It was good to see an Archbishop give the political system a hefty kick last week. Lord Carey’s courageous intervention in support of the cross-party group called Balanced Migration certainly caught the attention of the public and gave a huge boost to their campaign to get immigration down close to the level of emigration.
He has moved the debate forwards. Instead of the usual accusations of racism there is now a more reasoned acceptance by the political class that current rates of immigration into Britain are unsustainable.
They are stressing our public services and straining our social cohesion. Now we have David Cameron saying that he does not support the idea of a 70 million population. He wants to see immigration kept within the tens of thousands. This is a significant development. He does not make stray remarks on this subject.
Indeed, he has hardly mentioned it since a major speech on population two years ago.
Nobody, least of all Mr Cameron, challenges the reality that immigrants have made a major contribution to our society. It is the recent scale of immigration that is the problem.
The latest population projections from the Office for National Statistics show that the UK’s population will reach 70 million in 20 years’ time and that just over two thirds of this increase will be because of immigration.
The Government claims that it will never happen but ONS forecasts are much better than the Met Office. Over the past 50 years their 20-year projections have been accurate to 2.5 per cent. Ministers also claim that immigration is coming down, partly due to their Points Based System. But the fall is almost entirely due to more East Europeans going home while three quarters of the PBS are student applications, which are riddled with fraud. The only means open to the Government to limit population is to limit immigration. If the Tory leader is serious he will put it into his party's election manifesto – and it will be hugely popular.
© Copyright of Sir Andrew Green