13th May 2016
In November 2003, David Blunkett, the then home secretary, shocked the nation by stating that there was no obvious upper limit to immigration. True to his word, the Labour government continued to loosen the UK’s border controls and during its period in office net foreign migration was officially 3.5 million people. Measured another way, net migration in 2003 was 172,000 a year but by 2010 when Labour were voted out it had risen to 256,000 a year. Quite some record.
Why did they do this?
The evidence suggests that, rather than changing patterns of migration or globalisation, it was the result of a cynical calculation with two main considerations. The first was a desire to make Britain more multicultural; and the second was to increase the number of citizens inclined to vote Labour. Furthermore, the expansion of the EU provided the perfect alibi (Freedom of Movement) for this to be done legitimately, according to EU law. However, not once, in three election manifestoes, did Labour ever explain to the British people that this was their intention.
Not only this, they consistently (and one might be forgiven for thinking deliberately) underestimated the number of East Europeans moving to the UK when the EU expanded after 2004. Labour predicted that only 13,000 would move to Britain and decided not to apply the transitional arrangements like Germany and France. However, the number of new arrivals turned out to be more than one million.
The admission by Jack Straw, Labour home secretary, that Labour did not quite get this right comes a little too late.
Since taking office, both as the majority partner in the coalition government and as a majority government, the Conservatives have continued this policy. Despite David Cameron’s cast-iron promise to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands, it has continued to rise: the last set of home office statistics show that net migration is now running at 323,000 per year, almost twice the number under Labour. And this is to ignore the number of illegal immigrants and the disparity between the number of national insurance figures issued and official immigration figures.
Rumanian and Bulgarian immigration during the Tories’ rule also tells a similar story. After transitional arrangements were lifted in 2014, the Guardian and other members of the so-called liberal press trumpeted how predictions (UKIP’s in particular) about the flood of immigrants from those countries had proved to be wrong. Twelve months later, the truth emerged that:
- Bulgarians and Rumanians now make up a tenth of all immigrants to the UK
- Rumania’s figures are surpassed only by those of India and China
- In the year to June 2015, 50,000 migrants arrived from those two countries – 19,000 more than in the previous year
- In the year to September 2015, 206,000 took out a National Insurance number - suggesting that even more may be arriving
- National statistics in fact showed that 189,000 were working in the UK, representing a 49,000 year-on-year increase or just under 35%, compared with when restrictions were in place
No country the size of Britain can continue to sustain such levels of immigration.
What is the impact on ordinary people?
Migration Watch have measured the impact of this with some accuracy on their website (www.migrationwatchuk.org). In summary:
- The current scale of migration to the UK, now over 300,000 a year, of which roughly half is from the EU, is completely unsustainable.
- As a result of this mass immigration our population is projected to rise by half a million every year – the equivalent of a city the size of Liverpool – for as long as immigration is permitted on the present scale.
- England is already twice as crowded as Germany and 3.5 times as crowded as France.
- The additional population growth makes congestion worse and adds to the pressures on public services. This comes at a time when public spending is being reduced.
- One in four children born in England and Wales is to a foreign born mother with the rise in the number of births putting added pressure on NHS maternity services.
- It has also led to a shortage of school places: 60% of local authorities will have a shortage of primary school places by 2018.
- The UK has a serious housing crisis. Mass immigration is the main reason for the additional demand. We must build a new home every six minutes for the next 20 years to accommodate the additional demand for housing from new migrants.
- Population growth on this scale renders integration of newcomers virtually impossible.
- Three quarters of the public want to see immigration reduced and half of them want it cut by a lot.
- To stop the rapid rise in the UK’s population size, net migration would have to be reduced to well below 100,000 a year. It is currently at over 300,000.
What are the prospects for the future?
There is no sign that these levels of immigration will reduce. On the contrary, there is every reason to believe that the numbers will increase, thanks largely to our masters in Brussels whose belief in freedom of movement is quite easy to understand if you think of the EU as one big country with no travel, work or benefit restrictions for anyone, including terrorists. Further integration will, of course, solve all these problems (or so we are reassuringly told).
While things are relatively quiet at the moment - so as not to upset the unruly children in the UK ahead of their quite unnecessary referendum – the EU is cooking up further expansion of its territory with all the advantages that freedom of movement brings. So, we have plans for 127 million people in Turkey, Ukraine (despite the Dutch referendum vote), Georgia and Kosovo to be given visa-free travel in the Schengen area of the EU. While this does not include Britain, it will be only a matter of time before the negotiations with these countries turn to their membership of the EU.
The EU Referendum: the People versus the EstablishmentIt is no wonder then that so many people want this situation brought under control. The strength of this feeling may be judged by the fact that pro-Brexit support appears to be rising against all the odds. Immigration is proving to be one of the most important concerns.
The conundrum for the political establishment is this: how come when so many bodies (all the major political parties, the CBI, the TUC, the OECD and virtually all the mainstream media) are lining up against Brexit, is anti-EU feeling rising?
They could start by asking themselves a few simple questions:
Why do so many ordinary people no longer believe them?
What do they expect after they have lied and ignored the concerns of ordinary people for so many years?
Why are they, our so-called elders and betters, so out of touch?
Why is it ordinary people who are being left to bear the burden of these unprecedented levels of immigration – through the impact on their jobs, schools, medical care, roads?
Why are they offering no solution to their problems?
The simple answer to the last is that they cannot do anything, even if they wanted, because of EU Law.
The EU Referendum will shortly provide the perfect opportunity for the people of the UK to express their anger about this and many other issues.
Against all the odds and every deception that the UK government can throw at them, this is a referendum that can be won.
It is time to strike back.