Square Deal on Immigration and Identity

By Nick Boles, October 19, 2017

Our country is divided. Not just between Leavers and Remainers, or between right and left. But in our attitudes and our attachments, in our loyalties and our sense of identity.

It’s a split between Somewheres and Anywheres, says David Goodhart (1), between people who are Open and Closed, says Global Future (2).  Although they dispute each other’s estimates of how many people fall into each category, they agree that the country is divided between older people, with a lower level of education, living in small market towns and villages, especially in the Midlands and the North, and younger people, with degrees, who live in major cities and university towns, especially in the South. The former, the Closed-Somewheres, think of themselves as English more than British, oppose immigration and multiculturalism, and support authoritarian policies like smacking and capital punishment. The latter, the Open-Anywheres, think of themselves as British more than English, but also as ‘citizens of the world’, are enthusiastic about multiculturalism and immigration, and support international aid and transgender rights.

My own upbringing and career have given me a taste of both types of life, and a blend of the attitudes that they foster. I was brought up in the English countryside and hardly visited London until I had left school. My brother lives on the Devon farm that passed from my grandfather to my father to him. Being English is a crucial part of my identity and I am proud to represent three market towns and a large slice of one of England’s most rural counties in Parliament as a Conservative.

But I am also gay, went to university away from home and graduate school in the United States. I speak three languages, am married to an Israeli man twenty years my junior, and have spent most of the last 25 years living in London.

I am a hybrid, an Open-Somewhere, a country boy-turned-metrosexual-turned Tory MP. As such, I feel a strong sense of empathy for people on both sides of this cultural divide. During my eight years in Parliament, I have come to understand how people’s different experiences shape their views and determine how quickly they will accept novelty and change. Most of my constituents sit on the Closed-Somewhere end of the spectrum. They are not wildly right wing. They don’t have that frightening moral certainty that characterises much of the Evangelical Right in the United States. But they are old-fashioned and conservative with a small ‘c’. They see a country, an economy, and a society that have changed very quickly. They don’t believe these changes have benefited them or those they care about. They worry that there has been a shift in attitudes among the ruling elites which threatens to leave them beleaguered, in a society which is becoming alien. Their vote to leave the European Union was born out of frustration. They were pulling on the emergency brake to stop the train hurtling in a direction they don’t want to go.

But they aren’t as extreme or reactionary as media caricatures imply. They accept that modern life is complex. They admit that the NHS could not continue to function without doctors and nurses from abroad.  They are quick to acknowledge their pride in the achievements of Mo Farah and confess without embarrassment to a regular craving for Chicken Tikka Masala. But they will still say that they do not feel at ease in a bustling multi-ethnic and multi-cultural city like Nottingham or London.

The introduction of same sex marriage shone a spotlight on these divisions. As a friend of David Cameron, I played a part in persuading him of the rightness of this cause and was determined to support the legislation when it came before Parliament. But I knew that many of my constituents were not comfortable with it. Because they are reserved and instinctively polite, they would usually try to avoid the subject with me. But they were discussing it among themselves, and felt quietly aggrieved that I was not able to represent their views in Parliament. Now that gay marriage is law, and thousands of people like me have got married, I think most of them would accept that their worst fears have not been realised. But that does not mean that they feel happy about the way it came about. It was, for many of them, a totemic example of the country’s metropolitan elite imposing a profound social change on people, and parts of the country, that were not ready for it.

Immigration

The greatest source of the resentment felt by people with a Closed-Somewhere outlook has been immigration. For the last 15 years, the UK has accepted a sustained inflow of people that is unprecedented in our modern history. After two decades in which more people left the UK than moved here, immigration began to increase in the 1990s. After 2004 when the Blair government extended the right of free movement to the first wave of Eastern European countries joining the EU, immigration soared to over 500,000 a year.

