Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Immigration: Heads Buried in Westminster Sand

Cast your minds back to late April 2010, the day Gordon Brown’s microphone was left on following his encounter with Gillian Duffy and, after her reference to Eastern European immigrants, the word he used to describe her.

Fast forward back to today and we discover that nearly a third of people in Britain admit to being race prejudice (compulsory survey warning – the survey only sampled 2,000 people) and this is a significant rise since the all-time low in 2001.

Add to that the somewhat stunning success of UKIP in the recent elections, especially their ‘win’ in the European elections which, frankly, the Labour Party should have won hands down at this point in the electoral cycle and we can see that there is a large portion of the British people who are concerned about immigration in Britain.

An interesting, somewhat ironic, counterpoint to the survey news this morning were the images of immigrant camps and around 800 immigrants being cleared out in Calais, hardly images that will alter the views of those concerned with immigration.

Yet despite this obvious national concern with immigration the Westminster parties seem to treat those concerns somewhat contemptuously or, perhaps more accurately, simply failed to recognise the concerns of a sizable number of the electorate despite the endless warning signs of what is happening.

The Conservatives have been banging on about what they have achieved in terms of immigration yet are totally failing to convince many people of this. Obviously the images of the camps of people waiting to flood into Britain from just across the Channel do not exactly back up their narrative.

The Labour Party appear to have failed to learn the lesson from Gordon Brown’s experience and while they have been focusing on the cost of living issue they have failed to address the reason why many people feel there is a cost of living crisis, which is that to many immigrants have taken British jobs and are pushing down wages in the process. While not inherently true it is a popularly held belief and, as such, needs to be addressed by a party that wants the electorate to put them into Government next year.

Obviously the Liberal Democrats have suffered a killer blow because of this issue. Having been staunchly pro EU the implication is they are pro EU immigration and therefore quite happy with EU immigrants taking British jobs and, unless they take a stance that recognises the concerns of many of the electorate 2015 could be an even worse year for them.

Immigration is a potentially toxic issue which the politicians in Westminster would prefer to go rather than tackle it head on but by burying their heads in the sand they further increase the disillusion with politics in this country. They appear to seek power simply for powers sake rather than power to answer then concerns of the ordinary people who give them power in the first place.

The warning signs of increasing voter concern about immigration have been there since 2010 yet failure to truly address those concerns has resulted in the rise of UKIP which,  in turn, could give the three main parties in Westminster a real headache over the next 12 months.

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