Thursday, April 14, 2011

Immigration policy. Fuss over not much.

Call from one of Wales top journalists today asking for my take on the Prime Minister's comments on immigration. Since he went to the trouble of asking me, I shared my thoughts with him. Here's a flavour of what I said.

1) It's no surprise to me that David Cameron makes a speech describing his policy on immigration as being the same as it was before he was elected Prime Minister. He has consistently promised to reduce "net immigration back to the levels of the 1990s - tens of thousands a year, not hundreds of thousands." He also repeated his commitment to an 'annual limit'. I'd have been surprised if he had said anything else.

2) It seems wholly sensible that the Prime Minister should speak of immigration during the weeks before local council elections. During an election campaign is an entirely appropriate time to talk about policy. Its an issue which is of great concern to voters.

3) I'm not in the least surprised that Vince Cable expresses some mild unease with the Prime Minister's approach to immigration. Dr Vince has said the same sort of thing before. And anyway, the idea that every Liberal Democrat and Conservative Minister in the Coalition Government must hold identical thoughts is as daft as it is unrealistic. And Nick Clegg commented today that he is 'proud' of the work that he (and Mr Cable) had done for the Coalition's "sensible immigration policy".

The reality is that immigration has been too high for many years, the previous Labour Government had not much idea about how many people were entering Britain illegally, and that a great many people are extremely worried about it. We live in a world where accusations of antipathy towards immigrants are thrown around too casually. Its a serious issue, and if mainstream parties are not going to talk about it, there are plenty of others who will.

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