This dramatic and sustained rise in immigration happened without any democratic mandate. There was no explicit reference to significant increases in immigration in Labour’s 2001 manifesto. Nor was any legislation put before Parliament seeking parliamentary consent for it. The impact on public opinion was dramatic. In March 1997 only 3% of respondents considered immigration to be the most important issue facing the country. By December 2007, 46% did. It slipped into second place behind the economy after the financial crisis in 2008 but by 2015 was back in first place as the most important issue for more than 50% of respondents (3). According to the British Social Attitudes Survey in 2013, over 56% of respondents said they thought immigration should be ‘reduced a lot’ and 77% said they thought it should be ‘reduced a lot or a little’ (4). In October 2016 Ipsos Mori found that 60% of those they surveyed wanted to see immigration reduced (5).

David Cameron inherited this unhappy situation when he became Prime Minister in 2010. Unfortunately, he made things worse with his pledge to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. As an aspiration it was reasonable, and in tune with the public mood, but as a policy objective it had a major defect. Because of EU rules on freedom of movement, it was largely outside government control. In the space of ten years, the government of one party (Labour) engineered massive increases in immigration without seeking public consent, and was replaced by a government of two other parties (Conservative and Liberal Democrat) which promised a reduction in immigration, and then failed to deliver it. Since most voters had persistently told pollsters that they wanted to see immigration cut, it is hardly surprising that many of them seized the opportunity to ‘take back control’ over our borders when it was presented to them.

The British people want to see immigration controlled but they are not opposed to immigration altogether. In December 2017, the think tank Open Europe published some research on public attitudes towards immigration (6). Happily, they found that most people don’t care about the race or religion of the people who want to come here; they are much more worried about whether they have a criminal record. 56% of the public agreed with “allowing immigrants to come to the UK as long as there are controls to make sure they will contribute to our society, economy and way of life”, versus 36% who preferred simply “reducing the numbers of people coming into the UK”. They also found strong support for immigration to meet skills shortages, especially in ‘socially useful’ roles. A large majority of people are happy to see the NHS recruiting doctors and nurses from overseas; there was also support for immigrants to fill roles as academics, care workers and engineers. But here too people express a strong desire for control: 71% want to restrict access to people with a specific job offer. Large majorities also want to restrict migrants’ access to benefits and back the idea of recent immigrants earning the right to public services and benefits after some time working and paying tax.

After our transition out of the European Union is complete, Britain will need a new immigration policy. We should put the exercise of control by Parliament at its heart. The Home Secretary should set out a complete package of policies and plans in a major statement to the House of Commons. The annual Immigration Control Statement should be billed as a major parliamentary event of equal status to the Budget. Like the Budget, it should be followed by several days of Parliamentary debate. Unlike the Budget, the statement should be preceded by the publication of draft proposals and several months of consultation with employers, trade unions, local councils, charities and members of the public.

In the first Immigration Control Statement describing our immigration policies as a fully independent country outside the European Union, we should drop the existing target to reduce annual net migration to below 100,000. Net migration is made up of the total number of people who migrate to the UK minus the total number of people who emigrate from it. But nobody cares how many people choose to retire to Marbella each year and Government should not set targets for things it has no desire to control.

The government should announce that following five principles of immigration control will underpin our new approach:

(1) Economic migrants will only be allowed to move to the UK if they are filling a skills shortage or making a significant contribution to Britain’s economic prosperity.

(2) Economic migrants will only be allowed to move to the UK if they have a concrete offer of employment.

(3) Economic migrants who have moved to the UK will only be entitled to claim benefits, access public housing or receive non-emergency healthcare from the NHS after they have worked and paid tax for several years.

(4) Family dependants will only be allowed to move to the UK if their resident family can demonstrate that they have sufficient resources to support them.

(5) Economic migrants and family dependants will only be allowed to move to the UK if they have demonstrated a reasonable mastery of the English language.

Detailed policies for the different sectors of the economy and estimates for the different categories of immigrant should then follow.

The abandonment of the overall net migration target will remove any reason for people to object to the inclusion of students in the overall measure of immigration. There is already no cap on the number of international students that legitimate colleges can recruit. What is more contentious is the number of international students who are allowed to work in the UK for a few years after they have graduated. Privileged arrangements for students from particular countries are likely to become valuable bargaining chips in the free trade agreements that we will be seeking to negotiate with the European Union and other major partners like India, Australia and Canada. We should be ready to use them to secure better market access for British businesses. The Immigration Control Statement should set out how many students are expected to stay for a limited period after they graduate and how much that is likely to contribute to the number of economic migrants.

