Monday, 23 April 2018

An Open Door, Indeed

Either the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary will be lucky to survive in office. It turns out that immigration really was a big issue after all.

Specifically, it turns out that public opinion bears no resemblance to that of the people who for 10 years were permitted to set the agenda by means of pseudonymous comments on certain websites. Representative of the type was the sage who regularly complained that the BBC had once again ignored his complaint that it had interviewed a black or Asian person on the news.

No one challenged them. No one challenged their assertion of the ineligibility of half the acts on Britain's Got Talent. No one challenged their ludicrous claim that Britain had an "open door policy", with no immigration controls whatever. (Has any such arrangement ever existed, in all of human history?) No one challenged their absurd suggestion that English was no longer spoken on the streets of London.

No one challenged their wild overestimates of the nonwhite population, which even now is only 13 per cent of the total, and that is including those of us who are half-white. No one challenged their insistence that a country of some 60 million people was being "swamped", as if 70 million immigrants had turned up, or were remotely likely to do so.

And no one challenged their assumption that their hobbyhorse was the Number One political issue in the country, not even after the Conservative Party that had sought to placate them had failed to win two out of three General Elections outright and had barely won the one in between, and not even after a Labour Party that had on that middle occasion been more hardline than the Conservatives on immigration had unexpectedly gone down to defeat.

Well, that is all in the past now. The Windrush Scandal is already reframing the debate. It will now be between the immigration policy that is favoured by big business, and the immigration policy that is favoured by the trade unions. The latter is better.

In order to pursue and promote that, then Labour needs to secure for one of its supporters the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee in place of Yvette Cooper, who has Shadow Home Secretary called Theresa May's Immigration Bill "sensible" rather than vote against it alongside Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and David Lammy. Ah, yes. David Lammy.

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