The wave of feeling against immigration that swamped the Brexit debate can’t be ignored by any serious politician – but let’s judge our leaders and would-be leaders by the quality of their responses. Here are a few examples:
1) They shall not pass. The standard UKIP, hard Brexit, right-wing Tory approach which favours shutting them all out – unless, of course, they’re good for business. Oh, and it blithely ignores the problem of what other countries do to our nationals overseas. They’re not immigrants, of course – they’re expats.
2) Sticking plaster. The pretence that a points system or some other sleight of hand will solve every problem – but chiefly will keep the Daily Maul and the rest of the right-wing press quiet. The idea is to sound tough while achieving very little.
3) The world as it is. The Jeremy Corbyn refusal to pick a number out of the air; to stress how positive the best of immigration is; and to offer genuine solutions (financial aid to affected regions; clamping down on low-wage employers; training for our own young people etc) to cope with the worst.
Now for the howls of protest, from within Labour as well as from the Conservative benches, accusing Corbyn of not addressing the problems of people ‘abandoned by the political class’.
The fact is that only the political class can address them. Let these hot-heads tell us which part of the Corbyn agenda doesn’t do that.