Yesterday the Prime Minister was at UCS Suffolk to make a key note speech to set out a fair and balanced cross-government immigration system that favours people who work hard and aspire to get on in life.
There can be few areas of the county where immigration is a bigger issue than our own. Under labour it is estimated that some 2 million people from across Europe have settled in the UK, interestingly it is also estimated by DWP that 13,000 of these are claiming job seekers allowance, which I think rather busts some of the myths that some would have us believe – that’s a 0.65% unemployment level! Of course many say ‘they come over here and take our jobs’; when I talk to farmer and business friends of mine that’s not what they say, they say without them, their crops would not get picked and their factories would not run.
In my patch we have of course always had a high number of military visitors as the USAF bases and their personnel have lived in the area since the second world war. And today we see in Mildenhall and Brandon a number of new shops catering to the predominantly Polish and Portuguese communities alongside shops targeted at the American market.
So to some extent this is why we also yesterday saw Nigel Farage hold a regional UKIP meeting in Brandon last night.
Nigel Farage is a fascinating chap, a good speaker and knows how to leverage a position well. He attempts to play a number of interesting hands all at the same time, from we are a serious party with policies, yet the first leaflet they have put out in my Division seems to suggest that 29 million Romanians and Bulgarian are about to descend on Row Heath which I think is a slight overstatement! He also paints a anti career politician stance yet he was a Surrey County Councillor and has been a European MEP for a number of years drawing a considerable European salary and staff package at the same time as telling us how terrible Brussels and European membership is.
For my part I have always believed in the benefits of immigration, but it seems to me that immigration has to be properly controlled. Under Labour this simply wasn’t the case. Immigration was far too high and badly out of control. Yesterday in his speech David Cameron spoke that ‘Net migration needs to come down radically from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands’.
I entirely agree that we must bring net migration down and we must also make sure that our area continues to benefit from it. It means ensuring that the system is fair so that we support the aspirations of hard-working people who want to get on in life and make a life here in our community as we have always done here in our community.
David Cameron talked yesterday about three key themes:
- stopping our benefits system from being such a ‘soft touch’;
- making entitlement to our key public services something migrants earn – not an automatic right; and
- bringing the full force of government together to crack down on illegal working.
From what I can see in our community this approach announced by the Prime minister yesterday seems balanced and beyond the rhetoric of UKIP -a balanced approach is what we should be striving to achieve.
Now back to the campaign trail and talking about the County Council elections! Where’s my leaflets? – about protecting Front line services and how we are going to delivery 0% Council tax rises over 4 years by making the Council live within its means.