Friday, 15 April 2011

David Cameron vs. Doctor Vince

Immigration is a tough subject to talk about and is a very divisive subject between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, it was never a subject that we could agree on whole heartedly. However is this "THE" split that many political pundits have been predicting since last May? Is this just another example of Doctor Vince putting his foot in it and embarrassing the party? Or is it a just criticism of a policy by a senior LibDem of the Conservative leader during an election?

Firstly I should talk about the speech itself. (this can be found at: ) David Cameron's words appeal not only to the right, and it should be borne in mind that it was to Conservative party activists, but also to the wider British public. It is easy to label those who dislike immigration and foreign groups coming into Britain as racist and put them in the same box as the BNP  but it is a genuine concern for a large percentage of the British populous. Even 78% of Libdems stated in a YouGov poll that they wanted a lower level. ( ) David Cameron does raise some valid points and outlines policy that sounds decisive, with moves to close loop holes, tackle problems and stop people using the system to their advantage. He talks in sweeping terms of those who have snuck into the country, or were applying bogusly. Immigration was definitely one of the major problems of the last government and the populous at large were becoming increasingly angry at the situation and I dare say that votes were lost to the BNP because they were the only party that wanted to talk about the "British born" who were being castigated. As Mr Cameron pointed out, many groups form tight communities within urban areas that do not necessarily integrate with the current society. After all as Linda Colley points out in her book "Britons" the British have always defined themselves by what they are not and it is easy to define yourself against another ethnic group that lives in your area. They don't speak English, they aren't Christian, they aren't one of us. But isn't this the one of the key parts of the "melting pot"? Take the US for example, the different societies have had trouble integrating at first but have eventually gelled. Also surely different groups, different perspectives are good for a better democracy? Different approaches and points of view make society so much more diverse.

One of Cameron's assertions is that migrants are doing jobs that British born do not want to do. To a degree this may be true. Last June during a budget special on Channel 4 news a lady on the panel said she had been looking for work for seven years and wanted to work. Yet she had no applied for MacDonald's, Burger King, KFC etc...
Now I've served my 3 years at MacDonald's, my wife served six and my friend Caz served ten. I can assure you... It's not the best job in the world, in fact it is is awful but it is a job but it pays. I can say that many of us were searching for real jobs and proper careers all the time that we were working there but we stayed because we needed to pay the rent and didn't dream about the dole, however as we worked in a university town a lot of students felt they were "too good" to work in a retail/fast food jobs also despite the high number of "British born" who are unemployed there is a fresh bout of foreign migrants willing to take the jobs. In my current job we have a contract cleaners and not one of them is British born. Cameron feels people would rather sit on the dole than do service industry jobs. Maybe. But then again should people do a job they despise just so that they have work? Why not be able to chose and do jobs that they want to do rather than what they have to do?

Ultimately the speech wasn't as bad as it could have been. David Cameron speaks in general terms that are not racist or prejudice but actually voiced concerns that were held by the majority of the populous. Was he right to talk about these issues? Yes. It was a major concern of the electorate and it is a problem that requires the coalition to address and correct. As a general, sweeping term it is OK but I think that the government will have to look at how it approaches the problems before blazing into something and making a royal cock up.

So was Doctor Vince right to criticise David Cameron? Yes. A common criticism of the LibDems in coalition is that we are not vocal enough in our criticism of Conservative policy but then when a senior Liberal says that they disagree they are accused of fueling a split. It is worth noting that Nick Clegg was also accused of fueling a split by agreeing with Norman Lamb on NHS reform. The problem is that if they agreed with their coalition partners they would be labelled as sell outs. Anyway, although what Vince said may not be popular with the voters or party at large he did make an important point. We did not support the moves that Mr Cameron is putting forward a year ago and the party's official party line has not changed and more importantly we have outlined a key difference. He also was right to point out that this is not in the Coailition agreement. Vince was also right to point out that Cameron was talking as a Conservative leader to Conservative party members and as Laura Kuenssburg said Vince is a senior Liberal Democrat talking to Liberal Democrat voters and party members. I do not believe this is a serious matter for the coalition but one of the many problems that they intend to blitz, a former Labour failing that require addressing ASAP, even if it is a "good news" story to detract from the cock-ups that formed the NHS reform and the budget cuts. So what ever you think of Doctor Vince and his past record he has done us a favour and will give Nick something to "Disagree about in those bloody leadership debates."

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