After we have left the EU, Immigration Control Statements should take place every year. Major changes in policy should be set out in the first Immigration Control Statement of a new Parliament, so that both employers and the agencies responsible for delivering immigration control can plan for the future. In other years, an annual Immigration Audit, reporting on all of the different categories of immigration in the past year, should form the centrepiece of the Immigration Control Statement.

If we are to demonstrate to the public that Parliament is in control of immigration, we will also need to adopt systems that make the implementation of those controls possible: not just the control of who is allowed into the UK, but the control of the benefits and services to which they are then given access. Recent revelations about the way that the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policy led to the appalling treatment of some members of the Windrush Generation who have an absolute right to remain in the UK but did not have the paperwork to prove it, shows that current methods of controlling access to employment, housing and healthcare are crude and sometimes inhumane. Yet imposing effective restrictions on migrants’ access to publicly funded benefits and services is going to become even more important in the future, if we are to restore public confidence in our immigration system. I have therefore concluded that we need to think again about introducing a form of digital identity scheme.

I am instinctively uncomfortable with the idea of mandatory identity cards. I opposed the policy when it was proposed by the Blair government. I still believe we should be very wary of giving the government control of a single database containing information about every citizen’s interactions with the state including health records, tax records and records of our movements in and out of the country. But technology has developed dramatically in the last 10 years as has people’s reliance on digital identities to manage their finances, store personal information and communicate with other people. People are much more comfortable sharing their personal data with organisations and technology now makes it possible for people to define precisely who should have access to what data and under what circumstances. A digital identity scheme no longer seems so alien to our way of life.

Migrants applying to come to the UK for more than 6 months are already issued with a biometric residence permit by the Home Office. The permit includes the holder’s name, date and place of birth, their fingerprints and a photo of their face, their immigration status and any conditions of their stay, and whether they can access public funds like benefits and health services. Some of them also include the migrant’s National Insurance number. In phases over the next five years, we should plan to give everyone who has settled legally in the UK a digital residence permit (which they can access online on their smartphones) and the option of a physical biometric residence permit for those who are not comfortable with digital transactions. All citizens born in the UK should be given a digital identity when they are first given (or renew) a National Insurance number, a driving licence or a passport. Although it should not become compulsory for British citizens to use their digital identity or carry a biometric card, it is likely that in time the overwhelming majority will choose to do so, because it will make so many day-to-day transactions requiring a proof of identity so much easier.

After nearly 20 years in which the public’s concerns about immigration were largely ignored, the only way for our politicians to regain the public’s trust on immigration is to be seen to take control and adopt methods that make the exercise of control effective and fair. If we succeed in doing so, I am confident that we will be able to secure the consent of the British people for the level of immigration that our economy and our society need.

Englishness

While control of immigration is essential if we are to allay the fears of those who feel threatened by globalisation, it will not be enough to heal the splits that divide us. This will require serious efforts to reassure people that their sense of identity is acknowledged and respected.

This need is especially acute in England. In Wales and Scotland, most people are happy to think of themselves as Welsh and British, or Scottish and British, with varying degrees of intensity and commitment. While Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalists may express a more intense and uncompromising form of nationalism, they cannot claim monopolies on Welsh or Scottish national feeling. Ruth Davidson has built an astonishing political career out of her commitment to the Union and opposition to separatism. But I pity the man who suggests that this makes her any the less Scottish.

In Northern Ireland, national identities are inevitably fraught. But most people accept the fundamental bargain struck in the Belfast Agreement: that everyone in Northern Ireland should be free to identify themselves “as Irish, or British, or both” and to have their choice respected, while respecting the choice of others.

