One of the most notable things about Tony Blair was how much to the right he was on the economy. After repeated electoral defeats in the 1980s, Blair copied Clinton’s model for success. That is, move a centre-left party to the right on economic issues, to appeal to middle ground voters. Blair moved Labour to the right in one of the most dramatic re-alignments in political history. This impressed middle England which voted Labour in record numbers. Middle England then as now, loved the economic right and embraced it as warmly as they had embraced the Conservatives when they had a love affair with the free market.
However, it caused his left-wing base to howl with rage. Blair had won an election but he knew he needed to appease his leftist base. Even a party that wins elections is in trouble if it is internally divided. So he needed to throw them left-wing raw meat. Issues that in the American context would be called ‘culture war’ issues were his choice. He abolished the death penalty for the few offences it was still theoretically possible for, such as piracy or treason. He lowered the gay age of consent from 18 to 16. All of these to a degree kept his leftist wing happy. But in the grand scheme, he needed something much bigger. That thing was immigration.
Within months of coming to power, Labour abolished the Primary Purpose Rule. This rule had been introduced by the Tories in their 18 years in power. It said that foreigners engaged to British citizens could be refused entry and residency if immigration officials had reason to believe the purpose of the marriage was solely to obtain entry to the UK. In 1996, the last whole year the rule was in force, over 2,000 people were caught trying to abuse the system and barred entry. There may have been many times these numbers who were deterred from even trying by the presence of such a law. By abolishing this, Labour was largely playing to established immigrant communities, who now could use arranged marriages to bring people from overseas to marry British citizens without being challenged by immigration officials.
In 1998, the Labour government passed the Human Rights Act in to law. The Act had a significant impact on border control. Within the Act were provisions stating that no one could be deported if their country of origin was deemed to have bad ‘human rights’. The concept of human rights is a leftist idea, and leftist judges would always interpret the law so that every country on earth had some kind of ‘human rights’ issue, thus no one could be deported there. Even on occasions when migrants were criminals or terrorists, they could not be removed. With Britain unable to deport foreign criminals, many foreign gangs began setting up operations in Britain, safe in the knowledge their ‘human rights’ would prevent any deportation to face justice in their own countries.
In 2004, the Labour government gleefully welcomed the accession of poor Eastern European countries to the EU. They rubbished any suggestion of mass immigration, with only the (then) rather small UKIP sounding the alarm from the very edges of the political and media debate. In a House of Commons Committee that studied enlargement, it was concluded perhaps 18,000 Polish immigrants would arrive, or put another way, about the total number of people you could comfortably fit in one corner of Chelsea or Man United’s stadiums. The true number of immigrants who did arrive was 600,000 in two years. For that, you wouldn’t need a corner of one stadium, you would need TEN entire stadiums.
So why did Labour open our borders? The answer can perhaps be found in the writings of East German writer Berthold Brecht. During anti-government demonstrations, the Communist Party were angry that the people did not like them. Brecht joked ‘Wouldn’t it be easier for the government to elect a new people?’. With mass immigration, that is precisely what they do. The Labour Party that came to power in 1997 had bitter memories of being in the wilderness for a generation, and if they had to cement their position long term by opening the borders to future new Labour voters so be it. Never again would they let the minor detail of their awful policies keep them from winning elections.
The demographic changes also have electoral impact. If the 1992 general election was re-run with today’s demographics, Neil Kinnock would have been Prime Minister. Arch-leftist George Galloway has won election in two different Westminster seats, almost entirely due to immigrant bloc votes. In London, the part of the UK most changed by immigration, UKIP’s European Election results were significantly blunted, in sharp contrast to the rest of the country. Much of this is attributable to immigration, which has given, and will continue to give, a major advantage to the Labour Party at election times. You sometimes wonder if that was the whole point.
However, perhaps Labour will find mass immigration will come back to haunt them. Their core white working class support is leaking away dramatically. When Labour only wins mill town seats like Middleton by the skin of their teeth due to their stance on immigration, they know they are in trouble. Even many ethnic minorities are turning on mass immigration and the Labour party which pushed it. Migration Watch report 54% of BME Britons want immigration reduced. As happened in Canada, when significant percentages of minorities abandon the left on the issue of immigration, parties that preach immigration restriction are rewarded. An impressive 50% of ethnic minority Canadians now vote for Stephen Harper’s tough line on immigration (up from just 30% a decade earlier), and in the UK, UKIP won a higher percentage of the BME vote than the Tories.
Who knows? The Labour Party opened the borders to cement their position. With their core working class vote turning on them as a result, perhaps that which they thought would be their ticket to permanent success may be their ticket to semi-permanent oblivion.