Michael Howard has attracted considerable criticism from the usual suspects for the party's newly-unveiled policies on immigration which,Trevor Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality hyperventilated, "will allow
racists to put the worst possible construction" on them.
With denunciations like these, it would be easy to warm to the policies and to Michael Howard (and while it is heartening to note how the public mood has changed so drastically on this issue, with the Left reeling and
defensive) immigration-sceptics should not offer their unqualified support unless more details are forthcoming.
It is difficult to see how we can yet gauge the "toughness" or otherwise of Mr Howard's policies, in the absence of any specific figures as to his proposed upper limit on legal immigration. One might have hoped, however,
that bearing in mind the considerable racial tension that currently exists across the UK, the pressures on Britain's infrastructure and environment and the speciousness of the various economic 'arguments' for mass
immigration - not to mention the ongoing security concerns - a truly courageous policy might have featured a moratorium on legal immigration for at least five years. And resiling from the 1951 UN Convention Relating to
the Status of Refugees, whilst a long overdue reform, has already been called for by various senior Labour figures, including Jack Straw and Tony Blair.
These two latter individuals have suddenly gone very quiet on thissubject; how do we know that the Conservatives will not do likewise? In the event that the Conservatives win the election, how can those who vote for them on the strength of this policy be sure that the policy will be adhered to? Successive Conservative leaders have promised one thing on immigration (and Europe), but failed to deliver, with the emasculating effects that are all too obvious in our daily lives. David Davis is supposedly the 'hard man' of the party, yet he had a ludicrous panic attack over the recent book by immigration whistleblower Steve Moxon, offering to chair the launch one day and then pulling out at the last minute, frightened by an article in the Independent. Such behaviour implies that the Conservatives may be lacking in the essential moral fortitude to slay the race relations industry hydra.
If Labour has indeed signed away control over our immigration policy to Brussels, as is now being suggested, this was surely an inevitable development - given the nature of the EU organism, which seeks constantly to accrue more and more power at the expense of national parliaments, and its inbuilt political bias, which will always be statist and politically correct. Bluster about 'repatriation' of powers from Brussels is empty rhetoric, as the EU is inherently imperialistic and totalitarian, and will never tolerate independent actions of this kind. The only solution to the
EU's centralising drift is for the UK to quit the EU once and for all.
Mr Howard has also said that asylum will be reformed, and that a ceiling will also be put on the number of refugees. These are vital reforms – yet he has not indicated whether or not said refugees will be permitted to stay in the UK, once the situation in their home countries has eased. He has pledged extra security at ports and airports, which is very welcome - yet it is fair to point out, as Labour has done, that the party is simultaneously calling for massive cuts in the Immigration Service budget. Cuts in this policy area would be a false economy, as there are enormous
hidden fiscal and social costs of mass immigration.
The Conservatives need to think about this subject long and deeply. They need to reject woolly thinking like that espoused by the Daily Telegraph's Andrew Gimson, who in a recent column opined that immigrants were "natural Conservatives" who "admire hard work, self-reliance, religion, the monarchy and the British tradition of liberty". To put it kindly, this is delusional. While this may have been partly true of West Indian and African immigrants during the 1960s (although the overwhelming majority of postwar immigrants and descendants of postwar immigrants vote for Labour, according to Operation Black Vote), one fears that Mr Gimson's beguiling stereotype of forelock-tugging black and brown yeomen is now several decades out of date. There is little evidence, to say the least, of any such qualities among more recent immigrants.
If Mr Howard and his strategists can work out a courageous and comprehensive formula on race that takes into account all the varying aspects and covers all the bases - if they can express this in simple, robust language - and then stick to their guns when faced with the inevitable orc-shrieking - even at this late hour they may yet just manage to squeeze back into power.
FROM LEDBURY TO LEYTONSTONE, LABOUR'S IN TROUBLE!
Over decades, Britain's 'responsible' politicians have between them managed to turn one of the world's most stable, most civilized and freest states into a disunited, neurotic and increasingly unfree one - where the Western legacy hangs on a knife-edge, overwhelmed by mass immigration and totalitarian 'political correctness'.
Whatever the changes of government, what were once far Left causes have long since become mainstream causes, and far-Left values have triumphed, o the extent that even the Conservative Party dare not dissent from the new orthodoxies of indefinable, selectively-applied 'human rights' allied to multiculturalism'.
The resultant increased lawlessness and unhappiness have made their presence felt more and more, even within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster, such as when, on the 15th of September, pro-hunting demonstrators got all the way into the House of Commons. This unwonted intrusion of reality badly frightened anti-hunting MPs, who are accustomed to deference from the people they so clearly regard as moral inferiors.
While the demonstrators achieved little except, probably, to hasten the end of the traditional Commons security arrangements - how the media sneered at the 'men in tights with swords' - it was salutary to ruffle MPs' feathers, who denounced in trembling voices those who had irrupted into their politically correct pipe-dream. The Labour MP David Winnick said that the incursion was "the most disgraceful act of hooliganism" - somewhat ironical from a politician whose entire career could be characterised as an "act of hooliganism" against Britain.
There were similar outpourings from Peter Hain, Leader of the House of Commons - a curiously legalistic position for a man who made his name organising disruptions of cricket matches. It does not seem to have occurred to those who emoted about 'the dignity of parliament' that dignity needs to be earned. Laws like the proposed ban on hunting are unworthy of a great legislature, and are in any case likely to prove impossible to enforce.
One feels sorry for the police who risk their safety to protect worthless laws and the worthless politicians who have dreamed them up. Ideally, the police and the hunters would be on the same side of the barricades, united in the great cause of giving Britain back to the British. Whatever the outcome of the hunting legislation, perhaps some of the strength of feeling, imagination and organisational skills that have been displayed by the countryside lobby will not be entirely dissipated and these positive energies can also be deployed in campaigning to leave the EU, attempting to stop immigration and clamping down on genuine criminals.
Tony Blair is supposed to be a practical politician, so why is he unnecessarily alienating a group of potential voters? Why did he, as Lord Deedes put it pithily in the Daily Telegraph, "make an ass of himself" over hunting? Hunters seem to be being victimised for no reason other than to gratify the emotional spasms of backbench Labour MPs - for whom the perceived welfare of foxes appear to be of more moment than the rural economy, the war in Iraq, the EU, the NHS or even the welfare of the working classes.
The answer is that the Prime Minister, who is a highly-strung, almost hysterical, man, is afraid. He knows that he and his government are increasingly unpopular from Ledbury to Leytonstone - to the extent that ministers are now actually physically afraid to venture out into the countryside. This currying of favour with his parliamentary cannon-fodder is a kind of ideological circling of wagons against the menacing world outside. For the moment, the armed police can keep the Native Britons at bay - but Blair is fast running out of friends and ammunition.
Yet while we may cheer inwardly at Labour's proximate predicament, we should consider two things. First, who will take over from them? The Conservatives are demoralised and divided, and haemhorraging support to the UKIP, and so may lose the next election by default. The UKIP is still regarded as a single-issue party, while the BNP is presently regarded as 'beyond the pale' - and both are, in any case, hampered by the first-past-the-post electoral system.
A more long term consideration is that this hunting, and similar, legislation will merely widen the gap between rulers and ruled - a gap that future, more responsible governments may find it impossible to close. The essential legacy of New Labour to its eventual successors is likely to be mammoth legislative mistakes, and massively increased social mistrust. Any putative government worth its salt will have to be able to demonstrate convincingly not just that it can repeal hasty laws, but also that it can rebuild trust and patriotism in the country at large.
Derek Turner is the editor of Right Now (www.right-now.org)