In England, matters are more furtive and confused. In the seventy years that have passed since the end of the Second World War, Englishness has been distorted. We have allowed an allegiance that people of all races, classes, faiths and views were once proud to claim as their own, to be caricatured by some as a racial identity for white Anglo-Saxons. As a result, young people from ethnic minorities, born and raised in England, tell me that they rarely if ever describe themselves as English and prefer to think of themselves as British, because it seems more flexible and inclusive. In 2014, Emily Thornberry MP, now Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, tweeted for many of the Open-Anywhere persuasion, when she posted a photograph of a house in Rochester festooned with several flags of St George, with a white transit van outside. Rather than see the embrace of the national flag as a healthy expression of patriotic feeling, she clearly interpreted it as a sinister indicator of unsavoury far-right views.

Those with a Closed-Somewhere outlook have noticed that the country’s elites are embarrassed by Englishness and it irks them. Who can blame them for wondering if the ruling classes are trying to change the country they love, when their embrace of its flag has become so half-hearted and apologetic?

There are a few simple and symbolic steps that we should take to reassure people that England and Englishness are cherished. We should make St George’s Day, 23rd April, a public holiday in England (but only England) in the same way as St Andrew’s Day, 30th November, is already a public holiday in Scotland (but only Scotland.) On St George’s Day all public buildings in England – government offices, courts, police stations, fire stations and town halls – should be asked to fly the flag of St George. Schools in England should be encouraged to celebrate St George’s Day and explore England’s contribution to our national story. The Welsh Assembly should be given the power to declare a public holiday on St David’s Day and to fly the flag of St David on public buildings if it sees fit.

While the creation of an English Parliament would destabilise our constitution, and create more problems than it would solve, the lack of an English counterpart to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies exacerbates the sense that Britain’s ruling classes are neglectful of England. We need to make extra efforts to demonstrate that this is not the case. Two or three times a year, the government should hold an English Leaders Meeting in an English city. Members of the Cabinet and ministers should meet with English MPs, mayors and council leaders to debate reports from institutions like NHS England and Natural England, Historic England and Homes England and discuss the future of policies affecting England.

In the United States, car number plates carry a motto or key attribute of the state in which they were registered. Drivers from New Hampshire proclaim that they “Live Free or Die.” Drivers from Montana declare that they hail from “Big Sky Country.” We should redesign British number plates to make room for a flag from the country in which the car is registered, and offer people registering a new number plate the option of the Union Jack or the flag of St David, St Andrew, St Patrick or St George.

In 2016, Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield, called for an English anthem to be sung at sporting events involving an English team in place of God Save the Queen. He made a convincing case. Many England fans feel short-changed when they listen to Welsh fans sing Land of my Fathers and Scottish fans sing Flower of Scotland and are only given an opportunity to sing the British National Anthem in response. Conversely, some Welsh and Scottish fans find it jarring to hear their own National Anthem sung as if it were the exclusive property of the English team. Of course, God Save the Queen should remain the official National Anthem of everyone in the UK and be sung or played at any official event where it is sung or played now.  But we should give the people of England an anthem of their own to sing when they are cheering on England at a sporting event. To decide what it should be – whether “Jerusalem”, “I vow to thee my country”, or “Land of Hope and Glory” – the government should initiate a public debate and then let Members of Parliament representing English constituencies decide.

In their attempts to identify the cultural attitudes and voting behaviour of different groups in British society, the authors of the “Somewhere-Nowhere” and “Open-Closed” analysis have done us all a service and helped us understand what motivated the vote to leave the European Union. But it would be a mistake to think that most people in Britain firmly belong exclusively to one camp or other, and a disaster to suggest that we should want one side to win at the expense of the other. If we are to come back together as a nation after the divisiveness of Brexit, we need everyone’s voice to be heard and everyone’s opinion to be respected. A Square Deal on Immigration and Identity would help us reflect the legitimate concerns of those with a Closed-Somewhere outlook, while preserving the openness and diversity that have defined Britain’s success as an international magnet for trade, investment and talent since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Notes

(1) Goodhart, D. 2017. The Road to Somewhere: the New Tribes Shaping British Politics

(2) Global Future. 2018 Open Owns the Future. Available at: http://ourglobalfuture.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/OPEN_OWNS_THE_FUTURE.pdf

(3) Migration Observatory. 2016. UK Public Opinion toward Immigration: Overall Attitudes and Level of Concern. Available at: http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/uk-public-opinion-toward-immigration-overall-attitudes-and-level-of-concern/

