Monday, February 07, 2005

almost changed my mind

You know, in recent weeks I was actually toying with the idea of voting Labour again at the next election.

This morning I heard Charles Clarke on the radio describing 'people coming here' who are a 'burden on society'. Then Blair said that people who are worried about asylum are 'rightly worried'.

Nice one chaps. There's a couple of choice phrases for the Tories to put in their campaign literature.

My labour vote, meanwhile, has fetched it's coat.


Anonymous said...

catch up! everyone else decided not to vote labour again years ago!

BB said...

I hadn't heard the "burden on society" bit - very much doubt he meant "immigrants are, or are likely to be, a burden on society", though I can well imagine him saying "people are worried, or believe, that immigrants are a burden on society".

The Guardian today seemed pretty much agreed that this issue needs tackling. I don't, particularly - I believe we shouldn't restrict immigrants based upon tests we wouldn't apply to the people already here.

Can I please plug my Hove Labour site?

Given that nobody else seems to be reaching out to people like you, the above might help. You get to post your own articles and comments, and do not have to toe the party line. There have already been a few articles that touch on immigration.

jonathan said...

The exact quote was:

"Migration for work, migration to study is a good thing. What is wrong is when that system isn't properly policed and people are coming here who are a burden on the society, and it is that which we intend to drive out."

Which sounds to me like an admission that the system - which Blair has already bizarrely claimed needs a radical overhaul - lets in people who are a burden on society.

Anonymous said...

what a total c*nt.

BB said...

Yes, but he's not saying *that* people coming here are a burden on society. If people are coming who are wholly a burden on society, then insofar as that happens (and bear in mind we're on about *economic* migrancy here), that is a problem, surely.

I'm more than happy to criticise Clarke et al., but not for saying that.

jonathan said...

Well I'm happy to criticise him. It's ridiculous for him to start talking about economic migrants in these terms, knowing that the way he chooses to define them will inform the debate in a significant way. By opting to call certain migrants a burden to society, even if he only means a minority of them, is to tar them all with the same brush - because those words will pass into currency as an apt and endorsed descriptive term for a much-maligned target of right wing hysteria. The man is, to use my anonymous commenter's words, a bit of a c*nt. Although he might have chosen a better phrase for that, too.

BB said...

I think it's a bit sad that we reserve the strongest word in the English language for somebody who has suggested/hinted at something we don't like, when other parties, political posters, and newspaper headlines are proud to say those things and push the debate in an unpleasant direction, with the result that much of the population appears to agree with them. Of course the Government has to engage with these people - do you really believe they're anti-immigrant? Of course not.

So I don't think it's a cop-out to say: "let's go for the *real* enemies, even if it's (groan) the same old ones"

jonathan said...

Well, I'm confused. I don't think that the Labour Party are anti-immigrant, no. Which is why I'm all the more surprised by the raft of new measures which they've announced - measures which will deny refugees permanent protection and ensure that that there is a vast increase in tagging, finger-printing and detention, which will create a system which takes skilled workers but not the less skilled, who will be forced to live on in developing states which have lost their upper tier of workers (and who presumably will have to resort to illegal routes of getting into the country), forcing them from economic migrancy to the role of illegal immigrants. EU immigrants will no longer have the right to appeal when seeking work or study permits, will see their possibility of bringing over family members and dependents vastly diminished; those already integrated and working in the system are given none of the protection which some might say they have earned.

It's a complete sham, and it all amounts to a load of cliches and claims with no timetable or objectives. It's a bit of crass electioneering and nothing more, and it raises the bar for this ridiculous debate even further. They're not engaging with racist debate, they're fuelling it.

Incidentally, David Aaronivitch's article in the Guardian was good today, his usual mix of aggressive posturing and self-aggrandisement, and yet he finished:

"Think about Rodney Hilton-Potts, the insurgent proto-populist who won that silly competition on ITV and will now stand for parliament at the next election. Asked by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight whether he would have allowed Jewish refugees to enter Britain in the late 30s, Hilton-Potts replied that his answer would have been, "Sorry, we're full!"

What sensible demographic policy would stop the Turkish shopkeeper coming in, while permitting a troglodyte like Hilton-Potts to remain?"

BB said...

Another advantage for those playing the race card is the effect it has on liberals who watch in horror as their chosen party/parties triangulate towards those reactionary views. I don't entirely take the point about taking the best skills from other countries, as the UK generally needs nurses/teachers, not lawyers, scientists, etc. Yes it's still their infrastructure, but they can replace them much faster than we could, seeing as we all think we're too good for those jobs nowadays.

That Hilton-Potts is a pretty sinister character. I saw him that time on Newsnight. The Tory spokesman was there too (the slightly rat-faced one with glasses who only popped up this year) and could have won so much respect by trouncing the guy, but he didn't, or couldn't, even as the guy was saying he'd bar the door to fleeing Jews. Very poor.

The other thing about immigration is that the whole of human history is tied up with migration and whether people allow or deny other groups to mix with them. It's certainly ambitious to expect us to solve it (or act as if we've solved it) here in the UK in the period 1997-2005!

Of course we'd all be better off if the Express, Mail, and Evening Standard were driven out of business.

jonathan said...

You'll get no argument from me there!!!