How Labour's practical choices work
You have to admit they've got some nerve. According to the Great Helmsman today, Labour is the party of controlled immigration:
''By controlling immigration for a fairer Britain - by investing in the skills of our own workforce, and by ensuring our businesses secure highly-skilled migrants when they need them while continuing to maintain control of net inward migration...Which all sounds fine, until you recall Labour's atrocious record in losing control of our borders.
This is the practical choice people must make for a better more secure more economically prosperous and socially cohesive Britain - the Britain of fairness and responsibility we all should want to see.''
We've blogged this many times, but let's refresh the key facts. First, Labour has permitted a massive surge in immigration. From 1997 to 2008 (the latest published comprehensive ONS stats*) net migration into the UK totalled 2 million - the biggest inflow we have ever had in our entire history (see this blog).
Moreover, during that period a net 0.9m British citizens left, meaning that the net inflow of non-British citizens was 2.9m - around 5% of our population:
So the numbers are staggering, and given that many of the migrants have tended to concentrate in certain specific areas (like teenage Tyler's home town of Slough), there has been huge pressure on public services and housing. Not to mention some very evident and alarming social tensions.
But even worse than the reckless surge itself, has been Labour's deceitful explanations of why it was being encouraged.
For years, they told us it was to make us richer - and you can see that's still the Helmsman's basic pitch. Yet the truth turned out to be very different. As soon as this claim was subjected to serious analysis it fell apart. For example, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee held a lengthy enquiry and concluded that claims of mass immigration making us richer were "irrelevant and misleading" (see this blog).
The truth is that while individual high skill immigrants can bring considerable value, on average, Labour's millions of immigrants have done nothing to increase UK GDP per head.
Labour then moved onto another tale, which was that we couldn't stop the immigration even if we wanted to, because the vast bulk of it was coming from the EU. And unless we were prepared to leave the EU, we had to accept it.
But again, the truth turned out to very different. In fact, of the 2.9m non-British immigrants, only 0.6m came from the EU - including the new EU members like Poland. The other 80% came from countries outside the EU, where we are under no obligation whatsoever to allow entry.
So no economic benefit from mass immigration, and no treaty obligations forcing us to permit it. Why then, was it encouraged? Given its well-known unpopularity with British voters, why would Labour pursue such a bonkers policy?
For years, Tyler puzzled over that very question, even suggesting it might be a covert extension of the international aid programme.
But then finally last October we discovered the truth - it turned out Labour's promotion of mass immigration was a deliberate and sinister plan to transform the British electorate and "to rub the Right's nose in diversity" (see this blog).
And now they've got the brass neck to tell us they've got things under control. And yes, they have finally been shamed into introducing a points system for the 80% of immigration that comes from outside the EU, but there is no overall cap. And points without an overall cap on numbers is just so much window dressing.
So yes, when it comes to the issue of whose got the best ideas on controlling immigration, there is a choice to make.
But it's not a choice that will take very long.
*Footnote As you will have seen, our old friend Sir Michael Scholar - incorruptible head of the UK Statistics Authority - has now rapped Brown over the knuckles for misusing official immigration stats in his pitch. The ONS's full migration stats have only been published up to 2008, and Brown has been quoting apples and pears numbers for 2009. Why? Well, why do you think? The master of statistical mendacity has always been prepared to quote any old numbers that seem to support his case. Which is why if you've got any sense, you'll disbelieve any numbers he ever comes up with.