NEW POLL: What’s the liberal response to immigration?

by Stephen Tall on January 13, 2009

There’s a typically forthright article in today’s Times by David Aaronovitch excoriating all three major political parties for their pusillanimous response to the anti-immigration movement represented by Labour’s Frank Field and the Tories’ Nicholas Soames. His ire was provoked by BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Westminster programme (available here on iPlayer for the next few days) and specifically the responses of the politicians interviewed:

Not one of the pols, Chris Huhne, of the Lib Dems, Damian Green, of the Tories, or Phil Woolas, of Labour, could find anything good to say about immigration, except in passing on quickly to how tough they would all be. Mr Huhne: “Clearly we made a big mistake in allowing entry for new entrants to the EU when others didn’t.” But didn’t we get a lot of talent, he was asked. “Yes, we did,” he conceded, “but there is a pace of change issue and an absorption issue…” Oh heroic Huhne! And so we should have a “points system as operated in Australia” and – incidentally – as recommended by Migration Watch. … all [our pusillanimous partymen are] now involved in a revolting public auction to show who can be the “toughest” on the economic migrant – that miscreant who comes over and does our jobs and pays our taxes and adds to our pool of talent.

Aaronovitch has a point: most politicians, however liberal and progressive (and there are few much more liberal or progressive than Chris Huhne), find themselves on the defensive when it comes to immigration. Unlike media commentators, most politicians find themselves constantly berated by constituents whose discontent with council/government services is fuelled by media-inspired hysteria that it’s all the fault of Johnny Foreigner.

Aaronovitch didn’t, for example, choose to quote from this parliamentary speech by Chris last year, which sums up the party’s position of supporting managed immigration:

Immigration has brought enormous benefits to this country, economic, social and cultural. We must continue to be an open and tolerant society that looks out at the world with confidence, and not turn in on ourselves, fearing the phantoms of xenophobia. But if we are to sustain that vision, which has been so much a part of our own history and success, it must be on the basis of two strong conditions. The first is the integration of immigrant communities in our society on the basis of our common language and shared values, and the second is management of the system that controls our borders in the interests of all of us. On both those objectives, the Government have fallen down lamentably. The Liberal Democrats merely hope that the points-based immigration system will be a step towards the remedying of past failure.

My liberal instinct – as someone fully in favour of the free movement of labour, goods, capital and services – is for minimal/zero border controls and unlimited (im)migration. But I’m in the responsibility-free position of no longer being an elected politician. The truth is, though, that unless local and national governments predict and plan then public services begin to buckle under the strain of random population swells, causing problems both for the new settlers and existing communities.

Of course immigration has been generally positive for this country, and the vast majority of those who’ve come to the UK will become net contributors to the economy; but there is an up-front cost, and it’s naïve not to acknowledge it.

All this prompts me to ask you, LDV’s readers, what you think should be the basis of the UK’s response to immigration. Should we:

>> Open the borders, and impose no immigration restrictions
>> Have managed immigration, eg through a points system
>> Operate an annual cap on immigration, with work-permits strictly limited to 4-years
>> Close the borders, and accept no more immigrants

Those are the choices; eyes right to cast your votes in the poll; and feel free to mount a write-in campaign for your own preferred solution below…

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No comments

How about open borders but government tries to do less?

by Tristan Mills on January 13, 2009 at 10:06 pm. Reply #

Aaronovitch stopped being an interesting commentator a couple of years ago (about the time of Iraq, in fact) and started being just an aggressive nit-picker with nothing much new to add. Shame really.

by MBoy on January 13, 2009 at 10:48 pm. Reply #

Tristan is right – free markets in goods, services and people. When you say that public services fail to respond and creak and everyone suffers you are right. But immigration means more customers for market services. An incentive for more organizations to spring up to service those new customers. So immigrants would be an immediate benefit to everyone by instigating more choice and competition!

by Jock on January 13, 2009 at 11:00 pm. Reply #

Spot on. ‘People create Wealth’ should be the first law of economics.

It is purely the successive failure of government to collect and recycle that wealth, thus relieving public service and housing pressures in migrant areas, which gives immigration a bad name.

by Andrew Duffield on January 13, 2009 at 11:50 pm. Reply #

Open borders, but without luring immigrants with a higher social security benefits than their country of departure. I’m afraid I can’t accept any of the given alternatives.

by Anonymous on January 14, 2009 at 9:12 am. Reply #

Interestingly, all the evidence shows that very few people migrate half-way around the world for social security benefits. The vast majority of migrants want to work hard and improve their lot rather than simply subsist.

