Why don’t politicians talk about immigration?

There’s an interesting article in yesterday’s Sunday Times from a writer who travelled to Lincoln to see the PPCs speak on a hot-topic in these parts – immigration.

Richard Woods, the journalist behind the article, writes:

There isn’t an investment banker for miles. Instead, low-paid agricultural and processing work predominates, pulling in thousands of migrants from eastern Europe. Are they a boon or a problem? What do the locals think?

He then tells of how the first person he spoke to could only speak Russian, and the other locals shared a consensus opinion that immigration is a problem. One even said he’d vote for the BNP.

So what did the candidates have to say? Woods offers a nice summary:

The UKIP candidate, Nick Smith, at least had the merit of honesty; at one point he likened himself to a “prat”. Nevertheless, he won applause from a minority for wanting to freeze immigration.

The English Democrats candidate, Ernest Charles, had a rum-barrel chest and Pugwash beard and, even before he announced it, you knew he had spent 36 years in the Royal Navy. When ill-informed on a topic (not uncommon) his policy was straightforward: repel immigrants. He’d scuttle the country rather than let it fall into enemy hands. More applause from the minority.

The Liberal Democrat, Reginald Shore, was a likeable man with good intentions and a policy spun from 100% pure new wool. He was very definitely for and against immigration, under certain circumstances, up to a point.

With the BNP absent, that left Gillian Merron, the sitting Labour MP, and her rival Karl McCartney of the Conservatives. Merron, an MP since 1997 and a minister since 2006, has been part of the government that presided over record immigration. All she could do was bluster about Labour’s belated attempts at control being “firm but fair”, as Brown himself did in Thursday’s television debate.

By contrast, McCartney was able to sound clear on this issue. “The Conservative party has said there will be a limit on immigrants,” he said. Not a ban, a limit. It seemed to get general approval.

For the entire article, see the Sunday Times‘ website.

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