Coffee House

Tory minister says yes to EU and no to immigration to win at 2015

12 December 2012

8:30 AM

12 December 2012

8:30 AM

David Cameron’s Conservative modernisation agenda is struggling. Several of today’s front pages highlight how traditional Tory issues — immigration and family values — have returned to the centre stage. And many of Cameron’s attempts to modernise his party on big issues (climate change, green energy, gay marriage, HS2) have met with a negative responses. How can he retool his modus operandi to win a Tory a majority at the next general election?

Policing and ex-immigration minister Damian Green has a few suggestions. In a speech he will give to Bright Blue this evening, Green suggests Cameron’s modernising agenda is not yet an ex-agenda, and can still be refashioned to work in 2015. In particular, Green urges his party to present a ‘balanced portfolio’ of policies, which may include restrictions on mass immigration:

‘…therefore I am proud to be a member of a Government that is meeting its targets on overseas aid, and equally proud to be a member of a Government that is cutting immigration numbers. The first is a policy that shows we care about the most unfortunate people in the world, in line with the principle of engaging positively with the world beyond our shores. The second is a policy that promotes social cohesion, in line with the principle of supporting genuine communities.

‘As it happens, cutting unskilled immigration in particular helps those who are striving at the lower end of the jobs market, so these propositions reinforce each other at crucial points. Only Tories, rather than Liberal Democrats, will recognise that these policies are mutually reinforcing.’


In contrast to the stance of many of his fellow MPs, Green will also urge the party to advocate continued membership of the European Union, in order to to ensure economic stability:

‘…our long-term economic interests must remain at the heart of Conservative policy. This sounds obvious but it is not a platitude as it impinges hugely on the debate both party and country are going to have about Europe in the next few years. The central point which needs to be stated calmly and clearly is that we are better off in.

‘It is true that the old pro-European arguments, which bought into a vision of inexorable progress towards a United States of Europe, no longer hold any appeal for Conservatives. There is though a hard-headed pragmatic economic argument that our membership is to the advantage of the British economy, and therefore the British people, and that this remains the case even with the enormous current problems faced by the Eurozone. ‘

The minister also suggests that the Tories must break out of their traditional South East comfort zone, something Neil O’Brien advocated in the magazine a few weeks ago. Green underlines the need to target the ‘blue-collar conservatism’, though George Osborne appears to have picked up on this with his fuel duty freeze in the autumn statement.

While CCHQ begins to ponder how to win the next election, Green offers some hope that the party need not resort to fighting an election on a primarily right-wing agenda, akin to 2001 and 2005. As Cameron and Osborne begin to develop a strategy for 2015, it will be interesting to see if and how many of these ideas are taken on to ensure Conservative modernisation reaches its final goal.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • ArchiePonsonby

    Cameron is done for. He’ll be gone in less then a year!

  • Christian

    If he cares so much about poor foreigners why doesn’t he spend his own money on them rather than mine? These tosses talk such glib shite it’s unbelievable.

  • barbie

    The fact previous and present governments have said one thing and done another; we are just fed up with the lies and waffle. Cameron will have to fight very hard to gain trust again in this country; unless Miliband becomes really unpalitable. Both won’t face up to the fact we want a referendum on EU membership, and many within both parties peddle the story ‘we would be worse off’, who really knows? The point is it is US who should be able to make that decision ourselves not MPs? Trust is important when deciding whom and what to vote for, and Cameron’s seems to have gone a long time ago. Miliband changes his mind that often we are now doubting him. Clegg does not matter in my eyes.
    If we look at all the policies we have had thrown at us in the past 20 years, none have really been for the benefit of the indigenous peoples’ of these islands. Immigration from Labour which as changed the face of this country and led it down into the mire; and now we have Conservatives following like sheep.
    We now have Cameron saying he wants to renegociate our membership, well all the rest have to agree and he’s hardly going to get that. Why lie, why deceive, its dishonest? He cannot really believe, think, he can get what he wants by demanding it? They will make him look silly especially the French. And then he’ll cave in as he can’t stand competition. Miliband would just agree to anything put forward.
    This country then should rethink whom and what they vote for; we all know the main three don’t want change, so that means voting for a party who will give us the democratic right to decide ourselves, UKIP.

  • Madame Merle

    Does he imagine we are all stupid?

    It is precisely because of the E bloody U that we can no longer control our borders.

    This is the problem for people of little brain, they imagine everyone else is as dim as they are.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    This thread also deserves a reminder of the Second Rule Of British Politics:

    You can’t trust the Tories over EUrope

    • Rhoda Klapp

      Two words of that are superfluous.

