Peter Hoskin

By design, not by accident

By design, not by accident
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Simon Heffer serves up a bracing cup of invective in the Telegraph this morning. His message is that we shouldn't be too quick to label the Government “incompetent”, as doing so suggests they've reached this point by accident rather than by design:

"The element of deliberation and deliberateness in what Labour has done makes an accusation of incompetence, or carelessness, seem wide of the mark. Things were meant to be this way.

Labour has pursued policies, be they social or economic, for ideological reasons: and when they fail, as so many have, it has not been because of slipshod administration. It is because that was how things were always going to work out.

I mention this in the specific context of the House of Lords report on the benefits - or lack of them - of mass immigration. The theory applies, however, to much else, immediate or not. Some feel that mass immigration happened by accident; or that Labour's economic miracle was, indeed, so miraculous that it required hecatombs of foreigners to come here and undertake it.

The second contention was paraded in an interview yesterday by the immigration minister, Liam Byrne, on Radio 4's Today programme. With one and a half million unemployed, perhaps the same again on nebulous "training schemes", and about three million on incapacity benefit - many of whom would, if asked, be fit for non-manual work - the idea that we have so small a pool of labour here that we must borrow from abroad is simply preposterous.

That does not stop Mr Byrne from saying the opposite. He must. He has to cover up for the deliberate decision taken at the time when Jack Straw was Home Secretary, and maintained (though he often protested to the contrary) by his successor, David Blunkett, that immigration controls should not be enforced.

Why was this decision taken? It was because of a doctrinally driven determination by the new Government in 1997 to destroy our national identity and to advance multiculturalism."

Of course, Heffer taking it to a Labour administration makes for good reading, although it is hardly surprising. What's worrying for the Government is that almost every other major commentator – from Anatole Kaletsky to Polly Toynbee – is penning equally angry articles. If they reflect the mood of the wider populace, then Brown really is in trouble.