Earlier this month we saw a huge increase in votes for UKIP and people discussing the subject of immigration. Whether or not you agree with those votes, the simple fact is that millions voiced their concerns and to just ignore them and their opinions is nothing short of disrespectful. It is simply saying we hear you but we are not listening.
To ignore those people would be a mistake. This is not an issue that will just go away. We have to openly and honestly debate all of the issues they are concerned about. The Labour Party as well as the others need to have a national debate, a sensible and mature debate that will not just brush aside the views of millions but will listen to them and act upon them.
I agree that immigration should not be blamed for our woes but at the same time immigration should not add to our woes either. We need to assess our policies in order to ensure that we are making the most out of immigration while making it as fair for our citizens too.
The one dimensional views of both sides are frustrating. There has always been another alternative option yet no one seems to want to look at it. Of the two that exist - no restrictions versus no more -there is a third option, a moratorium. Now I accept that, as things stand, the UK has accepted the current position. But that does not mean we cannot or should not challenge it, if it is clearly not working in the way we thought it would or should then we need change. That is all that is getting asked of most of those fair minded people who voted Labour and Tory are asking, not just those who voted UKIP. It would be a huge mistake to believe that those that cast their votes for Labour have no concerns about immigration, it is simply not the case.
The first responsibility of any Country has to be to those within its own borders. If we allow the free flow of over 500 million from 28 EU Countries without conditions then people are going to naturally choose the best option for themselves and their families irrespective of the detrimental affect it may well have on others. If we don't have any conditions attached, then we have no control.
I think analogies are a great way to get the point across so, without wanting to simplify it too much, imagine we were having a family reunion, a get together at our house for all of our family members who we love. We know we can only accommodate some of them because of space, beds, facilities etc. We'd have to consider those that already live in the house, so we simply wouldn't invite everyone to stay. It really is that simple. When it comes to the UK and immigration the same principle has to apply.
If we are to stop the rise of extreme national populism here in the UK then we need to address the concerns not just of the millions of UKippers but those who genuinely fear for their children and grandchildren's future. We simply can't say we hear you but we are ignoring your voice because you're wrong and we're right. Or adopt a laissez-faire approach because the issue is too sensitive to address. We cannot win this debate if we are too afraid to approach it.
The fear of taking the issue on is an abdication of responsibility; it is not going away and will have to be addressed. The argument for an in out referendum on EU membership is gaining traction because we are afraid to take on the issues were the EU this Government and previous Labour Governments have made mistakes. The free unfettered movement of peoples across the whole EU has to be managed so as not to damage the fragility of Cities infrastructures especially without providing the resources to those Cities needed to cope.
Like other port cities, Liverpool is in a unique position to have grown and developed with many different cultures and races. Our history of intermingled communities means that we have an extremely positive attitude on the subject. We are certainly not anti-immigration - we are who we are because of immigration. We are however against the one dimensional views of those in charge. We need to think differently, look at the alternatives and be as fair to everyone as possible.
If you don't have the power to deal with immigration, if you are dealing with a level that you can't manage then you are going to leave yourself open to criticism.
It is time to wake up, come out of hiding and address the issues that others are running from. Now is a time to take action and to lead. The argument that there are other priorities to deal with is not a valid one, a Government is made up of many people with many talents it can and should be a priority too.