A WAR of words has broken out between a borough MP and councillor following comments made over immigration policy.
Earlier this month, Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma blasted the Home Office over controversial vans carrying adverts advising illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest”. Immigration officers also carried out spot checks in Southall.
Mr Sharma claimed the campaign had “racist overtones” likening it to apartheid South Africa.
In the most recent blog on his website, Northfield ward councillor Phil Taylor said Mr Sharma’s comments invited ‘ridicule’: “I don’t think that the Home Office ad vans are particularly welcome or effective and I certainly wouldn’t want to be one of the drivers stuck at traffic lights but they merely point out to people who have broken the law that there is an alternative to being dragged off in handcuffs. Apartheid it isn’t.
“The reason the ad vans came to Southall is because the authorities estimate that there is an illegal population of day labourers in the order of 20,000 in Southall.”
“Before Sharma invokes apartheid he might explain why every single Labour party political representative for Southall comes from a Punjabi background. Every one of 15 local councillors for the five Southall wards. The MP. The London Assembly member Onkar Sahota.”
“Ealing’s Punjabi community is one of joys of living in Ealing and the way that the community has made a life for itself here is a model for others to follow. The unwillingness of this group’s leaders to share their hard-won political power with others is a blot on an otherwise superb record.”
Responding, Mr Sharma said: “Councillor Taylor is trying to shift the focus from a discriminatory immigration policy which has created fear and division in our local community onto an unfounded criticism of the local Labour Party, to deflect from his Government’s unfair, prejudiced and divisive politics.
“Meanwhile, Home Office officials are allegedly targeting individuals at Southall station for searches based on their background and colour of their skin, and the ‘Go Home’ ad vans commissioned by the Conservative-led Government have been pulled off the streets because of concerns over their negative impact on local communities.
“It is obviously necessary to counter the issue of illegal immigration but humiliating and seemingly searching individuals on the basis of their race should never be a solution.
"Councillor Phil Taylor's Conservative Party may think that these are appropriate actions, but I know that the residents of Ealing Southall most certainly disagree and do not want to see their communities divided in this way."