It’s little wonder we in the UK seem to feel so much concern over immigration. It’s not – generally – the migrants themselves who trouble such a tolerant nation, but the state’s inability to grow infrastructure to keep up with population growth.
“No one told the supermarkets,” writes Fraser Nelson, “that there would be 4 million more mouths to feed since the turn of the century, but we haven’t run out of food.” But ministers “have struggled to provide the school places and the doctors clinics for all those who arrived.”
“It’s time to stop treating high immigration as a constantly-surprising blip.”
We need to better understand why immigration troubles people – typically (but not only) working class people of the left and right. It’s very often not xenophobia. People don’t blame migrants for immigration any more than we blame the water for an incoming tide. But when the state (at national or local level) fails to meet the infrastructure needs of the nation we shouldn’t be surprised so many voters want to turn off the population tap. Clearly that impacts our attitude to immigration and by extension our attitude to the EU, and (quite separately) the refugee crisis.
There is a public malaise on migration. Successive governments should reflect upon why they might be largely responsible for that.
Update: We’ve just learned that Rochdale’s Gillian Duffy has left the Labour Party and plans to vote Brexit in the forthcoming referendum.
Mrs Duffy rose to fame during the 2010 general election. Gordon Brown infamously described her as “just a sort of bigoted woman” after chatting to her on the campaign trail about (amongst other things) immigration from eastern Europe. I had her in mind as I wrote this blog post.