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David Cameron’s immigration speech fails to capture the imagination

26 March 2013

10:41 AM

26 March 2013

10:41 AM

This morning’s papers have followed the lead of yesterday’s TV news bulletins: the prime minister’s immigration speech was not the success it might have been. The Times is lukewarm (£). The Guardian is suspicious. The Mail is derisive. And our own Douglas Murray is contemptuous of a speech which merely stated the ‘utterly obvious’.

Yet again, the government has failed to convince the media. Part of the problem is that the numbers are inconclusive. The Guardian has built on yesterday evening’s BBC news reports, which claimed that only 13,000 migrants from that part of the EU have claimed JSA since 2009. This contrasts with Mr Cameron’s concerns about a widespread ‘something for nothing’ culture. The paper also adds that migrants account for only 9 per cent social lettings. Downing Street has countered each claim, usually by arguing that the strain on public services is getting more intense; for example, it points out that there was a 40 per cent increase in the number of social lettings to migrants between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

The occluded figures do not necessarily prove or disprove either side’s case. All they suggest is that we look at immigration through very dark glass, which implies that the government has a loose grasp on the system. Indeed, Mr Cameron sat down yesterday and the Home Affairs Select Committee immediately popped-up with yet another damning report into the work of the UK Border Agency. It is estimated (note the word estimated) that the 312,726 backlog cases will take 24 years to clear.


It’s a fine statistical illustration of chaos; but it does little to contextualise the social and economic cost of systemic difficulties. The Refugee Council and a group called Maternity Action recently published a report which found that UKBA’s policy of moving refugees around the country in search of accommodation, often multiple times, puts enormous strain on midwifery. This can, obviously, affect the welfare of mother and child, placing further pressure on health and welfare services.

The report is almost certainly indicative of wider problems in the immigration system. UKBA would have cause to say that its accommodation policies are necessitated by the national housing shortage.  Indeed, plenty of talking heads (from both the right and the left) have popped up on the news in the last 24 hours to say that this latest immigration row (and the continuing fracas over the so-called ‘bedroom tax’) is really a proxy for a much needed debate on housing, and the allocation of social housing in particular.

This is certainly true; but, even in this context one cannot ignore the continued stream of evidence about the lamentable UK Border Agency. 9 per cent of social lets may go migrants; but plenty of migrants are plainly lost to officialdom, living in the Wild West of the cheap private rental market (another part of British life that needs urgent attention). Official statistics about this group are hard to come by, so let me illustrate the point with an anecdote. I once rented in a block of flats in east London. Upstairs lived three gainfully employed builders of unknown eastern European nationality; they were residing in one bedroom flat. My landlord had an insurance dispute with the builders’ landlord, a mysterious and very uncooperative man who had to be threatened with legal action before he began to comply with the insurers’ wishes. I often had to liaise with the builders about surveyors’ visits and so forth. One day the builders – who were required as witnesses in the dispute – disappeared. Another eastern European gentleman, who refused to give me or my landlord his full name or any contact details, arrived and explained that he was the builders’ associate and a representative of their landlord, adding that he would act as intermediary in the future; not that an untraceable man was much use as an emissary for vanished foreigners and an uninterested landlord.

This example is not isolated, even in my limited experience. I once served on a jury which heard a case about two illegal Vietnamese immigrants accused of assisting in the production of cannabis. They had been arrested in a small house in Lewisham. They had been apprehended while asleep on the floor of a bedroom surrounded by more than 40 cannabis plants, numerous halogen lamps and what the prosecution memorably described as ‘other horticultural paraphernalia’. The immigrants’ defence was that they had nothing to do with the production of the plants, which they said was carried out by the persons who were also arrested during the raid and who had already pleaded guilty. They said that they had only been occupying the house for a few days, adding that they had been moved to Lewisham from their former accommodation on the floor of a sweat-shop in Walthamstow by a person they knew as ‘Teo’. They understood that Teo was going to secure them accommodation above a restaurant in which they would work. (I’m not sure I believed their plausible explanation beyond reasonable doubt; but, as it happens, the case collapsed because the overstretched and/or incompetent police had not examined the defendants’ mobile phones, upon which the defence rested.)

