The blogosphere is ablaze with chatter about whether or not Tory immigration policy is racist. The answer is debatable; I believe it is merely xenophobic, but that isn't much comfort to those of us who are actually immigrants, now is it?
When David Cameron evokes words like "discomfort" to describe how he thinks native-born British regard new members of the community it makes me feel, hmm, "unwanted" and perhaps even "sad."
Of course, I think that "feelings" have no place in "policy" as the "government" should focus on "facts" but hey! What do I know! I'm part of the problem.
I am also white, educated, employed, and English is my first language, so I doubt he is talking about me - but it is so hard to make these subtle distinctions. How can a Tory communicate the ideals of isolationism, without alienating people like my family and my friends? The answer is, not easily, and so far not well. He makes a valiant attempt with phrases like "good immigration, not mass immigration" but then loses the plot.
Because who, exactly, are we talking about? Migration from the continent is categorically not part of the conversation, because the UK would have to exit the European Union to control that border. This strategy would be highly unpopular with UK citizens living in Provence or on the Costa del Sol. So, even though migratory workers from former Soviet nations are the main problem if you ask an average Brit down the pub, we can't even talk about it - let alone adjust working standards to accommodate the influx of cheap labour.
Refugees are already restricted and evaluated by high and harsh standards. News reports about children in detention centres makes most people cringe, and on a case by case basis the public, given the choice, would probably accept displaced persons - but the numbers are currently insignificant as (unlike Spain or Italy) rafts of people rarely wash ashore.
Sure, there are violations of student visas and sham marriages, but couldn't the government control that with existing methods? In a word, yes.
So what does that leave? Highly educated employed people pursuing economic opportunities. Who are now facing a hostile and overly complicated set of immigration restrictions that discourage us from making the move.
Racist, maybe, xenophobic, certainly. Stupid? Without a doubt.
The best measure of the utter idiocy of the speech is the fact that the overtly racist BNP is complaining that the Tories stole their platform.