For Years I Was Accused of Being Racist–Just for Warning About Immigration. Now I’m Being Made a Lord
Andrew Green, Daily Mail, October 25, 2014
It is remarkable that I, a campaigner against mass immigration, should this week have been granted a life peerage. A decade ago that would have been unthinkable, but the fact that it is now happening is a measure of how much attitudes have changed.
It has certainly taken a while. When I co-founded MigrationWatch with Professor David Coleman in 2001, nobody wanted to touch the subject. There was a widespread fear of being accused of racism that the Left were only too willing to exploit, and still are.
You might call it the ‘Rotherham syndrome’: if the matter touches on race, don’t touch it.
Now things are rather different. Immigration is right up there as an issue. The public are demanding action and they will not be fobbed off. I have long felt that this was a hugely important issue for our country and one that really needed to be addressed. The people who suffered the effects of mass immigration were not the chattering classes who mainly benefit from it but working class people who had no voice, especially as the trades unions were struck dumb.
So, when I retired as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, I set about establishing a small think-tank, mainly of volunteers, to make the facts better known and the impacts on ordinary people better understood.
We make it our business to examine official figures as impartially as we can, and then publish our findings.
Sure enough, in those early years I was immensely encouraged when ordinary people, who must have seen me on television, stopped me in the street to thank me for what I was doing. These were the real people. Elsewhere, however, the so-called sensitivity was such that the BBC would not even use the word immigration. They called it ‘in-migration’. And for years any BBC interview on the subject began with the question: ‘Is it racist to discuss immigration?’ with the clear implication that the questioner thought that it was.
This went on long after the Prime Minister at the time, the Home Secretary, and even Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission on Racial Equality, declared that it was not. This was not enough to stop some newspapers accusing us of racism.
When an article in the Left-leaning Daily Mirror implied I was in some way associated with the Ku Klux Klan, I’d had enough. I instructed my lawyers, and the paper settled out of court for several thousand pounds of damages. Following two similar episodes with the Independent, the Left-wing press became rather more careful.
Our first real breakthrough came in August 2002 when we published our estimate that immigration in the following decade would reach two million. That got them going.
The Independent described us as ‘a nasty little group that deserves to fail’. The Guardian described our report as ‘a swamp of muddled thinking’. Ten years later, when the census was published, it turned out that our prediction was actually an underestimate.
Something similar happened in 2003 when the Government commissioned an academic report that claimed migration from Eastern Europe would be no more than 13,000 a year. We said at the time that this report was ‘almost worthless’ and that a more realistic calculation suggested 40,000 a year.
We didn’t know how right we were. It turned out to be about twice that.
Believe it or not, but the same thing happened again last year. We published an estimate that Romanians and Bulgarians would add 50,000 a year to our population. Yet again we were rubbished, yet again the numbers are pointing in that direction.
To come to the present, we find that the figures from the Office for National Statistics show that net migration has been running at an average of nearly a quarter of a million a year for ten years.
If this is allowed to continue it will have a huge impact on our population and, indeed, on the whole nature of our society. Taking also into account the growth of our existing population, it will add 12 million in the next 20 years. That is huge. It is one and a half times the population of London and 12 times the population of our second city, Birmingham.
The consequences are already being felt. Maternity services are coming under increasing pressure. Primary schools are having to put up Portakabins to handle the extra children and, in some schools, classes are above their legal limit.
Housing is another massive issue. Not many people realise that one third of the demand for new housing is as a result of immigration. Indeed, we will need to build a house every seven minutes for the next 20 years or so just to accommodate new immigrants and their families.
As a result, finding an affordable home in many parts of the country is a real problem. Nothing has been done to provide the housing that our rapidly expanding population needs.
The problem is at its most acute in London but, of course, there is an overflow to the regions around London. The city’s population has grown by more than one million since 2000 and it continues to grow rapidly. That growth is entirely down to immigration and it has put huge pressure on the city’s housing. Waiting lists for social housing have doubled since 2000, property prices have soared and over-crowding has increased. Many people looking for somewhere suitable to live have to leave the city.
Since 2000, a period in which London has been portrayed as ‘booming’, there has actually been a net loss of three quarters of a million original Londoners to the rest of the country. A curious sort of boom.