  • Rahul Kamath

    Damian Green is a former journalist and so is a master of sophistry and dis-ingenuity. I sort of agree with @twitter-115692945:disqus below in that there is a direct contradiction between being in the EU and restricting ‘unskilled’ immigration.

    There is an even bigger problem though. Mr. Green uses nice words like social cohesion. But there is no practical way to pick which immigrants add to social cohesion and which don’t. As a starting point for that argument you need to decide what defines British (or English) society, i.e. which values/cultural mores etc. define us and must thus be adhered to by immigrants. Although the trolls here will easily come up with long lists of these values, beyond a few basic ones such as ‘respect for the rule of law’ there is NO national consensus on these points.

    Even taking his proposal around skilled and unskilled migration. In reality there are very few unskilled jobs left in our economy. We just don’t do that much manual labour in Britain. So the vast majority of immigrants would be skilled and would thus be accepted by Mr. Green. Even worse, indigenous Britian’s don’t want manual labour jobs. So where immigrants are truly needed, they won’t be allowed in.

    A silly speech by a clever man.

    • TomTom

      Lots of Unskilled Jobs and well paid….House of Commons. Quangocracy, PR, Media, …….

      • Colonel Mustard

        Brilliant. Salaries for vandals.

    • Daniel Maris

      There are two tests you can easily apply. You can test people’s language skills and you can test their values in one to one interviews. The Dutch have a good approach to that now. So, you’re wrong, there is a practical way of probing people’s values. You can also ensure that anyone who abuses our hospitality e.g. by commiting a criminal offence is quickly deported.

      If you seriously think there isn’t a consensus on this country’s values, that is worrying. Don’t you accept ideas of female equality, no domestic violence, education of girls, no female genital mutilation, supremacy of the laws of parliament, and democratic elections.

      I don’t think anyone else abused you as a troll. Why are you using that abusive language towards other people?

      • Rahul Kamath

        My hypothesis is that the vast majority of immigrants both speak English and support ideas of female equality, no domestic violence, education of girls, no female genital mutilation, supremacy of the laws of parliament, and democratic elections. So do the vast majority of native born white Britain though not all of them.

        You won’t agree with that. There is nothing more to discuss.

        • Daniel Maris

          Who’s trolling now?

          What about this ICM survey:

          “Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today.

          The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the
          “feelings and motives” of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.”

          I guess we can be reassured that only 30,000 UK Muslims (1% of 3 million) don’t think the 7/7 bombers were wrong to carry out the attacks and “only” 600,000 have sympathy with the feelings and motives of those suicide bombers.

          But I think non-Muslims have every right to be concerned that we have allowed into this country 1.2 million people who want to see Sharia law introduced.

          I;m sure you don’t want to discuss that.

          • Rahul Kamath

            Lol, certainly not with you. You are entitled to your opinions/ choice of surveys. I’m entitled to not care about them.

            • Daniel Maris

              Point noted: you don’t care about there now being 1.2 million people in the land who want to apply Sharia law. I think we’re entitled to draw our own conclusions from that.

              • Rahul Kamath

                You certainly are entitled to do whatever u like within the laws of the land and your own ethical / moral standards.

  • foxoles

    The Tim Montgomerie ‘Blue Labour’ modernisation agenda rolls on. He would surely have approved of Keith Vaz on the Daily Politics yesterday stating ‘I am extremely proud that my city, Leicester, is now ‘Britain’s first ethnic minority city’.

    Which would make it an ethnic majority city, surely?

    • TomTom

      No Vaz is speaking of his White constituents

  • Hexhamgeezer

    “Look Damien..we get it ok? you’ve got a death wish – point taken, Just stop insulting us with $’#ite about ‘balanced portfolios’. You can use the portfolio to wipe your bottom with the day after the election because you are guaranteed losers. Mass immigration, mass unemployment, increased overseas aid, green subsidies, UK funds helping industries relocate east, more Romanians and Bulgarians on the way. funding children living overseas etc etc etc”

    And you expect this ‘balanced portfolio’ to get you elected?

    Mental utterly mental….

  • MinnieOvens

    I didn’t know that Damian Green was a Cameron lookalike.
    Must be the reason why Dave promoted someone with political antennae made out of wet cardboard.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Of course Green’s sycophancy now is all the more amusing seeing as he backed David Davis for the leadership.

    • Michael990

      Gravy train old boy, gravy train.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    And Green is a useless waste of space as well. His responses to the PCC debacle were risible. Only a fool would think that its fair that someone who was elected on an 18% turnout should have the same influence as someone on elected a 59% turnout. If people can’t be arsed to vote they really don’t deserve to have the same say in the way the country is run!

