There has been a noticeable upswing in anti-immigration political rhetoric in the last days and weeks, centred on the largest and therefore easiest target: the Poles.
Labour says it was their mistake to let so many Poles into the country when they joined the EU. Primeminister Cameron says he wants to stop Poles repatriating child benefit – a view given short shrift by Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski. UKIP’s Farage bemoans the one way flow of Poles into UK. And the morally and literally bankrupt Nick Griffin of the BNP travelled to Poland… to tell Poles to go home!
Why? Because the many Poles who have come over here are largely hard-working and well behaved, considered model employees? Because they have fitted remarkably well into British society? Because they contribute much more to our economy in taxes and spending than they take out? Or, because they have added plenty of colour, diversity and perspective to our way of life?
Evidently, none of the above.
Rather, because the two main political parties are running scared of UKIP, and a perceived increasing anti-immigration groundswell in our society. Shame on them! As a recent survey showed, the vast majority of Brits don’t have a problem with Poles – or Romanians or Bulgarians – coming over here if they behave well.
It seems both Labour and the Conservatives either have got it wrong on concern over immigration, or consider that if they bang on enough about it, their own message (or, UKIP’s) will start to get through.
Instead, they should look to themselves, expenses scandal and all the rest of it, to explain their own lack of popularity. And at the same time they should ditch their intolerance, consign it to the UKIP/BNPs of this world, and tread higher moral ground.
But don’t bank on it as next year’s General Election beckons…