Let them pick fruit: Tory councillor says unemployed Northerners should pick fruit rather than claim benefits

Unemployed Northerners should replace Eastern European immigrants and 'pick cherries on fruit farms' instead of living on benefits, a senior Conservative council chief has suggested.

David Shakespeare, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and head of the Conservative group in the Local Government Association, said people from poorer parts of the country affected by the rising joblessness and public sector cuts should go to work in orchards.

Mr Shakespeare made his 'let them pick fruit' comment during a LGA debate about the prospect of councils being allowed to keep the business rates they collect rather than being redistributed to poorer areas.

'The North may replace the Romanians in the cherry orchards,' he said.

'That may be a good thing.

His remarks were immediately seized on by Labour, who likened them to Norman Tebbit’s infamous advice to the unemployed in the 1980s to 'get on your bike'.
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said the remark undermined David Cameron’s claim to be a 'one nation' leader by portraying Northerners as second-class citizens.

'These types of comment prove [David] Cameron hasn’t reformed his party one bit. To see northerners in this second class, undermining and disrespectful way is typical for a very southern-orientated political party like the Conservatives. The Tory Party certainly can’t claim to be the party of one nation,' he said.

Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Bansley East, has now written to Mr Cameron asking if he will condemn the comments.
'Do you appreciate how out of touch, insensitive and insulting these comments are? Doesn’t it just demonstrate that the Tories are still the same old nasty party?” he said.

And even Conservate colleagues condemned Mr Shakespeare's comments. Dame Margaret Eaton, chairman of the LGA, immediately reprimanded Mr Shakespeare and called his comments 'horrible'.

Rob Light, leader of the Conservative group on Kirklees Metropolitan Council and an ally of Mr Shakespeare’s on the LGA Executive, distanced himself from his colleague.
'I’m assured it’s the view of an individual and not of Conservatives in local government. It’s certainly not the view of Conservatives in local government in the North,' he said.

Mr Dugher said Mr Shakespeare - one of the most senior Conservative figures in local politics - should resign. A Conservative Party spokesman said there would be no disiplinary action, but added:'This is an unacceptable use of language and does not represent the views of the Conservative Party.

The budget cuts are likely to hit the North far harder than the South, with many northern areas reliant on the the public sector for their jobs.

In October, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found the north-east would lose 4.1 per cent of its jobs over the next four years, compared with 3.1 per cent in London and the south-east.


D's Comment.

... and all the muslims and rainbow colonisers on benefits will work alongside "lazy whitey" ... all in the English fields together, all singing and dancing and celebrating their vibrant diversity ..... especially as whitey goes to the back of the queue and knows his place etc ......
.... the rich Tory boy knows nothing of work, and much less cares about what the indigenous British feel about his fat mouth, or of anything else.
Just take away "lazy whitey's" benefits, and all will be well.
They don't need any of lifes luxuries anyway, and those they do have can be taken away and replaced with endless debts, fines and other instruments of 'correction.

But Labour is waiting to garner their votes.
Unless a party that truly cares for them speaks to them first.

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