Thursday 30 November 2023
As recently as December 1999 (which doesn‘t seem all that long ago to those of us in our 80s) fewer than 5% of the British electorate chose Immigration as one of the top five issues the government should deal with. This compared with 30% who chose the NHS as one of their top worries.
However, once the century turned and the Eurosceptics became more effective at influencing British political debate, immigration began to increase in importance as an issue. As early as 2002 Theresa May warned the Tories that in trying to accommodate the right-wing nationalists they were in danger of being seen as the “nasty party.” This, unfortunately, didn’t stop her, while Home Secretary, making her own contribution to the nastiness by deliberately trying to create a “hostile environment” for immigrants.
Rather than oppose this deplorable trend the Labour Party whilst led by Ed Miliband produced mugs urging those “concerned about immigration” to "Vote Labour," and set a trend by including control of it among its on five election pledges in 2015. Some senior members deplored the mugs at the time. I think they’re all ashamed of them now,
Consequently today, as a result of the Tories’ desperate attempts to stem leakage of their support to the crudely nationalist UKIP party and its variants, Labour’s pusillanimous failure to combat the bile by proclaiming the benefits Britain has received and continues to receive, Prime Minister Sunak is able to flaunt his “stop the boats”[policy as one of his five priorities and he and his henchpersons claim to be expression “THE WILL OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE.” (Capitals deliberate.)
Rather than the truth I believe this to be the product of despicable perception management to gather votes at any cost, including the abandonment of all sense of humanity and decency.
As a society we are better than that.
Some facts were carefully spelled out in an article by Gaby Hinsliff in Tuesday's Guardian. The vast majority of the record number which came to our shores in 2022 were actually approved by ministers, having been granted leave to work (40% of them in the NHS or Social care), study, join their families of seek sanctuary via “approved” routes for the favoured Afghanistanis (sadly not all of those who helped the British forces) and escapees from Ukraine.
Only a very small minority come illegally by boats. The flagship policy of deporting these to Rwanda is not only obscene and ineffective but even if implemented would have only a minuscule impact on the total of immigration.
I like to enumerate how my own life is both enabled and enhanced by immigrants or the children (and these days, probably grandchildren) of immigrants. They deliver my morning paper, clean drill and fill what’s left of my teeth, rung my favourite restaurant, provide about two thirds of my medical treatment on the NHS, dispense my medicines, provide the vicar, half the choir, much of the congregation and the brilliant organist of the church I attend, clean my car, drive about half the buses on which I travel, and much more besides, including paying some of the taxes which furnish my pension.
Grateful thanks to them all.