Labour’s Hopeless Immigration Quandary

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The Labour Party is doomed to break apart on the issue of immigration because the Metro-Left has become so ideologically insulated and closed-minded that they can no longer speak the same emotional language as half of their own voters (and the country)

Martin Kettle has some advice for the Labour Party as it wrestles to come up with a compromise between the blithe open borders attitude of the Corbynites and the suddenly nativist instinct of Midlands and Northern MPs whose seats may be in jeopardy unless the party moves convincingly on the issue of immigration.

Kettle lays out the issue in the Guardian:

After the issue of Brexit itself, voters think immigration is the most important question facing the country. But Labour’s poll ratings on immigration are terrible. Only 11% of voters in the most recent YouGov poll think Labour is the best party on immigration, with only 29% of Labour voters from the 2015 election – which Labour lost badly – agreeing. A mere 5% of leave voters think Labour is best on immigration.

If Labour’s priority is to re-secure its core voters on the issue, that is a very bad place to start from. Latest research by Chris Hanretty of the University of East Anglia suggests that 64% of Labour’s 232 parliamentary seats voted leave in June. So if it is correct that immigration control was the decisive issue in the leave win, Labour MPs are right to demand that, at the very least, their party says something about immigration that engages with that stark reality.

And suggests a solution based on dubious historical precedent:

There’s a framework for this. For most of the last half-century Labour’s policy was that managed migration made community integration and mutual trust possible. The policy had periods of success and failure. It was too repressive in the 1970s and it was too insouciant in the early 2000s, after EU enlargement. But until recently it worked reasonably, and won electoral consent.

Labour’s challenge in 2017 is to renew that same approach around the realities of Brexit. It won’t be easy, and it will involve compromises of the sort that Crossman expressed half a century ago. The policy cannot be based solely on liberal principles. But it cannot be based solely on ignoring those principles either.

It has to place intervention in the labour market to ensure fair treatment, alongside an unsentimental approach to immigration control. If Labour’s factions can at least agree to start from there, there’s just a chance that enough of the rest will fall into place.

But there can be no agreement between Labour’s factions. One faction – the metropolitan Regressive Left faction, incorporating everybody from leftists like Jeremy Corbyn to virtue signalling centrists – hold it as an article of faith that to even question whether everybody who wants to come to Britain should immediately be allowed to do so constitutes damning evidence of racism. The other faction – call them Old Labour, rooted in the party’s historic Northern, industrial and post-industrial heartlands – have not yet sacrificed patriotism and a belief in the uniqueness of British values and culture on the altar of globalisation, and fail to understand why immigration controls such as those imposed by countries like the United States or Australia are somehow racist.

These two sides simply cannot reconcile – certainly not so long as the metropolitan Regressive Left continues to arrogantly insult agnostics and sceptics, either accusing them of moral deficiency for failing to meekly toe the party line or ignoring their arguments altogether. In fact, with immigration currently a high priority political issue, one can argue convincingly that there is no longer any place for the two factions within the same political party, and that Labour must split (and probably should have done so some time ago).

Kettle, however, would have Labour look back to 1965 for a solution to their dilemma:

Yet the disagreement is not a new one, and Labour has succeeded in managing it before. Back in the summer of 1965, Harold Wilson’s Labour government published a radically restrictive white paper on immigration from the British commonwealth that shocked even cabinet ministers. “This has been one of the most difficult and unpleasant jobs the government has had to do,” the housing minister Richard Crossman wrote in his diaries. “We have become illiberal,” he mourned. “This will confirm the feeling that ours is not a socialist government.”

Nevertheless Crossman was absolutely sure that the controls were necessary. “I am convinced that if we hadn’t done all this we would have been faced with certain electoral defeat in the West Midlands and the south-east,” he went on. “Politically, fear of immigration is the most powerful undertow today … We felt we had to out-trump the Tories by doing what they would have done … I fear we were right.” Antisemitism and racism were endemic in Britain, Crossman suspected. “One has to deal with them by controlling immigration when it gets beyond a certain level.”

The fact that left-wing politicians and commentators would turn to the overtly racially tinged 1965 White Paper Immigration from the Commonwealth as a blueprint for dealing with Brexit and present-day immigration concerns only goes to show how little they understand the totally different present day context or appreciate the different public attitudes toward immigration in 2016.

