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Immigration is so much more than an electoral issue

25 June 2011

6:04 PM

25 June 2011

6:04 PM

Further to Daniel’s piece about declining immigration in Europe, it is worth highlighting this passage from
Iain Martin’s column in the Mail:

‘But once in Downing Street, Cameron was confronted by research from his personal pollster, Andrew Cooper, which confirmed the true extent of public concern about high levels of

Ironically, Cooper was one of the very modernisers in the Tory Party who did not want Cameron to be tainted — as he saw it — by being seen as tough on immigration in the run-up to the

But now he has changed his tune — and taken the Prime Minister along with him.

In fact, Cooper has recently become messianic on the subject, telling colleagues in recent weeks that the Government’s failure to reduce the numbers of immigrants flocking to Britain will
badly damage Cameron’s reputation.

And as the problem worsens, the electorate will only get more angry, jeopardising the Prime Minister’s dreams of a second term.’

Cooper’s change of heart is deeply and blackly ironic. It’s striking that a respected pollster could think that immigration wasn’t a matter of public concern:a fine
illustration in fact of the gulf between the Westminster Village and everyone else. One can talk about immigration without being ‘nasty’; one can even talk about it compassionately. But
not to talk about it all is sheer pusillanimity.

Immigration may be relatively stable by comparison to the past, but it remains very high. There were 242,000 arrivals (net) last
, despite sluggish growth. The problem now is whether the government has the capacity to arrest this situation. The pro-migrant Liberal Democrats are an obvious impediment, although
Business Secretary Vince Cable’s objections are as much those of his department’s as they are his own. Administratively, the proposed immigration cap is thought to be unworkable and the
economy needs some migrant workers. However, as Iain Martin notes, in the long-term, mass immigration will have a deleterious effect on IDS’ welfare reforms, which depend on pushing the
indigenous unemployed into work. Britain can’t sustain current levels of worklessness, so IDS can’t afford to fail. Tackling mass immigration, therefore, is so much more than a mere
electoral matter. 

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