It started last Friday. In the midst of the dustup over the appearance of British National Party leader Nick Griffin on BBC’s widely venerated Question Time, Andrew Neather, “comment editor” of the Evening Standard, took the opportunity to write a column about British immigration policy. Large-scale immigration into Britain, he wrote, “didn’t just happen: the deliberate policy of ministers from late 2000 until at least February last year, when the Government introduced a points-based system, was to open up the UK to mass migration.” Neather knew whereof he spoke. A former speechwriter for Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister and for David Blunkett and Jack Straw during the periods when they were Home Secretary, Neather had an insider’s knowledge of Labour Party policy making. Indeed, Neather bragged in his article last Friday that he was the author of “the landmark speech given by then immigration minister Barbara Roche in September 2000, calling for a loosening of [immigration] controls,” a speech which “marked a major shift from the policy of previous governments” and which “was based largely on a report by the Performance and Innovation Unit, Tony Blair’s Cabinet Office think-tank.” This immigration report, he writes, “was surrounded by an unusual air of both anticipation and secrecy” because “there was a paranoia about it reaching the media.” Though a final version was “[e]ventually published in January 2001” under the title “RDS Occasional Paper no. 67,” “earlier drafts…included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.” In Neather’s view, the new policy was also “intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.”
For Neather, this last bit was “a manoeuvre too far.” But otherwise his Friday piece was a full-blown paean to Labour immigration policy. Immigration, he proclaimed, has “enriched us.” It has made London more “cosmopolitan.” Without immigrants, where would London get its “nannies, cleaners and gardeners”? London, he insisted, “is so much more international now than, say, 15 years ago, and so much more heterogeneous than most of the provinces, that it’s pretty much unimaginable for us to go back either to the past or the sticks.” Thanks to the immigrant-driven transformation of London, boasted Neather, “Paris now tends to look parochial to us.” (Apparently Neather has not been to any of Paris’s Muslim-controlled banlieus – either that, or when he says “Paris” he means only the touristy, non-Muslim parts.) He summed up his conclusion as follows: “Of course we’re too small a country to afford an open door – but, by the same token, if the immigrants dry up, this city and this country will become a much poorer and less interesting place.”
One did not have to be a racist and xenophobe like Nick Griffin to be appalled by Neather’s comments. They ooze elitism and condescension toward the citizens of the UK. One thing is clear: the British people were not voting for mass immigration when they first sent Blair to 10 Downing Street in 1997. On the contrary, one of his party’s campaign promises was that it would impose strict immigration controls. But to Neather and his ilk, such promises don’t matter; nor do the wishes of the people. Their leaders know better. The reason why the immigration report was so secret for so long, after all, was that Labour politicians knew that letting the British public in on the details of their real immigration policy would be politically self-destructive. Implicit in Neather’s piece is that deception in such matters is not only defensible but unavoidable, even virtuous: opponents of mass immigration, after all, are simply bigots; they’re short-sighted; they don’t realize that immigrants have made London more interesting, more exotic, more “cosmopolitan.” Better than Paris! Who could argue with that? Forget democracy – and forget the thoroughly legitimate concerns of millions of Britons about the fact that certain immigrants from certain parts of the world have brought with them such things as the brutal oppression of women, a contempt for religions other than Islam, and an enthusiasm for sharia law.
But what seemed most positively idiotic of all about Neather’s column was his breathtaking naïveté. He actually seemed not to grasp the import of what he was confessing. He certainly appears not to have imagined for an instant that his column would set off a media firestorm that was perhaps even more intense than the reaction to Griffin’s appearance on Question Time itself. Frank Field and Nicholas Soames, who chair the Group for Balanced Migration, called Neather’s remarks “the first beam of truth that has officially been shone on the immigration issue in Britain.» Sir Andrew Green of the Migrationwatch think tank labeled Neather’s confession “dynamite,” adding that “[m]any have long suspected that mass immigration under Labour was not just a cock up but also a conspiracy. They were right. This Government has admitted three million immigrants for cynical political reasons concealed by dodgy economic camouflage.” Mail columnist Melanie Phillips agreed, noting that the question had been asked for years: how did Britain end up with such out-of-control immigration? How could Britain’s leaders have been so inattentive – or inept? Certainly Blair & co. hadn’t intended to permit the mass influx of unassimilable foreigners into the UK? “After all,” Phillips pointed out, “a deliberate policy of mass immigration would have amounted to nothing less than an attempt to change the very make-up of this country without telling the electorate,” which of course would represent a “grave abuse of the entire democratic process…a deliberate and secret policy of national cultural sabotage.” Readers who posted comments at the Mail agreed; more than one of them used the word “treason” to describe Labour’s covert policy.
On Monday a spokesman for Straw, who is now Justice Secretary, dismissed Neather’s account as “rubbish” and the Home Office insisted that thanks to new policies, “[t]he British people can be confident that immigration is under control.” On the same day, in the House of Commons, shadow home secretary Chris Grayling confronted Labour ministers with Neather’s column. “Can I invite you to put the record straight – what was the motivation behind the very rapid increase in immigration under this government?” he demanded. And Evening Standard political editor Joe Murphy, citing calls for an “independent inquiry” into Neather’s claims, quoted Conservative Party immigration spokesman Damian Green as saying that if Neather’s account is factual “then it would be a disgracefully irresponsible way for a Government to run immigration policy.” But Neather wasn’t about to back down. In a Monday column he refused to descend from his high horse. “The Right,” he sneered, “see plots everywhere and will hyperventilate at the drop of a chapati.” But a plot was precisely what he had described in his earlier column.
The sad fact is that all this hullabaloo seems unlikely to make much real difference where it matters. Though the Conservatives are willing enough to make political hay of the controversy over Neather’s claims, none of the three major parties in Britain – where Islamization and the appeasement thereof have arguably advanced further than they have anywhere else in Western Europe, and with calamitous results – has any real backbone to speak of when it comes to these issues. Indeed, writers for the Spectator, the Tory weekly, were quick to echo Neather’s rosy view of immigration and to buy line on Monday that he hadn’t described anything remotely resembling a Labour plot.
So it is that while millions of British citizens are deeply concerned about the unchecked rise of Islam in their midst, they’re saddled with a political establishment made up largely of people like Andrew Neather – people who lack either the desire or the will to stand up for traditional British freedoms and to reject the madness of multiculturalism. Which, of course, is exactly why public support for Nick Griffin and his reprehensible colleagues at the BNP is rising apace in the land of Churchill and Magna Carta.