Thursday, November 01, 2007

Idle Speculation

One of the bad things about being an insomniac is that occasionally your newsfeed reader beeps in the early hours and you roll over and read the article, intend to comment on it in the morning, but by the time you wake up and read the edited version the following day it has lost its potency.

There are those who know how Google caching works and how much confidence you can place upon it, but I am not amongst them so all I can offer is a straight cut and paste directly from the version of the BBC News Online story as it currently reads.

I'm sure that when I wake up tomorrow it will read somewhat differently, but I'll be commenting on the original. I can't comment on Powell to any great degree, he was before my time, but do I struggle to find anything in the 'immigration is not an issue of race' line that would have offended Hague, Howard or Thatcher. This is something that seems to have been a very sensible Tory mantra as far back as my active political memory extends. 'The Labour Party say he's black, we say he is British' was not a Cameron line, the party has being trying to deracialise these questions for a decade or more in the face of opposition from those parties who willingly play the race card for their own advancement, Labour and BNP alike.

It would be easy to have a go at the likes of Trevor Phillips, as close as he has been to the attitudes of the orthodox left in years gone by, but it is that background that makes what he says, for all his misunderstandings, so valuable.

Cameron hailed over immigration

The head of the new equality quango has heaped praise on David Cameron for his attempts to "deracialise" immigration.

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, heralded the Tory leader's speech as a turning point in the immigration debate.

He said Mr Cameron had set himself apart from Tories such as Enoch Powell, famed for his 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech on immigration.

Mr Cameron said immigration levels to the UK should be "substantially lower".

In his speech on Monday, the Conservative leader said immigration had to be considered alongside other pressures including people living longer, and more people choosing to live alone.

Speaking openly
Mr Phillips said: "For the first time in my adult life I heard a party leader clearly attempting to deracialise the issue of immigration and to treat it like any other question of political and economic management."

"And given that Mr Cameron is speaking against a background in which his party's policy inheritance is defined by Howard, Hague, Thatcher and Powell, this seems to me like a turning point in our national debate about immigration."

He said this was "one that will make it possible for us to speak openly and sensibly about the subject, which most of the country sees as the single-most important in politics".

However, Mr Phillips, previously head of the Commission on Racial Equality, which has been superseded by the EHRC, told a conference in Birmingham: "But Mr Cameron has a little way to go on this matter himself.

"He is asking the 21st Century question about immigration. But unfortunately, he is giving the 20th Century answer in proposing that all of these issues can be solved by capping numbers.

"Rather, we need to meet head on the challenges of rapid and diverse population growth.

"We need to find ways to capitalise on the injection of energy that new migrants bring and bolster our infrastructure and public services to cope with the new demands."

Border police
In his speech, Mr Cameron argued that economic migration from outside the European Union, should be subject to annual limits.

And people from new EU countries should be subject to controls on access to the labour market - as the government has done for Romania and Bulgaria.

Other pledges he made were to set up a border police force with powers to track down and remove illegal migrants and to raise the minimum age for spouses coming to Britain to 21, and ensure they can speak English.

He later told the BBC that it was probably wrong to have linked immigration and asylum together in the past.

He said that part of the attempts to cut economic migrants from outside the EU would involve making it a priority to get people "off benefits and into work".

Source: BBC News Online

The key point is in one observation Phillips makes "For the first time in my adult life I heard a party leader clearly attempting to deracialise the issue of immigration". OK, he may have had convenient deafness for a decade or more, but at least he acknowledges now that at least one party is headed by someone, in the genuinely modern political sense of the phrase really is 'colour blind'.

From a personal perspective it actually feels strange to have commented on this controversial subject six or seven times in the last couple of weeks, since as far as I'm concerned it is a non-issue, other than the fact that a few stories have hit the headlines. It is not the topic in of itself that concerns me, just the hysteria that surrounds it. I've never lived in a world where well adjusted, intelligent people harbour racist instincts. I find it hard to imagine the time when such people did and I am glad that it is not the era I am part of.

Perhaps now all but those in the most appalling terminal stages of leftism can sit down and talk about what is, to any intelligent mind, an issue we need a genuine consensus on.

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