The idea of protest voting in next May's General Election is becoming a very real concern for the main Westminster parties. The Conservatives are threatened on the right by UKIP, Labour are challenged on the left by the SNP and Greens, and the Liberal Democrats are losing votes to, well, basically any other party...
To pretend racism doesn't play a role in generating hostility towards, and anxiety over, immigration is naive, if not disingenuous. Those who piously claim that opposition to immigration in the UK isn't driven by prejudice, bigotry and hysteria, but rather by "legitimate concerns" over rising migrant numbers and a growing pressure on public services, should try answering the following five questions.
There won't be an end to political gridlock yet, there's just a movement of the chokepoint from the Senate to Obama's veto. People were very frustrated that nothing got done in Washington the last couple of years, but they should not count on DC becoming a smooth, tough, lean and mean operator just because of one election. Some market friendly decisions now have a better chance of being taken, but politics in general in America will not begin to work better overnight.
For Brent and Sarah, the £18,600 threshold condemns their Christmas time to one carried out across the Atlantic. Instead of sharing a kiss, they will share a call. Instead of waking together, they will wake alone. It is a Christmas tale no one should ever endure. I hope that by Christmas 2015, common sense and not discrimination will prevail.
Migration is a fact of life. Humans have moved around the world for hundreds of thousands of years. It's hard to blame someone for wanting to improve his or her circumstances. My parents made the same decision when they realised I had polio. After he came to London my father never saw his parents again. My mum and dad made huge sacrifices for which I will always be grateful.
The whole argument for and against immigration is way too complex for any one person to discuss in a single article but there is one area that I haven't heard people talk about in the debate and that's the creative industries.
Before many of us could even catch our breath after Britain nearly tore itself in two, England is at it again, playing roulette with our other closest, hard won political partnership.
EU migrants have consistently paid more into the system than they have taken out. Their net contribution for the past 10 years - that is the taxes they paid minus the services and benefits they received - nears £5billion. That is no small change, 'back-of-the-sofa'-type sum. It is serious money contributing to keep British citizens in the style of welfare and service provision to which they are accustomed. If all EU immigrants left tomorrow their departure would leave a gaping hole in Britain's public finances...
When someone is brave enough to make the decision to live rather than die shouldn't we help them? Don't we have some kind of obligation to provide safe haven, to help them rather than, as our government suggested, just last week, to let them just drown in the sea?
With Remembrance Day almost upon us we have entered another period of debate and discussion over the symbolism of the poppy. It's a debate which offers irrefutable proof of the increasing politicisation of this annual event, one which rather than unite the country around a shared narrative and set of values instead reminds us of a history of conflict that is contested over the question of whether it should be considered a source of pride or shame...
I have rarely felt so ashamed, or so angry. David Cameron, it seems, regards it as a "moral duty" to cut taxes - but not to save desperate migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean. By comparison, Marie Antoinette ("let them eat cake") was compassion incarnate.
These bones from arid countries that have walked, run, climbed, crawled, sailed, clung on and hidden for two years on the journey from Africa and the Middle East to reach their promised land, the United Kingdom... when winter comes, having made it this far, if it is an unkind one, some will almost certainly die.
My brief story is completely tangential to this, but it did illuminate me as to how "generous" the system is. and just how easy it is to claim from it. I had never- like many; I was an observer- with opinions that labelled me as one of those "middle-class lefties".
As a strategy, it's not only heartless, but ineffective. Building barriers will not stop people attempting to scale them, not when they are fleeing for their lives. The UK should be pressing for a Europe-wide system which allows people to access protection safely; and in the meantime, contributing to a rescue operation that saves lives, instead of justifying leaving people to drown.
Yes, the applicants for asylum look bedraggled and unkempt when you see pictures of them huddled outside Calais. Yes, some of them get into fights and cause problems for the police. They don't look too great when they are pulled from the Mediterranean after a ramshackle boat provided by unscrupulous people-smugglers has capsized and sunk.
Today, I have become a Citizen of the British imperialist state. As if that wasn't bad enough, I also had to swear my allegiance to "Her Majesty", her Heirs and Successors, a bunch of idlers, thieves and expropriators (to use the current lexicon: benefits scroungers!). Offensive, isn't it?