What is one supposed to make of a system – and a society – where these varied but connected events can happen?  The costs – economic, social, political and above all human – are enormous.

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Show comments
  • evad666

    We live on an island clean out the threat and do it now.

  • Daniel Maris

    “The paper also adds that migrants account for only 9 per cent of social lettings.”

    Do you have a citation for that? [I mean the source of the figure]

    I’ve seen several versions of this fiugre, including Isabel Hardman’s claim on TV along those lines. However, all I can find in terms of a reference is a figure of 8.4% based on “foreign nationals” – not the same as immigrants of course. I did find figures from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, putting the figure at about 13% for foreign born occupants of social housing.

    Also, it appears the “social housing” excludes (a) emergency housing for destitue migrants and (b) private housing where the immigrant is receiving full housing benefit.

    Of course that’s across the UK and in some parts there are hardly any immigrants.

  • Daniel Maris

    Dearie me Mr Blackburn! Using anecdotal evidence even if personal? Joan Bakewell will have your guts for garters!

  • SorryI’llGetMyCoat

    Ssshh!!… Don’t mention immigration or you’ll be labelled a bigot and a racist.

  • Mynydd

    David Cameron’s immigration speech fails to capture the imagination; not only that it failed to tell the truth.

  • Donafugata

    Suspicious, derisive, contemptuous and quite right too.

    Everyone knows it’s just talk, otherwise, why hasn’t he done anything about it before?

    Spain is using measures to prioritise its own people against immigrants in the job market. There are quite a few things that a single nation can do about employment, health tourism and benefits, inspite of the EU. It is just that this government is either ignorant or unwilling to do them.

  • Tom Tom

    David Cameron reads out a script for the first time and calls it a speech. Once upon a time a “Speech” swayed audiences and won converts and incited hecklers, today it is a flat monotonous recitation of word-processor platitudes revealing the full insincerity of the charlatan mindlessly reading out the litany

  • Wilhelm

    The most shocking thing you can say to anyone is, tell them the truth !

    Jared Taylor discussing racial differences. White Liberals think that replacing the Anglo Saxon British people with Africans, Arabs, Indians, who cares ? it doesn’t really matter, we’re all the same race, to justify their ethnic cleansing.

  • Wilhelm

    600,000 indigenous British have left London.
    London councils have given 800,000 council houses to immigrants.
    92 % of inner city schools in London are African / Jamaican / muslim.

    And they say race doesn’t matter ? Aesop quote ”Yield to all and you will soon have nothing to yield.”

  • Wilhelm

    The government has to find 250,000 school places, guess where they come from ? Africans have many, many children, 5 or 6 kids.

    It takes £6000 a year to educate each one of them, then there’s the hospital bill, that’s £1000 a year, then the housing and dole benefit payments.

    Then if they do get a job, highly unlikely I know, it’ll be a menial job were they don’t pay much tax and then they send their money back to the mother country, Nigeria.

    So all in all, there is NO benefit. I haven’t even mentioned the crime rates.

  • Roger Hudson

    Cameron had little new to say because he knows, as we all do , that the British parliament, government and crown are no longer truly sovereign in Britain.
    How we get back full sovereignty is the big question.

  • 2trueblue

    Amazing that we have no idea what happened over the 13yrs. prior to the coalition. There is no coherent set of figures, no real set of figures that are reliable, just a big cover up. The media are themselves complicit in this because we know that the BBC and the Gaurdian do not and will not accept that they are biased totally to the left. The Gaurdian I could not give a fig about as there is a choice about buying it, but the BBC we are forced to pay for. The Gaurdian is kept in business by the fact that the vast proportion of its copies are bought by the BBC for their staff, it is where they get their facts from so it really is the Gaurdian on air.

    Over 13yrs we were told how wonderfully well Blair/Brow/Balls/Milliband x 2, were doing. We rarely a member of any other of the parties who were in opposition.

