It was not an uncommon phrase as I remember, even in
the 70's and was always meant inoffensively, yet in
today's climate some people feel like rounding up a
lynch mob, especially if there is the chance of political
During a speech on Monday on the housing and regeneration
bill, Lord Dixon-Smith, the 73-year-old conservative
spokesman for communities and local government, let
slip the now taboo phrase.
It is recorded in Hansard
and reads (Column 528),
"The Homes and Communities Agency is not a body
to which we object in principle. As the Minister has
explained, it is an amalgamation of the Housing Corporation
and English Partnerships. Of course, the nigger in the
woodpile, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has already
pointed out, is that it still incorporates what I call
the hangover of the new towns legislation."
After the speech, Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville
said, "My Lords, before my noble friend sits down,
he used a phrase about a woodpile. If your Lordships’
House were happy, I think it would perhaps be helpful
if the wording of the phrase were revised."
To which Lord Dixon-Smith replied, "I apologise,
my Lords; I left my brains behind. I apologise to the
Despite his immediate apology to the Lords and one
given later to Lord Strathclyde, the Conservative leader
in the Lords, that should have been the end of it, but
not for certain people.
According to The Times, this prompted a wave of condemnation
across Parliament. Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of
the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “I regard this
remark as racist, because it’s deeply offensive. It
shows a lack of understanding and sensitivity to the
ethnic community and seems to come from a throwback
age when people used that kind of phrase as if it was
normal. We will judge Mr Cameron on how he responds.”
What is the 'ethic community?'
Vaz was born in Aden of Indian parentage, but he
decides to turn the issue into a broader ethnic battle
to try and make the most from Lord Dixon-Smith's unfortunate
slip of the tongue.
Mr Cameron has responded
by rightly standing by his peer. I wait to see if Mr
Vaz decides to stir up more trouble along ethnic lines.
Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister and anti-racism
campaigner also wants David Cameron to ask Lord Dixon-Smith
Of course all this over-reaction, unforgiving nature
and cheap and nasty point-scoring helps the mainstream
media ignore real news.
By the way, as a Christian, I believe there is only
one race: the human race. Maybe if instead of 'race
relations' we call it 'people relations' we can learn
to forgive each other without boiling over in rage about
Of course, the powers elite use divide and rule to
make it easier for them to control our lives.