The protestors of Boston deserve a better answer on immigration
The people of Boston have real concerns that need to be taken seriously by politicians and government and their protest was peaceful, unlike many in East London and Luton in recent years.
Expressions of frustration like this go deeper than national debates about population or economic growth suggest. Politicians should question both how immigration impacts on our national identity, and whether communities can cope with the levels of immigration we have seen in recent years. Ed Miliband’s mea culpa on immigration earlier in the year was an acknowledgement of this.
The flows of migration from Eastern Europe after 2004 were unprecedented and sudden, and the pace of change was, in some areas (Boston included), extremely challenging for communities to manage. Nevertheless, we need immigration for a successful, thriving economy and we should accept that more and more people have both the desire and ability to migrate across borders.
In order to create a successful immigration policy the government needs to take action in three areas.
Firstly, they must enforce immigration rules and police our borders competently.
Then, they should harness the benefits that immigration brings to our economy with a flexible approach to work visas.
And finally, they need to help people to manage the impacts that immigration has on their particular local communities.
Action in all three of these areas is required. Labour in government focused on border controls and proposed a point-based system for work visas but failed to address people’s local concerns.
The Coalition has focused on the first, at the expense of the second. While the far right speaks to local concerns but disregards economic growth.
Politicians need to work harder at listening to communities and responding to people’s local concerns. The peaceful protestors of Boston deserve to be listened to, not fobbed off with empty promises about a net migration target.