The regressive leftist mind is seemingly unable to compute the idea that objections to unlimited immigration could be based upon anything other than racism. And perhaps this is partly understandable, when historically racism has formed one of the key objections to immigration. But no longer. Racism is now, thankfully, a fringe issue in Britain (despite the continual efforts of SJWs and others whose livelihoods depend on representing official victim classes to inflate the problem). Today’s concerns centre around integration and assimilation into society, and the affect on employment, infrastructure and public services.

None of these concerns are remotely race-based, and yet the response of the Labour Party has historically been to dismiss them all as a thin veneer covering for xenophobia. When voters plead with Labour politicians to believe them when they say that their objections are not connected with race, too often the response has been sneering dismissal. And even now, when some MPs and commentators are considering making concessions on immigration, it is done in the spirit of “we must join the British people in their racism as a matter of political survival” rather than a genuine attempt to understand legitimate public concerns.

And thus we have Martin Kettle essentially arguing that the Labour Party should hold its nose and support something which it believes to be overtly racist in order to stave off political annihilation. Why else cite the case of the 1965 White Paper, written at a time when “coloured immigration” was still openly spoken of as a specific problem?

High-minded it isn’t. But those words echo today because the essence of the argument in which Crossman’s generation participated – hard times, more migrants, native resentments, press and public prejudice, liberal principles under challenge, electoral defeats – has not altered all that much. Yet just as the Wilson Labour party was right to grasp the issue, though it could have grasped it far better, so the Corbyn party needs to grasp it in an equivalent way too.

This is the infuriating thing about leftists. They manage to be insufferable bordering on slanderous even in their attempts to be conciliatory and find compromise. Because they sincerely believe that any departure from their worldview can only be prompted by malice or grave moral failure, their attempts at dialogue with political opponents are awkward and strained as they inadvertently insult the people they are trying to flatter.

Martin Kettle has gotten it into his head that Brexit proves that the British people are having one of their funny turns and have come over all racist, just like we did in the 1960s. Unable to even consider that the Leave vote was prompted by sincere and virtuous political disagreement about the merits of EU membership, Kettle therefore suggests that the Labour Party recycle some good old fashioned racist outreach from 1965 as a kind of olive branch to persuade swivel-eyed Labour Brexiteers back into the fold.

This is the kind of clumsy gesture we have come to expect from a political elite which has become so isolated from much of the country that they can barely speak the same language. Listening to Martin Kettle try to strike up a rapport with Brexiteers would be like listening to me using Google Translate to talk to someone in Korean. The rough message might get through, but the garbled syntax would prove that I am not really speaking their language, that I do not truly understand them.

I’ve said it numerous times, and I will say it again: the Labour Party will not taste power or enjoy another general election victory until they stop giving off such strong signals that they openly despise the voters and hold more than half of the country in open disdain.

The British people do not want to be told “okay, we’ll try racism for awhile!” by an exasperated and uncomprehending Labour Party. They want to be listened to, to have their ideas and concerns heard and engaged with rather than being summarily dismissed.

This should not be a lot to ask, yet it is proving to be an almost impossible challenge for a bitterly divided Labour Party. And time is of the essence. Even assuming that the next general election takes place in 2020 and not earlier, it takes years to execute a convincing policy reversal while re-establish public credibility and familiarity.

If the Labour Party are to make a change and decide to meet the British people half way on the subject of immigration, then now is the time to do it. But with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in charge and an increasingly London-centric party behind them, don’t bet on it happening.

 

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Brexit Catastrophisation Watch, Part 7 – Don’t Speak German In Public, Or You Will Be Lynched

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Hand-wringing, self-pitying Remainers see racism and xenophobia on every corner of post-Brexit Britain, and publicly fret that the country has suddenly become an “unsafe space” for European immigrants

We knew things were bad, but not this bad.

Apparently Britain is such a seething hotbed of overt, suddenly-legitimised racism since the EU referendum took place that it is no longer safe for Germans living in London to openly speak their native language, lest they meet a violent end.

Peddling an extraordinarily irresponsible piece of hysterical speculation originally published in Die Welt, the Evening Standard reports:

Germans have been advised not to speak their native language in London following the Brexit vote.

Lawyer Carmen Prem, who has lived in the capital for 13 years, offered the advice for an article in German newspaper Die Welt.

The piece claimed foreigners were feeling “stronger xenophobia” since the referendum.

According to the article, there is now “a new bitterness, an anger which hardly any of the countless non-British on the island expected”.

