Further evidence that immigration is likely to become the key issue at the next General Election.
A new report – The Economic Impact of Immigration – by a House of Lords committee claims that record levels of immigration have had little or no impact on the economic well-being of the UK.
The peers, including several ex-Cabinet ministers and chaired by Lord Wakeham, maintain that competition from immigrants has had a negative impact on the low paid and training for young UK workers and has contributed to high house prices. They are calling for a cap on immigration levels.
Lord Wakeham sets out the arguments for the committee’s findings in The Guardian, but it is the response of Ministers, front-bench spokespeople and MPs that will be worth watching over the coming days.
The Government opposes such a cap, whilst the Conservatives are supportive of a limit. But both are still happier talking around the issue than tackling it head on.
It has been interesting to hear and read responses to the Lords committee’s report, with all sides continuing to be very measured in their choice of language yet quietly starting to set out their stall. The problem is whenever they are pressed further on their stance, they start descending into the usual torrent of political non-speaking – using lots of words withouit really saying anything.
Immigration will be the key to a General Election campaign that some believe has already subtly begun.
We can expect more stories, comments and opinions to be expressed in the coming months.
But can we expect anything close to an intelligent debate?
This has become such a contentious issue that many continue to balk from stating their case clearly and concisely. For good reason.
There appear to be certain trigger words and phrases that are immediately seized upon by pundits, opponents, columnists and bloggers that ensure any hope of debate gets lots in rhetoric, antagonism and finger-pointing.
More often than not the flamers are quick to pounce and the whole thing degenerates into a contest to see who can shout in the loudest and most obnoxious manner.
All the while we skirt around the central issue and have little hope of generating a serious, mature and open debate on immigration.