(4) British Social Attitudes. http://www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk/latest-report/british-social-attitudes-31/immigration/introduction.aspx

(5) Ipsos MORI. 2017. Shifting Ground: Attitudes towards immigration and Brexit. Available at: https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/shifting-ground-attitudes-towards-immigration-and-brexit

(6) Open Europe. 2017. Beyond the Westminster Bubble: what people really think about immigration. Available at: https://openeurope.org.uk/intelligence/immigration-and-justice/beyond-the-westminster-bubble-what-people-really-think-about-immigration/

 

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12 Comments

  1. Fr. Chris Atkinson says:

    This document more or less encapsulates my views as an ‘Open-Somewhere’ person. Well done, Nick! You’ve done our constituency proud.

  2. Hugh Staunton says:

    Not for the first time, I say – on reading this chapter on Immigration and Identity – well done, Nick. You have enshrined my views extremely well.
    * I welcome hard-working foreigners of all complexions, and – once they have earned it, and not before – am happy for them to have full residents’ benefits. But we should be very cautious about extended families coming over.
    * (Which you have not mentioned) We perhaps need to offer an amnesty to most current illegals – provided that they are healthy and working, BUT restrict their right to bring in families for (perhaps) 10 years.
    * ID cards: yes of course, but voluntary;
    * Encouragement for an English identity: Yes; I am proud to be English and British. One corollary to your proposals: It should be open for people living in (e.g.) Scotland to register as being English, but also people living in England to register as being Scottish. They would then, and therefore, be able to vote in any future referendum concerning the departure of Scotland from the UK.
    * St George’s Day (shame we picked on a German, but we are fixed with that!). A National Holiday, in place of the ridiculous May Day holiday, introduced by the Labour Government many years ago. It would also help if the date of Easter could be fixed.
    * An English National Anthem. Yes. Land of Hope and Glory – but we need a National competition for some new words: we are no longer “..wider, still and wider..” But Britons (as indeed are the English) never, never, never will be slaves (to the EU).

  3. Woman-on-wheels says:

    I was born and raised in North London, in a home that was welcoming and tolerant to all cultures, races and differences. We were all Baptised and practising Roman Catholics and very aware of the fight for freedom to express our personal Religous Identity over the centuries and the terrible price that had been paid in the past for this freedom. This background probably gave us a tolerance to those that were in any way different from ourselves. On leaving school I worked in the rag trade, many of those in that trade at that time had had appalling histories for their personal freedoms, including numbers tattooed on their arms and nightmares of being incacerated in ghettos, labour camps and prisons in Europe pre-war. Many of my school friends and some I met later at work had come from the Carribean with their parents and the Government’s promise of work here in Britain to re-build our country post-war. The Windrush scandal at the moment is personal to me due to those past friendships. I am very, very sorry we are leaving the EU., principally because we have now had peace here in Europe for perhaps the longest time in our history. I regard myself as British, but culturally English. Feelings of being English however, have now become ‘dirty’. Why I ask? Probably because we now associate it with narrow and closed-minds. It should not be like that, and for this reason I feel it would be a good idea to have St. Georges day an English Bank Holiday. We should be allowed to acknowledge our culture and up-bringing, we cannot re-write history, and we cannot deny our identity from the past. We should celebrate the good, acknowledge past mistakes and never stop learning new ways to live, and above all be more tolerant of others differences, it is what makes each of us. I am extremely wary about limmitting immigration, chiefly because diversity enriches all of us. It would relieve the problem if those that come here to live and/or work, had health insurance because if I went to another country I would be expected to pay for my personal health-care. It would also be a major relief if housing policies were placed in areas of greatest need. What a silly idea to buy your council house without the council having plans to build another to replace it! Look at where the votes to leave the EU came from: mostly where there is no clear housing policy or sufficient healthcare for those living in the area. Stable-doors and bolting horses come to mind.

  4. Robert says:

    “I am extremely wary about limmitting immigration, chiefly because diversity enriches all of us.”

    Go ask the thousands of white girls in Rotherham, Rochdale, and countless other places how enriched they feel.