Similarly, few if any Brits cross internal UK boundaries for lower council tax, free prescriptions or zero tuition fees – despite that being a somewhat easier migratory proposition for them.

But let’s not have rational evidence getting in the way of policy making.

by Andrew Duffield on January 14, 2009 at 9:34 am. Reply #

Immigration has been and is great for our country for all sorts of reasons. Where levels of ingress are high the pressure on public services is huge – particularly housing. People scrapping over scarce resources leads to unhappiness, tension and so on. Therefore – whatever the system – managed or not – government (local and national) need to address and relieve those pressures.

by lynne featherstone on January 14, 2009 at 11:25 am. Reply #

Exactly. If immigration is ever a problem then that is because it is the fault of the government, not the fault of the immigrants.

by Oranjepan on January 14, 2009 at 12:58 pm. Reply #

I should add that if any immigrant breaks the law or otherwise causes friction at a personal level then that is also the fault of the authorities for insufficient communication and support: if a government is not responsible it is nothing at all.

by Oranjepan on January 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm. Reply #

Oranjepan,

“if any immigrant breaks the law … then that is … the fault of … government”.

What about if any native Briton breaks the law?

The State is always to blame for everything bad that ever happens!

by David Allen on January 14, 2009 at 2:40 pm. Reply #

stick to the subject, David, we’re talking about immigration and immigrants.

The basic rule is that individuals are responsible for their own actions (and inaction), while the government is the department of the state with is responsible for all actions (and inaction).

If anything ever goes wrong then somewhere along the line something has failed: there are never any excuses, only reasons.

by Oranjepan on January 14, 2009 at 3:01 pm. Reply #

“…unless local and national governments predict and plan then public services begin to buckle under the strain of random population swells”

That’s only the case if services are managed and planned by governments.

Services provided by private suppliers (food, shoes, children’s toys) have no problem adapting to random population swells.

Rather than being a reason against migration, this is another reason for markets determining the allocation of resources, rather than governments.

Also, with regards to the comment above about high social security, I’m not aware of any evidence demonstrating that people move across borders under the motivation of applying for benefits when they arrive. People tend to move to economically prosperous areas, although they may be forced into becoming a pawn of the state when they arrive (due to rules denying them the opportunity to work).

On that point – do we have a policy of allowing asylum-seekers to work (and if so, is this in a government-managed way, or a more laissez-faire way?).

by Julian H on January 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm. Reply #

Sorry Oranjepan, I couldn’t resist the legpull. And anyway, it was you and Lynne Featherstone who first raised the issue of the role of the State – and in my view, rightly.

Immigration creates gainers and losers amongst the non-immigrant population. It’s wrong to castigate the losers as racists, if what has happened is that immigrants have priced them out of their jobs, or competed with them for scarce housing. Since the economy as a whole has gained from immigration, Government should tax the gainers (us middle classes who get their plumbing done cheaper) and find ways to subsidise the losers (those local plumbers who have been undercut by the Poles – or at any rate, the localities they live in, which are suffering stresses on local services).

The losers are quite right to cry “unfair”! Instead of driving them into the arms of the BNP, we should have policies to help them out.

Julian H points out that the private sector will effortlessly dive in and provide more toyshops where there is increased demand, but the same doesn’t apply to jobs, or to housing in high-immigration areas of big cities. As in so much else, we really must take a pragmatic and balanced view of the role of the State. The private sector cannot do it all!

by David Allen on January 14, 2009 at 5:52 pm. Reply #

Open borders didn’t work too well for the natives of the American continent, North or South. I’m sure that most Arabs aren’t at all sure it worked too well in what was then British Palestine, either. Yet look how GDP has risen and how the desert has bloomed !

It’s sad to see that for most of the commenters, economic arguments (not that I agree even with those, mind – some very dodgy figures about) seem to be the beginning and end of the debate. Is the market to determine everything ?

Tibet’s borders are open – to Han Chinese, and there can be little doubt that the economic effects will have been beneficial. Why on earth are the Tibetans so unhappy ?

Not everyone sees the world through a balance sheet, including many of the people coming to the UK, in numbers which will transform the demographics of England. According to the DFES, or whatever they’re currently calling themselves, 23% of primary school children are now classified as ethnic minority.

