David Orland, VDARE, April 26, 2005
“Britain is an island nation. We can control our borders. But it will only happen if we have a government with the determination to act.” — British Conservative Party leader Michael Howard (March 29, 2005).
At an April 22nd campaign speech in Dover, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a startling admission. Flanked by the white chalk cliffs that have for so long served as metaphors of British sovereignty and independence, Blair remarked:
Concern about asylum and immigration is not about racism. It is about fairness. People want to know that the rules and systems in place are fair. People also want to know that those they elect to government get it. That we are listening. We do get it. We are listening.
How times have changed.
Since then, a damaging series of immigration and asylum scandals has led to the resignation of both Blunkett and his immigration minister, Beverley Hughes. Public dissatisfaction with Blair’s “leadership” on the issue, meanwhile, has reached the boiling point, with large majorities telling pollsters they’ve lost confidence in the government.
Writing on the scandals for VDARE.COM last year, I pointed out that the Blair government’s vulnerability on immigration and asylum was a golden opportunity for the Conservative Party to make a comeback after years in the political wasteland—if only they would take it.
And so they have.
Howard’s campaign has had no trouble finding material. Migration to the UK has been at an all-time high since Blair took office in 1997, with the country averaging 157,000 immigrants per year. A suppressed government study, recently leaked to the press, estimates that as many as 500,000 may be illegally residing in the country.
And the issue has been kept fresh in the public mind by a series of almost weekly outrages—most recently, the revelation that police officer Stephen Oake was murdered by al-Qaeda operative/failed asylum seeker Kamel Bourgass.
Labour’s response to the Tory campaign has been a textbook lesson in Blairism. While party hacks portrayed the Tory leader as an unprincipled opportunist eager to stir public fears for political gain—Howard’s Jewish parents fled to England to escape the Holocaust—the Blair campaign has quietly adopted a “lite“ version of almost every one of Howard’s proposals. Indeed, much of Blair’s Dover speech was cribbed from earlier Howard performances. Clearly, Labour is counting on the public’s short attention span.