14 Apr 2011

Cameron’s immigration splash exposes divide in Coalition

Tory sources insist that the timing of David Cameron’s speech on immigration at the start of the local elections campaign is a “coincidence.”

It’s certainly something of a first. I can’t remember a leader of a major party kicking off a local election campaign with a speech on immigration, an area on which local government has no powers.

The speech had lines that were guaranteed (you might say tailored) to please the newspapers.

Tories insist this isn’t about getting out the core vote on May 5th. They say they’re responding to private polling which suggests that the voters feel David Cameron is doing nothing on immigration. Voters sense he’s busy on the deficit and other public sector reforms but has forgotten immigration.

It has stirred up, very predictably, some Lib Dems. Vince Cable says the Cameron language is “very unwise.” He’s also at pains to say that the policy to reduce immigration to tens of thouands not hundreds of thousands is NOT Coalition policy.

Lib Dems argue that there is no “right” immigration level that can be set, it is a matter of what is good for the economy.

Vince Cable is proud to have negotiated no limit on student visas (although the rules have been toughened up) and believes, as he told Laura Kuenssberg, that: “Much of the remaining immigration from outside the EU is crucial to British recovery and growth. That is why the cabinet collectively agreed to support British business and British universities by exempting overseas students and essential staff from the cap on non EU immigration.”

Read more: Cameron talks tough on immigration

UPDATE: Interesting thoughts here on why Romsey was chosen for today’s speech on immigration.

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16 reader comments

  1. Saltaire Sam says:

    ‘Coincidence’! When will they stop treating us like idiots?

  2. Ray Turner says:

    DC’s broadly right in my view.

    Vince has only managed to highlight one of the two main reasons why I am always reluctant to vote Lib Dem at General elections. The other is their unashamed enthusiasm for Europe…!

  3. Charlotte says:

    Untill January of this year I lived in an area where immigrants made up about 90% of the population, & indigenous British people like myself were an ethnic minority. Walking the streets was soul destroying. I’m now living in an area where indigenous people are the overwhelming majority & I’m much happier.

    1. Philip says:

      But I don’t think any of the Government’s proposals will have any effect on the area where you used to live. Some temporary immigrants may return home (but these are mainly going to be from the EU), but most will remain. The Government doesn’t have a repatriation policy and it can’t prevent EU immigrants coming here anyway. What Cameron is doing is trying to give an impression that he is tackling issues that concern many people while in fact he’s just fiddling round the edges. This is almost entirely PR & not backed with any action.

  4. jimi says:

    This is again blame the foreigner culture. We pay taxes here and support the economy and cannot claim benefits. Recession hits everybody alike . Local as well as immigrants. we uproot our families from other countries and very successful careers this to make it in the UK. This like changing goalposts. And worst part is not one person from the media supports the other side of the story. How can you pay 150 pounds a year for the BBC and expect it to be unbiased.

    1. Wils says:

      I second you Jimi, this immigration issue is just being used as a scapegoat for a deeper problem in Britain. I put it to you that Britain has benefited hugely from immigration, e.g If ALL the immigrant NHS personnel were deported the NHS would surely shutdown! So I dont see why immigrants are being targeted when Britain cannot supply enough Medics to cater for its own population.
      I sympathise with people who can’t live harmoniously with other ethnic groups and this being the 21st century. In the Global Village we are now inadvertently part of, the sooner immigration/intergration is embraced the better life will be for everyone.

  5. Jameslaw says:

    Dear Gary Gibbons, I think you’ve misjudged your report today. The story is NOT “Vince Cable and DC”, the STORY is that a Prime Minister has finally addressed concerns held by the majority of British people. If you go door to door, what is the big issue people are worried about? Your report, made Channel 4 News (which I have high regard for) look badly out of touch today. It reminded me of Michael Buerk’s comments about the BBC: “It’s all very well-meaning, and painstakingly even-handed, but often notably adrift of the overriding national sentiment.”

    I fear your report has again thrown Channel 4 News in with the “politically correct” crowd and distanced themselves from what most people actually think.

    DC has done well today in that he’s shown he has listened to the voices of the majority, which is his job. I’m not even saying I agree with DC but I am surrounded, and I mean surrounded, by people who do. Instead of saying “fair enough”, you chose to use the story to attack the coalition and make it seem like that was the whole story, which is a shame.

    1. Ray Turner says:

      I agree. The media (in general) is obsessed with finding splits in the coalition and often lose sight of the real issues.

