by Atul Hatwal
There he goes again. David Cameron’s attempts to relaunch his policy on immigration are becoming ever more regular. Doubtless he’ll be back in January for another go because this speech will soon be forgotten and trouble from his backbenchers will drag him back to the podium.
Although the PM’s tone was better than recent efforts, and certainly better than the pre-briefings to the media, it repeated the strategic mistakes of every past peroration.
The fundamental question defining the current immigration debate is about numbers, specifically how can numbers be cut?
Yet again, Cameron accepted this as the problem to be tackled and yet again he failed to announce anything that would directly impact it.
Rather than demonstrate how he could control immigration from the EU, Cameron talked about benefits and the incentives to migrate to the UK.
According to research from the LSE, barely 1% of EU migrants fit the term “benefit tourists” and even if the latest fixation with removing in-work benefits from migrants were to be somehow legally implemented, it would only have a nugatory impact on numbers.
If migrants looked at the detail of benefits, and even average wages, they wouldn’t head to the UK, they would go to other EU countries.
Migrants come to this country for more than just the narrow economism of the pounds and pence in their pay packet; they come because of a wider sense of Britain as a place of opportunity. Where they will have a chance to work hard, get on and be accepted, where their hopes can be fulfilled.
Britain’s economic recovery has served to underpin and reinforce this view. Nothing David Cameron said in his speech will make any difference to this broader image of hope that Britain offers to migrants.