Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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Immigration has not gone away, Boris

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BORIS Johnson was quick to claim his election victory for his brand of ‘One Nation Conservatism’ in what the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope has aptly called a ‘speech that could have been delivered by a Labour Prime Minister‘. This Blair-style shift to the centre ground has been given a boost by the party’s remarkable gains in Labour heartlands, with the Tories leading Labour among working-class voters by 20 points, according to one poll last month. As Alan Johnson chided Momentum founder Jon Lansman on ITV on election night: ‘I’m afraid the working classes have always been a big disappointment for Jon and his cult.’  

Does this mean the metropolitan-liberal leadership of the Tory party will now start to heed the concerns of working-class voters? In some ways, perhaps. The Spectator‘s James Forsyth offers his take:

‘We will see a Tory party that is prepared to intervene in the market when that is what is needed to boost pay, look at their plan for a minimum wage of over ten pounds an hour. It is a Tory party that will put tax cuts for those at the bottom first, look at how Boris Johnson’s initial tax of raising the top rate threshold has been put on the back burner and the Tory priority is now raising the National Insurance threshold. But, perhaps, even more important than these shifts is dealing with regional inequality . . . [Boris’s] view is that the answer to this problem is infrastructure . . . As one close ally of the Prime Minister put it to me, “Infrastructure spending and pump priming are going to be the order of the day”.’ 

But what about immigration? Where has that gone in this list of priorities for the new model One Nation Tories? It’s already missing in action, back to being ignored as though the electorate, the working class, don’t care or that their concerns can be disregarded.

Boris and his Blairite band of merry ministers need to heed the results of the recent Deltapoll survey for Migration Watch. As Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch, explained on TCW last week:

‘Seventy-five per cent of Conservative voters thought the average annual level of net migration that the UK has experienced over the past five calendar years was a “substantial concern” for the public. It may come as a surprise to to some, but not to me, that 62 per cent of Labour voters and 53 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters felt the same. Looking at constituencies, and doubtless noteworthy for party HQs, 67 per cent in Labour-held marginals agreed that the level of immigration of the last five years was a “substantial concern”; this was also true of 61 per cent of those in Conservative-held marginals. Overall, 64 per cent of respondents in marginal seats agreed on “substantial concern”. The regions where most voters agreed it to be a concern were Wales (69 per cent) and the Midlands (68 per cent). Indeed, 65 per cent of Londoners (who would have thought it?) and even 60 per cent of respondents in Scotland agreed: not what the SNP leadership would have you believe. As for what this election is supposed to be about, 52 per cent of Remain voters were of this view and so were 81 per cent of Leave voters. Those who were concerned formed a majority of all age-groups – even 53 per cent of 18-24-year-olds who took part in the survey.’ https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/whats-the-big-worry-immigration-immigration-immigration/

Boris is infamous for being liberal on immigration, having dropped his party’s longstanding (though never seriously attempted) 100,000 target and repeated in July his support for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Seeming to show interest in reducing numbers only when politics forces him to, https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-supports-immigration-amnesty-brexit-migration-government-497774 this bodes ill for how he will handle the issue now he has a large majority.

But if he doesn’t start to take it seriously, he will find that his new working-class supporters will quickly desert him once Brexit is done. Working people in this country can’t be bought off with grand infrastructure projects and spraying money at the NHS. They also care about where our country is going and how sustainable it all is.

Alp Mehmet again: ‘Those who thought immigration levels to be a major public concern cited pressure on the NHS and pressure on schools as the top reasons. Others included competition for jobs, the environment and the changing nature of society. In Wales, the changing nature of society was selected by 70 per cent of respondents in the sample.’

The worry is that Boris’s One Nation Conservatism will turn out to be more socialist conservatism than social conservatism, and just more of the same globalist pro-immigration diversity nonsense that Brexit and now this election are in large part a rebellion against. If that turns out to be the case, expect support for Boris’s Conservatives to evaporate quickly on the other side of Brexit once it dawns on everyone that it is just business as usual for the Westminster Tories, out of touch with voters and their concerns.

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Will Jones
Will Jones
Dr Will Jones is a maths graduate with a PhD in political philosophy and author of Evangelical Social Theology: Past and Present (Grove, 2017).He blogs at https://faith-and-politics.com/

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