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Immigrants Must Be to Blame for Everything

14/05/2013 17:47 BST | Updated 14/07/2013 10:12 BST

It is as if we have finally decided that all our troubles have been caused by foreigners. The rise of Ukip, the talk of foreigners taking all our jobs, of flooding our country which is already full and swamping our services. I have heard this on the doorsteps when I have been out campaigning - we heard it in Eastleigh during the by-election and I have heard it since in other places which do not have many immigrants in the local communities.

Of course, immigration and all the other issues associated with people coming to the UK from abroad are legitimate topics of debate but it does not mean we all have to agree about it. I think some of us are working ourselves into a frenzy of dislike and mistrust of foreign people often based on no evidence and this will do us economic harm and make us look and sound intolerant as a nation.

Ordinary immigrants coming into the UK did not invent numerous devious ways of lending and re-lending useless loans to get rich people even richer which we now know led to the banking collapse and the near ruining of our economy - but you would think they did the way people are piling in.

Foreign students add around £8bn to the UK economy and yet in the current climate we could probably get a vote to stop them all coming here.

Analysis of figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that if we halt net migration to the UK it would cost the economy £18bn over the first five years. In the current political climate we could get a vote to stop all immigration even if it costs us billions and sent us into an economic depression.

This is not all about racism - although there will be some of that - this is about many voters expressing fears about the idea of other people coming from abroad and using our resources when they have become scarce. It is, in some cases, about a fear of change in our neighbourhoods as people from different cultures move in and it is in part the voice of people who do not feel they have a stake in society and the political system. But - like the fear of crime - it is often not based on what is actually happening.

Personally I like that our nation is made up of different cultures and that we benefit from the energy of immigrants coming here and starting businesses and working hard to provide us with services but all this getting lost at the moment in the shouting match over immigration.

I would guess that most people who thought that immigrants were taking our jobs or swamping are services were asked to give examples then they could not. That is not to say that there are not problems with services in some areas and some foreign workers may well displace some UK citizens from some jobs but the current tone of the debate goes far beyond a measured assessment of what we need to do and it could cost our economy dearly and cost us our reputation for tolerance.

What is making it worse is the flight to the right by a lot of politicians who are in fear of losing power.

Fair enough - people are tired of main stream politicians and the government and they see a bright new hope in Ukip and the terribly affable chap who drinks beer and talks 'sense' and - of course - he will be different from all the rest when he gets into power. This is a new age of politics and Ukip will be entirely different from any politicians that have gone before - even though few people are sure what they stand for except they don't like immigration and Europe. Although I am not sure how many of the new Ukip voters care about Europe.

If the laws on immigration need altering or changing to stop some people abusing them then fine - but we are well past the level of objectively looking at what is actually happening and well into the territory of trying to shout loudest about how much we don't like foreign people and how we are going to teach them a lesson.

This is already starting to turn us into a more intolerant country and this may well do us economic harm and is just wrong.