What is wrong with the now almost daily apologies about mass immigration? Today it is the turn of Jack Straw. The former Home Secretary has just admitted that opening Britain’s borders to Eastern European migrants was a ‘spectacular mistake.’ He acknowledges that his party’s 2004 decision to allow migrants from Poland and Hungary to work in Britain was a ‘well-intentioned policy we messed up‘. The Labour government famously predicted that a few thousand people would come, while the actual figure ended up being closer to a million.
Of course apologies are normally intended to draw a line under a matter. But how could that possibly occur when all three main parties are currently committed to making the exact same mistake again? The doubtless ‘well-intentioned’ coalition government will next year allow in a new wave of immigration from Romania and Bulgaria. And they are dismissing their critics in just the same way as the Labour government did back in the day. Last week the Conservative party’s representative on Question Time, Anna Soubry, performed the very 2004 tactic of dismissing all fears over this as ‘prejudice’ and ‘scaremongering’. So it looks like we will go around and down again. ‘Racist’, ‘prejudice’ and ‘fear-mongering’ will all once again be deployed by the incumbent political class at the exact moment when their predecessors are finally partially apologising for the last round.
Ten years ago it was David Blunkett who was doing the smearing. Using Parliamentary privilege he memorably dismissed mainstream critics of Labour’s immigration policy as ‘bordering on the fascist’. So how amusing yesterday to see that very same former Home Secretary now warning in the most panicked terms about the consequences of opening up our borders to Bulgaria and Romania. Blunkett now says that the influx of more Roma into Britain could lead to riots in British cities.