Blogs by Don Flynn
If we take the not uncontroversial step of assuming that the way people voted in the referendum serves as a reasonable proxy for judging their view on immigration, then at least one intriguing question arises.
Why does the city of Sunderland in England feel so differently about these matters than Glasgow?
In June’s referendum voters in English cities voted for Brexit by 61% to 39%. Glasgow voted 67% in favour of remaining, with 33% wanting out.
Why the difference?
According to a North East Strategic Migration Partnership profile, with ‘people born abroad’ making up only 3% of the city’s population at the time of the last census, Sunderland has one of the lowest rates of inward migration of any major urban area in the UK.
The immigration policies which Theresa May and her home secretary, Amber Rudd, revealed at the Conservative party conference last week seem to have got short shrift from just about everyone.
Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Labour conference last week threw a large stone into the otherwise undisturbed waters of the mainstream political consensus on immigration. His refusal to join the chorus of calls for even more draconian controls over the right to move across borders is seen by some as more evidence of how out of touch he is with the public mood.
Labour’s annual conference, has at least (surely!) settled the matter of who is going to be leading it up until the next general election – whenever that might be. Many other issues remain unresolved, including the one which has most vexed such a large part of its traditional working class support base – immigration.
The arguments around the role that immigration has played in eroding support for Labour have been gone through too many times to need repetition here. In brief, I should mention that there is a belief that the large-scale migration to the UK after 2004 has had a negative impact on the wages and working conditions of at least a significant segment of the working class as well as the more general sense that it has all happen just too fast.
With news programmes leading this morning on PM Theresa May’s intention to make a big, bold speech to the UN high level summit on migration in New York hopes might be raised that something new is going to be said.
After all, Mrs May is just the person to say it. Her long period in office as the UK’s home secretary has seen her struggling with the realities of migration as it takes place in the world today and she must have learnt a great deal since 2010 when she was confident that the movement of people into the country could be reduced to the ‘tens of thousands’.
Unfortunately it seems that she seems to be intent on returning to a script that Tony Blair tried delivering to gatherings of international leaders back in the early ‘noughties.