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