The PM’s trip to India – Another U-turn on Immigration?

February 22, 2013 1:11 pm

David CameronSo David Cameron has changed his mind about immigration (certain types of immigration). His stance for the last two years has been, ‘you are not welcome’. He spoke of getting migration targets down to tens, rather than hundreds of thousands and the way he was to achieve that was to target overseas students. People who bring in money for universities, trade links to boost the economy and culture to enrich us. This is because student numbers are included in official migration data and are the only numbers he can actually control. To satisfy the right wing press, he pursued an egregious policy and is now having to backtrack.

This week, the PM is in India and appears to have executed another of his famous U-turns. He informed potential students who had been put off by the rhetoric on immigration that they were mistaken; any anti-immigration speak was about dodgy colleges that were issuing visas when they shouldn’t have been, rather than a generally hostile debate regarding immigration in this country. He told them that now he’s managed to shut these colleges, they are welcome to come and study in Britain. The implication being that when these colleges were open, he didn’t trust that students actually wanted to come here to study, they wanted to come and take advantage of our generous benefit system and our booming jobs market.

But now Indian students can feel satisfied that we in Britain no longer think they are coming here under false pretences, and we now welcome them with open arms. Basically, the government’s immigration policy for the last two years was a temporary one, and its aim was to shut down ‘bogus’ colleges not to actually cut immigration.

Many politicians and some sections of the media seem to equate immigration with criminality. The assumption that people came here to attend colleges so they could illegally gain entry criminalises students who actually thought they were coming here to study and went to a college without knowing it was not set up for the purpose it advertised itself as. The responsibility is always placed on the immigrant, rather than the system.

Cameron, the great PR man, blames his U-turn on a communication problem. So the immigration debate for the last two years has been communicated in the wrong way? The home secretary has made it her ambition to interfere in the judicial system to ensure that families are split up, fathers and cats wrenched from the arms of babes. Is that just a communication problem? It is dangerous territory when a PM can switch policies so easily and just blame it on communication.

After fawning over students in India, he has had to balance that and satisfy the baying Daily Mail readers who will surely not be happy Immigrationwith his new open doors policy. He turns towards Europe; he can tell everyone that he is very unhappy with the idea that we will be flooded with Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants. He can communicate this to the public, but he cannot do anything about it. But as long as he is saying the right thing at the right time, he believes he is somehow doing something.

And what he is saying is actually despicable. If you are Romanian or Bulgarian, if you are one of those nationalities, you are coming here to claim benefits, but if you are from India, you have only good intentions. Is this not racist? Making special exceptions for certain nationalities, and in the same breath creating campaigns to put off Bulgarians and Romanians, telling them our public services cannot cope with the huge amounts of these nationalities. There can be no justification for a pick and mix policy based on nationality.

It is encouraging that the PM has softened the rhetoric and actually acknowledged the benefits of immigration, but he should use his so called communication skills to try and change the whole debate, not to change it for some nationalities while demonising others.

 

 

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