'Positive Policy' - Immigration: Strengthening British Interests

Let’s talk about it

Over 40% of people say that immigration is one of their top three political priorities. The immigration debate needs to be decontaminated from reactional racist accusations. If you cannot have a free debate amongst reasonable people then you are denying the opportunity for the best possible policy solution to be arrived at. There needs to be proper debate. For a generation people have avoided expressing their honest views on immigration. Immigration is not a black or white subject. It is a lot more sophisticated than that.

Labour’s attitude of not wanting to discuss the culture and social issues around immigration, and their attempt to tar those who raise these concerns, has created a situation where negative minority parties have increased their vote. We suspect that many BNP voters do not want Nick Griffin as Prime Minister. They want the current Government to take their concerns seriously.

The Conservative Party will highlight our Immigration Policy on leaflets and posters. The recently released ten reasons to vote Conservative leaflet will include: “Having an annual limit to control the numbers admitted with regards to the wider effects on society and the provision of public services.” Immigration policy will be one of the subjects for the Conservative Draft Manifesto discussion series. David Cameron will attack Labour’s record during the debates. The Conservatives made a mistake in 2005 by having the passive negative slogan “Are you thinking what we are thinking?” The 2010 philosophy is “We are going to talk about what you want us to talk about”.

Mission Statement

Net migration to the UK increased from an average of 51,000 a year between 1993 and 1997, to an average of 209,000 a year between 2004 and 2008. Labour’s manifesto of 2005 presented their expansion policy in purely economic terms. “Our philosophy is simple; if you are ready to work hard and there is work for you to do, then you are welcome here”. This narrow view neglected to take into account the significant social and cultural impact rising immigration levels would have. Important questions such as how will front line services in the south-east, where roughly 70% of new migrants settle, cope were not asked, let alone answered.

There is a public perception that Labour’s immigration policy was too more focused on the needs of those arriving at our shores, rather than being in the interests of those who are already part of British society. A Conservative Government will regain the publics trust by signing-up to the below statement of principal, from which all immigration policy will flow. “We, the Government, will have an immigration policy which reflects the long-term interests of Britain and all its citizens. We will always consider the social, economic and cultural impact, along with the impact on public services. These impact assessments will be made public, along with other relevant information, in order to assist the public debate”.

Controlling numbers

Maintaining an open border policy is not appropriate for economic, infrastructure and public opinion reasons. A Conservative government will:

- Have an annual limit to control population numbers. This will be broken down to include regional limits if services in an area are over stretched.

- Have an effective system to count people in and out of the country. Monitor where they are coming from, where they are going to and their reason for entering/leaving.

- Deport those who are not allowed to stay.

- Tighten the student visa system.

- Maintain the points based system to ensure that immigrants have the appropriate attributes.

- Use data to assess where skill gaps are present and then adapt education/apprenticeship policy as appropriate.

Embracing the British way of life

Those who want to settle in Britain are making a decision to bind themselves to British values. By requesting to call Britain their home they are agreeing to respect the traditions, laws, rights and responsibilities which have led British society to the place where it is today.

Those who apply for British citizenship will be subject to a one-year probation period. During this period the applicant will attend classes to learn about British history, laws, values and customs. If their English is not at a satisfactory high level they will also be given the year to reach GCSE C standard. Applicants will have to do at least five hours a month of community work.

Those who complete the qualification period will be invited to a ‘citizenship ceremony’ which will celebrate their achievement. The best 250 applicants each year will be invited to a tea party at Buckingham Palace. EU citizens who want to settle in Britain will also be encouraged to go through this process.

This policy section has dealt solely with immigration and not asylum, which we regard to be a separate issue. Asylum seekers are only 3% of net foreign immigration.

Betapolitics is a regular blogger on Platform 10. He can be followed on twitter @betapolitics.