    It’s even more stupid for a representatvie of a party that is severely handicapped by such differential turnout to make such a case. Differential turnout is the most significant component of the electoral bias that disadvantages the Tories. The fact Green lamely accepts it just shows how poltically naive he is but there again he is part of the dire Home Office ministerial team so it should be of no surprise……

    As for Green’s Europhilia and general Camereoon sycophancy I’m sure that will be useful in UKIP’s pamphlets in his constituency.

    • El_Sid

      Only a fool would think that its fair that someone who was elected on an 18% turnout should have the same influence as someone on elected a 59% turnout.
      So you’re saying that MPs for places like East Renfrewshire (2010 turnout 77.3%) should have votes that count double in the Commons compared to the MP for Liverpool Riverside (where recent GE turnout has been as low as 34.1%) ???

      If people can’t be arsed to vote they really don’t deserve to have the same say in the way the country is run!
      What you’re implying is the opposite, that people who can be arsed to vote should be deprived of influence just because they live in a low-turnout district.

      As for Green’s Europhilia and general Camereoon sycophancy I’m sure that will be useful in UKIP’s pamphlets in his constituency.
      With a 17k majority I doubt he’s that worried – and the Europhilia might be as much to do with representing his constituents as anything more idealogical. Ashford’s benefited a lot from French businesses relocating away from the socialist paradise across the Channel – it’s the sort of place where even the supermarkets sell Le Monde (and it seems to sell out before the British papers). You seem to think that representing your electorate is a good thing, no?

  • LordLieutenant

    I’m sick of this venal class of career politicos.

    It’s never a question of what will improve the lives of the people, or how to reduce expenditure without hurting the country, or how to help reduce rental costs or how to make our democracy more inclusive…

    The question they ask is how to win the election. Like I said. I’m sick of these people.

    Want to know how to win the working class vote? Well, why not consider the numbers that spend half their incomes on rent and utilities, before fracking the heck out of Blackpool to drop their bills to the floor and beginning a plan of *reversing* immigration to only permit those who have arrived in the last 15 years who are a net benefit financially, culturally or in the sporting field.

    Oh, and, you’ll get a few hundred thousand more votes if you had the moral courage to reclassify ‘refugees’ who hop from one safe country to another as economic migrants.

    Ach, forget it… Nobody in CCHQ cares. Too busy with their dinner party competitive compassion to see what years of cowardice has done to the working family.

  • Russell

    “And many of Cameron’s attempts to modernise his party on big issues
    (climate change, green energy, gay marriage, HS2) have met with a
    negative responses. ”

    And the above shows how totally out of touch Cameron, Green and many others in this government are.
    Man made Climate change is regarded as a joke and used purely to increase energy prices and thereby tax.
    Green energy is similarly regarded as a joke with windmills which can’t be used if there is too much wind or not enough wind, and heavily subsidised giving consumers higher prices.
    Gay marriage is regarded as just wrong, as marriage is to most people the union of a man and a woman.
    HS2 will not do a thing to improve the spiralling cost of rail travel, provide minimum employment and not be complete for decades.

    People do care about immigration, jobs, pensions, Healthcare and government spending being still out of control and our continued membership of the EU blights every aspect of our lives from our annual contribution of £billions to interference in our laws and business regulations, people want out of the EU and at the least want a referendum asap (preferably before 2015)

    Cameron doesn’t get it and will get the tory party slaughtered in the next general election.

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      It’s minus 5 outside ….. frosty and not a breath of wind. My heatings on flat out and it’s gas. I bet not a single windmill in the land is generating anything tonight.

  • MirthaTidville

    Vote Blue?????……GO UKIP

    • El_Sid

      ….elect Miliband and Balls.

      • Terry

        So what? – Same as we have now.

      • Davey12

        Tory voting for UKIP.. Speed the process of destroying this country up.

        Dave, I get to delay by 10 years about possibly miss all the fun.

  • RealTory

    All these fine words will be meaningless when we are swamped by the hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians who are entitled to come here at the end of 2013 and add to the welfare and social services burden. It’s bad enough in Central London now but what will it be like when we have another branch of the third world descending on us. And can someone at Mr Green’s lecture remind him that our future must be decided by democratic means and not by economic factors. We are not (yet) Italy where they seem prepared to give up democracy to remain sucking on the EU teat.

