Immigration: damned if you do; damned if you don’t
Yet from ‘the Left’ Mr Cameron is accused of playing the populists' card, returning to one of Michael Howard's so-called "dog whistle" issues, which dominated the Conservatives' last election campaign. And from ‘the Right’ he is accused of deceit, of not going far enough, and of misunderstanding or purposely misrepresenting the UK’s obligation under EU law or UN convention.
Despite the reality that the vast majority of immigrants contribute positively to the economy, there is no doubt the topic has great appeal for readers of The Sun and the Daily Mail. But whatever the accuracy of the figures or the motive of Mr Cameron's emerging policy, his fundamental analysis is beyond dispute: public services are under siege and the pressures on them are unsustainable. If the immigrant population continues to increase at the present rate, there will simply be insufficient provision of housing, education, healthcare, or public transport.
Mr Cameron's solution is to somehow restrict the numbers coming in. Since he cannot do this for EU nationals, who have the right of free movement in a free labour market, he has to look at the rest of the world, particularly to India and Pakistan. Yet the vast majority of those immigrating from the subcontinent do so for marriage purposes, which is also an enshrined EU human right.
Cranmer is bemused by the reluctance to address the matter quite straightforwardly. The UK needs to retain control of its borders once again: it is a national scandal that government ministers are unable to provide figures for immigration, or to give any idea of where they are settling, and placing huge strains on local government coffers. Firstly, like similar regimes in Australia and Canada, a points system must be introduced, which could be earned for factors such as qualifications, work experience and language skills. A certain number of points would be needed to be considered for a work visa, awarded for aptitude, age, experience, and the level of need in each sector. Secondly, the UK must either renegotiate its deal with the EU, or, failing that, leave it altogether. It is one thing to have a free labour market; it is quite another to imperil the fabric of society and imperil the peace and security of the realm.
Mr Cameron has seized the bull, but not quite by the horns. Let us hope that he manages to tame the beast before the situation becomes quite irreversible.