    2. Philip says:

      He hasn’t really addressed the concerns at all. All he’s done is to say words which appear to be in tune with people’s concerns. As with any politician, look at what they’re actually doing. He can’t touch EU immigration and isn’t. On non-EU immigration, I predict that the hostility of business to the cap (see today’s “London Evening Standard”) will mean that the ACTUAL reduction in immigration levels will be marginal.
      Personally I believe it’s a mistake to link immigration & the UK benefit system. All previous Governments, going back to Mrs Thatcher, have tried a whole range of ideas for getting people off benefit & into work, with a rate of success largely linked to the state of the economy. It’s highly complex & has to start with families, early years support, education before you can change attitudes and skills. There are a lump of poorly educated people with poor work ethic & limited skills who are unattractive to employers, even when offered Government cash. Implying that they’d all get jobs if we didn’t have immigration is simplistic, largely inaccurate & merely reinforces negative attitudes.

    3. Jameslaw says:

      Philip, I take your points on board. There is little he can do, but I think, at least he’s trying to do a little. Your point “There are a lump of poorly educated people with poor work ethic & limited skills who are unattractive to employers” is right, but I think they’re only “unattractive” because the employers can go abroad and get cheaper labour (and I’ve seen this myself). Think about the chefs and waiters in your local restaurant, or the brickies on the last building site you passed. I have close friends in this “lump” who want to work, but they are turned down because the employers don’t need them, therefore they end up on benefits. Who benefits? Business. Who loses, society and the benefits system. I want everyone who wants to work to be working. I’ll worry about big business later. I’m glad we can have this debate anyway.

  6. Philip says:

    I totally agree that immigration is an issue which concerns many people. But Cameron is being deliberately misleading. A high proportion of immigrants come from within the EU and cannot be stifled. He should be clear about this & the fact that he’s not prepared to do what’s necessary to deal with it – probably to leave the EU. As for non-EU immigrants, UK businesses appear to want a substantial proportion of them – i.e. those with required skills.
    There must also be some doubt about Cameron’s equation of the benefit system & immigration. He says we make it too easy for people to be on benefits therefore there are labour shortages which require immigration. But it equally be the case that business want immigrants because UK citizens on benefit lacks the skills and work ethic. Despite his words, the previous Government put lots of moeny into training people on benefit & encouraging a work ethic, but it didn’t work sufficiently or fast enough. If you replace a “carrot” with a “stick” approach, can anyone seriously believe that people will really acquire the skills & attitude businesses want? This is a major problem which needs honest talk from politicians not grandstanding.

  7. Ian says:

    Immigration is an issue but most politicians avoid discussing it. Whether Cameron raised it now in the hope of eliciting some support from voters in the local elections is debatable. Allowing immigration to continue at Labour’s levels is likely to lead to social dissension and unrest. We live in a democracy; let’s have a vote on it. Continuing with immigration at Labour’s levels is a pyramid scheme and has led to the South East becoming the third most densely populated area in the world.

    Also integration is non-existent. Some immigrant communities insist on bringing their customs and practises here thereby creating mini versions of their countries. Schools and government agencies waste money on employing assistants and producing literature in many languages. Other countries insist their language and culture must be adopted.

    The reason why so many youngsters are unemployed is a direct result of 13 years of Labour’s education policies. I had to interview some of them and their reading/writing/communication skills were well below standard.

    1. spaniel-lover says:

      Yes standards have fallen, the teaching profession IMO is infested with people with ulterior political motives, & the rest just fancy the idea of 6 weeks off in the summer with full pay.

  8. spaniel-lover says:

    I do not want to integrate with people whom a) I was not consulted over their arrival in my country & b) I have nothing in common with. A large proportion of my life revolves around my pet dog – an animal considered ‘unclean’ in the eyes of Islamic people. I volunteer at an animal sanctuary, as you can probably guess the vast majoriy of people there are of my own race. I go to rock music gigs, not a genre of music which appeals to anyone under 30 or non white.

  9. rouser says:

    dave and co in their ivory towers, screw up and
    try an devert us away from the NHS DEBAUCHLE,

    96% no confidence vote. so they play the race card. to create a diversion, on all the failed

    fronts they should not be attacking, till we are out of recession. it goes on!

  10. Mudplugger says:

    Although we cannot now control EU immigration, the truth is that immigration from Europe has never created problems.
    After WWII, Britain took in vast numbers of refugees, mostly from Eastern Europe. Initially they clung together in ‘ghettos’ but, within a generation, had dispersed and integrated into the mainstream British culture, retaining only their ‘odd’ surnames and diminishing links to their ‘old’ countries.
    Compare and contrast with the influx encouraged to come here from the 1960s – their ‘ghettos’ remain and grow, those immigrants have developed parallel cultures, incorporating much from their village origins which directly conflicts with modern UK life, many still do not speak English adequately.
    Yet this separate development was positively encouraged under ‘multi-culturalism’, hence integration did not happen like it had with the earlier arrivals.
    And that’s why it’s such a big issue – the British have always welcomed positive immigration, but only when the end-product is an integrated ‘British’ society. If the recent non-EU immigrants would only realise that, they would have a much better time and this incendiary subject would soon evaporate.

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