And Carmen Prem, a mother-of-two, told the paper: “If you are out with the children, maybe don’t speak German too loudly at the moment.”

Yes. Britain is now so unsafe and hostile to foreigners that it is dangerous for parents to speak German to their children while out in public. In London, that great bastion of euroscepticism, nativism and xenophobia.

This is ridiculous. The absurdly, unthinkingly high level of support for the European Union within the nation’s capital was the only thing that made this referendum outcome a remotely close result for the Remain campaign. Take London away and Britain might actually be living in some kind of Nigel Farage funland right now. And yet we are supposed to believe that the capital city of the early 21st century world, which staunchly voted to remain in the EU during the referendum, is somehow hostile to European foreigners who live and work here?

Well, somebody needs to tell the half of France who seem to be living in my own corner of London, West Hampstead. None of them seem particularly perturbed by the oppressive air of racist doom which apparently now hangs over them; nor have they been reduced to only speaking their language from within the safety of secret societies or covert meeting places in cellars and basements – French is easily the second most spoken language on the high street and in the cafes.

More:

In the same article, German professor Mischa Dohler, who works at King’s College London, said he was seriously considering moving abroad.

The academic said he had received countless job offers but had turned down a role in Cambridge because of uncertainty following the Brexit vote.

He said: “Many non-British academics simply see no future here.”

No future. Okay. Sure, because there is simply no way that immigrants can live in another country unless those two countries are bound together as part of an ever-tightening supranational government, right? It simply couldn’t happen. The EU is the only thing which makes friendly cooperation and immigration between countries possible. I myself would never have been able to work in Chicago for a year were Britain and the United States not part of the same continental political unio — oh wait. Yes I was.

And the fact that so many weepy British europhiles and EU residents of Britain see their lives and futures as being dependent solely on the EU, of all things, only shows how effective forty years of relentless pro-EU propaganda, toothless media coverage and incoherent political opposition have been in making their creepy supranational project seem central to European peace and prosperity when in fact it has been marginal at best and an active drag at worst.

The idea that there is some kind of imminent pogrom against foreigners living in Britain is ludicrous – and all the more so when the people making the charge live in London, the most cosmopolitan corner of the UK (and probably the whole of Europe). But that’s not to say that there have not been isolated and deplorable acts of referendum-related bigotry and even violence.

Tragically, my hometown of Harlow, Essex managed to distinguish itself by playing host to what some people rather hysterically termed the first Brexit-related murder in the country, a young Polish factory worker set upon by a group of teenage hooligans and beaten to death. However, from my recollection and personal experience of being set upon by feral youths in that town, the kind of mindless young thugs who wander around Harlow late at night looking for a brawl are so completely brain-dead that I would be surprised if any of them even realised that a referendum had taken place. Current affairs tends not to be their forte.

And so we find ourselves in an absurd situation. We have been continually told – quite rightly – that we must refrain from forming any negative opinions about immigrants based on the bad actions or non-assimilation of a few. Yet apparently immigrants from the EU are being encouraged to form negative opinions about the whole of Britain based on one or two rather dubious-sounding anecdotes offered by by German professionals?

If anything is harming Britain right now, it is the ongoing attempts to catastrophise Brexit being fomented by bitter Remainers – people who would seemingly rather Britain descend into some dark, dystopian future and be vindicated in their doomsaying than help their own country to present a positive, open and internationalist face to the world.

We should not be surprised. In an age where looking good (and signalling virtue) is more important than actually doing good, there is every incentive for Remainers to continue seizing on every morsel of bad news, overlooking every positive development and generally acting hysterically, so long as their precious internal narrative – that They Virtuous Few stood alone against the “dark forces” of racist Brexit – is not disrupted.

Personally, I find it despicable, but good luck to them.

 

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Brexit Catastrophisation Watch, Part 6 – Stay In The EU Or Kittens Will Die

kitten

Hysterical Remainiacs are now warning that Brexit will endanger the lives of the nation’s pets and farm animals

For the past four months, the British people have been subjected to some ridiculously childish hissy fits and the incessant catastrophisation of Brexit by self-regarding EU apologists in the media. But this latest tantrum by Ian Dunt, editor of politics.co.uk, is on another level.

