An accidental debate on immigration

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An accidental debate on immigration

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A problem with numbers: is it "bigoted" to be worried about this?

A problem with numbers: is it "bigoted" to be worried about immigration?

Immigration has not exactly been at the centre of the 2010 election, but it has probably been more widely and openly discussed than in any British general election campaign, ever. And it flared up again when Gordon Brown was caught calling an elderly voter a “bigot” after she voiced concerns about the influx of eastern Europeans.

For many “bigotgate” is not just another embarrassment for the beleaguered PM—although it is certainly that too. It is also further evidence of how the liberal elite refuses to take seriously people’s worries about the number of people coming to Britain.

Prospect editor David Goodhart has for some time argued that you can be both a liberal and a mass immigration sceptic. A few weeks ago he produced an Analysis programme on how Labour since 1997 came to embrace mass immigration. Emailing

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  1. April 29, 2010

    Wes Brown

    What particularly annoys me is the snide response from some of the ‘liberal elites’ (for want of a better term) I work with in the arts. Somebody today was cheering on Gordon Brown and agreeing that Mrs Duffy was ‘bigoted’ for raising the issue of immigration. So it’s OK to support the ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ Gordon Brown who’s now campaigning to control migration, but not a thoroughly decent, hard-working hero of Labour’s grass routes?

  2. April 29, 2010

    John Ellis

    To be honest, talk of too much immigration leaves me slightly cold: talk of inventing and clinging to a ‘British story’ does too. I live in West Wales: in nationalist terms I am an incomer having previously lived in Cornwall and Scotland (and sound English) and am therefore an immigrant; in fact, most immigrants round here are English and different coloured skins can’t be found until you hit Swansea and cities Eastwards. But if I go to London to photograph the streets I encounter areas of buzzing, seemingly contented activity when there are immigrants present, only diminished when I hit poor white areas. Amongst all the myths of immigration I would suggest that it is not immigration that is a problem (see Evan Davis’ BBC programme’when all the immigrants left’ to see how workshy many Brits are) but globalisation and how capitalism likes to use labour to make the most of its money. So what Thatcher set in train, and Labour continued with, is the outsourcing of Labour by British firms and the City leaving formerly busy working class areas destitute because jobs have been moved to…China et al. So all this talk of controlling immigration is a nonsense and instead the whole country needs to turn its attention to how capitalism needs to work to give everyone a worthwhile job. Meanwhile those potatoes will need pulling and apples picked – and who will do that?

  3. May 5, 2010

    Gabriel Bonner

    Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, but for 50 years after that date will retain its monetary system and border control. And by gum the HK government is maintaining strict border control to ensure that millions of migratory workers from China mainland’s peripheral provinces don’t take trains, buses and boats into the high density city and its geographically colourful territories including offshore islands. So Margaret Thatcher’s agreement with Deng Xiaoping forestalled a Hong Kong debate on immigration. The recent British general election campaigning saw an avoidance by mainstream parties of debate on immigration. Debate on Britain’s part in Europe was another unmentioned elephant in the room. Isn’t enlightened western democratic politics wonderful when the political main players decide that some big issues are taboo?

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