Last week the Telegraph ran a big story about how a senior Tony Blair speech-writer had admitted that immigrants were being allowed to come into the country to rub the right’s face in diversity and multiculturalism. Outrage! Shock! Hysteria! Naturally the Daily Mail and other newpapers with an axe to grind followed.
I thought: these writers can’t be this stupid surely? One guy thinks the Tony Blair administration didn’t really care that much for right-wing hysteria about multiculturalism and it is being played up as a massive plot. But no, people really are that willing to swallow such tripe. Now the guy at centre of the story has written this:
As a ministerial speechwriter in a former career, in 2000 I penned a key speech for the then immigration minister Barbara Roche, which mooted changes to make it easier for skilled workers to come to the UK.
Multiculturalism was not the primary point of the report or the speech. The main goal was to allow in more migrant workers at a point when – hard as it is to imagine now – the booming economy was running up against skills shortages.
But my sense from several discussions was there was also a subsidiary political purpose to it – boosting diversity and undermining the Right’s opposition to multiculturalism. I was not comfortable with that. But it wasn’t the main point at issue.
Somehow this has become distorted by excitable Right-wing newspaper columnists into being a “plot” to make Britain multicultural. There was no plot. … What’s more, both were robust on immigration when they needed to be: Straw had driven through a tough Immigration and Asylum Act in 1999 and Roche had braved particularly cruel flak from the Left over asylum seekers.
Perhaps the lesson of this row is just how hard it still is to have any sensible debate about immigration. The Right see plots everywhere and will hyperventilate at the drop of a chapati: to judge by some of the rubbish published in the past few days, it’s frankly not hard to see why ministers were nervous.
99% of commentary otherwise written by right-wingers is absolute drivel. As Anton Vowl showed this weekend – there is a lot of condemnation of the BNP on the right while simultaneously pushing their agenda. Meanwhile, they love pretending that if no one listens to them then BNP support will go through the roof, without any evidence.
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Filed in: British Identity,Race politics,The BNP