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18 April 2007

Don’t get your fingers byrned!

A minister's comments on immigration are nothing but a blatant attempt by Labour to shore-up its whi

By Martin Bright

Fascinating to see Liam Byrne wading into the immigration debate. Despite the fact that the latest immigration figures show that net immigration is going down, apparently the number of foreigners is harming our most disadvantaged communities.

There is a bizarre reversal in British politics at the moment which sees that Tory Party rarely mentioning immigration and law and order, while the Labour Party can’t stop talking about it. The Tories learnt the bitter lesson of the last election, that despite residual British hostility to immigrants and asylum seekers, people don’t like parties with an overtly right-wing agenda. Realists within the Cameron camp also know that voters assume the Tories will be tough on crime and immigration.

I have a lot of time for Byrne, who has been a good minister despite his management consultant background. His statements on the matter have been measured in a way that his boss at the Home Office somehow never manages. But there is something unsavoury about such a blatant attempt by the Labour Party to shore up its working-class white vote in advance of the local elections, while the Conservatives avoid the issue at all costs. When the Labour government wades so far into enemy territory it can only ever be outflanked, as Byrne’s predecessor Beverley Hughes discovered to her cost.

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