Politicians of all parties have lamentably failed to tell the truth about how immigration has changed this country beyond recognition during Labour’s 13 years in power. But this is what is really happening…
Net inward migration to the UK, the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving, is up threefold since Labour came to power.
In 1997, it stood at 48,000. By 2004, fuelled by a surge in new arrivals from Eastern Europe, it reached an all-time record 244,000, and in 2007 it was 237,000. The following year it did begin to fall, as Britain headed into a deep recession, but the total still stood at 163,000.
Mr Brown suggested the as-yet-unpublished figure for 2009 would be 147,000. But this was incomplete data which excluded asylum seekers, visitors who decide to stay long-term and arrivals from Ireland and earned the Premier earned a swift rebuke from Sir Michael Scholar, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority.
The Tories have pledged to reduce the level of net migration to ‘tens of thousands’ – but have yet to specify a number.
The Office for National Statistics projects that – based on current levels of migration – the UK’s population of 61million, will grow to 70million by 2029. The figure has become a battleground between the Government and those pushing for stricter immigration controls.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson initially said he did not ‘lie awake’ worrying about such rapid growth. He is now insisting the ONS figure is only a projection and that the statisticians have been wrong in the past.
The number of immigrants living in Britain has almost doubled in less than three decades. The total foreign-born population now stands at 6.7million.
Mr Brown’s now notorious ‘British jobs for British workers’ pledge is fatally undermined by employment figures from the ONS. These show that, in the private sector, there were 288,000 fewer UK-born people working in the third quarter of last year than there were in 1997.
Mr Brown likes to include people working beyond pension age as ‘new jobs’ – but if you strip them out, there are 637,000 fewer. Overall, immigration has accounted for more than 1.64million of the 1.67million jobs created since 1997.
THE BLACK ECONOMY
For much of the last decade, Britain has been a magnet for illegal immigration and it has never been possible to put a definitive figure on the numbers entering this way. Migrants mass at the Sangatte refugee camp near Calais, then smuggle themselves into the UK, often hidden in lorries.
The stowaways vanish into a black economy estimated to be worth billions of pounds. Commonly, illegal immigrants work in kitchens, agricultural and construction jobs. Immigration staff, struggling to cope with a backlog of asylum claims, do not have the resources to track them down.
During the 2005 election campaign, Tony Blair repeatedly refused to estimate how many illegals were living here. A month after being re-elected, his Government produced an estimate of 570,000. The campaign group Migrationwatch says the true total could be as high as 870,000.
Some Labour ministers have flirted with calling an ‘amnesty’ but it has been rejected as electorally unpopular.
Officials estimated that, following EU enlargement in May 2004, between 5,000 and 13,000 Eastern Europeans would move to Britain. But by the end of 2009 the number who had signed the Home office’s Worker Registration scheme alone was 1,041,315.
This does not include the self-employed or those who did not bother to sign. The unexpected influx – mainly from Poland – placed significant strain on schools, the health service and local councils, who have still not been properly funded for the new arrivals.
Handing out passports to foreign nationals is how the Labour Government changed the make-up of society for ever. In 1997 just 37,010 people were given citizenship. Last year the Home Office approved an all-time record 203,865 applications, an increase of 58 per cent in a year. In total, Labour has now created 1.5million new British citizens – all with full voting rights.
Ministers have repeatedly promised to toughen citizenship rules, most recently by insisting migrants must earn a passport by doing voluntary work.
Labour has never recovered from the mayhem which occurred at the start of this century, when a record number of asylum seekers poured into the UK. Even on conservative estimates, it has left around 285,000 failed claimants living in Britain – but the number being removed is falling.
In 2009, there were 10,815 removals or voluntary departures, down 16 per cent on 2008. Of those who went, 2,985 benefited from the Assisted Voluntary Return scheme – worth £3,000 each.
The Government’s target of concluding 90 per cent of asylum cases within six months by December 2011 has been dismissed as ‘unachievable’ by Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, John Vine.
Only a third of failed asylum seekers – 7,850 out of the 26,832 served with deportation notices – were actually removed in 2008. Inspectors have recently identified a new backlog of 40,000 cases massing in the asylum system.
In 1998, the number of visas handed out to overseas students was 69,607. In 2008/9, this figure had risen to 236,470. The Government’s own figures suggest more than one in ten of the foreign students studying in this country last year was sponsored by a bogus college. At least 1.5million student visas have been handed out in the past eight years alone.
The beneficiaries included Christmas Day transatlantic flight bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – given permission by the Home Office to study mechanical engineering at University College London between 2005 and 2008. A string of other terror suspects have used the student visa route into the UK.
Britain’s jails have been turned into what the Tories have called a ‘United Nations of crime’ containing inmates from 160 different countries. The 11,546 foreign nationals represent one in every seven inmates in our prisons. They range from murderers and rapists to burglars, paedophiles, drug dealers and thieves.
There are only 192 member countries of the United Nations, so all bar 32 are represented in the British prison system. The vast number of overseas inmates is a major factor behind the overcrowding which has led to the early release of UK criminals.
THE SECRET PLAN
Arguably, the most damaging charge of them all. New Labour’s election manifestos made little or no mention of immigration policy.
But according to a draft report by the Cabinet Office, written in 2000, ministers had a secret plan to ‘maximise the contribution’ of migrants to the Government’s ‘social objectives’.
Former Labour advisor Andrew Neather, who worked on the report, said the aim was to ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.’