As UKIP turns its own immigration policy on its head, something has changed…

I’ll preface this #SluggerReport with a link to a personal story from an old friend Bernie Duffy (whose personal adventures in migration I suspect would fill several volumes over and over…

It illustrates very well on a personal level the unexpected comprehensiveness of the migrant/refugee crisis, and how it has caught public discourse (in the UK and to a lesser extent Ireland) severely on the hop…

And not just David Cameron, but the case of UKIP (a party capable of putting or taking off policy positions with extraordinarily indecent speed) also.

What Bernie captures in his very personal story, is the ill-preparedness of European society of the disaster which is washing over it whether it choose to recognises it or not.

The truth is that UKIP have managed to convince mainstream UK politicians that immigration was a universal curse that had to be stopped at all costs. A cursory glance at the UKIP 2005 manifesto shows just how far out of line the debate has gotten since.

And yet, when you look at the basic attitudes of Brits to immigration it is pretty positive.

That’s not a conclusion you would have come to based on the election results in May. As we have seen UKIP can roster a huge vote and can dent the courage/confidence of the major middle parties hugely.

But their take on immigration issues now appears to be rather out of step with mainstream opinion in UK.

Perhaps it demonstrates the capacity of a skillful populist project to disrupt large mainstream parties and force the whole national conversation in ways that move it out of line with the settled opinion of the country.

And it’s not as though it doesn’t have consequences.


The refusal to have an open (and positive) debate on the problem of migration and asylum seekers means there’s no proactive policy in place. And  that means that the UK sits pretty low in the full range of European countries taking in Asylum seekers (significantly below France for instance).

In fact it turns out that Ireland (despite the successful deployment of its navy in the front line in the Mediterranean) has been very much behind the door in taking refugees too, coming last on pure numbers accepted and pretty low in relative terms.

The thing is the immigration issue is only going to get bigger, and more global. Even when the crisis comes to an end, Europe will still have an immigration problem. As Africa becomes more affluent the pressure to accept yet more immigration will become more intense. Denying it, won’t make it go away. And folding under the pressure of cheap populism is no answer either.

As Bernie notes at the end of his Guardian piece

I am putting together an emergency kit for the next time this happens – complete with a towel, toiletries, rain poncho, bottled water, new socks, 20 euros and flyers with directions to help centres. I will speak to my neighbours and encourage them to prepare likewise.

I’ll also be leaving the basement unlocked, for the time being.

Today’s #SluggerReport is a featured post on AudioBoom:

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  • Zig70

    I blame cheap pseudo reality TV like ‘the only way is Essex’ for promoting the west as carefree and superficial and readily exported to tv’s around the world.

  • Bolshevik Brainwashing Corpora

    Those graphs are extremely deceptive as they need to also consider the number of immigrants as a whole as well as the impossible to categorise “refugees”. They always leave out the stats on migrants/square km. England in particular would be at the top.

  • terence patrick hewett

    It is very easy to dismiss concerns about immigration as “populism” but conflict can be postulated as nearly always a tribal fight over land and resources: as NI knows to its cost.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Really? England is top in terms of Migrant population density?

    Ignoring Malta who’s population is probably more migrant than native Maltese (if you include Italians), (…and Monaco similar reasons) and has such a small area there are plenty of other countries smaller than England taking in more migrants e.g. Switzerland.

    Sweden is only the size of the UK & Ireland combined, yet has more migrants the combined UK, Irish and French number of migrants?

    Now how many times is Sweden is bigger than England? Threee and a half times roughly?
    It has nearly 4 times the migrants of Britian never mind England.

    The Netherlands are smaller than the Republic of Ireland, yet it takes in more migrants than Britain too.

  • gendjinn

    I prefer the migrants to those complaining about them.

  • kalista63

    People like Andrew Neil are part of promoting UKIP. Cast your mind back and they got the same treatment as the BNP, look at social media and they’re constantly exposed as racists. I know the defence, that’s not UKIP policy. we’re not racist. How many racist council members tweeting hate does it take to define the party as racist xenophobes?

    We all know the Mark Twain quote about a fool dragging you down to their level and winning becauser they’ve had more practice. Well, the UKIP party leader, the one with the migrant wife, has done so to the Tories and Nu Labour. When the hell was Britain British? It certainly hasdn’t been since 1066 and arguably before.

    The Radio 4 programme, Brits Abroad exposed the mentality perfectly, summed up by the worst ‘expats’ refusing to be called migrants, preferring that term.

  • terence patrick hewett

    I prefer differential calculus to both.

  • Chingford Man

    UKIP has always accepted that genuine refugees fleeing from persecution should be admitted to the UK. It has also called for a points system for immigration. There is no conflict in those positions.

