Some of this goes back to the accession of the Poles, et al to the EU, when the government desperately tried to fudge the likely numbers coming in. What they could have said at the time was â€œ we know that large population transfers tend to make people nervous, but frankly weâ€™re looking forward to getting hundreds of thousands of extra taxpayers in to help pay for all the stuff you get from the government. And it also means your kids can work anywhere they please on the continent too: and whatâ€™s more they wonâ€™t be stacking shelves. British win!â€ And just to underscore the point they could have timed a major public spending programme to the arrival of our Eastern European fellow toilers, being experts in the dark political arts and everything. They could have at least redirected some of the extra tax receipts that our new friends have contributed to the Treasury specifically to relieving what extra pressure there has been on schools, hospitals and other public services.
All else aside, Mrs Duffy was owed an explanation of the likely consequences of the governmentâ€™s actions at the time. If sheâ€™d have been given one, Brown might not have made such an arse of himself now.
When our kid was young and he thought that there were monsters under the bed we tried to make it clear to him that not only were there no monsters under the bed but that there were no monsters full stop: because when youâ€™re dealing with irrational fear what you need to make clear first of all is that there is nothing to be scared of.
What the government has done over immigration was firstly to tell people that there were no monsters coming here, thus confirming the notion that immigration is in fact something monstrous; then saying that there are monsters coming here, but donâ€™t worry, we only let them in if we give them licenses and if we find any under your bed weâ€™ll deport them. Sure enough, the treatment certain categories of migrant are subjected to is truly monstrous, when itâ€™s not just foul and mean spirited. This is positive encouragement for people to see monsters where none exist. Finally, an old lady comes along and tells Gordon about the monsters under her bed and he calls her a bigot. Now the Tories are dancing about shouting WOO, MONSTERS! and Gordonâ€™s doom is apparently sealed*. Welcome, Prime Minister, to the world you made.
See also Justin, from whom I have snaffled many links in the above.
*Maybe. On the other hand this seems to rest on a conviction that the â€œcore Labour voteâ€ is synonymous with the â€œconfused Granny voteâ€, which strikes me as a version of the same metropolitan media condescension that metropolitan media types now like to accuse other metropolitan media and political types of. Hey, ho.