The last time I looked (2006 ONS figures) more than half the births in London (53%), and 21.9% of UK births (up from 12% in 1996) were to mothers born outside the UK. Given the birthrate differentials (ONS figures, p14) between incomers and natives, it seems probable that Native Brits will be a minority in the UK before the end of the century.

How has that worked out for other populations where large numbers of newcomers have arrived and society is ethnically and culturally divided ?

Ignoring Palestine – how is it currently working in say Fiji ?

by Laban Tall on January 14, 2009 at 11:51 pm. Reply #

“…but the same doesn’t apply to jobs”

Yes it does. More people = more demand (for goods and services) = more jobs.

Hence the fallacy of “they’re taking our jobs”.

No area of land has a set number of jobs attributed to it (as if by some natural law, or supernatural being).

by Julian H on January 15, 2009 at 9:38 am. Reply #

It seems to me that the only difference between an immigrant and a baby is that the immigrant doesn’t require eighteen or so years of education funded by the taxpayers, and can work straight away, contributing to the area they move to. Yet we don’t (within the mainstream at least) ask what politicians should ‘do’ about babies…

If anyone should be complaining about immigration to the UK, it’s the people in the developing countries whose skilled workers are coming over here – we’re benefiting from the training provided by their society.

I see no rational reason at all why anyone who wants to come here shouldn’t be welcomed (with a few obvious exceptions – fugitive criminals and so forth).

(Disclaimer – my wife is an immigrant, and it took a *lot* of ridiculous jumping through hoops to get her permission to live here with me… I don’t believe anyone should have to go through that.)

by Andrew Hickey on January 15, 2009 at 4:29 pm. Reply #

“it seems probable that Native Brits will be a minority in the UK before the end of the century”

No, people born here *are* ‘Native Brits’. That’s kind of what ‘native’ means. If you want to talk racist nonsense, at least be honest about what you’re doing rather than using weasel words…

by Andrew Hickey on January 15, 2009 at 4:41 pm. Reply #

HEAR HEAR!

On the latter point, I was undercover at a Migrationwatch event last year, and ten minutes after saying “this is not about race” Mr Green issued a similar statement about “British people being a minority by 2050”.

by Julian H on January 15, 2009 at 5:01 pm. Reply #

So can an advocate of “open borders” tell me what I tell a constituent whose children attend a school where 20 Polish children (with little or no English) arrive on the first day of term, creating significant disruption.

And at half-term 6 of them leave; but 4 more arrive. And three weeks later 5 more arrive. Etc etc etc

by crewegwyn on January 15, 2009 at 5:22 pm. Reply #

Sure, tell them that the state should not own the primary education system, and that if it limited itself to simply funding it (through vouchers, for example, allowing private groups to open new schools) then there would be greater choice and higher standards for their children and children from any other background. You can cite Sweden for an example of this working well.

Or if you think the state should control both the education system and the movement of people, then say that.

by Julian H on January 15, 2009 at 5:31 pm. Reply #

I’d say that was a problem with the effective monopoly in education the state operates.

Immigrant, itinerant and ex-patriate communities all over the world have their own specialist schools, but not here.

by Jock on January 15, 2009 at 5:35 pm. Reply #

Julian H,
Even if those private groups include religions and the religiously-inclined such as the Vardy Foundation?

Clegg seems to think so; I think it’s unavoidable (though control of the curriculum and the economics of maintaining a high intake should moderate any excesses).

by oranjepan on January 15, 2009 at 6:30 pm. Reply #

Julian H: your point on jobs is right in a broad-brush overall sense. But if all the immigrants are plumbers, it’s scant consolation to the out-of-work non-immigrant plumber to be told that there are lots of jobs going for people who can teach English to plumbers’ children!

That is not to say that we have to reject immigrant inflows /outflows and free markets. But we have to look at the costs to those who suffer, as well as the benefits to those who don’t. If we’re not prepared to recognise that the “people scrapping over scarce resources” (Lynne Featherstone’s words) are being hurt, and that we need to help them, then we’re being inhumane and illiberal.

Andrew Hickey, you might or might not have correctly identified the sniff of racism in one of Laban Tall’s seven paragraphs. But how about not using that as an excuse for ignoring the other six paragraphs, which contained some pretty strong arguments on the social dislocation and violent conflict that mass global migration fluxes can cause? Notably and especially including, of course, mass migration and colonial settlement by white Europeans!

by David Allen on January 15, 2009 at 6:44 pm. Reply #

Andrew Hickey :

“No, people born here *are* ‘Native Brits’. That’s kind of what ‘native’ means.”

