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Monday, September 22, 2003

More of what the Tory press is saying

Today's Daily Express reports that the Home Secretary does not have a clue how many illegal immigrants are living in Britain. I would have thought that this was self-evident. As they are here illegally it is unlikely that they will be queuing up for a census count. The Express goes on to link this to an "asylum shambles". Presumably this is defined by the fact that the Express does not run immigration control and that people who are fleeing tyranny and poverty are not being shot as they disembark from channel ferries. Labour are equally culpable in this. They are using the language of the tabloids too by referring consistently to "bogus" asylum seekers. They are playing to middle England when they should be managing the claims and processing them better and when they should be putting the whole issue into context in terms of the small number of asylum seekers who actually come to this Country. The Express also reports alarm bells ringing in Whitehall at prospective civil unrest over large Council Tax increases and a proposed 5p a gallon hike in petrol duty next month. Both of these crises arise from the failure of Labour to get to grips with its own agenda. If they had included the replacement of Council Tax by a local income tax based on the ability to pay as part of their modernising agenda and if they had treated pensioners with respect instead of heaping derisory pension rises on them then they would not have people, especially older citzens, struggling to make ends meet and in real poverty because of the fiscal voraciousnss of local services. Equally, if they had reformed the voting system for local government and introduced the election of Councillors by the single transferable vote system then they would have had more representative and responsive local Councils with a chance of achieving some credibility with the local electorate. Finally, if they had not presided over a shambles on the railways and had invested properly in public transport then they would not find such unrest about fuel prices. The fact is that they failed on all these counts and must face the consequences. My only note of sympathy is that I find it as unpalatable as them seeing the Express crowing over it when they have no solutions to these problems either and their alternative is the widely discredited Iain Duncan Smith.

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