  5. Schroedinger's Cat says:

    Nick, Why are you wary of giving the government control of a single database containing information about every citizen’s interactions with the state including health records, tax records and records of our movements in and out of the country?

    Presumably you have never been caught up in the current Kafkaesque nightmare of any issue that means having to deal with multiple Government departments – The enormous benefit of having a more joined up centralised system would be manifold, both for the individual citizen, taxpayers and the Government.

  6. George Morley says:

    Firstly I feel that the subject of identity cards should be made mandatory. You cannot drive without a driving licence and you should not be allowed to vote without some form of identity. It is asking for abuse of the system to have it otherwise for anyone who does not drive or have some recognised identity. It is hardly a penalty.
    St George’s day holiday – why not and show he flag. I am always pleased to join the Scots and Welsh in celebrating their day not so much the Irish although there day is celebrated where I now live in Canada and we all join in and why not do so as we are all part of the United Kingdom and I feel that it would not be the same if split up.
    Having served my country for 26 yrs in the RAF and been around the world, not always in countries where one was safe like the Yemen for 2 years and in Malaya where my brother was killed plus 3 yrs in Germany parted from family on numerous occasions but enjoyed my service career regrettably ended by a medical issue.
    So having said that I now am in retirement but feel aggrieved because the UK Government see fit to deprive me of my state pension indexation leaving me with no annual increases which should be mine by right having paid the necessary contributions for this entitlement like everyone else. There are about 550,000 other pensioners in the same situation discriminated against because of where they live which is mainly in the Commonwealth countries plus there are about 650,000 other pensioners living abroad who do get the annual uprating just as they would in the UK but live in the EU, the USA, Israel, Macedonia and others who are treated honestly and fairly.
    This is an issue that I have asked Nick Boles to raise as I moved from Stamford and was a constituent for 25 yrs but moved to Canada following the death of my wife and would still have been there today but for that as I then married again to a lady living in Canada.
    Like the discrimination shown LGBT people this is so wrong and unnecessary which could backfire on the government because those frozen pensioners are ambassadors for UK goods and services abroad and with this issue they have been in touch with the politicians in their country to request denial of any trade agreement without lifting this undemocratic and unjustified frozen pension policy. As Steve Webb once said – It’s free loading off of the countries that help them like Australia, Canada & N.Z.
    My suggestion following the Windrush affair is that this freezing policy be stopped by removal of section 20 of the pension Act for the Queen’s Official Birthday on June 9th as she signed the Commonwealth Charter on behalf of the Government which clearly states that “We are implacably opposed to discrimination of any kind”.
    The requirement for an agreement is a lie as it is purely a UK domestic matter and to use that to discriminate is fraud but made legal by hiding it in an Act of Parliament makes fraud legal !

  7. George Morley says:

    I intended to add “No square deal” for us !

  8. robert says:

    Biometric identity cards, absolutely. I lived in Bedford from the late 70’s, then the only town with less than 50% of its population being white English. Never a problem, never felt threatened, but there were other little problems, like the ethnic habit of getting someone else to take your driving test, no one would ever ask for proof of identity.

    Now for voting, get a postal vote, who knows who fills it in. Supposed to sign to say it was the named person but do you really believe that? For the next General Election a 100% secure voting system is needed. The foolish scheme of the Lib Dems to allow anyone in the country to vote, so with about 30-40 constituencies being extremely marginal the chances of a rent a mob moving in is guaranteed. The snag with a democracy is that a majority will gets its way. Imagine Tower Hamlets, now under Momentum, they decide to compulsory purchase all the nice big houses at 5p on the £. The council is autonomous and can do what it wants, any court case will be heard in years. Guess who the houses get given to?

    This is similar to the Grenfell fire. Why was it necessary to say all illegal immigrants wouldn’t be kicked out if you survived the fire. In fact why were they in council accommodation at all. I thought there were severe shortages of accommodation for teachers, police, fire and other essential workers who would have been quite pleased with an all expenses paid flat in central London.

