This post considers that it is not immigration per se that is the cause of discontent among the electorate; rather, it is the way immigration is mishandled by government after government
Imagine you ran a business in which you employed a number of workers who had been with the company for years. You are then told that some new workers will be joining your company – they will not have to prove their experience, they will not have to make an effort to integrate into your company, they are not obliged to learn the language of the business – but what they can do, despite their lack of qualifications, is not only obtain entitlements usually reserved for those who have worked at the company for years, but they are also entitled to the same pay. You could probably expand upon this metaphor in a number of ways, but this presents in essence how the UK is expected to accommodate mass unchecked immigration.
Because successive governments through a combination of poor (EU) policy decisions and incompetence managed to let immigration into the UK become so unregulated, they have allowed it to engorge an issue that proper regulation and management would have scotched. Their coup d’etat has been to spin the issue in such a way as to discredit the slightest discussion of the issue as reactionary, racist or extreme.
Yet this deliberately misses the point: discussion of immigration (so far as UKIP and any reasonable, thinking person are concerned) has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with poor management. What other area of policy (aside from the EU as an organization) are there where such unaccountability and oversight would be permissible? The main parties are keen to suggest that any sort of regulation is unworkable, thus exhibiting the fact that they are in so intractable a mess ‘that, should [they] wade no more, | Returning were as tedious as go o’er’ 
Indeed, governments have since become the argument of their own scorn. Within their own ranks the very subject begets inflammatory rhetoric whenever they try (or rather,gesture towards) sorting the issue out. Take Vince Cable’s rattling of the sabre, suggesting Cameron risked ‘inflaming extremism’ when the latter gave a speech on cutting immigration.  This is not the first time Cable has been less than judicious in his remarks, but it typifies the fact that the very word ‘immigration’ is tinged by negative connotations even before one can present a reasoned argument either way. 
When politicians like Cable subdue whatever wits they possess to be seen posturing as ‘holier-than-thou’ and score high-minded moral points, they do themselves a disservice in appealing to the passions rather than the intellect, In short, by emotionally rather than intellectually responding, they propagate the problem further.
If immigration is, statistically, not an issue (as all the main parties would try and have the electorate believe), then this has not been effectively conveyed. Even were the problem not real, it is perceived as real; so if modern politics is about image rather than substance, then something should be seen to be done about it. Inaction to manage the problem, whether real or perceived, is damaging to democracy since it will only cause greater disaffection among the electorate.
Immigration need not have been an issue had the main parties handled it correctly; but through negligence and cack-handedness, they have allowed the minority of extremist views that propose a radical, racially motivated response, to prosper. The ancient image of the Ouroboros announces itself, because the disproportionate response to these far-right parties serves to justify inaction on immigration lest mainstream politics appear reactionary. 
UKIP is the only party offering a practical and intellectual response to immigration; they are the only party suggesting moderation and management. A points based system, with properly enforced visas and the closure of loopholes for illegal extended stays in the UK is not a sign of reactionary politics, it is a sign of management, of putting a system in place. They are suggesting nothing more demonic than accounting for who is in the country and upon what grounds.
Fairness and moderation are what is required. Fairness is not allowing everyone from outside of the UK in, nor is it barring entry to all would-be immigrants, it is about establishing clear rules for all concerned and policing such rules obediently in the name of fairness.
© thepanopticonblog, 2012
- 1. Macbeth (3.4)
- 2. James Kirkup. ‘ David Cameron’s immigration claims “risk inflaming extremism”.’ The Telegraph. 14 April 2011 ,<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/8450083/Vince-Cable-David-Camerons-immigration-claims-risk-inflaming-extremism.html>
- 3. Incidentally, what became of Cameron’s efforts to cut immigration? Watch this space – it contains more substance than his policies or efforts.
- 4. Given the extraordinary coverage they received in the press, one might think that the British National Party achieved a landslide rather than the meagre 1.9% share of the vote in the 2010 General Election.