Yvette Cooper gave a speech on immigration today. It was one of the most disheartening things I’ve encountered this parliament, and that’s amazing given, as Nick Clegg once so beautifully put, it’s a shitty time to be a liberal.
I’ll summarise as best I can: according to Yvette, there is a group of “liberal commentators” who don’t like talking about immigration. I have no idea what she’s talking about as it is all anyone seems to discuss these days. If you had been in a containment cell for the last ten years and walked out into a British street and grabbed any newspaper, you’d think Britain had been occupied by Russia in a sort of western push style lebensraum. Hysteria barely describes it.
She also announced that if a Labour government got in they would institute a “get into Britain for a tenner” policy. Citizens from fifty-five different countries would have this foisted upon them, should they want to come over and stroll around Madame Tussaud’s. The US is included too in this. Yvette says this won’t affect tourist numbers. Sure it won’t. After all, when the Americans made it so you had to pay fourteen bucks just to get into their place, did it affect whether I visited there or not? Yes, actually, it did. As I’m sure it did for many other people. I know making a joke about the Labour Party and not understanding how the market works is cheap, so I’ll spare you. Just note that when you put an infinity percent hike on something, it tends to affect demand.
Why are Labour doing this? Do they really think they are going to win people back to the fold with anti-immigration rhetoric, and softly peddled anti-immigration rhetoric at that? I thought they were trying to win disaffected Lib Dems back? Have they now taken that for granted and think whatever is said, this bunch is in the bank? I despair.
I suppose I shouldn’t care what Yvette Cooper says. But the major problem I have with it is that it demonstrates that both the Left and the Right seem to have united on the illiberal side of this argument, seemingly out of nowhere. I realise that UKIP are scaring everyone in Westminster silly, but panicking is the worst thing a party can do in the face of Farageism.
They wonder why the two party system is crumbling – they should stop trying to emulate the values of a party that, at very best, polls around twenty percent nationally. I think it’s safe to say that twenty percent wouldn’t get either the Tories or Labour a majority. I’ve heard the line “Labour is not the liberal party” spoken a lot at Labour conferences during this parliament; if I were them I’d be weary about how loudly I proclaim that, as a good chunk of their vote in London is under that very misapprehension. And if you think your voters have nowhere else to go, this is where you want to start thinking about UKIP: if the two party truly is crumbling, insurgencies can come from nowhere and fast.