You’re being deliberately obtuse – at least I hope it’s deliberate. Native Brit as in Native American. Or is my terminology out of date ? How about First Nations ? Indigenous peoples ?

I suppose a cry of ‘racist’ absolves you of the need to actually engage with the argument.

by Laban Tall on January 15, 2009 at 8:20 pm. Reply #

“Native Brit as in Native American. Or is my terminology out of date ? How about First Nations ? Indigenous peoples ?”

Ah. You mean white people. Why didn’t you just say?

by Andrew Hickey on January 15, 2009 at 11:14 pm. Reply #

David – what strong argument are those, then?

First paragraph – talking about forced repatriation of people in an occupied country. I haven’t noticed millions of people in Britain being moved from their homes…

Second paragraph – “Is the market to determine everything?” – no. But if people arguing *against* immigration use economic arguments (“They’re taking our jobs”), it makes sense to argue against those arguments.

Third paragraph, talking about an invasion. A brutal dictatorship taking over your country is different from some people moving over and taking jobs as plumbers. Plumber != invading army.

Paragraph four – lots of children apparently have different skin colours than other children in Britain do. And?

Paragraph 5 I dealt with. Paragraphs six and seven – I don’t know of any country with completely open borders, but as far as I can tell the countries which have higher immigration rates also tend to be more prosperous. If I’m wrong, that would be a valid argument.

Your *own* points, unlike Laban’s, are completely valid. The freer the market, the more likely it is that some people will lose out badly (at least in the transition from less-free to more-free). Whether you think free markets are a good or a bad thing (and I suspect most people here don’t see it as a binary thing), I think any major social/economic change which causes people to lose their livelihoods must morally be accompanied by action to minimise that damage. If (say) plumbers are losing their jobs, then there should be programmes in place to help them find new jobs, help them retrain, help them meet their existing financial obligations… generally to ensure that they are damaged as little as possible. The fact that the provisions for that kind of thing that we have at the moment are horribly inadequate is the real problem, not immigration itself.

by Andrew Hickey on January 15, 2009 at 11:34 pm. Reply #

Andrew,

If I can take the liberty of trying to sum up your views in a (glib?) one-liner, you are sympathetic to those who lose out economically as a result of immigration, but not to those who claim to lose out culturally or socially. That, you say, sounds like racism. Well, I agree, it often can mean racism. But not always.

My old aunt told me of her life in the backstreets of Coventry in the sixties. First, one Asian family moved into her street. In those days, that was a sensation. A few racist white families immediately moved out. At that stage my aunt thought they were just idiots and that it was no loss.

The empty houses were all sold to Asians. That rattled more of the white residents, who in turn began to move away. Then, of course, the local amenities began to change, with chip shops giving way to curry houses. In those days, Brits didn’t eat curry, and many Asians didn’t try to speak English.

Suddenly my aunt found that her local community of friendship had broken up. She didn’t blame the Asians, but she didn’t think it had been right to let so many in so fast. More recently, others have said the same about Polish immigration. I think that’s what Chris Huhne was talking about when he spoke of “a pace of change issue and an absorption issue”. (To be clear, in my view this argument is only truly valid for really high immigration fluxes, such as the surge from Poland, and not for the gentler net influx that we have currently.)

Now, you may say that I’m unduly downplaying racism here. Well, it’s a tricky argument, but, even if you acknowledge the pervasiveness and destructiveness of racism, that doesn’t mean you must react by defiantly insisting on open borders. If you know, from sociological study, that rapid and large – scale cultural mixing often leads to violent racial conflict, what do you do about it?

If you let it happen, and people suffer from the resulting conflict, then sure, the violent racists are at fault. But, aren’t you also at fault?

by David Allen on January 16, 2009 at 6:45 pm. Reply #

David, again, that’s reasonable enough (and that’s definitely not what Laban was saying, with the comments about 23% of children being “ethnic minorities”).
I’m not unsympathetic at all to the idea that people lose out ‘culturally or socially’ – it’s the idea that we must protect ‘native Britons’ from being outbred by the dirty foreigners that I think is racist, because that is actually the word for that attitude. You’ve not expressed that opinion, but Laban did.

My own personal view is that overall far more is gained than lost by immigration – I know I’m glad that we *do* have curry houses, and more to the point, having until fairly recently worked on a psychiatric ward, I know we wouldn’t have a functioning NHS without immigrants working as nursing staff. I’m not ‘defiantly insisting’ on anything, though.

