selling off council housing and not building any more. Commentators have also observed that immigrants are not entitled to social housing anyway – allocation policies are obliged by law to exclude all ‘voluntary’ immigrants from provision. (Asylum-seekers are housed by NASS in accommodation no-one would volunteer to live in.) The Refugee Council accused Hodge of ‘fanning the flames of racial tension’.
One aspect of the Hodge affair which has not received much attention is the fact that Hodge’s husband, Henry Hodge, is President of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. Like her, he started out on the left, as a founding partner in the committed legal aid firm of Hodge Jones and Allen in Camden. Like her, his politics have moved commensurately with his embrace of and by the new Labour establishment. His recent judgments include rulings that Zimbabweans, Somalis and Darfurians from Sudan do not qualify for refugee status. The Court of Appeal overturned his rulings that persecuted Darfurians should return to Sudan, where they would live in squalid refugee camps in the capital if they were unwilling to return to Darfur, and that returning Zimbabweans would not be persecuted by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF thugs.
As a judge, Henry Hodge has expressed cricitism of the government’s failure to deport more undocumented migrants from the country.