Immigration: The Disgraceful Censorship by All Political Parties of the Greatest Issue of Our Time
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Although this country is supposed to be a democracy, all the most important decisions of the last 50 years have taken place without the consent, and in some cases, without the knowledge, of the British people.
The decision to develop the atom bomb in the immediate aftermath of World War II was made in secret.
When Britain entered what was then called the Common Market in 1973, the Prime Minister, Edward Heath, informed us that there were no implications for national sovereignty.
The cynical Heath was well aware that he was telling an outright lie.
Mass immigration is another case in point. The British people have never been consulted and, more importantly, have frequently been deliberately misled about the massive demographic change of the past ten years.
For example, when Poland and other Eastern European states joined the EU three years ago, ministers blithely said that the impact of immigration from these new member states on this country would merely amount to somewhere between 5,000 and 13,000 people a year.
For good measure, they denounced as racist those who warned that this was an absurd underestimate.
Of course, as is now well-known, the numbers arriving here from Poland alone has amounted to at least 150,000 a year, and the true figure is probably far bigger. Yet we have yet to receive an apology for this egregious act of public deception.
Last week, however, something unprecedented happened. The British public was told the truth about immigration. Needless to say, this unusual act of candour did not emanate from ministers.
Instead, it came courtesy of the impartial and objective Office of National Statistics (ONS), which predicted that Britain’s population will surge from the present 60 million to an unbelievable 71million over the course of the next generation.
By 2051, it is projected to stand at 75million. The majority of this increase will come from immigration. It is worth bearing in mind that England, which will bear the brunt, is already extremely densely populated.
Whereas France has 289 people for every square mile, in England, 1,007 of us struggle to live in the same space.
THE next wave of immigration, according to the ONS figures, will bring an extra population the equivalent of 11 new cities the size of Birmingham.
This huge demographic change will put unimaginable pressure on schools and hospitals, and strain our already overloaded transport structure beyond breaking point. It has massive implications for social cohesion and our national culture.
What is certain is that it will change the kind of country we are in ways that are impossible to anticipate. Last week, David Coleman, professor of demography at Oxford University, gave evidence to the House of Lords economic affairs committee.
He said: “The absent-minded commitment into which we have drifted, to house a further 15million people, must be the biggest unintended consequence of Government policy of almost any century.”
If he is right, it is impossible to overstate the importance of the official ONS figures. In this context, it was amazing that not a single senior politician felt such allegations merited a response.
Gordon Brown (as so often happens when really important matters are at stake) has remained silent.
Indeed, the official Downing Street spokesman, when asked to comment, went out of his way to play down the figures.
Equally, there was no discussion of the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions, even though the statistics had been published the previous day.
Instead, the party leaders enjoyed an ugly spat about voting arrangements at last May’selections in Scotland, a scandal of some importance but scarcely comparable to the demographic explosion forecast for the coming decades.
Inconsequential they may be, but neither of the candidates in the Liberal Democrat leadership contest responded to the ONS revelations.
Nothing demonstrates so clearly the near total irrelevance of modern Westminster politics to the life of the nation at large.
And how ripe, in this context, to learn that a jaw-dropping £88million has been spent on MPs’ expenses over the past year, and this weekend they are preparing for a week’s holiday that starts on Monday.
But on the greatest issue of our day — mass immigration — the political class collectively had nothing at all to say.
I suppose it is easy to understand why this is so. Mr Brown knows that his Government has pursued policies which have resulted in this unfettered immigration over the past ten years and whose effects will continue into the foreseeable future.
He is also aware of how unpopular this abrogation of responsibility is with voters, which is why he has cynically chosen to give the impression — totally false — that he has policies to tackle the problem.
The most painful example of this deception is Gordon Brown’s repeated pledge of ‘British jobs for British workers’.
The truth is that he has no idea how to put this promise into effect, and, indeed, it would be illegal under European law were he to attempt to do so.
His strategy of pretending to address the issue is utterly irresponsible.
The result is the worst of both worlds: stoking up resentment against foreigners; while no meaningful steps are taken to abate the flow of immigrants, or help the indigenous population.
As for the Tory Party, it proposes a slightly tougher line on immigration, but it is hopelessly divided on the issue between its modernising wing — which is terrified of the party being branded as nasty and is determined to avoid the subject altogether — and traditionalists who know how important it is to voters.
Earlier this month, this schism was embarrassingly exposed at the Conservative Party conference.
The Shadow Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, a politician whose habitually erratic judgment is to some extent redeemed by personal charm and undoubted intellectual gifts, told Channel 4 News that a Conservative government would not reduce the flow of immigration.
Immediately, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, slapped him down — but not before the gaping divisions in the Conservative approach had been revealed.
But in practice, there is very little that any party can do to control our borders.
So long as we remain part of the EU, British politicians can take very few effective measures to stem the flow of immigrants to our shores, even supposing they wish to do so.
No wonder they try and suppress public debate.
But the main purpose of politics is to address the great issues of our time, not to suppress them.
The irony is that there are some powerful arguments in favour of the Government’s practice of permitting unfettered immigration.
For the Confederation of British Industry and other employers’ organisations, cheap foreign labour weakens the power of the trade unions, drives down the cost of wages, pushes up profits and makes Britain more competitive on the international stage.
But that is not the whole story. It is much more complex.
I live in North London. Most mornings, I walk down to the end of my street to buy the papers.
Before I reach the newsagent’s, I often pass a group of migrant workers milling about.
In due course, several vans arrive and they are driven away to do casual work in farms and factories.
These young men are paid a pittance, hardly speak English, have very few rights and can easily fall victim to the brutality of gangmasters.
Young women who accompany them to Britain are often forced to work in the sex trade.
Is this the kind of Britain we really want?
And yet all our politicians — Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat — are determined not to discuss the issue.
This censorship is a failure of leadership on an epic scale.
If David Cameron and Gordon Brown are too cowardly to talk about immigration in an open and honest way, in due course, a new and perhaps more menacing type of political leader will emerge to fill the space they are leaving vacant.
(Posted on October 29, 2007)