Alp Mehmet is a former Immigration Officer who transferred to the Diplomatic Service. He retired recently as Ambassador to Iceland. He is now a member of the Advisory Council of MigrationwatchUK.
2010 was not a good year for those who believe that feeble border control can be consistent with trouble-free race relations and community harmony. Their preferred response to the stresses and tensions that come in the wake of mass and unplanned migration was to go into a collective, multicultural, huddle. Nevertheless, there were signs that even these migration ostriches were raising their eyes above the sand to take a peek at reality.
In April, Tim Finch, Director of Communications at IPPR (the Institute of Public Policy and Research) wrote:
“...Just because migration is very often a ‘good thing’ doesn’t mean that more of it is necessarily better. Indeed for it to be a good thing, it needs to take place in circumstances in which the country of origin and country of destination, the migrants and long term residents, all have a shared interest and enjoy shared benefits. Much the best way to achieve this is to put in place a well managed and controlled migration system based on transparent criteria for entry…”
Wow, MigrationWatch couldn’t have put it better. Indeed, MW has been saying much the same thing for nearly 10 years.
And then came the general election. Candidate after candidate knocked on doors only to find immigration coming up time and again as the issue, after the economy, that troubled the electorate most was. It was this insistent doorstep concern, which meant immigration became unavoidable in the televised leadership debates.
There were three distinct approaches to immigration: Gordon Brown trumpeted his (failing) points-based system; Nick Clegg thought he had the answer in directing immigrants to specific areas like Scotland (the Scots were not too keen) and declaring an amnesty for illegal immigrants (this went down badly with everyone, including Lib Dem supporters of whom 57% were against and only 26% in favour). David Cameron came up with what turned out to be the most attractive policy – to bring down immigration to 1990s levels; tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands of the Labour years..