Michael Howard Is Going So Far to the Right on Immigration That He'll Soon Decide to Make His Ideas Retrospective and Deport Himself. but Charles Clarke Is Determined to Outdo Him
Thomas, Mark, New Statesman (1996)
The best thing that could happen to resolve Britain's immigration issues would be for all immigrants to leave Britain. They should not tell anyone of their plans. But late at night, while white Britain is tucked up safely in bed, they should sneak out quietly. Find a good vantage point. Sit back. And watch Britain grind to a halt.
Watch as the health service collapses, building sites stagnate, hotels implode and schools panic as they frantically call up every supply teacher that ever uttered breath in a classroom. I estimate that it should take less than a week for Britain to issue a formal apology to every migrant, though we should allow for six months if the immigration service is posting out the letters.
That immigration and asylum should be such important topics in the run-up to a general election campaign shows a huge failure on Labour's part. Many Britons believe the proportion of immigrants in this country to be between 22 and 24 per cent. In fact, the figure is roughly 4-5 per cent. So either immigrants are all doing the work of five people, creating the impression that there are more of them, or most white British people are hallucinating and walk around shopping centres thinking, "Zulus! Thousands of 'em!" Or it means that Britain is still a petty little xenophobic nation, where people's vision of reality is warped with bigotry.
It is to this gallery that Michael Howard, the Tory leader, and Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, now play. We expect it of Howard--he was always going to work the crime and immigration field, rather than health and the economy where no one takes him seriously. He was on the TV news recently, attending a police raid on a drug house, possibly looking for people stoned enough to vote for him. The cops charged into the building, while Howard hung around in a fluorescent jacket marked "POLICE", with the demeanour of a kid on a "bring your children to work" day. Unfortunately, no one in the drug house mistook Howard for a burglar and battered him to death in defence of their property.
You might not think that there is much room to the right of Howard, after his promise to put quotas on asylum-seekers and his talk of a fantasy island where they would be held until their claims could be processed. But if his rants play well with the electorate Howard will continue to tack to the right. Eventually, he will act retrospectively and deport himself.
However, the past few weeks have been defining ones for Clarke. …