    • telemachus

      Before decrying this remember it is the go getting Bulgarians and Romanians that will come
      To the benefit of our cultural life and the economy

      • Colonel Mustard

        That is truly naive. It will be “go” and “get” the benefits paid for by the stupid British taxpayers and add an enormous burden to employment, housing, infrastructure, health provision and community cohesion. The government’s meek acceptance of this truly destructive EU arrangement – where the idle and/or criminal of poor countries can move to a better lifestyle just by turning up, getting a national insurance number and signing on – is beyond insane. It is treacherous and villainous. The politicians responsible for it deserve to be arraigned in the international court for the deliberate genocide of the English.

        • telemachus

          I really cannot accept this

          Migrants are by definition those with dynamism sufficient to up sticks and come

          Study after study has shown the economic benefit of immigration
          And not just short term, it has long-term benefits for the economy, providing needed skills and helping to boost economic growth.

          Further it has been conclusively shown that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits?

          Arguments against immigration are simply little englandism

          • Davey12

            Explain why London has the highest unemployment rate in the south east?

      • Boudicca_Icenii

        There will be a few ‘go getting’ Bulgarians and Romanians. And hundreds of thousands of of beggars, thieves, Big Issue welfare claimants and criminal gangs …. all preying on a population that isn’t allowed to defend itself.

  • TomTom

    Damien was always Tory Reform Group even at University and frankly he is not cutting the ice any longer. Times have changed. even the CIA Handbook “Alternative Futures 2030” sees a major increase in Ethnic, Religious and Nationalist tendencies so Damien is way behind the curve. We are probably going to enter an era of perpetual war which The West has instigated in the Middle East and will be drawn into just as Orwell predicted. We no longer have technological superiority so brutality will no doubt be the survival component

    • Vulture

      Isn’t ‘Tory reformer’ an acronym for ‘wanker’?

      • TomTom

        Never understood TRG myself ……it is however interesting that it has never produced a Eurosceptic, has Ken Clarke as patron……John Major as member, Damien Green as VP

        • Thick as two Plancks

          The Tories chose Duncan Smith as a leader instead of Uncle Ken That got them nowhere. Then they chose Cameron as a leader instead of …

  • Colonel Mustard

    “In particular, Green urges his party to present a ‘balanced portfolio’ of policies, which may include restrictions on mass immigration”

    What an extraordinary sentence. They are supposed to be restricting immigration now (and doing a piss-poor job) but why on earth would they contemplate unrestricted “mass” immigration? We know now that New Labour did exactly that but it was a secret policy for largely nefarious purposes.

    Cameron’s modernisation seems akin to modernising a car by methodically taking it apart and throwing pieces away, then expecting to sell it to more people in that state.

    • foxoles

      Gotta love that ‘may’.

  • Martin Keegan

    How consistent, if at all, is it to support EU membership and cutting unskilled immigration? The right to work in other EU countries and claim benefits there is effectively available to all citizens of EU countries, whatever their skillset.

    It may well be possible to renegotiate British EU membership fundamentally, but it’s implausible that the UK would be able to get the other countries (most of which are not as rich as the UK) to forgo access for their citizens to the unskilled section of the UK labour force.

  • EJ

    David Cameron is finished. If he stays leader, the Tories will be anihilated at the next election. The first big mistake was electing a Trojan horse leftie to lead the party for PR purposes. The second big mistake was to go along with his plan to copy his idol Blair and drag the party in the “centre ground” (which is actually the Left in current politics). This was precisely the wrong thing to do at a time of economic hardship when people are crying out for vigorous, principled, patriotic, conservative leadership.

    The country is a shambles and has just a few years before it sinks permanently into being a third-rate, third world, hell-hole. Immigration has transformed the country and demographics show that just as white Brits are now a minority in their own capital city, soon they will be outnumbered in all our major cities. The Left continue to have their iron grip on all our institutions. Islam gains momentum and influence across the country. We remain shackled by a European parliament that hates us. Law and order is a joke. Criminality is rife. Our schools and hospitals have become overburdened trash bins. There aren’t anywhere near enough houses to go around. The list goes on and on.

    Cameron had a chance to tackle these issues. Instead, he gives us gay marriage. We are almost past the tipping point now where the country actually can be saved. Cameron, like his idol Blair, will go down in history as one of the men who gave Britain away.

    • TomTom

      Blair did NOT bring his party to the “centre ground” that ws more the work of Kinnock and Smith – Blair was simply the lead singer in a boy band who whistled tunes better than John Major or William Hague. Blair was born 1953, Cameron 1966, Major 1943….just why did the Tories skip a generation ? It shows just how far out of touch they are – to pick someone under 50 with no real experience or backbone. Must be those Tories in Surrey and Buckinghamshire and Berkshire who are so out of touch with the rest of the nation

      • Michael990

        Actually your first sentence is not true. The Labour party has never moved to what used to be the centre ground. The excessive influence of their agents in the BBC and similiar institutions managed to move the UK’s centre ground to the left, where it currently remains. It’s all for a Common Purpose.