The impact on social housing has also been severe. The statistics are, perhaps deliberately, very difficult to unravel. For years priority was given to those considered most in need, while people who had grown up in the area went to the back of the list. That is now changing but the impact is unmistakable. Half of all tenancies in inner London are now held by foreign-born tenants. The impact on Londoners has been staggering.
How on earth did it come to this? I cannot avoid the conclusion that it was no accident. Shortly after Labour took over in 1997, net migration quadrupled and remained very high thereafter. The Left like to talk about ‘globalisation’ but it is absurd to suggest it began with a bang in 1998. As it happens, there is clear evidence that Labour’s expansion of immigration was deliberate policy.
One of their party officials, Andrew Neather, who had been a speech writer to Tony Blair and later an aide to the Immigration Minister, Barbara Roche, let the cat out of the bag in an article in the Evening Standard in 2009.
It bears repeating because he was not just speculating; he was at the heart of the whole operation and subsequently came clean. Here is what he said: ‘It didn’t just happen; the deliberate policy of Ministers from late 2000 until at least February 2008 was to open up the UK to mass migration.’
He even admitted that earlier drafts of the keynote speech had included ‘a driving political purpose’–that mass immigration was the way that the Labour government was going to make the UK truly multi-cultural.
He even pointed to reluctance in the Government at the time to discuss what increased immigration would mean, above all for Labour’s core white, working-class vote. We now know the answer to that. Former Labour voters in the recent Manchester by-election deserted their party in droves. What an irony!
So what can now be done to get immigration under control? It is true that the present Government has made very substantial efforts to reduce immigration from outside the European Union. The numbers have come down by about a quarter since the peak in 2004 but there is still a long way to go.
We believe that the gaping hole in the system is the huge number of foreign students who come to Britain and the much smaller number who, it seems, actually go home. That is where future efforts need to be concentrated. Welcome though genuine students are, the number of those who stay on illegally is something that really must be tackled.
But the issue that has finally thrown the Government off course is the rapid increase in migration from the European Union. It has almost doubled in two years.
This is partly because East Europeans are continuing to come and join more than a million who are now working here.
In addition to that, quite large numbers are coming from southern Europe where the economies have been hit by the eurozone crisis.
Youth unemployment in some of those countries is amazingly high. In Spain it has reached 55 per cent and in Italy 42 per cent. It should be no surprise that some of them make their way here to work in coffee bars and restaurants.
The combination of public unease about immigration and growing scepticism about our membership of the EU has provided a golden opportunity for Nigel Farage and Ukip. There is no denying that he comes across extraordinarily well. People believe that what they see is what they get.
Furthermore, they like what he says. Many people think he is saying things that ought to have been said a long time ago.
But that is a long way from providing a practical solution.
It is quite clear that Labour will do nothing significant. They have ‘apologised’ for their mistakes, which led to the arrival of so many migrants from Eastern Europe but they have said nothing about twice that number who they admitted from the rest of the world.
Sure enough, Ed Miliband’s speech in Rochester on Thursday was no more than a rehash of sensible but minor steps that will make virtually no difference to the numbers.
That brings us to Conservative policy. The Prime Minister has clearly grasped the problem. He has promised that the issue of EU migration will be at the heart of his renegotiation with our partners. And he has also promised a referendum on the outcome.
He has said that he will not take no for an answer but, so far, he has been careful to avoid being too specific about the question, perhaps wisely. It is going to be a tough call.
The EU Commission and several member states are lining up to say that any kind of change to free movement is out of the question. Of course, they would say that. They are probably hoping that the Conservatives will not be elected, and that the problem will go away.
It follows that there will be no serious progress until such time as the EU is confronted with a British government committed to both a referendum and to measures on EU immigration. This will only happen if the Conservatives are elected with a working majority.
It is not as if Britain needs to seek a permanent change in the immigration regime. We have supported the principle and the practice of free movement for more than 40 years. But we need a solution until the pressures on our borders subside.
So our EU partners could well face a clear choice. Will they help us out for a period, or do they want to see the departure of a major European country with all the economic, political and psychological consequences that would follow?
If the answer from the EU is no–then so be it.
In my view, continuing mass immigration would have an unacceptable impact on our country.
It would place huge strains on our housing, our transport, and our environment. It would also change the whole nature of our country against the expressed wishes of a large majority of the population.
The stakes could hardly be higher.