David Cameron Hits the Right Note on Immigration: Will the rhetoric meet policy?

There has been a whole Hullabaloo today over the speech by David Cameron on immigration in the UK, the full transcript of which can be seen here. 

The morning started with the ever Mr Grumpy of the LibDems Vince Cable giving his reaction to a yet to be delivered speech by the Prime Minister, stating that the speech was “unwise”, and could inflame extremism.

However after hearing the speech from David Cameron there was nothing in the speech that could or should “inflame” extremism or indeed be controversial at all.  It sounded like complete common sense and used very measured language on an issue that is often misrepresented by the media and politicians alike.

Not to say I agree entirely with everything he said, but the general grasp of what people living in Britain want and have been telling politicians for years, he seemed to finally get it.  He also had policies he was advocating that were almost holistic enough to cover different angles.

To me the rhetoric was fine.  A balance must be struck between moving from welfare dependency on one hand, to filling job vacancies on the other, and immigration filling the gaps, providing impetus, vibrancy and skills to the labour market where needed.

He linked the welfare reforms to the idea of more people filling vacancies of lower skilled jobs that immigrants often end up doing.  This is simple common sense.

Those scare mongering over the language he used are the ones here being mischievous, and playing the politics that is unseemly.

Of course that does not mean that David Cameron is not being populist, and making a policy that is voter friendly 3 weeks before the local elections. However, unlike previous elections, this is not a knee jerk reaction to gain votes but policies that have been formulated for a while within the Conservative Party and the Coalition.

The real questions to be asked are:

  1. Will the Rhetoric match the detail in policy?
  2. Will the policies actually work in doing what they say they will?
  3. Will they deal with the elephant in the room . . . . European Immigration?

The rhetoric sounds fine but as with much of the coalition’s policies they rarely live up to reality and are often ill thought out.  The big unknown is whether the welfare reforms will work.  The jury is out but surely it is worth trying?  Will the highly skilled jobs still be filled by immigrant workers such as in education and health?  This will be a big factor on whether these policies damage the UK or allow it to flourish.

However, the big one is surely the elephant in the room.

Most of our immigration comes from the EU countries and this cannot be stopped.

The Labour Party ignored the public’s concerns over immigration and made the issue a major topic of discussion by allowing unrestricted access to labour markets from eastern European countries when other EU countries put caps on the influx of immigrants for several years.  This created an unlevel playing field for the labour market in the EU and caused a massive influx of immigrants into the UK.

Let’s be clear, much of the immigration is beneficial to the economy, however, whenever a society has a high level of immigration over a short period of time, it creates stresses and strains on the social fabric of society.  It causes stresses on housing, education, welfare, child care and health provision not accounted for by council and local authority budgets.  It then feeds into rapid social change that creates fear in some communities.

All of this can be a recipe for disaster.  Managed immigration is an excellent approach rather than a free for all.  I have found the attacks on this speech more opportunistic and questionable than the speech itself.

The accusations by Mehdi Hasan that this is about the Tory core vote is supposed to send everyone crying foul.  Name me ANY politician that would not do the same 3 weeks before an election?

As usual the Labour Party has little to say and little to offer on this or any other subject.  What it does have to say is now coming from the right ans not the left stating that the Conservatives are being “soft” on immigration.  Which goes to prove yet again that there is no UK political party on the true left of the political spectrum.

On this subject we have to look at the policies and assess them on their merits, and not be entrapped by the left/right prejudices on this subject.

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2 responses to “David Cameron Hits the Right Note on Immigration: Will the rhetoric meet policy?

  1. Hmmm.

    It’s the whole ‘paying people not to work’ thing that bothers me. Evidence(don’t have time to find it) showed that only about 5% of people fit the work shy stereotype. I’d like to see some research on intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and the welfare state. I think it would find that at least the majority of people have intrinsic motivation to work.

    • I have doubts whether the welfare reforms will do what they say they will but in principle I have no problem with reforming it. I also have no problem with the language he was using. The whole Vince Cable thing is ridiculous. My main doubts on the policies he espouses are that the people he is trusting to go into their detail may well have ideological motives behind them, but only time will tell. The rhetoric about “benefit scroungers” and the disabled on DLA are the most distasteful aspect of their rhetoric as far as I can see – most unpleasant.

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