A NATION without borders is barely a nation. Whether soft or hard, borders are more than just lines on a map. If Labour win the next election and put into practice all their ideas, our borders will in effect be erased. This won’t be the consequences of no Brexit, critical as that might be, but about the ‘free movement’ resolution its annual conference has just passed on immigration.
In effect this calls for the abolition of all immigration controls, rendering our borders meaningless. The measures proposed are startling and radical, each needing rebuttal. Standing out amongst these ridiculous and irresponsible ideas are the calls for the abolition of all ‘number caps’ on immigration and ‘free movement for migrants’. There are no qualifications to these, no ifs or buts and they are not limiting this to EU citizens.
What does this mean?
Countless people already want to come here, not just legally. Some are so desperate they pay thousands of pounds to criminal gangs to be smuggled in. The gangs hide their ‘cargo’ in freezer lorries or stow them away on ships. Some are packed into tiny boats to risk their lives crossing the Channel. Their stories are often tragic, their courage and determination sometimes admirable, but their criminality is not. Despite the Dublin Agreement, more are being transferred to us than we transfer to other EU countries; many in effect queue-jumping over others making legitimate asylum claims.
This is before contemplating coping with the unquantifiable burden that ‘open doors’ numbers might bring.
We cannot solve the world’s problems through a policy of ‘open house’. But those desperate to get here do not know that. The living standards of even our worst-off citizens must be looked on with envy by the world’s poor, so how many would make the journey if ‘free movement’ removed all barriers? And of course it’s not just the poor who want to come. So how does Labour think our public services and infrastructure – physical and administrative – would cope?
The Office of National Statistics reports that 28 per cent of all babies born in the UK in 2016 had mothers born abroad. How high could that percentage get with an open borders policy?
We shouldn’t, and this isn’t, to reject those babies, or their mums. They may well be good people who have real value to this country. But it is fatuous to pretend that unrestricted immigration doesn’t have the potential seriously to disrupt society or drive housing, hospitals, schools, public transport and local services to breaking point.
Yet the Labour Campaign for Free Movement magazine for this year’s party conference seemed to argue that every single aspect of immigration law is nothing but racism; it’s never about management.
Do they really believe this? Perhaps. But equally anything that reduces barriers to immigration is seen by some in Labour to be to their political advantage. We shouldn’t forget how Tony Blair’s former adviser Andrew Neather described New Labour’s plan to ‘rub the Right’s noses in diversity’. As well as the moral oneupmanship there is, as Paul T Horgan argued recently in TCW, one big advantage for Labour in immigration – the importation of a tranche of grateful new voters.
There are deeper motives too. There are those who unashamedly want to abolish nation states, and not just through the mechanism of EU integration. Getting rid of immigration controls is their wrecking ball to achieve this. They see a world without borders as something to fight for. The words ‘no borders’ are often proudly used as a battle-cry. As Guardian columnist Gary Younge puts it, ‘the map of my utopian world has no borders. No border guards, no barbed wire, no passport control, no walls, fences or barriers’.
This is a common Leftist fantasy. Younge argues that nation states are an artificial modern phenomenon. He misses the fact that the desire to identify with a clearly recognisable and defined community with a common culture, values and traditions is ancient and ubiquitous. He also misses the point that the nation state is simply an old idea in a modern form, as well as being the pre-condition for democracy.
Communities are of course adaptable and can welcome newcomers if and when they wish. No right-minded person wants to live in a monotone world. Ideas of cultural as well as racial purity are not only ugly, but also ridiculous and impossible. But we must be able to set our migration limits and be able to choose who and how many we can accommodate, not least for those for whom we hold any sort of prior moral responsibility.
This should all be obvious, but it needs constant and loud re-iteration. It is not racist to believe immigration needs controls, or mean-spirited to believe a country cannot take in all who might want to come. It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the contributions immigrants have made. It is not wicked to believe that social solidarity can be fragile and likely to break if stretched too far or too quickly.
Declining someone the chance to live here does not insult their worth as a person. You can accept the equal value of all humanity, detest chauvinism and see all of your compatriots, whatever their racial origins, as your equals and still believe in enforcing immigration control. There is no contradiction.
The liberal-Left has deliberately made immigration an awkward subject to discuss, creating a climate where we are frightened to discuss it for fear of being called racist. We should not be afraid to argue that unlimited migration is not a good thing in all circumstances.
This country has not just welcomed millions of immigrants, adding more than a million to the UK population every three years since 2001, it is also one of the world’s least racist countries, as many studies have demonstrated. The idea that Britain is a xenophobic hell-hole is both dishonest and daft. Which is why we should be completely unashamed about discussing exactly who and how many may come to a country which is already stretched.
I can only imagine that most decent, sensible Labour voters will be repelled by the party’s idiotic and destructive ideas on immigration, the assumptions they are based on and the chaos they would lead to. We should share them as much as possible.