In Hanley, I started asking people what they thought about the referendum and if they wouldn’t mind telling me how they’d be voting. There was little reticence. “Out,” they would say. “No question.”
“Why?” I’d ask.
“Immigration,” would come the response. “We want our country back.”
The Potteries museum opened in 1981, the year of the People’s March. There I read about Stoke’s industrial heritage, the ceramics, the coal mines, the steel industry, employing tens of thousands of people. All gone now.
Stafford, Cannock, Wolverhampton. Different towns, same message: “There’s no decent work”; “the politicians don’t care about us”; “we’ve been forgotten”; “betrayed”; “there’s too many immigrants, and we can’t compete with the wages they’ll work for”. Nobody used the word humiliation, but that’s the sense I got.
The author, remember this is a “Guardian” piece, blames “Thatcherism” for both Britain’s decline and Brexit yet the people themselves told him over and over that immigration was the reason. The very people the Labour party abandoned in their support of the Remain camp. If you are going to assign blame then place it where it belongs – the entire spectrum of political class who don’t seem to have much need for or interest in ordinary citizens any longer.
Unfettered immigration was a Labour party policy, a deliberate effort to reshape Britain’s demographic and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”.
The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”, according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.
He said Labour’s relaxation of controls was a deliberate plan to “open up the UK to mass migration” but that ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its “core working class vote”.
As a result, the public argument for immigration concentrated instead on the economic benefits and need for more migrants.
Our own political class has been busy working to the same ends, Conservative or Liberal it makes no difference.