Liberal Conspiracy: Handing immigration to the right

Nick Clegg makes the Liberal Democrats' Leader...
The Daily Mail asked if Nick Clegg was British enough: Image via Wikipedia

Adam Ramsay has a good analysis on Liberal Conspiracy of how the right has hijacked immigration and some suggestions on how Labour can change the narrative. Adam has been canvassing council estates for the past two weeks and when he asks voters one of their main concerns, time and again, he hears immigration. Ironically, he says that while people say they are concerned about immigration, he hears this disproportionately in areas that have experienced the least immigration.

It’s worth a look at the full post, but this really stood out:

That the right have managed to take the macro-economic factor of labour mobility and convince millions that it’s to blame for their day to day problems is as extraordinary as it is scary. But every time Labour (or even, in the recent debate and to a lesser extent, the Lib Dems) accept this premise but concede they won’t deal with the ‘problem’ as aggressively, they drive people to the arms of racists.

So by talking about ‘getting tough on immigration’, Labour can never win.

Labour and Conservatives have been competing to prove who is tougher on immigration. The dialogue about immigration is poisonous, and it’s not simply about race. The Mail on Sunday – consistent with the Daily Mail’s transparent attack on Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats (as Anthony pointed out earlier) – actually questioned whether Nick Clegg was British enough, attacking him for his “exotic lineage and cosmopolitan lifestyle“. The piece challenges Clegg that he is “only a quarter English”. To which the leader of the Liberal Democrats replied:

Well, biologically…yeah. But I was born here, brought up here, went to school here, and I feel very proud to be British. I have been very fortunate to have different bits to my identity. That’s enriched me.

Sunder Katwala at the Next Left looks at how many famous British historical figures wouldn’t be considered British by the Mail’s standards, for instance’s Winston Churchill’s mother was American or Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose father was French.

People across the political spectrum say that that politicians never talk about immigration. Mehdi Hasan, writing in the Guardian, has an easy time of proving that wrong. However, when they do talk about immigration, it’s always in terms of getting tougher and increasing hurdles to legal immigration.

Emotion continues to trump facts or rational debate about immigration. Sadly, there isn’t anything unusual in that. Adam has some ideas on how to change the debate, ones that will benefit Labour. As an immigrant, I’d like some ideas just to make it a slightly less hostile environment.

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