I like immigrants. It's certainly not a phrase you'll hear often this election but I believe having more people in this country to work in our industry, save money in our banks and pay taxes on their earnings is getting our country back on its feet. That is to say nothing of the cultural benefits of being exposed to new ideas, expertise and experiences drawn from across the world.
With UKIP currently dominating the debate on immigration that's not what we hear at all - the most recent howl from the UKIP leaders being the terrifying threat posed by HIV positive immigrants abusing our NHS. But Nigel, my most favourite of the political equations, (white male + Real Ale + EU no sale) has included in his most guarded of remarks that London was suffering from a "Romanian crime wave" and rising house prices were due to 'Greek Money' (a phrase that probably confused the 60% of young unemployed Greeks more than anyone).
With such an astute view of immigrants, one might expect UKIP policies to reduce immigration. Of course pulling out of the EU would probably reduce EU immigration, but UKIP have a comprehensive and deliverable plan to make non-EU immigration much, much more significant.
It takes a certain degree of political talent to make central planks of your policy make the problem you've identified much worse whilst throwing a few dead foreigners in the mix for good measure.
Let me explain: one of UKIP's platforms is to cut the International Development budget by £9 billion - a 75% real-terms cut in expenditure. Many UKIP activists will grumble that any money spent on lazy carpet-bagging foreigners is money badly spent. What they don't seem to realise is that some of the biggest drivers of non-EU immigration are poverty, persecution and conflict. It almost feels like the government should invent a department for dealing with these problems.
Making an impassioned plea that funding efforts to aid global security is a moral imperative probably won't work, so I won't try to make that appeal. What I will say is that the UK is becoming a global leader in conflict prevention - stopping wars from happening - and is doing a fantastic job in making sure people don't need to flee their home countries to escape persecution.
We are living through an age where peacebuilding is being polished to an absolute mirror shine - this May the UK government will be launching the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund, an initiative designed so that the brightest and best from British defence, diplomacy and development can work together to identify the likely causes of conflict in a given country, develop and fund the solutions.
It is the successor to the UK Conflict Pool that successfully funded diplomatic efforts between India and Pakistan after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 potentially preventing a large scale escalation. In the Democratic Republic of Congo the Conflict Pool supported a UN peacekeeping mission disarming and reintegrating foreign armed groups who had likely been involved in racketeering and violence in the east of the country, causing untold misery to local people.
Preventative work is always a tough sell in politics, because there are often more votes in solving a problem than investing in ways that prevent them from happening.
Of course there is always the UKIP methodology: identify a problem (inequality), blame it on a problem that doesn't exist (immigrants), do something dense (cut the foreign aid budget) and make the imaginary problem worse (fuel non-EU immigration and asylum seekers), then blame the EU anyway. Bizarrely there do seem to be votes in this methodology.
Luckily the UK government is starting to see beyond this logic and is tripling the money dedicated to conflict prevention as of May this year. Simply put: a 'prevention is better than war' approach to foreign policy. British development aid is becoming better than ever by becoming more focused, leveraging greater expertise and having the resources to deliver significant outcomes.
A UKIP plan to massively cut overseas aid coupled with a commitment to a 40% increase in military spending will mean our only existing form of diplomacy will be that of the gunboat variety. It will, mind, be a very shiny gunboat probably lacking an interpreter, political intelligence, any demonstrable in-country infrastructure or local support, but would be the witless figurehead of UKIP-style Dirty Harry diplomacy. The kind that causes sensible humans to emigrate.
Asylum seekers coming to the UK, many of them leaving countries mired in conflict, have dropped from 84,130 in 2002, to just 23,507 in 2013. A significant contribution to this has been the international community is taking conflict prevention seriously and Britain has been front-and-centre in delivering the hard cash and expertise to make stability a reality in many fragile states across the world.
Not that I'd have any problem with people moving here to avoid being blown up by the gold plated 57mm cannons of UKIP diplomacy - remember: I like immigrants. I just like a more peaceful world a hell of a lot more. Don't blow it up Nige. Cheers.Suggest a correction