Tories Step Up Campaign For Immigration Controls

Tories step up campaign for immigration controls

Francis Elliott,
Chief Political Correspondent
From The Times
August 31, 2007

The Conservatives stepped up their attacks on immigration yesterday saying that strong controls were needed to improve cohesion in the community.

David Cameron had made his first significant intervention on the subject on Wednesday on Newsnight on BBC Two, which will be seen as the latest stage of his attempt to regain the political the momentum.

He said that immigration has been too high and claimed that primary schools being asked to take 20 new kids was an example of the pressure immigration put on public services. Yesterday Damien Green, his immigration spokesman, denied that the remarks had indicated a shift to the right by the Conservatives.

He told the Today programme on Radio 4: Local authorities in various parts of the country have pointed out the difficulties.

For instance, in Slough, they found themselves suddenly having to find school places for large numbers of children who they didnt know were there, who couldnt speak English. That puts a huge strain on particular social services.

Inevitably many of the incoming communities do cluster together, its a natural thing to do, and therefore if thats unplanned and unexpected then its very difficult for the local authorities to cope.

So actually having a firm immigration policy is a way of contributing to better community cohesion in this country.

Mr Green denied that the Tories recent emphasis on crime, Europe and immigration was primarily intended to reassure traditional supporters.

He said: In no way is this a move back to a core vote strategy.

When you look at what David Cameron has been talking about over the past few weeks, he has talked about health, he has talked about crime, he has talked about social breakdown. He was asked a straight question about immigration policy last night and he gave a straight answer. Mr Green added: Whats happened over a long period is that all mainstream politicians have been very sensitive to the fact that, if you deal with issues like immigration, you have to deal with them in a moderate and sensitive tone.

But I also believe very strongly that it is an issue that mainstream democratic politicians need to address because otherwise it leaves the floor clear for extremists, particularly on the far right. He said it was an issue people really care about and therefore it was right for Mr Cameron to keep addressing it.