Nigel Hastilow

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Nigel Hastilow (born 1956) is a journalist, author, businessman and politician. He is a former editor of the Birmingham Post and was Conservative Party candidate for Birmingham Edgbaston in the 2001 general election. In April 2007, Hastilow was selected a prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for the Conservative Party for the Halesowen and Rowley Regis constituency but stepped down after he received criticism about a newspaper column he wrote for the Express & Star which included the statement "Enoch Powell was right", sparking a national controversy about immigration and racism.[1]

Education[edit]

Hastilow was born in Birmingham and educated at Mill Hill School in London. After graduating from the University of Birmingham, he trained as a journalist.

Journalism[edit]

Working for a variety of local newspapers in Birmingham, Hastilow became first political correspondent and then editor of the Birmingham Post. He subsequently became a columnist, set up his own publishing company which he later sold and also worked for the Institute of Directors and the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He writes regularly for the Express & Star and is author of The Last of England and Tomorrow's England.

Political career[edit]

In 2001 Hastilow stood as a Conservative Party candidate in the constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston but lost to the Labour Party candidate at general election.

Earlier that year it had emerged that he had put a comment on his website which was subsequently taken up to attack Hague's leadership by Tony Blair at Prime Ministers Questions.[2] However, the article itself had been approved by then party chairman Michael Ancram and argued that, contrary to the Prime Minister’s claims, the Conservatives were the only party capable of defending Britain’s interests and – prophetically – warning of Tony Blair’s ambition to become the first President of the European Union.

In 2002 Hastilow was elected to Stratford-on-Avon District Council where he served as a councillor for two years. During that period he claimed no expenses. He was the only Conservative to oppose a 52 per cent council tax increase and also succeeded in committing the local authority to opposing the Labour Party's hunting ban.

In April 2007. Hastilow was selected to represent the Conservative Party in the constituency of Halesowen and Rowley Regis. However, he stepped down following the publication of his column[3] in the 5 November edition of the Express & Star which caused political controversy. He stated how allegedly "uncontrolled" immigration was becoming an increasingly big issue for people in his Halesowen and Rowley Regis constituency. He said his constituents claimed that Enoch Powell, a politician noted for his Rivers of Blood speech, was right to warn that uncontrolled immigration would change the country dramatically.[4]

Hastilow wrote:

When you ask most people in the Black Country what the single biggest problem facing the country is, most people say immigration. Many insist: “Enoch Powell was right”... He was right. It has changed dramatically. But his speech was political suicide. Enoch’s successors in Parliament are desperate to avoid ever mentioning the issue.

He then went on to challenge the welfare state:

It’s claimed we couldn’t survive without immigrants to work in our hotels, pubs and restaurants, to pick our fruit and clean our hospitals. But that’s because we make life too easy for the five million or more people who could be working but enjoy life too much living off the state.

Why are 1.65 million people unemployed when it seems as if there’s a job for more or less anyone who wants one? Why are 2.4 million people claiming incapacity benefit when society is getting healthier?

In the past they would have been accused of “swinging the lead”, “skiving”, “scrounging” or “cheating”. Now we’re told they need “up-skilling” and then they would be only too happy to work (but for their bad backs).

We only need so many Polish waitresses because so many people who were born and bred in Britain can’t be bothered to work. This week we have seen a slight but important shift. Immigration has come out of the closet.

This led to him being criticised by fellow Tories such as David Davis.[1] although a senior local party officer commented: "It is important that this debate on immigration is taken further so we can have an open and honest discussion on this issue. "Labour MP Peter Hain, then Work and Pensions Secretary, said that Hastilow's remarks showed the Tories had a "racist underbelly".

Following a meeting with the Conservative Party chairman, Caroline Spelman, Hastilow chose to resign rather than apologise for the comments and submit his future columns to the party's central office for approval.[5][6] On 13 November, the local Conservative Association rejected Hastilow's resignation and referred the matter to the national party. Pressure from the Conservative Party headquarters subsequently ensured that his resignation was reluctantly accepted.

Hastilow chronicled the saga, and the overwhelming public support he received, in his book Tomorrow's England which dealt mainly with the rise of the surveillance state. His earlier book, The Last of England was a polemic against the rise of the New Establishment under New Labour. Hastilow remains on the Conservative Party's list of approved candidates.

He continues to speak at Conservative Party constituency association events, as well as at other politics-related gatherings. He has appeared on a range of topical radio shows and, occasionally, on TV.

Political beliefs[edit]

Hastilow is an active member of the TaxPayers' Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes and greater value for money in public spending. He is a supporter of the Freedom Association, and has spoken at some of its events including a debate on the future of the BBC, and he is a backer of the Drivers’ Alliance, an organisation dedicated to defending the interests of motorists.

He is a strong advocate of free market economics, believing high taxes and increased regulation stifle entrepreneurialism and force businesses to abandon Britain. He believes in the importance of manufacturing industry and regrets that successive governments have neglected this vital aspect of the economy.

A traditionalist on education, he was for some time a member of the Conservative Party committee (chaired by John Bercow, now Speaker of the House of Commons) campaigning to protect the country’s remaining grammar schools.

Hastilow is a confirmed Euro-sceptic. It was reported in 2008 that he had been approached to stand as a candidate for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) at the European elections but turned down the opportunity arguing that he had always said he would remain loyal to the Conservative Party.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tories rebuke race row candidate BBC News
  2. ^ House of Commons Hansard debates for 10 January 2001 UK Parliament
  3. ^ Britain ‘seen as a soft touch’ Express and Star, 5 November 2007
  4. ^ Evans, Stephen (2008) 'Consigning its Past to History? David Cameron and the Conservative Party', Parliamentary Affairs, 61 (2): 291-314.
  5. ^ Mystery as party backs Hastilow Express & Star, 7 November 2007
  6. ^ Race row Tory refused to sign gagging order Daily Telegraph, 5 November 2007