Leaving aside for a moment the question of how “short-term” these skills gaps really are given parallel plans for huge cuts in state education, Cameron seems to still be trying to sell the idea that Britain can use immigrants to plug economic gaps, demand their short-term integration and still refuse them a long-term future. A policy that is both unjust and unworkable, doubly dishonest.
It’s not often – if ever – that I find myself agreeing with the BNP. Yet their spokesman’s comment that ‘it’s cynical opportunism, isn’t it? It’s almost like a ceremonial adoption of our policy’
catches some of Cameron’s effect if not his intention. Mainstream politicians have for years justified their drift towards anti-migration policies as part of a war against extremism. But you don’t beat them by joining them. As this excellent article
in the Economist pointed out a few weeks ago, by adapting the far-right’s policies in order to prevent their electoral success, xenophobes and racists gain a much greater ideological legitimacy and the need for real debate about mobility is avoided.
Yes, the Daily Mail and Migration Watch are pretty obvious proofs that the insistence that we have a nationwide “immigration problem” in the UK won’t disappear from our politics overnight. But yesterday it did feel as though, for the first time in many months, the political and media consensus had cracked. Let’s hope this is the first sign that we might be moving closer to having a real debate on immigration and mobility, one where both sides of the argument get to speak.