        • TomTom

          I heard Keith Joseph use exactly the same argument with respect to “the common ground”. it really does not matter. The game if POWER and Blair gained it by pandering to the Conservatives on The City and getting a free hand to implement the most-left wing Labour agenda in history culminating in Gordon Brown nationalising Banks… much for the 1983 Manifesto

    • George_Arseborne

      Yesterday in and out of EU, Today immigration, Tomorrow Gay marriage, next no one to talk about their failed economy policies. How then can one describe Cameron and his gang? Flip – Flop government.

      A government that vomit policies everyday without proper thinking. Headless chicken

    • Heartless etc.,

      Oh please let us not be past the tipping point! – and thank you EJ – and the Speccy – for reminding us of the nauseating piccy of the H2B performing one of his malign phantasy roles, – mercifully sans our National Flag and distant view of Windmill.

    • Madame Merle

      Brilliant post, EJ, you’ve said it all.

    • Davey12

      I think so to.. I am also fed up with creating more wealth and jobs that is never filled by are own kids only by more immigration which means more houses which means more jobs for immigrants which means we need more houses and will have to build on more land and have to create more jobs… On and on.

      To that end I have dumped paying into any pension scheme as it will soon be robbed when Labour get in. Which is what I want as the sooner the money goes the better. I am also buying gold, real physical gold. Give it to my kids. Something the government cannot get its hands on.

      I also refuse to buy anything made in this country. I will only go on holiday abroad. I am at war with my own country. Stage one is the financial war. Sooner these political traitors have no money to bribe the selected voters the better.

    • telemachus

      Firstly, Bulgarians are hard-working and entrepreneurial. They have a strong work ethic, making them sought-after workers in the EU and other countries. Their attention to service and to the customer is a valuable and recognised asset, and companies large and small benefit from this. Indeed, one suspects Bulgaria benefits from this work ethic and is developing irrespective of government, foreign aid, and “mutri” and others interference and self-interest. My assessment of the Bulgarian people is that with much enthusiasm and flair they will make a future that is not bright but glowing. However, despite their hopes and the opportunities, national and local government may unwittingly stifle them. This appears apparent from casual observation that appears to indicate a lack of both national government stewardship and municipal management of infrastructure: it might be why tourism is falling and repeat business is absent.

  • Vulture

    And what, pray, is the ‘final goal’ of ‘Conservative modernisation’?

    As far as I can see every fibre in the Tory party is being exerted to piss off as many of their supporters – middle-class, working class, suburban, urban and rural, religious and secular, old and young – as they possibly can in order to achieve a Labour landslide in 2015 that will put even Blair’s wipeout in 1997 in the shade.

    ‘Agent Dave’ is in the final stages of his mission: the complete destruction of the Conservative party. And still the Stupid Party won’t see it.

    • TomTom

      Conservatives are heading for their 1983 Moment with long suicide notes

      • Coffeehousewall

        I am going to spend the next two and half years doing all I can to ensure that Helen Grant does not continue as the MP for Maidstone. She is an ex-Labour Party member, parachuted in to a conservative seat and is doing all she can to advance herself by obeying the socialist diktats of CCHQ. It can’t be too hard for her with her socialist background.

        I would rather the LibDems get in with an honest lunacy, than another Tory succeed in saying one thing and doing another while destroying everything that conservatism stands for.

        • Boudicca_Icenii

          I’m going to do my level best to make Sir Paul Beresford’s ‘safe seat’ a marginal.

    • Sebastian Payne

      Think that would be a Conservative majority government?

      • Vulture

        I don’t understand your question , but if you think that the best way of achieving a Conservative majority Government is by adopting a range of pale pink policies that may interest the 80,000 readers of the Indpendent ( though they’ll never vote Tory) – but will definitely piss off the 3 million readers of the Telegraph then no, I don’t think it is.
        You do realise that Tory membership has fallen by half since Dave took command, don’t you? The people that get out the vote on election day.
        Everyone expects a Tory PM to anger Labour voters, but to enrage yopur own side without attracting anyone else takes political stupidity to a previously unknown level – but Dave has managed to pull it off.

        • Eagle Owl

          The 3 million readers of the Telegraph? Blimey, adjust those bifocals.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        No, that won’t be a Conservative majority government, but it’ll be a necessary first step towards a conservative majority government, which the Conservatives can never provide, because they’re leftists.