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# Never again must the party return to silence on the issue of immigration #

This is precisely the issue that will NOT increase our currently pitiful representation in the large cities.

That 45% of the electorate we need will actually include some of the # immigrants # certain parts of the Party seem to go out of their way to offend.

David Cameron must have an agenda to govern for the whole country, but from a Conservative perspective. I certainly believe that most people share core Conservative values, what turns people off is the nasty-politics. Compassionate Conservatism is the key. A caring party that rewards those that play by the rules and is tough with those that don't. Basically a party that reflects the British sense of fair play.

No, London Tory. as long as it's addressed in a reasonable way the party cannot afford to ignore such an important issue. Are you sure that all/ most/ many immigrants don't want controls on immigration?

The Ipsos/Mori stats are very interesting and informative
Well done Tim for publishing them.
Hopefully we can build and go forward.

How are traditional Tory values defined in this poll? Such questions are meaningless. We need to know what the voters really think about specific policies.


Based on past experience, are you 100% confident that if the Leadership does follow your advice and raise the profile of immigration, we as a Party are capable of getting the tone right ? Because I am not. It will only take one unfortunate gaffe on the subject from one of our people and the whole "Nasty Party" brand will be revived by our opponents.

It is the political equivalent of constantly back passing to your goalkeeper on a slippery pitch- why take the risk ?

Ideological purity is wonderful- but a generation in opposition is pointless.

It seems to me that immigration is an issue on which it is better to make occasional noises, just enough to stay in the game, than to have a concerted platform or many specific policies. In practice we have no intention of trying to restrict immigration from established parts of the EU (pace the Bulgaria/Romania discussion for now). Similarly we have no intention of preventing genuine family joinings, no intention of rejecting highly-skilled international migrants (who really wants to stop international finance lawyers or stock market modellers or astro-physicists from coming to live in Britain - few of us even want to stop foreign footballers, for goodness's sake!) and we have even less intention of turning away genuine asylum-seekers. Since we have no intention of actually doing anything different in principle from the government, we should surely restrict ourselves to complaints about how the government manages immigration (and its management has been beyond appalling) and the very important issue of how best to deal with immigrant communities once here (do we continue with multi-culturalism, or are assimilation or synthesis approaches better?).

On a completely different tack (hence the different post), I think it could be a mistake to use surveys of this sort to decide our priorities, for then we risk being behind the game - following the issues of yesterday instead of making the issues of tomorrow. I think that the economy and the environment and the welfare system (benefits, pensions, etc) are likely to increase in importance (or at least be capable of being made to increase in importance) over the next couple of years, and that we would do well to anticipate this.

Are you sure that all/ most/ many immigrants don't want controls on immigration?
In my experience, friends who are first or second generation immigrants are far more forthright about immigration than my 'homegrown' friends.

The best persons to articulate views on immigration are not only people who are first and second generation immigrants as Deputy Editor says, but more importantly those who have chosen to become subjects of the Crown.

At least, such citizens cannot be accused of being home-grown and thay have far greater attachment to the land of their infant nurture; ask such people why they chose to stay and what they would do to maintain it that way. No one asked them before!

They can be the most powerful advocates of immigration control bar none.

Immigration isn't about race, or for that matter integration. Its a matter of logistics, we lack the social infrastructure to accommodate such huge volumes of people. Two and a half million, equal to half the population of Scotland, have entered Britain in the last ten years. Its just too many.


Do we care how many have come in, per se, or do we only (or almost only) care about the net immigration (e.g. we might worry that the place was becoming crowded)?

Are we to say nothing about the strains on the infrastructure that stem directly from the huge net increase in numbers year on year? Are we not to comment on the fact, now admitted by the Home Office, that one in four people employed in security are illegals or that we haven't a clue who is coming into the country and leaving it or that benefits are being sent abroad?
We have got to talk about immigration in a sober, factual and restrained way and say exactly how the tories will monitor everyone in and out of the country - as in the USA, deal with illegals, welcome migrant workers in limited numbers and care for genuine asylum seekers.
Othere issues will go up and down in priorities but education and the NHS will always be among them. When will the tories commit themselves to competent management of these?
I am of the view that the nation would have been much better served if Nulab had put in its extra investment - but left the running of the NHS and education exactly as they found them.

