Race to the Bottom – Political parties, race and immigration

by Andy Gregg, Chief Executive, Race on the Agenda

Sadly all three major parties are running scared of UKIP after the recent Eastleigh by-election.  The level of discussion about race and migration is becoming more shrill and harsh by the day – and we are still two years away from a general election. The Tories and the Coalition Government are determined to get net migration down to under 100,000 even if  Britain’s business,  financial, universities and other parts of the economy suffer irrevocable damage in the process. Recent changes to Family Migration rules are part of this attack and run totally counter to the usual Conservative appeals to the sanctity of family life, the importance of marriage and so forth.

The key changes to family migration rules came into force in July 2012. They include a new income requirement of £18,600 for people wishing to sponsor a partner  to come to the UK as well as an extended period (from two to five years) before spouses and partners can apply for settlement in the UK.  As a response to these rule changes  ROTA was pleased to jointly sponsor a roundtable seminar with the Migrants Rights Network to look at the damaging effects these new regulations will have on families and community groups in the UK. MRN’s Briefing paper is available here and notes of the Roundtable discussion will shortly be available.

At the same time the Labour approach is in danger of accepting wholesale some of the most questionable assumptions that lie at the heart of the Government’s proposals. Fewer opposition politicians are prepared to make an open and positive case for migration and the growth of “Blue Labour” thinking with its suspicion of migrants and its constant concentration on the negative rather than positive aspects of  migration looks in danger of setting the agenda.  

Cameron’s recent attacks on multiculturalism, human rights and equalities legislation mark a significant change to the rhetoric around race. Attacks on migration and equalities can be seen as being designed to bring short term political advantages. But at what cost to the long term peace and prosperity of the UK and the diverse communities and citizens who live here?