At the Conservative Conference David Davis put immigration firmly back on the political agenda. Nigel Farage made it the centrepiece of his speech to the UKIP conference on Friday. There's no doubt about it, it's one of the biggest concerns of the electorate, and yet many politicians and many journalists shy away from it. Today's Mail on Sunday was a good example. The MoS had a poll and they compiled a table of which party was considered to have the best policies. Labour were shown to be ahead on schools, health, housing, the economy, the envionrment and transport. The Tories were highlighted as being ahead on law and order, tax, Europe, Iraq and the War on terror. But by 42% to 18% they were also shown to have the best immigration policy. However, this policy was not highlighted in the table, despite the margin being the biggest of any policy. And nowhere in the accompanying article was it mentioned either.
On its own it doesn't mean much, but it is symptomatic. It's why Sayeeda Warsi was right to point out that people's concerns need addressing, and immigration is one of the subjects people feel political parties are not addressing at all. It doesn't need to be done in the shrill manner of the 2005 election campaign under Michael Howard. That's why it was a masterstroke to appoint Damian Green to the position of Shadow Immigration Minister. I think it's fair to say he will be playing a key role in selling the Tory position on immigration and in partnership with David Davis they can map out a policy which will be seen as firm but reasonable. And without a dog whistle in sight.