2015年4月23日星期四

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Immigration is the issue of our time

With only a fortnight until polling day, this is in danger of becoming the phoniest election ever.

Day after day, the political parties compete with each other to see who can most ruthlessly stage manage sterile, soundbite-dominated stunts.

Party managers spill blood to keep their leaders as far as possible from real voters.

Speech venues are packed with hand-picked activists who cheer every heavily spun word.

David Cameron

Ed Miliband

Nick Clegg

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are all ignoring the great issues of our time in favour of cheap political point scoring

Journalists — in the unlikely event they are allowed access — are booed if they dare to ask awkward questions.

The Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats try to outbid each other over who will give mothers the most hours of free childcare — despite not having the vaguest idea where the money will come from.

What is most depressing of all in this synthetic election, however, is the shameful way the great issues of our time have been all but ignored.

With Vladimir Putin rampant in Europe, the Islamic State cutting a murderous swathe across Iraq and Syria, and much of the Middle East in tumult, the world is a terrifyingly unstable place.

Yet the topic of defence and national security was reduced to a single day of point-scoring over Ed Miliband's refusal to commit to renewing all four of Britain's Trident nuclear submarines.

The unaccountable, unelected, fraud-ridden EU — which makes a mockery of our right to rule ourselves, continues to strangle businesses with red-tape, wastes billions of pounds of taxpayers' money and prevents us from controlling our borders — has been totally ignored.

And, of course, most egregiously, immigration — the subject that dare not speak its name, but which, for years, has topped the electorate's list of concerns — has been all but air-brushed from the election.

Instead, day after day, the political class emotes about the shortage of nurses, collapsing A&E departments, struggling schools and the growing housing crisis without ever conceding that the common factor to all these problems is the soaring number of migrants arriving in Britain.

Labour leader Ed Miliband takes a selfie with a group of supporters in Ipswich while out campaigning yesterday

Labour leader Ed Miliband takes a selfie with a group of supporters in Ipswich while out campaigning yesterday

The voters, however, know the truth. They witness it with their own eyes, as communities struggle to absorb 300,000 new incomers every year.

Yet the politicians ignore this truth — further alienating ordinary people who, for years, were informed by the BBC that it was 'bigoted' to be worried about the unprecedented and historic levels of immigration encouraged by New Labour.

Of course, it is for this reason that Ed Miliband does not wish the 'i-word' to feature in the 2015 campaign.

Under his party, net foreign immigration was 3.6 million between 1997 and 2010 — more than three times the population of the city of Birmingham.

While vastly more legal migrants arrived from the Eastern European nations than Labour ever anticipated, illegal immigrants poured in through our porous borders, the asylum system was reduced to utter chaos and foreign criminals were allowed to walk the streets with impunity.

Yet, save for a few platitudes about not allowing cheap foreign labour to undercut British workers (itself a sop to his union paymasters) Red Ed remains ideologically wedded to mass immigration.

Meanwhile, Tory strategists have decided that talking about immigration only serves to boost the vote of Ukip so avoid doing so at all costs.

While vastly more legal migrants arrived from the Eastern European nations than Labour ever anticipated, illegal immigrants poured in through our porous borders. Pictured is a migrant camp in Calais, France

While vastly more legal migrants arrived from the Eastern European nations than Labour ever anticipated, illegal immigrants poured in through our porous borders. Pictured is a migrant camp in Calais, France

Yesterday, a landmark poll by Ipsos MORI revealed just how misguided this approach is.

Barely one in ten electors admits to being satisfied with the Conservatives' performance on migration over the past five years — with the party, incredibly, rated no better than Labour at controlling Britain's borders.

Most crucially, of those who supported Mr Cameron in 2010 but now intend to vote for Ukip, 94 per cent are dissatisfied.

Meanwhile, as a shocking report by the Centre for Social Justice reveals today, people traffickers exploit EU free movement rules to bring in immigrants from Eastern Europe to fleece the British taxpayer with benefit fraud scams. Young Slovakian girls are brought by bus across the Continent with no border checks to take part in prostitution rings.

EU nationals are 'sold' to non EU-migrants with the express intention of getting the girls pregnant, so the 'customer' who purchased them can claim their human right to a family life in the UK. The bitter irony of all this is that immigration and the EU should be a huge vote-winner for Mr Cameron.

Unlike Red Ed — who is totally devoted to both the EU and its open borders policy — he remains committed to reducing net migration to the 'tens of thousands' (notwithstanding the fact that he made a similar commitment in 2010, but failed to achieve it).

Tory strategists have decided that talking about immigration only serves to boost the vote of Nigel Farage's Ukip - so they avoid doing so at all costs

Tory strategists have decided that talking about immigration only serves to boost the vote of Nigel Farage's Ukip - so they avoid doing so at all costs

His manifesto contains a commitment to a 'deport first, appeal later' system for illegal immigrants which — if properly sold to the public — would be enormously popular.

Foreign criminals awaiting deportation would be electronically tagged and tracked by satellite.

Most significantly, he is the only major party leader who is offering the public an in/out referendum on Britain withdrawing from the EU if Brussels will not agree to curb the abuse of free movement.

Yes, he will face a huge battle with an EU Establishment, which considers open borders to be sacrosanct.

But on previous occasions when he has stood up to Europe his poll rating soared.

Why is Mr Cameron not making clear his determination to do so again over vital controls on EU immigration?

Why is he not passionately repeating his belief — stated in a speech in November last year — that it is 'wrong' and 'dangerous' to ignore the public's legitimate concerns about 'overcrowded classrooms' and local communities that are 'changing too fast'.

Most of all, why is he not reassuring electors there is nothing 'racist' about wanting to reduce immigration to manageable levels?

As this paper has repeatedly argued, it is not about race.

We have always applauded the huge contribution made by migrants, most of whom work extremely hard and bring valuable skills to the economy.

But our concern — shared by the overwhelming majority of the British public — has always been that the huge numbers are placing too great a pressure on our public services.

Not to debate this during the election campaign would not only be a betrayal of the British public.

It would also risk splitting the Conservative vote down the middle — most polls still show the Tory and Ukip vote combined is close to 50 per cent — and letting Ed Miliband into Downing Street by the back door.

Yesterday's polling was categorical: continued mass immigration is the last thing the voters who have left the Tories for Ukip want.

Those supporters of Ukip — a party that will have no power to effect any change — should be appalled at the prospect of victory by a Labour Party that will encourage more immigration.

Mr Cameron has 13 days to convince them — in his words — to 'come home'.

 



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