I agree with Vince Cable that the Labour and Conservative parties competition as to who can be most hysterical about population is typically unhelpful and misleading. Of course it is essential that immigration is efficiently managed; that we have a properly resourced national border force (proposed by the Liberal Democrats long before the other parties); that local authorities are given the resources to plan for population changes (based on accurate government statistics!); that English-speaking is promoted; and that long-term irregular residents are turned into law-abiding taxpayers.
But Gordon Brown’s demand for ‘British jobs for British workers’ is cynical populism from someone who encouraged EU immigration to support his economic boom. There is no evidence that there is a fixed lump of jobs in the economy, my church is full of migrant workers who are keeping the public sector on its feet. Jobs being filled leads to more job creation - the issue is whether we have an indigenous workforce with the right training and interpersonal skills.
The Conservatives are typically trying to have it both ways, promising to cut net immigration whilst somehow avoiding breaking EU rules or damaging British industries and academic institutions.
There is a need for a rational debate. That is why today's news is so depressing that the government's own figures for migrant workers have deeply underestimated the total numbers. There was a time when British government statistics were the envy of the world. No longer, and it just makes sensible discussion almost impossible.