    You also misrepresent UKIP when you say that “UKIP have managed to convince mainstream UK politicians that immigration was a universal curse that had to be stopped at all costs”. In fact, UKIP accepts controlled immigration based on identification of national need. That is different from open door immigration.

    The 3 legacy parties and their client media did everything possible to kill immigration as an issue during the general election because they know the danger of the subject to them. They knew that if immigration was allowed to be an issue, that would play into UKIP’s hands. It was only FPTP that kept UKIP down to one seat. PR-STV would have given UKIP 80 seats in the Commons.

    You say, UKIP’s position on immigration is “rather out of step with mainstream opinion in UK”. Well, we shall see.

    PS, as for Bernie, I wonder if he will start locking his basement if Hamburg starts experiencing some of the negative aspects of mass migration currently being seen in Sweden.

  • Chingford Man

    “When the hell was Britain British? It certainly hasdn’t been since 1066 and arguably before.”

    Do you really know nothing about the history of migration to Britain over the last thousand years? We had the Huguenots arriving in the late seventeenth century and the Jews in the nineteenth. Nothing in the immigration that took place in the 950 years prior to 1948 compares to the numbers arriving in the UK today.

  • gendjinn

    More of an integration man meself.

  • Khead8

    What is really starting to annoy me is the position of central and eastern European countries, whose underlying racism (lets call a spade a spade) is driving these people westward and who can blame them.
    These former eastern bloc countries have very short memories given their recent history. They themselves are quite happy to work abroad and move to other parts of Europe.
    they really need to brush up on there history.

  • Chingford Man

    So caring about your country’s cohesion qualifies as “racism”.

    Maybe it’s the more advanced welfare states of western Europe pushing people westwards. Eastern Europe is great for any tourist from the west (£1 for 5.8 zloty), not so great if you are poor and living there.

  • Khead8

    What is that supposed to mean. if you were in there shoes what kind of a welcome will you get in Poland or Hungary (of all countries)
    . No rather than concentrating on the exchange rate, concentrate on what is panning out to be the largest mass migration of people since the second world war.

  • Reader

    You prefer integration to multiculturalism? (Sorry – no maths pun in this one)

  • gendjinn

    Maybe could have gotten somewhere with a matrices pun?

  • gendjinn

    Wasn’t that long ago we took in Hungarian migrants fleeing persecution. Apparently the general public in Hungary has turned out to provide provisions for the migrants walking to Austria. And this has started to shame the government into action.

    The problem isn’t the people, it’s the right wing parties that are currently in power in these countries.

  • Croiteir

    Surely the reality is that UKIP was calling for taking in Syrians years ago and was the leading voice on this? Is someone trying to rewrite history?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    As much as I’m not a ukip fan I have to say that controlled immigration or rather a points system seems sensible and you’re quite right when you state it’s a different thing altogether to refugees.

    I only got into Australia because I had a skillset that they needed.

    Australia owes me nothing and is not obliged to let me in.

    It’s nothing personal, they’re just looking after their house.

  • Reader

    I think you are using the asylum graph to talk about migrants. The migrant figures are much larger than the asylum figures and very differently distributed.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Taking a matrix and making it do great tricks?

  • Pasty2012

    The UK and the US bombed the countries where the refugees are coming from and caused the problem. While the countries of Libya, Syria and Iraq may not have had the best Regimes in the World they were stable places to live before the US and Britain supplied tons of arms to everyone and anyone willing to fight and overthrow the Regimes that the US/British wanted out. At the same time those countries with worse Human Rights violations like Bahrain and other oil rich nations who are friendly to the US and Britain are allowed to continue with their inhuman treatment to people.
    The groups like IS and Al Quida only came about after being trained and supplied with weapons and are know out of control. The Refugee problem is likely to continue for years and may well see some IS personnel moving across with the refugees to carry out attacks in Europe.
    The only real way to end the problems in those countries is boots on the ground and disarming everyone.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You guys. …

  • terence patrick hewett

    I try not to be 2π-ous. It’s radian in my heart.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’m happy to look at other metrics or statistics, but the UK is not a special case in comparison to most of continental Europe. It would not surprise me to find the migrant figures to be proportional to accepted asylum seekers, but if there is any skew in results that says that isn’t the case, it is easy enough to find.

  • M,R,Walker

    otoole and his old mate bernie,are talking rubbish.The UKIP Knockers have started again with no answers,where is the EU in all this guiding its flock in times of unrest.The answer is nowhere,leaving it to member states to sort their own mess out and thats the way i like it.Get out and run our own Countrys

  • Reader

    OK – for migration as opposed to asylum, here:
    Of course, even those large numbers don’t count migration within the EU.

  • Robin Keogh

    ‘We shall see’ is not a great platform upon which to gamble your political life.