    Does Javid really understand what his promise to go easy on illegal immigrants means? Does it mean that I can now ignore such niceties as driving without a licence, drunk, diddling the council out of accommodation, not paying taxes, working on the side will now be looked on benignly by the powers to be? One of the things about England, and civilised countries, is that the laws are reasonable and are obeyed. We now seem to have several million arrivals to whom OUR laws are an optional extra, don’t bother if you don’t want to. And if you want a little excitement just go and knife someone, won’t get caught, and if you want a bit sex then rape is the in thing, even less chance of being caught.

    Ah the Windrush generation. My mother’s side came from Penn, Wolverhampton, Enoch Powell’s constituency. I can still remember the hurt and puzzlement in my aunts’ voices as they discussed the arrival of thousands of ‘Windrush” people in the late 50’s, early 60’s and destroyed the Wolverhampton that they knew. Of course, my relatives are all long dead, they can’t speak for themselves, I am trying to.

    I am terribly frightened. We seem now to be progressing slowly but surely to a civil war. Consider, Luton is 25% Muslim, the census people say that the Muslim population is rising at about 7% per annum, so it doubles in 10 years. Exactly WHAT are you lot, in parliament, going to do when the Muslim population becomes a majority, and, as I have said, in a democracy it is the majority that make the decisions.

    Why pick on Muslims? Well, have you seen any attempt by them to integrate into British society, other than collecting any payments possible?

  9. Fs says:

    After identifying that the country is divided, in anywheres and somewheres or however you want to call it, you only present policies to please one half, the ‘somewheres’. Considering Brexit, the inhumanely strict current immigration regime, the hostile environment, the rise in racism, what do you have to offer for them? Most of them are ordinary people, many of them young, who feel alienated by the current government. Your proposals serve to alienate them further

  10. Martin Budd says:

    Firstly, thank you for the courage to entire this sensitive debate with a thoughtful, personal, openhearted piece.Like yourself I had a rural upbringing in North Derbyshire, and then as a teenager moved into Nottingham – a huge cultural change. On the whole I fully embrace all the benefits of an open and inclusive immigration system. I think, like many, my concerns arise from the seemingly self “ghetto-isation” of some fundamentalist religious groupings, particularly the impact that has on the female population within that cultural milieu. This makes integration very difficult and increases suspicion and hostility. This is reflected not just in the UK but further afield in countries like France and Sweden also.

    My concern that however well meaning or thought out an immigration policy maybe, without effective enforcement measures and control it is irrelevant. Currently the Home Office seems unfit for purpose, with a huge brief from prisons, security, the police and much more. Reform of this area of government must take place before immigration law reform can take place.

  11. David Bellamy says:

    A lot of the better educated metropolitan open society category are working at fastfood outlets and probably will never realise their ambitions because of globalisation, but seem brain washed into believing its the holy grail.
    There are probably more countries which have managed immigration than not so its not a taboo which its being painted as, and every one who thinks different isn’t racist.
    Its a fact of supply and demand that if there’s too much supply the price or in this case the wages drop. This simple fact has been denied time after time by the very people we vote in to represent us. The minimum wage has only just overtook what I was earning as a temp in a warehouse in 2005 fact !! Once the supply became a bottomless pit every one in similar circumstances was on £5 per hour instead of £7. To add insult to injury the local jobs were no longer advertised in the UK.
    It can also affect housing policy, why would you use tax payers money to build social housing while having an open door immigration policy ? The demand will always outstrip supply and the general indigenous population see no benefit or improvement, and so there’s no electoral advantage to do so by the main parties.
    Then there’s the affect on the environment, which never gets mentioned by the advocates of open borders. I’ve always been interested in politics and when I was in my teens and twenties the Greens stood for population control not open borders which threaten to overwhelm our ability to accommodate and destroy the very thing people come here for.
    The need for trust in the system is very important, it was George Osbourne’s treasury that was planning on millions more migrating to the UK at the same time as the official policy was to reduce to below 100,000.
    I agree pretty much with most of what you’ve advocated Nick, theres been too much ideolagy and not enough practicality.

  12. Gary Rudd says:

    Which of the three languages spoken in the UK would immigrants be required to master, or were you thinking all 3?

What do you think?

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