Every now and then my jaw drops when reading or hearing something someone says. It tends to be a reaction that is, thankfully, reserved to hearing things from the extremes of politics. You know the types of things. Like when BNP leader Nick Griffin tweeted the address of a gay couple who reported an instance of discrimination and promised some “British justice” would come their way.
But it seems we can now count on members of our Government to come out with things so shocking and beyond the political pale.
Nick Boles, the Tory MP for Grantham and Stamford, has said that Labour’s immigration policy is to blame for the lack of housing in Britain and that, “We need to have less immigration and more house-building and we might then have a civilised country.” Jaw-dropping.
Boles is right to speak about the housing shortage in Britain. But nowhere does he mention how the last Tory government we had was responsible for depletion in the housing stock through a right-to-buy policy that did not back up the laudable growth of homeownership with house-building to fill the gap left behind.
Instead, he blames immigrants.
Boles scarily informs us that, “The population of England has gone up by two million in the last ten years.” Well, the population of England (weird to use “England” in 2012, but we’ll work with it…) has form in this area. From 1951 to 1961 it went up by two million. From 1961 to 1971 it went up by two million. Hell, from 1841 to 1851 the population went up by two million. From 1851 to 1861 the population went up by two million. From 1861 to 1871 the population went up by two million.
Tying such a figure, with no perspective, into a statement about how immigration is depleting our housing stock is the sort of disingenuous nonsense that most of us would only expect from the aforementioned Griffin.
Boles goes on, after that staggering “two million” bombshell, to say that, “These people now live here, these people are now British and they need homes just like other British people.”
Read that: “These people”. It is careful, manipulative language. Despite saying “these people are now British”, it is a clear attempt to create a difference; these new Brits, and you real Brits. Us and them. Divide and rule. Classic Tory.
43% of new households that want a home, we’re told by Boles, “…is accounted for by immigration.” So are they British? Or are they immigrants? I’m confused by what Boles is telling us “these people” are. Or is he saying that despite them now, grudgingly, needing to be accepted as “British”, they are a legacy of immigration? If so, then I’m afraid to tell Mr. Boles that a hell of a lot more than 43% of us are a legacy of immigration in Great Britain.
Boles’ comments are a clear attempt to widen the coalition against immigrants and immigration. The Tories have their stronghold of people they know who will agree, now they are targeting a demographic that they see as ripe for the turning. In saying that immigrants will force house building on green belt land, Boles is creating a victim of himself, the poor Minister forced to build on treasured green belt land by immigrants, whilst spreading the net of right-wing disliking of immigrants over the heads of those who hold green belt land dear.
It is nasty politics from a nasty Tory.
In actual fact, net migration, like it was after Labour’s policy toward the end of its time in government, is down. The amount of people coming to Britain from abroad is also down. Between March 2011 and March 2012 there was a net flow of 183,000 people migrating to the UK. Sadly, there was also a 10,000 drop in the number of international students due to the current Government’s desire to cut access to one of our great global products.
What’s even worse is that people do not want to come to this country anymore because we have stopped offering opportunity. A global magnet for those aspiring to a better life during the last 2 decades, Britain is now becoming less and less attractive, with a significant drop in people coming here to work – from nearly 500,000 in the year to December 2005 to 355,000 in the year to March 2012.
Maybe Boles and his colleagues in the Government should start looking at that – the lack of growth, the lack of jobs, the lack of opportunity – before scaremongering about how immigrants are the source of this country’s problems.