Ian Dunt already has great form in portraying the slightest move to limit the growth of the state or safeguard national sovereignty as being part of a plot by the Evil Tor-ees to kill the poor and chuck out every last foreigner, but his increasingly bitter and alarmist Brexit coverage is starting to make him look particularly ridiculous. Because Dunt is now claiming that among the many other evils of Brexit, spurning the EU and demanding self-government will also put “people and animals at risk”.

Yes. Going ahead with Brexit means that kittens will die.

Dunt explains:

Look at any part of British society and you’ll see the damage Brexit is doing.

Take veterinary services. Yesterday afternoon, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) wrote a letter to the prime minister. These are not radical organisations. They never really put out political statements of this sort. They stay in the background, concerning themselves mostly with relatively dry questions of policy detail. But they’ve been forced to issue a warning that Brexit – and Theresa May’s descent into anti-foreigner rhetoric – are putting people and animals at risk.

“Anti-foreigner”? Really? One can argue endlessly about the economic merits of Theresa May’s seeming determination to reduce net migration, but I challenge Ian Dunt to produce one example where the prime minister has actively sought to whip up anti-foreigner feeling in the population.

Wanting controls on immigration is not an extremist or unpalatable political viewpoint – many countries in the world (like Australia and the United States) don’t automatically accept anybody from their region or continent who wants to live and work. And at some point the British Left are going to have to take their collective finger off the nuclear button and stop screeching “racism” at anybody who dares to suggest that government should have control of who is allowed to come and settle in the country.

Regardless, Dunt continues:

Around half the veterinary surgeons registering to practise in the UK each year are from overseas – mostly the EU. Europeans are particularly prevalent in public health roles like the Government Veterinary Services. In the meat hygiene sector, some estimates put the number of veterinary surgeons who graduate overseas at 95%. And these people – the people who look after our pets, who check our food – are feeling increasingly uncomfortable in this country.

And this supposedly matters because:

The veterinary profession doesn’t just look after pets. It monitors and controls the spread of disease and assures the quality of the food we eat. If it goes into decline, the animals we love and share our homes with are in more danger. But there is also a very significant public health risk to go alongside the emotional one.

[..] while anti-immigrant newspapers and politicians whinged, immigrants were there: Treating your cat. Picking your fruit. Treating your condition. They are crucial to the running of this country and unless we start recognising that, it’ll be this country which suffers the consequences of their absence.

[..] The policy implications of Brexit are even more serious. In the future, the two organisations warn, “changes to the mutual recognition system or immigration restrictions could have a profound impact upon the veterinary workforce”. That means Britain may face a shortage of vets as it loses half its annual intake. It means a potentially catastrophic impact on TB testing and meat hygiene. It means abattoirs may be unable to export their products because the UK veterinary requirements are not recognised by European authorities.

So in other words, wanting to leave a deeply unpopular and dysfunctional continental supranational government is so terrible that it will kill our pets, causing us immense emotional harm, and also ensure that agricultural and food safety standards immediately fall off a cliff, leading to the immediate return of BSE and foot and mouth disease. Our democracy is hostage to the presumed fortunes of our household pets.

See? We warned you! Why didn’t you listen! Now Fluffy the Kitten is going to die, and it’s all your fault, you ignorant, hateful, xenophobic Brexiteer!

Will these histrionics from bitter, intellectually bankrupt Remainers never end?

The one valid point in this screaming tantrum of an article is that changes to (or severance of) the mutual recognition agreements governing veterinary standards or food safety – much of the latter of which actually falls under the purview of Codex Alimentarius – could cause real disruptions to trade. Too much of the political debate over Brexit has focused on buccaneering assumptions by government ministers and journalists that the avoidance of tariffs is the sole issue, when this is not at all true. The potential erection of non-tariff trade barriers by failing to extend mutual recognition of standards would have immensely more impact on British industry in terms of cost and complexity of doing business, and it is this which politicians need to wrap their heads around.

Dunt (inadvertently) raises an important issue here, and a timely warning. But his incessant, hysterical scaremongering (and pretence that there are no solutions or workarounds to the practical issue he flags) overshadows his argument. This is the polar opposite of constructive criticism – it is the kind of sulky fault-picking more worthy of a toddler than a grown man with a political website.

And yet I am coming to suspect that this is how it will always be. Never expecting victory in the EU referendum, I naturally didn’t devote much time to thinking about what it would actually feel like to be on the winning side, to finally overturn the 40-year pro-EU consensus. Now I’m starting to get an idea. And it is not pleasant.