    3yrs on and the whole picture has changed, we see members of the opposition continually on our screens. They are given huge airtime, they are fed their lines and there is not one bit of credit given to the Coalition government for anything. Whatever the personal thoughts of the BBC we get them, and they are totally biased.
    MPs of the coalition are continually interrupted and sniped at and not allowed to answer questions in full. The reason they do not challenge these pushy lefty interviewers is because they will not get asked again. That is what the BBC did for 13yrs to the Tories. The BBC continually setting the agenda and we all put up with it. It is no good saying that we can turn it off, we pay for it and it is not value for money, we are simply paying for the left to be fed into every home.

    The Toreis ran for 2 elections on the immigration ticket and on keeping the £. People were no interested and even now the whole thing is not easily solvable because we are governed by the EU on this matter.

  • Martin Adamson

    You mention the statistical chaos we are in as regards immigration. Has it not occurred to you that this chaos is a deliberate policy? That the Home Office know that the situation is catastrophic, and refuse to even collate statistics because, once collected, they would inevitably show just how badly the Home Office and other agencies have been performing over the last 20 years?

  • Framer

    OK so the statistics are not kept for the most part and maybe there is no problem of any consequence that can be proved to Metropolitan satisfaction. However as you suggest, David, anecdotally there may well be.

    But ask this only, if five million foreigners* came to Britain from 2002-2010 (and it is probably six million by now) and took out national insurance numbers (non-working wives, children and most asylum seekers and illegals excepted – perhaps another million, making seven million in all) will this not effect housing, health, education, employment, and social security in a mammoth way?

    So why try to prove the minor take-up number to the satisfaction of London commentators and politicians who are effectively locked into a form of Stockholm syndrome?

    It’s over. The voters will no longer accept they cannot resist deculturation and the country can no longer afford to pay for it given the pending 20-year recession (south east excluded).

    *Government statistic – House of Lords 20 June 2011: Column WA251: The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The official statistics provided relate to national insurance number (NINo) registrations to Adult Overseas Nationals entering the UK … 2002-September 2010 …Total 4,908,480.

    • Haldane1

      Fascinating, so in eight years (btw, these are the Neather years) five million

    • Haldane1 in those eight years there were five million foreign entrants – BTW these were the ‘Neather’ years. On this basis, the churn in national composition must be truly monumental when all other factors are taken into account..Over a twenty year span one must be talking in the tens of millions

  • Colonel Mustard

    Isn’t stripping immigrants of benefits after 6 months sort of the wrong way round?

    Since the UK government now seems to think it is primarily in existence to support the world’s poor might I suggest that they register themselves as a charity, f*** off out of Westminster and let someone else take over who has a better understanding of the primary responsibility to protect the people of this outdated “tribal nation state”.

    • 2trueblue

      They are entitled to benefits because of the EU, we do not make the rules.

      • Rhoda Klapp5

        We agree to them. Why?

        • 2trueblue

          Because our system says so. We go way beyond what other countries do, offering interpreters etc. This does not happen in France, go there to have your baby and they ask for 2,000e up front. It takes them 16mths to get any of your money back. There are lots of situations where we just do not have any procedures in place to protect ourselves. This should have been done over a decade ago.

  • Alex

    … and funnily enough, every single problem mentioned above would be improved by a massive surge in house building. And we don’t even need government money for that, just a major freeing up of land for building.

    Isn’t it time for the government to stop paying lip service to this idea and make it happen?

    • Rhoda Klapp4

      Well, that’s so simple I’m amazed nobody has thought of it before. More houses would solve immigration all right.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Amazing comment. When do you think enough is enough? And do the words ‘infrastructure’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘social cohesion’ mean anything to you or are you another one who thinks the “tribal nation state” is an outdated concept and a chaotic international free for all is good for us, whether we like it or not?

      • Alex

        OK, ‘every single problem’ may have been a tad exaggerated. But the article, although based on a speech on immigration, was almost entirely about housing. And the housing problems resulting from immigration mostly result from the same root problem as all the other housing problems i.e. lack of supply resulting from the shortage of building land. So of course the words you quote are important, but I’m not sure how you think they are encouraged by preventing builders from building homes.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I don’t think they are encouraged by “preventing builders from building homes” but the near panic of the government in seeking to build more houses as a panacea for a problem that they are too scared to admit to is more reaction than resolution and won’t solve all the other problems that come with that problem.