*ANY* change to the status quo will have some negative effects, and it is always best to mitigate those effects in whatever way is practicable (how that could be done in this case I’m not sure). However, that in itself is not, in my view, a reason to limit people’s freedom of movement.

I do accept that people can have differing views on the matter without being racists or otherwise of bad faith (and I also accept that my opinion may be coloured by the fact that I have benefitted in many ways from the presence of immigrants in the UK, ranging from a wider range of available foodstuffs to being able to live in the same house as my wife, and have not yet suffered any negative effects). What I *don’t* accept is that someone can hold the views Laban espouses and be well-intentioned…

by Andrew Hickey on January 16, 2009 at 8:14 pm. Reply #

* cheers Andrew on *

by Jennie on January 17, 2009 at 1:54 am. Reply #

Andrew – OK, I take all your points – thanks!

by David Allen on January 17, 2009 at 11:12 pm. Reply #

“Native Brits” by which you presumably mean those decended from immigrants from 100 years ago rather than 40.

Given that there is strong evidence that the one of the builders of Stonehenge was an Italian migrant then the pure-bred Native Brits will be pretty thin on the ground.

by Anonymous on January 17, 2009 at 11:59 pm. Reply #

That’s right, Anonymous. And as a Celt may I say that all you bloody Romans, Saxons, Normans and Vikings should go back to where you came from…

by Andrew Hickey on January 18, 2009 at 10:45 am. Reply #

Andrew Hickey :

“Ah. You mean white people. Why didn’t you just say?”

It’s true that, due to geography and history, the natives of these islands are white. That’s just the way they are – not something to be proud of but not anything to be ashamed of either.

But not all white people are native Brits. Anna from Stettin on the Lidl till may be white (and may be charming) but is not a native.

As for your fantasies about ‘dirty foreigners’, why can’t you engage with what I wrote, not with your telepathic interpretation of what I was thinking ?

“What I *don’t* accept is that someone can hold the views Laban espouses and be well-intentioned…”

I see. “Those who disagree with me are not merely mistaken, but morally at fault”.

But I’ll extend to you the courtesy you will not extend to me – I imagine that you ARE well intentioned. I just think you’re a little too free with your imputations of racism. I think mass immigration without integration, on a scale without precedent, is likely to lead to trouble of one sort or other, as it has in other ethnically, religiously or culturally divided parts of the world. But in the (approximate) words of the late John Wyndham “If I happen to mention that autumn follows summer, that does not mean that I want to get a ladder and pull all the leaves off the trees”.

(disclaimer – my late father was an immigrant, who to the end of his life spoke somewhat fractured English – which made him stand out somewhat on his otherwise monocultural County Durham council estate)

by Laban Tall on January 18, 2009 at 5:30 pm. Reply #

I voted for “managed immigration, eg through a points system”. Not really in the mood for a lengthly explanation. But really it depends. Many immigrants, & I include a large number of asylum-seekers in this, can make a worthwhile contribution & I’d take them over a lot of native-born Britons who do nothing of any use & probably never will.

But at the same time, I do not believe in unrestricted migration, as there are undoubtedly millions of people wanting to come here & we simply do not have the physical space to accomodate them without damage to our environment, which as a green-minded person I will not countenance.

We should, in my opinion, allow asylum seekers to work & admit some even if their lives are not in danger. But only some, & we should not let adherence to libertarian dogma get in the way of operating some kind of selection process. A points-based system is clunking & silly but it’s the least worst option, certainly far better than admitting the massive numbers who would come here if they could.

Overpopulation is an issue that should concern us, & while it’s obviously a worldwide matter it should be borne in mind that people in the west tend to have a higher environmental impact.

Additionally, in order for small-government liberalism to work, we need some idea of coherence which does not rely on the state, such as the ties of local communities & a thriving civic society. There is nothing to prevent people of any nationality or race from being assimilated, but it is naive in the extreme to think it will just happen by magic or that it somehow won’t matter in the brave new neoliberal world in which we’re all just consumers thrown together by accident & nothing matters but a balance sheet.