Andrew Lilico, we should worry about immigration when it causes problems. There have been times in our country when we have needed immigration. I'd like to see immigration index-linked to unemployment levels, and that goes for EU workers especially. When there is high unemployment unskilled immigration should be subject to quotas. However that would not apply to those needing to enter the country on humanitarian grounds. We should never turn away those in need of sanctuary, provided they are genuine, but not the Viraj Mendis type's who use politics rather than persecution to try and claim asylum.

I don't believe we have any convincing basis for saying that there has been significant *net* immigration into the UK. We know from the 1990s experience with population estimates that our grasp on emigration data is extremely ropey. In that period flaws in emigration data and massive over-estimates of the birth rate of immigrants led us to over-estimate the 2001 population of England by around 900,000 people. Now the statistical methods have changed a bit since then, but we won't have any handle at all on how successful our methodological changes have been until 2011, when we do the next census. In the meantime, I consider all claims that *net* immigration has been high since 2001 as little more than vaguely-informed speculation.

Editor: Who would bet against the economy and tax moving into the top five by the end of '08?

Not me!

" I don't believe we have any convincing basis for saying that there has been significant *net* immigration into the UK"

Looking at statistics for births and primary school enrollments, I think we have pretty overwhelming evidence for substantial *net* immigration into the UK.

I see no need at all to be coy about the subject.


But we thought we had such a basis in 1991 and 2001, also, and we were wrong. What we know about estimating our population between censuses is that we aren't very good at it!

Yes, but the statistical evidence (flawed as it may be) does rather confirm what any of us would notice in any major inner urban area.


It confirms one's anecdotal sense that the proportion of culturally English people has declined. But that is not the same as saying that the population has risen - for example, culturally English people may have moved abroad, or died, or had low birth rates.

"If the party ever designs a 1997-five-point-pledge-card it could do worse than include promises on immigration, crime, the NHS, security issues and schools; the five top issues over the last twelve months."

To be fair Michael Howard identified four of those five in his:

School Discipline
Cleaner Hospitals
Controlled Immigration
More Police
Lower Taxes



The title of the article is:

Cameron must keep Conservatism broad in 2008

Yet, perhaps unsurprisingly, the thread has degenerated into an emotive, tiresome and futile debate about some fairly meaningless semantics around a single issue, instead of addressing the topic (what DC's approach should be next year) or have I misinterpreted what the purpose of the thread was?

Possibly, this is understandable as Mori decided to headline the information using Labour's diversionary, inflamatory and divisive language on such matters. The issue specifically is not a race or immigration issue, it is a population management issue.

Back to the topic, I agree the approach must continue to be broad. I don't think it is enough to produce five key pledges on the issues of most concern. Wasn't that basically what was tried in 2005 and didn't it similarly degenerate into an unpleasant and futile single issue debate that cost the party significantly?

To me the party needs to further demonstrate it is a Government-in-waiting and consequently needs to demonstrate it has realistic, consistent policies in all areas with those of greatest concern to the public being the most prominent.

The party has provided some very good groundwork (and some not so good) this year through the policy reviews. However, this work needs further rationalisation and development.

As is pointed out in a previous thread, the country is expecting trouble ahead and much of that pessimism, I suspect, is down to the fact that they have lost faith in the current dreadful statist, centralist Labour Government.

Incompetence, sleaze, inequality, waste and utter contempt for the public are this Governments' calling card. Basically, there is nothing positive you can say about them at the moment.

DC among others has spent much time recently pressing this impression home. Hopefully the labels will stick now.

DC now needs to convince the public that he has an alternate vision that they can buy into and indeed the concepts of localism, social responsibility, social justice and aspiration are potential cornerstones of a vision which could attract the public's support.

Add to the mix the concept of benevolent Government (e.g. Don't penalise the nation as a whole for the errors or misdemeanours of individuals, groups or organisations, penalise those who have caused the problem)and as an end result of folling this vision the nation will have a better quality of life.

However, if this is to be the vision then it has to be consistent and comprehensive. At the moment too many of the policies (such as population management) are incomplete or to some extent inconsistent with this vision. There are more questions than answers with such proposals.

Considering the current circumstances it is perhaps to some extent understandable but it needs to change over the next 12 months or so.

Basically, DC needs to provide a vision through the party's proposals that will replace pessimism with optimism, sleaze with trustworthiness, waste and incompetence with efficiency and contempt for the voter with respect.

If he does not achieve this, it is not impossible that we might see the lowest turnout at a General Election in modern history (I see little chance of Labour improving their reputation). As a theoretical aside would a Government elected on less than a 50% turnout really have any sort of mandate?.