          At this stage at least the elephant in the room is no longer being studiously ignored but is being whispered about more in the context of how it might be accommodated without offending all the usual suspects and danced around lightly with half-hearted reassurances to those who are worried rather than the many interrelated issues actually being resolved.

          When the government and those responsible for this shambles (New Labour mainly) are described as “talking tough on immigration” it is farcical. Talking tough on immigration would mean saying something like “From today…” followed by a list of immediate, hard and fast measures that will stop this country from being exploited and future generations from being put at risk of having to live in a crime-ridden, sectarian violence-ridden, shanty town sprawled cesspit with broken down services and constantly competing agenda identity groups.

          I am worried about the future safety and stability of this country as a result of nearly two decades of piss poor immigration “management” and almost non-existent controls, of rank stupidity by some council do-gooders, of exploitation by vested interests and, probably, rampant corruption. If that makes me a bigot so be it.

          • Daniel Maris

            Talking tough on immigration by letting in 500,000 people from abroad (officially).

  • Rhoda Klapp4

    Insubstantial speech made, media pitch in to the task of avoiding any mention of the things that really piss people off. Job done. Cameron has ‘tackled’ immigration.

    • Barakzai

      Nail hit squarely on head. What passes for No 10 ‘policy-making’ really is the gift that keeps on giving for Mr Farage . . .

    • Makroon

      I think that you are literally correct Rhoda.
      The prime purpose of the speech was to fix the Cameron brand, as being “tough on immigrants”, the details are unimportant. Lint Crosby ?

  • In2minds

    “Yet again, the government has failed to convince the media” – How
    about the public, do we get a look in?

    • 2trueblue

      Not unless we know about it, and for 13yrs we were told everything Liebore did was great.

    • 2trueblue

      Not unless we know about it, and for 13yrs we were told everything Liebore did was great.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Why bother with “the public”?

      They don’t even live in the Londonistan bubble, do they?

      Let’s be serious here.

  • Haldane1

    What shocked me was the admission by David Cameron that over five and a half million people had come into the country in the last ten years, while at the same time, three million residents decided to leave. And these are only the ones we know about! Imagine the true scale of change if we had figures for all those who entered and stayed and had numbers for those who quietly left without selling up. No wonder we cannot fail to notice the cultural and ethnic changes that the last two decades of such a societal churn have wrought on the make up of our nation. One can argue over whether or not, immigration is a good thing, but what cannot be denied is that this scale of change was never disclosed to the public.

    • HookesLaw

      This is not news.

      • Haldane1

        Sorry, not to you perhaps, but along with Farmer’s recent post (see below) I do begin to grasp the true enormity of what has occurred.

    • 2trueblue

      Why be shocked? At least we are getting some idea of numbers that have come in. The tragedy is that those who have left are the ones with skills and qualifications. During the prior 13yrs we have no idea what the real figures were. Did Blair and his government give us a figure? What were the so called investigative journalists doing? Not a lot, and it seems that they are totally unconnected. Where are the real figures? What do we know? Why were we not told when it was going on at those high levels?

      • Makroon

        “What were the so-called investigative journalists doing ?”

        Cowering and pleading with Ali Campbell not to hit them too hard ?

      • Donafugata

        To everyone, apologies for the many typos today.
        The damned I-pad thinks it knows best and keeps changing what I write.

    • Donafugata

      Agreed, even the known numbers are frightening.

      Ulysses mentions non-EU immigration and it is these people who are changing the biggest changes to the culture and appearance of the country.
      Europeans, at least, share a common history, culture and Christian values. They dress like us and have similar standards and tastes.

      The town that I grew up in ( the same one as Carole Middleton ) was a market town and suburb of London. It was never very posh but it was a pleasant, peaceful place with neat houses and well-tended gardens, nice parks and a real civic pride.

      The was a massive influx of Asians during the 60s and since then, the entire town has been invaded by people from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Somalia and every other hell-hole.
      Today it is famous for its shanty town of shacks built to raise rent from exclusively iegal immigrants.

      The Somalis are allowed to import and use ghat, even their own people say the users are destroying themselves.

      The town looks like downtown Mogadishu, how has this been allowed to happen?

      I people come here for a better life they should adopt British values, not change the country into the crap-holes they have left behind.