It is hard for me to countenance restrictions on immigration because I like most of the immigrants I’ve met, but a points based system of some variety is what we’re going to have to have given that it’s hardly an unmixed blessing. It is a messy way to go about things, but a dogmatic libertarian policy would be a hideous failure.

by asquith on January 18, 2009 at 6:15 pm. Reply #

Most people voted for my solution or “operate an annual cap on immigration”. It seems the pro-immigration at all costs brigade aren’t all that strong.

by asquith on January 18, 2009 at 6:16 pm. Reply #

I wonder whether the results of this survey (and comments) would be any different on Tory or Labour sites.

by Julian H on January 18, 2009 at 8:33 pm. Reply #

We do exist, however.

Open doors immigration – if viewed entirely by logic – only contains one or two pitfalls, mainly in the problems of culture clash and overpopulation. Both can be corrected as long as the problems are understood. Culture clash (for example, the British public distaste for Arranged Marriages vs the Indian-Subcontinental view) is a hurdle, and like all hurdles it’s got to be tackled early on to avoid cracking your ankles. Overpopulation is a civic planning problem, and it’s solution lies in the construction of more properly made high-rise living and more “new towns” – much like what Post-War Britain tried between the late 40’s and early 80’s,but without the Labour-dominated rampant corruption.

Open Doors Immigration makes sense on a much more deeply philosophical and practical level, at least to me. Restricting migration is a surefire way of preventing cultural understanding and economic freedom – two key goals of the Party. Practically, the migrants are one of three kinds – low skilled workers of the kind that will happily work for minimum wage, highly skilled workers who want to ply their trade, and young families wanting to better their lives and those of their children.

When David Cameron was running about on his Blairite “Family Values” message, he was also deploring the mass entrance of the Polish, and was declaring that it was all the EU and Blair’s fault. As a keen church goer himself, maybe he might have been more pleased if he’d realised that the immigrants were devout Catholics – provided he’s not anti-Catholic – and therefore were perfect models of his Family Value message. Open Doors Immigration does not lead to an influx of undesireables.

I know it’s ideaological rubbish, but as a child of this era, where you grow up and the children of those other cultures are all around you, open doors immigration is my natural responce.

by Huw Dawson on January 18, 2009 at 8:37 pm. Reply #

I will insist that, for example, forced marriage & the sort of homophobia & misogyny commonly found in certain “communities” should not be tolerated. This is a view which I should hope was universal amongst liberals.

But in order to confront these tendencies, it is necessary to have a thoroughgoing process of assimilation. This cannot, in my view, happen with an open door policy because the number of would-be immigrants is huge.

I do not accept the “arguments” for so called eco towns. If we did not have a soaring population there would be no need for them. I see your point that high rise living can be tolerable, & there’s no need to repeat the idiocy of the 1950s in mass producing council estates & making tenants live there.

But at the same time, I would not want to rip up planning regulations, as this would prove environmentally harmful in obvious ways. We have seen how property speculators behave. It is ugly, which is why I think there must be restrictions on out of town shopping centres as well as the sort of housing developments disfiguring cities such as this. The ideologues should stick to reading Spiked Online, & I’ll support policies which have a chance of working, such as Newcastle upon Tyne LDs’ housing policy which was announced a while back.

I also take the point about immigrants having a culture of hard work, social respect & generally better behaviour than is found amongst many Britons. But let’s kid ourselves, it’s rare that you’ll find a liberal in certain immigrant communities (Exceptions made for groups such as the Iranians of my acquaintance who have fled theocracy & who would quite merrily give Galloway & his fellow apologists the beating they deserve).

This is not some reductionist Islamophobic statement, since there are progressive Muslims & I am glad of it. But in their “civil war” against the reactionaries, they need the support of a secular state which is for integration & against cuddling up to whatever unrepresentative extremists it can find, New Labour-style. This requires a broad front against “faith” schools, ghettoisation, the automatic deference to the religious of whatever stripe, & so on. But all these would in my opinion be undermined by an open door policy. Such a policy would lead to huge levels of immigration, & no mistaking.

My instincts are welcoming towards newcomers. But I do not think that such a policy is tenable. I have really no idea which people to restrict, but I cannot simply stand idly by while the population of this country soars. I have been made to confront the issue for several reasons.

I feel as if I become alienated from people whenever immigration is mentioned, especially because most of those I meet are reactionary on the issue & vilify all immigrants indiscriminately.

But having said all that, there should still be a greater focus on ESOL & the removal of restrictions on asylum seekers’ work. As I said, it isn’t easy staking out my position but I have alighted on what I consider the least worst option.

by asquith on January 18, 2009 at 9:27 pm. Reply #

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