Should the Tories talk about immigration? This will bring back a lot of bad memories for the modernisers, who believe that this hurt them in 2005. But, as Tim Montgomerie says over at CiF today, the picture has transformed since then. The total number of immigrant workers has risen 25 per cent, to 3.5 million. And nationally, immigrants now make up a remarkable 15 percent of the workforce (see graph below) – which puts us up there with America. Except our immigration is handled in a haphazard way that creates plenty of bad feeling.
Talk to a Tory candidate and they will say there’s only one issue that gets cut-through on the doorsteps. And, so, all parties seem to be adopting a “shout it locally, say nothing nationally” approach to immigration. But in these tough economic times, the issue is bound to have more traction than it did five years ago.
UPDATE: Can I plead a point in my defence? I am saying that the Tories should talk about immigration – but not shout about it/make it a no.1 campaign theme. A sane, measured approach to immigration should be part of the Tory campaign message. And as for Neather, I can’t believe that any more than six of you really want me to blog about him.