Labour, Tories scramble to imitate UKIP on immigration
Labour is now saying things on immigration that the Left branded "fascist" when Margaret Thatcher said them 30 years ago. UKIP has changed the face of the debate and made the unsayable, sayable
The election of one Ukip MP, Douglas Carswell, has sent shock waves through the complacent occupants of Westminster. The threat of even more Ukip MPs at Westminster has effectively sent an eviction notice to them. At last, many will say, the British public have finally realised their democratic power and told the Westminster establishment they are only tenants, not freeholders.
It’s wonderful to see democracy actually working. Just look at the Tories and Labour scurrying about trying to out-do Ukip and each other on new policies to restrict immigration. Ed Miliband now says immigrants should not be entitled to welfare “until they’ve paid for it.”
My goodness, Keith Joseph and Maggie Thatcher were saying that over thirty years ago and were branded fascist for doing so. But of course as we all know, it’s not fascism when the left do it—you know, Soviet gulags were correctional facilities etc.
And Mr Miliband recommends yet another departure: immigrants, he now says, must have a good command of English before they can be considered for public sector jobs.
Isn’t that the sort of thing Ed’s Marxist dad would have called “cultural fascism”? But there’s even more: Mr Miliband now agrees with Enoch Powell. He now acknowledges that the social fabric of working-class communities has been damaged by large-scale immigration. The Labour Party, he now says, must get tough on immigration and defend the interests of the working class.
The British people could reasonably conclude from all this that Ed Miliband is a totally unprincipled humbug; the man would do and say anything to get into Downing Street. And that would be true. And true also of Cameron and many other politicians. But there is, surely, a much more curious lesson to be learned from all of this.
The rise of Ukip and the consequent change in mainstream policies on immigration has shown that the British people could have stopped large-scale immigration years ago by voting Ukip. If today getting one Ukip member into parliament can turn British politics on its head over immigration, then it could have done so in the 1997 general election when Ukip put up more than 420 candidates.
Just think about that. If in the 1997 general election the message had gone out that many people were prepared to vote Ukip, then the pro-immigration zealot Tony Blair could never have pursued his deliberate agenda of bringing into the country almost 3 million immigrants. How different the country today would be if the man had been stopped.
But he wasn’t stopped. The people ignored Ukip in the 1997 general election, ignored them again in 2001 and again in 2005, and gave Tony Blair an (unprecedented for Labour) three terms in office, even though the immigration statistics were there for all to see.
During his term in office, Blair used immigration to change the demographic and cultural landscape of Britain. As the Institute for Public Policy Research put it: “It is no exaggeration to say that immigration under New Labour has changed the face of the country.”
Tony Blair used immigration deliberately and cynically for political and ideological reasons, and yet the British people continued to vote for him.
Is it any wonder Tony Blair struts the world stage with that perma-grin?
It’s difficult to offer a rational explanation as to why the electorate put Blair into office three times. Although every poll on the subject has shown the vast majority of the British people to be against uncontrolled immigration, the people still refused to use their democratic voice to mount serious opposition to it.
Only now, with the threat from Ukip, is the Westminster political class prepared to listen. The threat from Ukip today is forcing the parties at Westminster to radically change their immigration policies. That’s the power of the ballot-box at work.
The obvious question is: why did the British people not use that power years ago? Had they done so, even the threat of Ukip would have forced a change of policy on a complacent Westminster. All the people had to do was use the ballot-box.
I’m reminded of Winston Churchill’s comment in his book on the Second World War:
“One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once ‘the Unnecessary War.’ There never was a war more easy to stop” (The Gathering Storm).
The same can be said about Britain’s years of unwanted immigration. It was entirely unnecessary. The democratic means were there to stop it, yet the people simply refused to use them.
Vincent Cooper is a regular contributor to The Commentator
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