Brexiteers had better get used to endless “won’t somebody please think of the kittens?!” caterwauling from aggrieved pro-Europeans, because it will probably last the rest of our lives. Even if Brexit ushers in the kind of democratic renewal that some of us hoped for – and even if we achieve secession from the EU on the most favourable terms possible – they will still criticise us and act as though we have ushered in an unprecedented calamity. And in the absence of counterfactuals, who can disprove Ian Dunt when in five years he whines that we would be enjoying hover cars and 200 year lifespans if only we had done the sensible thing, listened to him and voted to remain in the EU?

Brexiteers should settle in for the long haul. Yesterday it was Marmite, today it’s kittens and tomorrow it will be something else. And why? All because Ian Dunt and other pro-European can’t just bring themselves to say “I hate patriotism, I’m ashamed of my country, I feel more European than British and more than anything I hate the 52 percent of my fellow citizens for  defying my will and causing me not to get my own way for once in my life”?

Maybe therapy would help some of the Remainiacs-in-denial towards a necessary moment of catharsis. One can only hope so. Their endless hysterics and catastrophisation of Brexit makes them look far more stupid than it makes Brexit seem reckless.

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Why Does Britain No Longer Care Much About Refugees?

FRANCE-EUROPE-MIGRANTS-GANGS-BRITAIN-POLICE

Rather than reflexively blaming the hard-hearted British people for failing to welcome more refugees from Syria, our political elites should acknowledge their part in making a more generous humanitarian response a political impossibility

Dan Hodges has a reflective and rather wistful column in yesterday’s Telegraph, in which he says that people who pride themselves on their progressive values must accept that they have lost the argument, and that Britain will not make a more meaningful contribution in terms of accepting a number of Syrian asylum seekers more in line with many of our European neighbours.

Hodges writes:

There is no longer an argument to be had about whether or not significant numbers of refugees should be admitted to the UK. The pendulum of empathy – which swung briefly following thepublication of photos of little Alan Kurdi lying motionless on that Turkish beach – has swung back. The clashes at the Hungarian-Serbian border. The Paris attacks. Cologne. They are shaping public opinion now. And it will not be reshaped.

[..] There is no longer any point in expending energy on morally comforting tokenism. The argument about whether to accept 3,000 refugee children from Europe, or whether to accept them from camps within region, is as relevant to the crisis we – or more importantly, they – are facing as debating whether to accept 3,000 refugee children from Mars. According to the latest figures from the UNHCR, there are 4,597,436 registered Syrian refugees. 39 per cent of them are under the age of 11. A further 13 per cent are between the ages of 12 and 17. To continue to use the children of Syria in a proxy argument over our willingness to “do our bit” is not an exercise in compassion but an exercise in grotesque self-indulgence.

There is also no longer any point attempting to delude ourselves the solution to the Syrian refugee crisis can be found in Europe. Yes, we have the resources to provide sanctuary. But we do not have the political will to provide sanctuary. Actually, blaming the politicians on this one is a cop out. We do not have the public will to provide sanctuary.

Hodges is right that there is simply no longer any public will to take in poor, tired, huddled masses trying to escape from civil war and the particularly murderous theocracy of ISIS. And his notion of a “pendulum of empathy” is powerful and accurate way of describing what has happened to public opinion here.

But why is this the case? Why has the pendulum swung so hard away from generosity and toward selfishness? While Dan Hodges’ piece is eminently pragmatic in its acknowledgement of failure and suggestions for a feasible way forward, it fails to ask why we are where we are – why British hearts are so hardened to the idea of welcoming many thousands more refugees.

I would make a couple of suggestions:

1. The line between refugee and economic migrant has become almost impossibly blurred in our globalised age of jet travel and smartphones. People living in benighted parts of the world know better than ever just how good we have it in prosperous countries like Britain, and it is easier than ever before (though still perilous for some) for many to travel here – and ever more tempting compared to the life of hardship and drudgery facing them at home if they stay.

But where do you possibly draw the line between economic migrant and refugee? If being in a country engaged in civil war is sufficient qualification then all 22 million Syrian citizens would be entitled to refuge in Europe, and those of other countries too. But this would be quite unfeasible. Besides the impossibility of emptying a country of its every last non-combatant whenever hostilities break out, it ignores the vital agency that at lease some of these citizens must have in fighting for their own freedoms and liberties.