The result may still return a Conservative Government, but without a clear and consistent and achievable vision it is likely that the resultant Conservative Government will flounder under a ground swell of public over-expectation and subsequent disappointment and disillusionment, at the first hurdle, leaving the country to slide further into mediocrity or worse.

John Leonard, good point on public expectation. The first few years will be as much about repairing the damage left by Labour than anything too spectacular. The economy is likely to be in trouble but the Conservative government will have to respond in a sensible way rather than pandering to public opinion. This may make the government appear unpopular as it did Reagan in the early years.

What I'm looking for is a government that will act in the long-term national interest rather than one operating out of short-term populism. Steady sensible government is the key. There should be no rush to impress the public with circus stunts. Do the right thing when the right thing can be done. After ten years of Labour gimmicks the British public are ready for level-headed government.

We should be more aware now than ever that it is not oppositions that win elections but governments that lose them. We had a good conference and announced some good policies, which helped us, but it was the Government's disasters that got us into the commanding position we now enjoy, not our own actions. The dictum remains as true now as it did then. Now Gordon Brown's Government has decided to cling to the trappings of office whilst it still can, it will go from being ridiculed to being despised. There is no need for us to frantically search for the magic bullet to dramatically stretch our lead over Labour; such efforts will only result in mixed messages and half-baked policies which will give our opponents open goals. All we need to do is stay positive, constructive, energetic, and honest -everything that this Labour Government is not, and I truly believe that will be enough. This is our time, let's take it in our stride and enjoy it.

Continue to build a coherent message about what we stand for and where we wish to take the country. Avoid spin and illustrate a clear direction with practical and positive ideas.

I don't think we have any need to ignore these issues - it is our strongest point, and put forward in the right way it will certainly appeal.

If by "modernise" is meant an essentially technical overhaul, making the party lighter on its feet and heavier in its punches, then I'm all for. If it means conceding to the "positive discrimination" (or inverted racist) crowd, then I am totally opposed. It is because most people understand "modernise" in the technical sense that they can reconcile it so easily with notions of "tradition".

As for immigration, of course we should address it - and with distinctive policies. True, we must not sound obsessive - nor should we sound craven and guilty. Mr Lillico adds up a number of vague points as though they were statistics to come up with the opinion that nothing to do with immigration can change. Rubbish. Take asylum. Does he seriously believe every asylum claim? If he is not a fool and the answer is no then repatriation of false claimants is an option. If Italy has the guts to do it, then so should we. Take family reunion. Does Mr Lillico ignore the wretched business of forced marriage? Again, if no - and I charitably assume it IS no - then numbers can be cut there, too. As for economic migrants, in a country with millions of economically unactive adults, there is simply no room. The benefits system should be reformed a la Clinton to oblige shirkers to shift their weight a bit.

In short, the immigration scandal lies at the heart of a festering nexus of problems. Our failure to sort it out is nothing short of the most contemptible moral cowardice - a failure even to make a judgement. With schools groaning under masses of non-anglophone pupils, hospitals catering for persons who have never paid towards the health service in tax, houses priced out of everyone's reach - the numbers simply must be reduced. Not to achieve this is to fall in - no matter how reluctantly - with what Roger Scruton has called "oikophobia" - a horror of one's own people.

One's own people - there's a phrase. Increasingly, we are not even allowed to think in such a way - if we are not of African or Asian origin, that is. And yet it is that sense of arising from a culture, a place and a people which lends enchantment to life in a non-religious age. In an old country, marked with the monuments of its antiquity and brightened with the celebration of its ancient festivals, people can feel at home - the very stones talk to them. Neither is this an "elite" feeling. Any taxi driver, any builder confronted by - say - an authenticated lock of Anne Boleyn's hair - would feel a frisson. More broadly, a satisfying feeling of security and depth is lent to common life by the maintenance of custom and identity. Society, says Edmund Burke, is a contract between the dead, the living and those yet to be born. When it allows itself to be over-run - no matter how gradually - by alien and increasingly hostile populations, it has died.

Interesting that more voters want DC to stick to traditional Conservative values. I take this to mean: law n order with real deterrent punishments for violent criminals, fairer immigration, EU-scepticism, marriage and the traditional family as the base of a healthy society, and a small and less interfering state. But at the same time we would need to continue to show great attention to policies to address voter concerns on 'centre ground' issues such as the environment and NHS.

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