As long as the debate on immigration is hijacked by the most self-righteous on the left and those pursuing a divisive, xenophobic, anti-welfare agenda on the right, a sensible discussion remains out of the question. If such extremism and infighting among the political classes continue to dominate the debate, the concerns of ordinary people will doubtless go ignored for the sake of political point-scoring.
Not only does Benefits Street propagate the myth of the work-shy, morally reprehensible benefits scrounger, it also neglects the majority of benefits claimants. Contrary to popular belief, most are not on unemployment benefits. In fact, the largest part of the welfare bill is spent on state pensions, with disability benefits and family benefits also coming in costing substantially more than unemployment.
Ten years on, we meet to ask 'was it worth it?' Presumably not for the many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed in the conflict. The figures may vary (Iraq Body Count put the number at around 120,000 while the Lancet counted upwards of 600,000) but the story is one of devastation nonetheless.
England is all the things Orwell said it was - armchairs, mint sauce, marmalade, the clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, pin-tables in Soho pubs, old maids hiking to Holy Communion, rich slices of Yorkshire pudding in an Englishman's home - and I think Miliband is right to sing its praises.
That 'great lie' is Oxbridge's biggest secret. Sure there may be more contact hours or a heavier workload than other universities but that's not what sets them apart. Intelligent, motivated people will continue to do well wherever they find themselves and to pretend that Oxford and Cambridge are the only institutions full of great talent is at best naïve and at worst the product of an appalling kind of prejudice.