  • Wilhelm

    It’s all window dressing, ask yourself this, what school does Cameron, Clegg and Tony Blair send their children to ? it’s far away from the multicultural ghetto, isn’t it ?

    • huktra

      My cousin’s children go to a non selection school where the top of each stream are Asian and the minority whites struggle to keep up.
      Many of the Alumni are now successful Lawyers and Doctors.
      You, Colonel Wilhelm are obsessed with the colour facet of this issue.
      We are talking about the Eastern Europeans here and if the 500,000 Poles are anything to go by we will be lucky to have them contributing to our stagnant economy.

  • Thatcherite Lee

    More like the supposedly anti mass immigration press have been won over by the pro immigration lobby spouting all kinds of figurers to justify their claims without challenging the fact that these figures on their own are still too high instead choosing to dismiss the problem.
    Either they’re ignorant of what goes on in reality or they’re so intent on using any opportunity to give the PM a bashing they’re wilfully using pro immigration lobby criticisms to do it.
    Either way the pro immigration lobby won the day yesterday thanks in large part to the extreme lack of challenge to their claims and dismissive attitude of the press including those who claim to be against mass immigration.
    I despair.

    • HookesLaw

      This article is in fact a load of cobblers and falls apart as soon as the writer invents the sine qua non of ‘a dark glass’ and and uses it to ply the assertion that the govt do not have a grasp. Purile supposition.

      The press do not want to give Cameron a good press’ they are at war with him over press controls.
      Daft when you consider that labour and the LDs are for more control but Cameron is the current PM and therefore must be attacked.
      Any PM can expect the same treatment. The press are self obsessed and self serving out of control and want to stay that way.

      On the subject – do we expect the Guardian to agree with more immigration controls?
      Do illegal immigrants have anything to do with Cameron’s speech? The govt have in fact acted on the practice of bogus students arriving and then disappearing,
      (BTW the French police have lost the power to detain illegal immigrants)

      What we see is the writer venting his prejudice based on random experience.
      Brilliant journalism… keep it up.

      • Wessex Man

        Now listen here Hooky you are mixing up your very zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • 2trueblue

      The BBC are not going to help give us any real truths. They have proven to be biased and incompetent on this and several other issues. There is no one who will deal with the BBC and that is a mistake as we are not being best served on any issues by it. The fact that they make a big pay off, on our behalf, means that It needs a huge overhaul and they need good journalists who understand that they are employed by the public and not by any organisation.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        No overhaul will work.

        It needs selling off.

  • UlyssesReturns

    The questions one must ask are:

    – Why do we continue to allow penniless migrants to enter from third-world countries (such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Togo etc) with no historical connection to the UK?

    – Why do we allow an influx of Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia etc whose views are antithetical and often hostile to the indigenous population?

    – Why, 3 years after gaining power from the incompetent Labtard boobies are there no exit controls at our borders – we let them in but don’t know who leaves?

    – Why do these 2nd rate politicians spin us this continuous stream of bollocks pretending they will do something when we all know they won’t?

    – Why is this all so difficult?

    – Why do I bother?

    • Roger Hudson

      It’s not that they won’t, it’s that they can’t, totally hamstrung without sovereign power.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        No, they are not totally hamstrung, unless it’s by their own hands they’re strung. They’re being well paid to be self-hamstrung, so why wouldn’t they hamstring themselves?

        Now, if the electorate started grabbing these useless gits by the scruff and flinging them into the street, and they lost those nice places they hold, you’d see those hamstrings fly open untied, right quick.

        So the only way forward is to start grabbing scruffs and flinging.

      • Donafugata

        Sorry Roger, this is not true.

        The EU is a real handicap but there is a single nation can do, especially since the recession, other countries take advantage of them.

        Even before the recession, nul-labour opened up to Eatern European migrants when most others took advantage of the licence to a graduated approach. That’s why the UK has ended up with half of Poland living here.

        France and Italy, in particular, often ignore or defy directives that are not to thir own advantage and simply pay a small fine.

        Deporting an undesirable costs a mere €14,000, quite a bargain.

        Until we can extricate ourselves from the damned EU, our politicians must not take everything so literally.