Let them pick fruit: Tory councillor says unemployed Northerners should pick fruit rather than claim benefits
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:46 AM on 14th December 2010
In a pickle: David Shakespeare's comments have been condemned by both Labour and Conservative politicians
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.
'Let them pick fruit': Mr Shakespeare's comments portrayed northerners as second class citizens, many believe
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.
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Good old lardy Shakespeare.Certainly looks like a man who has swallowed a bit of fruit recently - probably whole melons......
- Abe, Nottingham, 14/12/2010 00:13
This overbloated bigot (treble chins lots?) should be hung at gallows for his stupid pathetic comments!! No less than treason against his own people.
He forgets that "So Called North" made many fortunes for previous ancestors (including his own) when the North was "Frontiers of the Steam Age" - But he forgets this! These were same people who "MOVED SOUTH" when they made their fortune. The same northern people who sign up to the forces & fight for this country in every back water since time was invented.
Yet I as a NORTHERNER I worked "DOWN SOUTH in P'Boro for a year (NOT PICKING FRUIT) so to save the Council "MONEY!! - yes bloody EURO money!! Otherwise they would have been made Bankrupt! Where am I today - Unemployed & back North, desperatley looking for work all over the UK!.
David Shakespeare (hope he is no ancestor of the truly great playwright - William Shakespeare as he would hang his head in shame) There are only certain times of the year to pick fruit - NOT ALL SEASON ROUND.
- SF, Manchester, 14/12/2010 00:04
If you are unemployed, go and find work where there is work??
Hardly anything new is it?
- Joey Agnew, Cambridgeshire, 13/12/2010 23:57
He is right. Unemployed people should be working picking fruit for £5.93 an hour instead of immagrants who get paid £1-2 an hour.
- MontyMagpie, Newcastle., 13/12/2010 23:57
If there are jobs available then why should they be claiming benifits. Wether they are picking fruit or sitting on there backsides living on the doll they still are not in the job they want to be. This way the taxpayer doesn't pay for there upkeep.
- Alex, South East England, 13/12/2010 23:55
There are plenty of Northerners and Scots working in London and the South of England for the minimum wage, returning to their homes at weekends. They've done this for decades. This man doesn't seem to be aware that, according to his own government's figures, there are around 12,000 people in the county of Buckinghamshire drawing unemployment benefit. What about getting some of them to go fruit picking to replace the Romanians, instead of sitting on their backsides expecting taxpayers in the North, like me, to keep them.?
- George, New Brighton, 13/12/2010 23:50
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Monday, 13 December 2010
On yer bike: Tory councillor says unemployed Northerners should pick fruit rather than claim benefits | Mail Online