An Open Letter to Fraser Nelson

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Dear Fraser,

I am a regular reader of your columns, and generally speaking an admirer of your practical and common-sense approach to political issues.  However I have recently noticed an increasingly pro-Tory and anti-UKIP bias, which I fear is leading you down some logical cul-de-sacs.  Your piece “Leaving the EU wouldn’t solve Britain’s immigration problem” is a case in point.

You write: “The (immigration) debate is polarised — those in favour will not accept that there are any drawbacks, while those against will not admit any advantage. So voters … struggle to find any politician with whom to have a sensible conversation — which creates space for parties like UKIP”.  I fear you’ve allowed yourself to be taken in by anti-UKIP propaganda, which at best is a lazy attitude, and at worst is dangerously misleading.  You don’t actually say so, but the implication is that UKIP is no more than a populist party with a one-dimensional view of the issue.  Our opponents like to accuse us of wanting to “pull up the drawbridge” and even “to send foreigners home”.

None of this is true.  In fact ironically we are exactly what you seem to be asking for — a party which has the courage to address the issue, and is prepared to see, and admit, both the benefits and the problems of mass immigration, and to address them in a fair, balanced and reasonable way.

We understand that Britain is a nation of immigrants.  We agree that immigrants have made great contributions to this country’s culture and to its economy (though we doubt that overall immigration has a positive effect onper capita GDP, and therefore on the prosperity of our citizens).  We are clear that we need immigrants to meet the staffing and skills needs of British industry (including short-term, lower-income seasonal labour in agriculture), though we also see the need for improved education and vocational training to enable our own people to fill those needs as far as possible.

But we see the down-sides too.  You say that “Remarkably, Britain does have enough jobs to go round”, as though that were game, set and match.  Yes Fraser, but enough houses?  Enough school places (including suitable education for the many children who don’t speak English fluently)?  Enough capacity in our health service and hospitals?  Enough road space?  And beyond the stresses on our physical and social infrastructure, it is clear that when the pace of change becomes too rapid, that represents a threat to social cohesion, and breeds the very fear and resentment which leads to negative attitudes.  We want immigrants to be accepted and to integrate, and that becomes much more challenging when the numbers are too large.

We also recognise (as far too few politicians do) that the UK’s current immigration policy is profoundly discriminatory.  It severely restricts non-EU immigrants, while offering carte blanche to “EU Citizens”.   It discriminates against the brightest and best from the Commonwealth and elsewhere — the Australian brain surgeon, the Canadian nuclear physicist, the Indian engineer — and in favour of the poor and unskilled from Europe, who arguably include many attracted by our generous welfare system, and health care, and (to them) high wages.  That’s unfair, and it’s foolish.  It’s damaging our economy for British people and immigrants alike.  We recall that the people who suffer most from the next wave of immigrants are the last wave of immigrants.

I imagine, Fraser, that you have a certain respect for the late great Milton Friedman.  I believe he pointed out that you can have free healthcare, or you can have open borders, but you cannot have both.  The UK’s current immigration policy looks more and more like a set-piece demonstration of the proof of Friedman’s dictum.

So you may be right that leaving the EU, by itself, won’t necessarily solve the problem.  But we won’t solve it without leaving the EU.  It’s a necessary but not a sufficient condition.  We will also need a points-based system to assess skills, and we will need proper border controls, which we currently lack.

And in another sense you are right, as well.  If voters are looking for a rational, balanced discussion of immigration — if they want an immigration policy that will be fair, and balanced, and good for our economy — then UKIP is the only party to talk to.

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6 Responses to An Open Letter to Fraser Nelson

  1. Jane Davies says:

    After the war thousands of immigrants were welcomed to come to the UK to help rebuild the country. Many now want to return to the land of their birth to retire but are prevented from doing so. Why? Because those from Trinidad, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nigeria, have discovered that their state pensions, that they have paid for with their NI contributions, will be frozen. So they are trapped and costing the UK far more than unfreezing would in add on benefits and NHS care etc. This shameful policy, that has never been the subject of a proper debate, goes against everything the UK stands for, Cameron trots out that fairness “is in our DNA” and yet this discriminatory injustice is allowed to go on and Webb who when in opposition said this was unfair and an anomaly has enshrined it into the new pension bill by the inclusion of clause 20. What a turn coat and hypocrite he is. How can it be right that 4% are frozen while the rest get annual cost of living increases? All have paid their NI over a lifetime, where one lives is irrelevant.

