Nick Clegg is well on his way to becoming one of the most vacuous and Â amoral politicians in British political history. Â And with the Lib Dems now trailing Ukip in the polls, it’s no surprise to find that has stepped up to offer some home thoughts on immigration.
This comes only a fortnight after Ed Miliband and Cameron made their own speeches on the same subject during the Eastleigh by-election.
All three offerings are variants on what is actually becoming a generic ‘paint-by-numbers’ speech, in which mainstream politicians stir the dank waters of prejudice, bitterness, xenophobia, racism, paranoia and ignorance where the likes of Ukip and the Daily Mail swim, in the hope of gaining Â some political advantage Â Â – while still appearing to be jolly decent chaps.
So for future reference, I thought I’d lay out some of the essential rules and pointers on how it’s done:
- Tell your audience about how proud you are of Britain’s ‘diversity’, its openness and tolerance, and the contribution made by migrants to British society.
- If you have any foreign ancestry, talk about how proud you are of that too – maybe suggest that it gives you some special insight into the migratory experience.
- Declare your willingness to listen to public ‘concerns’ on immigration and hold an ‘honest debate’ on the subject.
- Insist that these ‘concerns’ have nothing to do with prejudice or racism, and neither does your desire to discuss the subject.
- Tell your audience – or merely insinuate, by the way you frame the subject – that immigration is a problem, in fact a huge problem. Â Use words like ‘abuse’, ‘integration’ and ‘social cohesion,’ ‘chaos’ and ‘public confidence.’
- Talk about the ‘strain’ Â that immigration is causing to some communities – always preferable to talking about the ‘strain’ caused to communities by ‘austerity’ polices to which all three parties essentially subscribe.
- Never mention any specific communities – always talk in general terms.
- Blame immigration ‘chaos’ on the previous government or the government in power.
- Insist that your party has been ‘tough’ and wants to be tougher.
- Use snappy, easy-to-understand catchphrases like ‘tolerant Britain, zero-tolerant of abuse’
- Boast of the ‘tough’ things you have already done, such as raising the minimum income requirement for couples seeking to bring over a partner or spouse.
- Tell your audience that your willingness to address this issue is a ‘sensible’ alternative to Â ‘populists’ and ‘extremists’. Â Then offer ‘populist’ policies of your own, such as obliging migrants from ‘high risk countries’ to pay a Â£1,000 ‘security bond’ – while simultaneously insisting that these bonds ‘would need to be well-targeted â€“ so that they donâ€™t unfairly discriminate against particular groups.’Â Â Or changing your previous position in favour of amnesties for ‘illegal immigrants’ Â – far better to have possibly half a million people who have made lives in this country to indefinite legal limbo than provide a ‘reward to those who have broken the law’.
- Tell your audience that immigrants MUST learn English.
- Insist that these ‘tough’ policies will make Britain a more tolerant and welcoming place.
There you are. Â You see how it’s done: Now off you go and write your own.