So if not all citizens, how do you choose among those who have risked their lives to reach safety, often with little or no paperwork or proof that they have a particular fear of persecution or harm to distinguish them from any other.

I simply don’t see a way that any such process can be anything other than arbitrary, endlessly bureaucratic and cruel. Add to this the fact that accepting people blindly on a first-come, first-served basis is untenable and creates serious potential national security issues, and the current paralysis is quite understandable, if no less frustrating.

2. Britain has accepted hundreds of thousands of new arrivals through legal immigration routes, particularly from some of the A10 countries which joined the European Union in 2004. And we did so while any talk about the potential impact that this relatively huge wave of immigration might have on community cohesion, housing or public services was instantly dismissed by scornful elites as xenophobic tub thumping at best, or outright racism at worse.

Prior to the rise of UKIP as a legitimate, non-extreme outlet for these concerns, nobody in the establishment was talking about this issue, and the ground was ceded to the likes of the extremist BNP. There was effectively a conspiracy of silence and intimidation against those who questioned the extent of immigration into Britain, with those in power doing nothing to respond meaningfully to public concerns partly because the political class were fortunate enough to belong to the group which disproportionately benefits from immigration and sees only its positive aspects, while other less fortunate people – often those without university degrees and less economic security – were far more likely to feel the negative consequences.

You don’t have to be an opponent of immigration to abhor the undemocratic way that these transformational changes were foisted on Britain by stealth, and without a thought of engaging with the people to consult their views. Indeed, this blog greatly favours immigration, but believes that the negative consequences are real, and can only be mitigated if the process of deciding immigration policy is open, transparent and democratic. But Britain’s immigration policy is none of these things, and one of the consequences of an aloof, disengaged and elitist policy is always going to be massive popular resentment and opposition to those same policies.

Therefore, if we are looking to cast blame or understand why Britain is behaving so apparently harshly in the face of this current humanitarian disaster, should we not first look to the historic cheerleaders of unlimited immigration – the pro EU fanatics, New Labour architects, those who held national power in the 2000s and the virtue-signalling middle class clerisy who flaunted their enlightened credentials by attacking anybody who expressed doubt about what was happening?

Now people will say that it is unfair to conflate immigration and asylum, as the two are quite separate things. And they would be correct – they are separate, and it is unfair. But both economic migration and taking in asylum seekers involve adding to the population and increasing the burden on services and infrastructure which cannot greatly expand to match demand in the short to medium term. And when you sorely abuse the public’s willingness to accommodate one influx of people, they are naturally far more guarded and hostile when it comes to the next, different influx.

If Britain did not have a completely open door to all regional immigration – unheard of in any major country outside Europe – could we have managed the influx of people wanting to work and settle here in a more planned and measured way, and with a modicum of democratic consent from the people? Arguably, yes.

And if Britain had not seen 1.4 million economic migrants settle here from EU accession countries within just the last fifteen years, would there be more willingness now to accept many more refugees in desperate need? Again, arguably, yes.

At least Dan Hodges and the progressive Left would now have had a much clearer grievance if Britain then still failed to admit a larger number of refugees. They would be able to accuse the government and the country of barely concealed racism, and of acting selfishly when nothing had been asked of them before, and do so with real justification.

But we do not live in that alternate reality. We live in the real world, where Dan Hodges and the europhiles got everything they wanted year after year, with Britain’s borders fully open and anyone who complained swiftly painted as a xenophobic Little Englander and banished from respectable society.

And so in 2016, unfortunately it is the desperate refugees – rather than the virtue-signalling progressive Left – who are now paying the price of this arrogant folly.

 

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The Establishment Are Still No Closer To Understanding UKIP Voters

 

What does a political party have to do to get some respect in Westminster?

On Monday, UKIP’s first Member of Parliament took his seat in the House of Commons.

The party of gadflies, cranks, loonies, fruitcakes, closet racists and loons had just equalled the Green Party in finally securing representation in the Commons, with every chance of doubling the Greens’ achievement if Mark Reckless wins his by-election in Rochester and Strood, and joins Douglas Carswell MP  in the UKIP caucus.

But two Conservative defections and worrying polling data indicating Labour’s vulnerability to the UKIP insurgency still have not resulted in any real change in tone or policy from either of the main political parties – though, in their most generous concession so far, some of their more nervous MPs now talk about the need to talk UKIP’s language while still doing what they’ve always done.

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