Tomorrow Cameron is going to seek to deflect from the news that he has spectacularly missed his arbitrary and nonsensical immigration target. I expect it will be ghost written by Migration Watch and aimed at UKIP supporters. There will no doubt be references to “common sense” and will be laced throughout with lots of “every man” metaphors (a bit like his flashing lights on the dashboard of the global economy). It will be a sop to the Eurosceptic wing of his party and he’ll bang the drum about leaving the EU.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Portes has written an excellent, frank and honest article on the speech Cameron should give – would give, if he had some courage.
“We need to return to a migration policy that is no longer driven by arbitrary targets better suited to a centrally planned economy – and an immigration systemthat doesn’t assume bureaucrats in the Home Office are best placed to assess the needs of a flexible labour market in an increasingly knowledge-driven economy. Even more importantly, we need to stop pretending to young people excluded from the labour market, or communities left behind by economic recovery, that restricting migration – as opposed to the hard work of real policies to improve skills or invest in infrastructure – is somehow a magic solution.
And politicians must have the courage to try to explain this to the public, and to convince them that an open, outward-looking Britain may not be the best of all possible worlds. This is better than any of the options on offer.”