  2. bumper says:

    I’ve just been reading Richard North’s blog about the same subject. He is really venomous about Ukip in general and Nigel in particular.
    He should re-name his blog the anti UKIP rant.
    Like Fraser Nelson he spends all his time manipulating Ukips position to slag them off. Leaving the EU won’t solve the problem but it will be a giant step in the right direction.

  3. DougS says:

    You have well and truly nailed it with this piece Roger.

    But don’t expect Nelson to take any account of your undoubted logic – he’s been forced to toe the Telegraph line to lend maximum support to the Tories up to the general election in May 2015.

    He may admit that you’re right after that – but not before!

  4. Mike Stallard says:

    It breaks my heart to see us on the right bitterly divided into separate political parties at each other’s throats. As a natural Conservative, I listen to Ukip and time and time again it is saying what I really believe. Time and time again, I listen to the Conservatives in No 10 (peace be upon it) and they are saying things which I really think are just tosh. And, to make matters worse, we have an outstanding Conservative MP (Steve Barclay).
    I also read the Spectator every week and thoroughly enjoy it too. He is an excellent editor.
    Is there really nobody out there who can unite us all? Tony Abbott did it for the Australians and, I believe, the Canadians managed it too.

  5. Anne says:

    You will all love “Europe” just like ME.

    “You will ALL of you learn to love ‘Europe’”,
    Our Prime Minister declared one day,
    “I have ways of making you love it,
    And the truth will not get in my way”.
    “Our Airspace” controlled by ‘Europe’,
    It’s sovereignty I will soon give away
    To my belovéd ‘European Union’,
    And for all time, there it will stay”.

    “Our Oceans and Seas are the next to go,
    For our new masters will rule the waves,
    Never more will Brits sing ‘Rule Britannia’,
    For our Oceans and Seas none can save”.
    “Our fishing grounds were the first to go,
    Totally decimated by ‘Europe’s hand’,
    It had to be that way of course,
    Though not one of you could understand.”

    “For never again to be ‘self sufficient’,
    On our continental friends we must rely,
    Grow ‘wind farms’ in fields and on hill- tops
    At last you’ll know the reason why”
    “When this Country was last ‘self-sufficient’,
    It survived and won the last war,
    But our Country is to be taken over,
    Never able to win wars any more”.
    “For the death of our steel and coal mines,
    Maggie Thatcher took most of the blame,
    While Germany and France are naturally
    Still heavily subsidised, just the same”.
    “John Major made you EU Citizens,
    A task I would proudly have done,
    Your loyalty to “it” will be quite unique,
    For “EU Statesmanship” has just begun”.

    “To this Country I pledged my solemn Oath
    To my Queen, quite loud and clear,
    But my loyalty lies in Europe
    My allegiance to ‘it’ I hold dear”
    “It is money and fame that matters,
    For we have only one life to live,
    Multi-millions of your money I am spending
    For it’s to Europe your love you must give”.

    “Propaganda and spin my speciality,
    I know how to win you round,
    You will learn to love the Euro,
    And you will eagerly ditch the pound”.
    “Your new country will be one “Europe”
    Your new government will claim its seat,
    You really will love to love Europe,
    And my legacy at last, be complete”

    We are definitely coming out of “Europe”
    Through the General Election in 2015
    We are voting of course for UKIP
    And putting first our Country and our Queen.

  6. Hugh Davis says:

    Christopher Booker’s article in today’s Sunday Telegraph … “We can’t control our borders until we control those judges” see ….. rightly points out that the EU is only part of the immigration problem, and to have control over who enters the UK we must also leave the ECHR.

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