It’s not racism but pure common sense
By Sir Andrew Green, Chairman, MigrationwatchUK
© Copyright of Sir Andrew Green
The Daily Mail, London, 16 February, 2005
THE debate on immigration is gathering momentum. And so it should. It is a major concern of the British people, yet for years it has been neglected for fear of accusations of racism.
The Home Secretary gave matters a boost when, addressing a meeting of supporters in Newcastle at the weekend, he is reported to have said: 'We want more migration, more people coming to study and to work. We want more people coming to look for refuge.'
This is so contrary to the views of the general public that it is truly astonishing. Does the Government really propose to ignore the strong and genuinely held views of the vast majority of the population?
Can ministers be as arrogant as that? Or is it their real intention to say one thing and do another?
Perhaps they are trying to ride two horses at once. They may wish to retain the votes of the ethnic minority communities, of whom 80-90 per cent have voted Labour in the past.
But, in Britain, there is another constituency to consider - the white working class. It is these voters, not the inhabitants of Islington, who bear the brunt of immigration on their communities.
It is their housing, schools and hospitals that come under strain. Not for them a flight to the leafy suburbs. They simply cannot afford it. Not only do they suffer these consequences, but they receive none of the supposed benefits of immigration.
The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, tells us that London 'utterly depends' on migration for its economy.
Obviously, with 29 per cent of Londoners now immigrants, we could not do without them. Nor would we wish to. Many of them and their descendants are making a valuable contribution to our society. But that is quite different from saying that we need yet more immigration.
Eighty per cent of immigrants come to London and the South East - a region that is already nearly twice as crowded as Holland. We are choking with people and their cars.
We do not need more people. And we certainly do not need another five million - five times the population of Birmingham - which, according to the Government's own projections, will result from immigration at present levels.
It gets worse for the ordinary worker. Large-scale immigration lowers unskilled wages and raises unemployment among the unskilled. Don't just take my word for it. Take it from Professor Richard Layard, Britain's top labour economist who helped to design Labour's welfare to work programme.
He wrote exactly that in the Financial Times. He added 'If we are concerned about fairness, we ought not to ignore these facts. Employers gain from unskilled immigration. But the unskilled do not.'
Working people may not be schooled in economics but they are certainly not short of common sense. They know that large scale immigration is against their interests and they are very tired of it.
Nor do the Government's wider claims hold water. The Prime Minister claimed in his speech to the CBI on April 27, that our economic growth would be nearly half a per cent lower in the next two years without net immigration.
He forgot to mention that immigration will also increase our population by a quarter of a per cent so that the benefit of that economic growth will be trivial - roughly 50p per head per week each year.
Is it really worth all the hassle of large-scale immigration just for that? It is absurdly arrogant to describe those opposed to this as making a 'saloon bar response', as Mr Clarke did on Sunday.
There are many aspects to the immigration issue that have received too little attention in recent years. One of them is public health on which the Conservative Party has just published proposals.
They were met, of course, by the usual howls of protest and insinuations of racism. In fact, they are just common sense. Indeed, common sense that has been applied by dozens of countries across the world who are less enslaved by political correctness.
The Government produced an 'action plan' last autumn to tackle the problem. But it did not include testing for immigrants. That issue was left to a Cabinet Office committee to make a 'Comprehensive Review of Imported Infections and Immigration'. The report was produced last autumn - and quietly buried.
We do not even test medical staff before they are recruited from overseas. In 2002/3 over 40 per cent of the 32,000 nurses joining the register were from abroad, while in 2003 nearly three-quarters of the 15,000 doctors who joined the register, qualified outside the UK.
Many of these staff came from countries where the incidence of HIV, TB and Hepatitis B is far higher than in Britain. This is no less absurd.
Expect the politically correct to ignore the facts and to set off in full cry. But they will not convince the public. We have every right to take measures to protect public health. Indeed, these measures should have been taken long ago.
Sir Andrew Green is the former British Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia.
© Copyright of Sir Andrew Green
The Daily Mail, London, 8 February, 2005