Frank Field has been doing his 'Enoch Powell lite' act again, claiming that there will be 'rivers of blood' in the street unless immigration becomes a central issue in the election campaign.
He claims that: "The economy and immigration are the two big issues that voters wish to see debated at this election. The economy has already featured in the clashes between the main parties. But, despite brief mentions in the manifestos, immigration is the issue that dare not speak its name." Well we all know why that is. As Michael Ashcroft and his document 'Smell the Coffee' have ably pointed out, bringing up immigration as a 'national' issue is a vote looser but is a sure-fire tub-thumper at the local. Just look at any Conservative constituency leaflet, not just Andrew Rosindell's (though the Romford MP and ex-Monday Clubber is a serial offender, having asked more than a hundred questions on immigration and asylum since his election in 2001).
In fact all the parties are pursuing their own local anti-immigration strategies, especially where their potential share of the vote may be eaten into by avowedly racist parties such as the BNP and UKIP. Even MPs who are jumping the sinking Labour ship at this election are doing their bit to stir the already murky waters. On Monday James Purnell, who has fallen on his sword following last summer's failed palace coup and decided that a job in community politics with London Citizens offers him a better place to build a power base, made the outrageous statement that "the welfare state is a birthright and politics needs to reflect that." Thus immigrants will need to 'earn the right' to welfare benefits by paying in a certain amount to state coffers.
Beveridge envisaged a system of 'from cradle to grave' protection paid for by a system of compulsory insurance but access to those universal benefits have never been solely dependent on how much one has already paid in. If it were the case, children would have been denied access to the NHS and those that have never been able to work, and therefore pay sufficient tax to 'earn their right', through no fault of their own would have been denied that 'from cradle to grave' protection. An outrageous suggestion hardly worthy of a Labour politician. But then again Frank Field is one of those too and he has come up with some particularly bizarre proposals to reform the welfare state that would have had Beveridge doing somersaults in his grave.
Back to Field's Telegraph piece, in which he bangs all the right anti-immigration drums:
a UK population of 70 million in 20 years time; "maternity units are struggling as 25 per cent of all births in England and Wales are to foreign-born mothers– in London that proportion is 50 per cent. Primary schools in some areas have to resort to portable classrooms to cope with new arrivals";
"nearly 40 per cent of all new households over the next 25 years will form due to immigration – an average of nearly 100,000 extra households every year";
All the usual myths and distortions. Plus a new one: the only effective way to cure the stresses that the coming "decade of financial reckoning" will entail as UK Plc seeks to tame the budget deficit is "effective action to tackle immigration". But of course "the political classes are deaf to [the public's] demands." Thus, "our political leaders must allow the ballot box to decide this issue before anger over the scale of immigration spreads to our streets."
And what is his solution to his perceived 'problem'? Certainly not one that any of these same 'political leaders' are advocating, as he helpfully points out. It is a "dual lock": breaking "the link between coming here to work and becoming a citizen" together with a cap on "the total number who arrive minus those who leave each year: a net immigration* (sic) limit." Plus that and the old chestnut of ore immigrants already here not 'properly integrated' into 'British society' i.e. they have not been assimilated and become more like the mythic 'us'.
* Why is it that these idiots cannot even get the terminology right? OK, we'll answer that question ourselves, it is because their fixation on immigration is so strong that it swamps all consideration of the various forms of population change (i.e. migration, natality and mortality).