The former British Prime Minister, Sir John Major, has just told the BBC that immigrants have "the very Conservative instinct" of wanting to "better themselves and their families".
Come again? Can't that be said about virtually every adult human being on the planet? Indeed can't that also be said of many criminals, dictators and even some Satanists?
Of course immigrants will have the "guts and drive to drive to travel halfway across the world" (as John Major puts it) if they have no rights, freedoms and a low standard of living in their home countries. Indeed I would say that it has nothing to do with "guts and drive" because if immigrants want more cash and more freedoms, then it's pretty obvious they'll find the West appealing. And that's why tens of millions have moved into Europe and the UK over the last few decades.
And not only is wanting to improve one's life something that most human beings desire (including members of the Mafia and al-Qaeda), I'm also having problems seeing why Sir John Major sees it as a particularly Conservative (yes, capital 'C') trait. Don't fascists, communists, conservatives, liberals, greens and even nihilists attempt to improve their own lives?
So why is it that positive generalisations/ stereotypes about immigrants are deemed to be okay and rarely even noticed; whereas all the negative ones are immediately pounced upon? A generalisation is a generalisation – even if it's positive. And this is a gross and meaningless generalisation on John Major's part.
... Unless it is a rather disingenuous way to try and gain more immigrant votes for the Conservative Party. After all, it was only the other day that Baroness Warsi said that the Tories were failing to attract Muslim votes. At the very least, this way of thinking is at the heart of the piece by the BBC's deputy political editor, James Landale.
John Major also states the blindingly obvious when he says that not all immigrants come to Britain "to benefit from our social security system".
Mr Major, no one has ever said that. Not even the the most vocal critic of immigration has ever said that.
Of course some immigrants manage to find work in the UK – everybody knows that. So what's going on here? Is this a piece of immigrant-vote harvesting for the Conservative Party?
Let's think, instead, of this hypothetical scenario.
Between 2000 and 2011, the Labour Party imported up to 3.8 million immigrants. (This bit isn't hypothetical: it's a fact.) Now say that only one hundred of that 3.8 million managed to find work in the UK. That would still mean that John Major's statement that not all immigrants come to Britain "to benefit for our social security system" would be true ... true, though pretty damn dumb.
As it is, in reality most of our recent – and many not so recent – immigrants are indeed on benefits. (In 2012, 370,000 recent immigrants were on benefits; 258,000 of these were from outside the European Union.) And many of them would have come to the UK specifically to claim benefits. The fact that some immigrants find work doesn't really change that much. It doesn't alter the social disintegration we are facing in parts of the country. It doesn't alter the drain on the health services, the massive benefits bill and the balkanisation of our country which mass immigration has brought about. Indeed even many of those immigrants who do find work don't really contribute to society or the welfare of the UK – except by accident. What they contribute to is the welfare of their own families (as John Major said). Either that, or, at the most, they contribute to the welfare of their own ethnic/ religious groups within this country.
Despite all those comments about John Major, it still must be stated that he was specifically talking about his experiences of immigration in the 1950s.
When speaking on Radio 4 to the historian Peter Hennessy (Reflections, Wednesday 13th August 2014), John Major said:
"There was a different social value placed on immigration. I saw immigration at very close quarters in the 1950s."
Isn't it becoming clear, then, that what John Major said is not at all relevant to the contemporary situation in the UK?
The BBC's Pro-Immigration Bias?
The BBC's deputy political editor, James Landale, said that John Major's "tone is in contrast to that used by present Conservative PM David Cameron".
No it's not!
It depends entirely on when David Cameron speaks.
For example, just before elections, Cameron appears to get tough on mass immigration and benefits tourism. However, after the election – or long before an election – he says exactly the kinds of things that John Major has said in this interview. Indeed John Major himself probably said strong things against (mass) immigration at certain points in his political career. And no doubt he contradicted what he said at other points. That's politics, Mr Landale, as you know.
Landale even points out David Cameron's hate-crime of "putting Britain first" by making it harder for immigrants to claim benefits. But is Cameron actually doing this or is his simply making false promises to the British public? In other words, is David Cameron's position on immigration more in tune with the BBC than its deputy political editor is making out?
Oh, by the way, James Landale was educated at Eton College. And whilst he was there, Boris Johnson and David Cameron were his fellow pupils.
I wonder where Messrs Johnson, Cameron and Landale will be living when the shit hits the fan.
*) To be fair to John Major, in a 28-minute interview he only talked about immigration for around two minutes or less. And then it was about his experiences in the 1950s.
The article is actually more about why the BBC's Old Etonian, James Landale, decided to focus almost his entire article on those few comments. It's also about James Landale's sly dig at Cameron's (his fellow pupil at Eton) supposedly tough stance on immigration - which is all smoke and mirrors anyway.