8 June 2011


It seems that the latest Liam Byrne Labour focus groups show that voters who defected from Labour in 2010 are worried about crime and immigration.

I am too. There’s not enough crime around here to create a panic – the odd murder aside – and most of what there is isn’t done by immigrants. Ipswich urgently needs an immigrant crime wave if it is to live up to the expectations of former Labour voters in focus groups.

OK, I know it’s not quite like that. Working-class Brits feel that they are being ripped-off by east Europeans and others coming over here and taking their jobs and homes, as they see it. In fact, Polish window-cleaners and Lithuanian au pairs are just doing work we can’t be arsed to do ourselves, but never mind. Their impact on the housing market is negligible in most of the country. The crime bit of the equation is even more unimportant, because crime is at a very low level historically and the immigrants that are most numerous – the east Europeans – don’t do anything worse than nick the odd turnip when they’re down on their luck. There are a few Somalis doing gangster business with drugs, but it’s hardly a nationwide phenomenon.

In any case:
1. There is no way to stop east Europeans coming over here and working: we’ve signed up for it as part of our membership of the European Union.

2. There is no change to criminal law that would make a blind bit of difference to the scale or pattern of immigration.
So if voters are freaked out about immigration and crime, maybe the best thing is to tell them to calm down?

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