Alex Massie

Cats lie down with dogs...

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And other oddities. for perhaps the first time ever, I find myself agreeing, in broad terms, with John Prescott. How did this happen and how, for the love of god, did Prezza end up besting my old pal Fraser Nelson? Ah, yes, immigration... As Fraser put it himself:

I’ve just done a BBC1 Politics Show where they introduced me as being from both The Spectator and The News of the World. As a result of this I was savaged by the Labour-supporting audience. Perhaps vengeance for my being rude to John Prescott in the middle bit, which was off-air . I have to say Prescott came out of the exchange better than I did. We had a set-to about debt figures, jobs and immigration. “How many of those 3m new jobs you were talking about are immigrants?” I asked. “I have no idea” “Two-thirds.” “Funny how these Tories are fixated with immigrants – I’m pleased Poles are getting new jobs.” I tried shouting out at him “five million on benefits” but he had the camera and the microphone and didn’t flinch. Had it been on air, it would have no doubt left me looking like a refugee from Speaker’s Corner.

Now, of course, the theory of open immigration and the idea of a world without frontiers is easier to support when you're isolated or removed from the social pressures unchecked immigration might bring to societal services in, say, parts of London. In oher words, the theory is wholesome while the practice, as matters currently stand, is more complicated, especially for poorer citizens for whom high levels of immigration may pose something of an economic as well as a cultural threat. Nontheless, the expansion of the EU to the east has been one of the most heartening developments of recent years, providing opportunities for advancement to millions of people. If it's fine for a Frenchman to move to London, why ain't it fine for a Bulgar to do so too? And if a Bulgar, then why not a Turk?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articlePoliticsimmigration