Major Parties Help Fringe Groups With Their Silence On Immigration

May 28, 2009

Immigration largely ignored in main manifestos

The three main parties are once again ignoring widespread public concern about the number of immigrants allowed into the UK in their manifestos for next week's European elections.

An analysis of the parties' manifestos on this highly sensitive issue - consistently rated among the top three concerns of the public for a number of years - finds no hint of any desire for an open and frank discussion, let alone any meaningful commitment to bring down the highest immigration levels in our history. The analysis was prepared by think tank Migrationwatch.

'Only last week a YouGov poll showed that more than 7 out of 10 adults want immigration cut by over 80%,' said Chairman Sir Andrew Green. See also the covering press release.

'Yet once again the main parties prefer to duck the issue and offer only platitudes. Either they simply do not understand the level of public concern out there - or they are displaying a wilful disregard of the public mood.

'They will therefore have only themselves to blame if the fringe parties do well in these elections,' said Sir Andrew.

On the Labour Party manifesto the Migrationwatch assessment is that while there is undoubtedly a major reform of the visa system there is no sign of any significant reduction in numbers.

The description of it as 'Australian style' is misleading. The Australians start from a limit and select within it. The new British system has no limits and is not intended to have any. Indeed it might well weaken immigration control rather than strengthen it.

There is no reference to the UK's population. Ministers have said that they will prevent the population of the UK reaching 70 million from the present 61 million. That will require a reduction of 75% in net immigration. Their own estimate is that measures announced so far will reduce it by about 5%.

The assessment of the LibDem proposals is that they are fine words with a predictable pro-European slant but in need of a reality check. What is their "coherent approach" to legal immigration from outside the EU when demography and circumstances differ enormously? And how does this square with national control of immigration. Their manifesto contains no sign of any serious policy for immigration.

The Conservative manifesto is cursory, indeed condescending, on this key issue - a single paragraph in a document of 28 pages stating that their MEPs will oppose harmonisation of policy on asylum, visas and immigration while supporting EU co-operation where it adds value. They say these sensitive matters are best dealt with as policies for national governments' competence and control.

The Migrationwatch analysis: This is completely vacuous. See Briefing Paper {153} for source references used in Migrationwatch's assessments.

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