to spend tonight on a Birmingham council estate, was criticised as
'tokenistic' by a local councillor on BBC Radio Four's Today programme this
Richard Bashford said: 'It's good to have shadow spokesmen trying to know how the other half lives, but an overnight stay is a bit tokenistic. It smacks more of gesture politics than the real understanding of what it means to live in relative poverty.'
Mr Willetts told the programme his visit to Birmingham was part of a series
of 'one nation hearings' the Conservative party is undertaking. He said the
numerous initiatives for deprived areas could be a confusing obstacle for
people working to help these neighbourhoods.
David Williams, secretary of the Labour group on Bimingham City Council, was
disparaging of Mr Willetts' approach but agreed there is a danger of
But, he told Today, the new deal for communities, which pulls together
different initiatives, is doing good work in the Kings Norton area of